Wednesday, February 25, 2009

progress on Mad Scientist Light Switch

I said "screw it" and went ahead and sacrificed a big hunk of brass. From this, I fabricated two small electrode holders, .5" dia. x .625 long, chamfered one end, drilled the chamfered end for 1/8" brass rod, drilled and tapped radially for a set screw, and drilled and tapped a hole in the flat end for a mounting screw.

1/8" brass electrodes fabricated. That was finicky and annoying, and I am still not sure I have them right. I might have to go to some smaller diameter spring steel or stainless wire. There are emission / spark initiation issues with NSTs as small (7.5kV) as the one I'm trying to use. One gets into this situation where, if the electrodes are close enough together to flashover, the arc doesn't have enough heat to want to climb. Move them further apart so that the arc is more apt to climb, and the spark may not start reliably. This is not an issue with 15kV NSTs. Grumble. So it's not behaving itself as reliably as I'd like, but it was working when I called it quits and came in the house.

I should take pictures of the progress.

The insulator bushing mount I made, which connects the copper elbow to the clear acrylic safety shield (tube) also provides mounting for the electrodes and insulation for the connections. It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever and I made it. Me. It's mine. I did that.

**thumps chest**

Next, to figure out how to mount the copper elbow fitting to the side wall of the box. I may have to get clever / fancy. Oh noes. Stop me before I machine again.

EDIT: the safety shield tube needs some feature at the top which will let hot air escape but keep fingers out of the potentially deadly innards. I know how I want to do this, but once again, it involves spending money on some plastic - probably available cheaply from the scrap bin at Plasticare, assuming they are still open Saturday mornings - and some solvent cement for that plastic - a type I don't have on hand. I tried, but I couldn't think of a way that gets the job done without spending any money at all. Dammit.

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