Tuesday, May 12, 2009

triggered spark gap switch work

1. I have a pretty good idea of what to do about the projecting studs from the main electrodes.

The solution will add some complexity, but should ultimately be a win.

2. I think I am going to add a circle of several blind threaded holes to the exterior surfaces of the end caps for mounting and electrical connections. One needs to make rather good connections when one is expecting to conduct tens of thousands of amperes, even for a fraction of a second.

3. I have the all-plastic gas fittings in hand - free samples from one of our vendors at work. If you ever need fluid power (pneumatic, hydraulic, etc) products in the Colorado area, give Fiero Fluid Power a call. They have competent and friendly sales staff, a large selection of product types and brands, huge stock, and very competitive prices.

4. Last night I set up one of the end caps in the lathe for turning the relief that will axially locate the housings. It's a dodgy proposition, because there is just enough chuck jaw to pick up the curved maxima on the perimeter of the end cap, made a bit worse by the insertion of small tabs cut from sheet copper to protect the aluminum from the lathe jaws. Tonight I will see whether there is room for me to (instead) mount the end cap onto the turning tool backward (since I am now working on the inside face, not the edge), probably with some washers to protect the inside surface from the cap screws. The washers will be the key, as they will be very close to where the cut needs to go. If that can be made to work, it will be a lot more secure than trying to grip the radiused edge in the chuck jaws. I would be heartbroken if I wrecked one of the end caps at this late stage.

I didn't proceed past setting it up though, because I was tired and foggy-headed, and I wasn't entirely sure how to proceed as far as getting the edges of the cut in exactly the right positions. I am used to doing things rather ad-hoc and this is one of the first projects where I have had to really observe accurate dimensions, parts placement, tolerances, etc. It's also the first time I've ever made a bunch of parts with lots of holes and things that needed to line up - fabricating them separately - and had everything fit perfectly the first time. So apparently, planning ahead (drawings) and careful, methodical work actually pays off. Who knew?!? ^_^

Anyway, this morning I think I figured out how to proceed as far as getting the cut located correctly.

The more I do this kind of stuff, the more respect I gain for skilled machinists.

To sum up, when all of the above work is complete, the switch will be... oh crap, no it won't.

5. I forgot I still have to devise a connection method for the trigger electrode. Grumble. I have to think about that some more. And maybe try to find more pictures of the old Physics International T508 switches which I am partly imitating to see whether they offer any clues. I might be worrying too much about certain things.

Right then, when the above 5 items are done, the switch will be ready for testing. At that point, I will probably stick it on a shelf and forget about it for a while as I try to get the Mad Scientist Light Switch project finished.


“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it's business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don't love what you're doing and you can't give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You'll be an old man before you know it.” -- Al Lopez


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