Today, we tested the electron gun in tandem with the Polywell core. Right now, our goal is to simply understand effect the e-gun has on the potential well, if it has any effect at all.
We had the pump running since 3AM the night before, and so by about 2PM today, we had a vacuum in the 5 x 10^-5 range.
Not super amazing, but certainly good enough for out purposes.
First, we mounted the power supplies in the rack.
Hooked them up to their proper feed-through pins.
Attached the langmuir probe and the shunt resistor to to the oscilloscope, allowing us to monitor the potential well depth and current going through the coils simultaneously and in real time.
Then we began testing. The coils in the core worked great.
The spike on the top line is the power supply’s capacitor bank discharging. The smaller spike on the lower line is a current induced in the langmuir probe by the sudden appearence and dissappearence of a magnetic field generated by the coils in the core. So the Polywell works.
Then we tried the electron gun, and it didn’t work at all. the filament was glowing, and we were getting high voltage on the accelerator’s feedthrough pins, but no reading on the langmuir probe.
After extensive thinking, speculating, and white-board writing, we decided we had to open the chamber up to see if the connections to the accelerator were right.
Here’s what we found
It’s a little hard to see, but a gray plastic piece which connects the core to the feed-through pins was right in front of the accelerator, totally blocking the beam.
Funny how sometimes the causes of problems are so obvious that you don’t even think of them.
Anyway, I got that fixed, tried it again, and got a beam. The readings on the langmuir probe attached to the multimeter were more or less the same as those from the last test. When we attached it to the oscilloscope however, things were a little more complicated.
The beam intensity was not static, but periodic. It fluctuated with a frequency of 60 Hz, pointing to the AC current which powers the hot cathode.
We expected something like this, because the availability of electrons to accelerate fluctuates with the AC powering the hot cathode.
Ideally, our electron beam would be have a perfectly even intensity, because then we could eliminate it as a variable.
Fixing that would involve rectifying the AC, a major upgrade to the power supply, so we decided to leave that for another day and run the experiment.
Here are some of the results
All in all, our results are little confusing, but good. We were able to create the well, which is a big win, but we weren’t able to do so consistently. In order to really study how the well is affected by tweaking variables, we need consistent baseline well to compare against.