Monday, April 20, 2009

fairly trivial update

I am eagerly looking forward to receiving more materials for my spark gap project. Should be here in a few days. As machining projects go, this should exceed my previous best effort, the herb press (of which I still don't have good photos, dang it) in terms of "my best work yet". I am looking forward to it. It's going to look professional. The $64,000 questions are:

1. whether I will manage to blow it up unintentionally before I have a feel for its maximum ratings
2. what I will learn about Paschen's Curve from it
3. whether I will achieve pseudospark operation with it

I am wondering why I am stalled on my mad scientist's light switch project. I have everything I need to finish the jacob's ladder portion of it, except perhaps the raw material for the elbow mount, although there are probably multiple ways I could accomplish that, and I still haven't settled on a method. After thinking about it for a minute, I realize that it irks me that I wound up having to make my own spacers from scratch. These spacers go between the three acrylic rings and one disk which make up the art deco(ish) protected vent at the top of the Jacob's Ladder tube. I couldn't find anything in brass, so I decided to make some out of either brass rod or copper tube. And since I need fifteen of the little fuckers, and I'm lazy and annoyed about that. Okay, so that's why. Meh. I think if I am going to go that much effort, I am going to do it out of brass, not copper. Which actually means I don't have all the material I need to finish that part. Grumble. Well, at least I have an excuse now. Must go find some 0.25" brass rod soon. I should snap a few pictures of the parts so far. 

Oh, and I scored the right meter for this on eBay for a very reasonable price, it should be here this week.

Huh. If one performs a Google search for the phrase "Pseudospark operation", my Flickr site is the 9th hit on the first page. Adding the word Paschen brings it up to hit #3. If you switch to Image search from those results, mine are the ONLY image hits. 

It seems I am gaining a niche web presence again, but this time for niche mad science activities instead of niche fetish fiction or commentary in pervy forums (cough usenet, late 80's, cough, oh god I'm old, cough).


I really want to resume work on the dang-blanged Tesla coil. I still need copper for the primary, one way or another, and I can't really move forward without it. The longer I look at ways to slit/shear the wide copper strip I have on hand in half, the less I like the prospect. There just don't seem to be any non-painful solutions. Now that copper prices have plumeted, I am going to dig up the name of the company I got the last quote from (when copper prices were near their peak) and get another quote. Time IS money after all, and while I don't have a lot of either, sometimes the ratio of one to the other for a given desired thing makes it clear which one makes more sense to expend. Aside from the main coil, there is still the control panel and main power supply to construct, but I don't have all the parts for that either, and I'd really like to get the coil proper finished first, because once I start on the control panel / power supply, it is going to take up my whole workbench until it is finished. I'm not going to start on it until I am sure I have accumulated every last little part required for it.

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