Electron Gun + Polywell Results

8 07 2012

All Photos

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

That’s your problem right there, ma’am

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

A really good one. The downward spike on the lower line signifies a a potential well. Nice!

Here we see a well, but it’s at the wrong time, it seems to have appeared just after we pulsed the core.

Here’s a strange one in which the Polywell core pulse seems to cause some change in the voltage on the langmuir, but not a well.

This one really demonstrates why the periodic electron beam is such a problem. The top spike came at a moment when the langmuir probe was reading zero. This means that there was no beam when we pulsed the core, so it’s no surprise that we just got an induced current.

The most tantalizing and baffling run we did. The well appears to be extremely deep, greater than 100V, but it’s unclear whether thats credible, because there’s so much other confusing stuff going on.

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.

Domenick Bauer





Electron Gun Success

24 06 2012

All photos

Today we tested the electron gun in the chamber, and we detected a negative potential on the Langmuir probe, which means it worked!

Negative nine volts on the Langmuir probe

Fuck yeah!

Here’s what we did

1) Added a faster-acting fuse to the power supply

the new 4A fuse is underneath the black shrink-wrap

We already have a .5 amp fuse to protect the light bulb filament, but this new one  takes less time to actually blow once its current rating is surpassed, so if the cathode arcs to the chamber wall and pulls a large current, this fuse will blow quickly, preventing damage to the chamber.

wide shot of the setup

2) Closed the electron gun assembly in the chamber, connected to feed throughs, and set up the Langmuir probe.

The Langmuir probe is a wire with one end in the path of the electron beam, and the other attached to a multimeter set to volts DC

3) Powered up the vacuum system.

Because there was so much stuff in the chamber, there was also (presumably) a lot of trapped air which leaked out slowly as we pumped down, so the vacuum wasn’t super deep, but it was deep enough for our purposes.

3) Powered up the e-gun.

The cathode immediately started to glow, amd as we turned up the voltage across the cathode, the Langmuir probe started to register a negative potential.

We could not get potential on the Langmuir probe unless we powered up both the cathode and the accelerator, so we concluded that it must be the result of a beam.

There were also a couple of other interesting things we noticed.

Changes in the voltage of the accelerator did not seem to affect the beam intensity. We brought the potential on the accelerator from +500 down to ~+250, and got similar readings on the Langmuir probe.

Changes in the voltage (and current) to the cathode do affect beam intensity. We found that the greatest value we could get on the probe was about -12 volts, using about 90 to 100 volts AC across the cathode. As we kept increasing the cathode voltage/current beyond that, the Langmuir probe started heading towards zero, until the fuse blew.

After this, the Langmuir voltage started to head toward zero.

A little hard to see, that’a 10.59 volts on the Langmuir, and 102.5 volts on the cathode.

We don’t know what is causing this.

Another cool thing we noticed was the effect the electron gun had on the vacuum. Leaving the beam at maximum intensity caused the vacuum meter to show increased pressure. We were literally filling vacuum space with electrons.

Weird to see the the materiality of electrons demonstrated in such a concrete way.

But all that aside, this is a big step for us. From here, getting that electron beam shining into the center of the Polywell shouldn’t be too hard. If we succeed in that and document our results, we will have performed real, original research on the Polywell design. If we can get the potential well deep enough, maybe even do Polywell fusion.

So let me reiterate, FUCK YEAH

Domenick Bauer





New High Voltage Probe

18 10 2011

Just got this Tektronix P6015 high voltage probe. It goes up to 40 kV!

Well actually it only goes to 27 kV without the fluorocarbon 114 dielectric.

It’s huge! Shown next to a normal probe:

Just in time for the next run.

This is the same probe used in the Sydney experiment.





Oscilloscope Camera Mount

13 09 2011

All photos.

Reader jsults turned my on to g3data… it’s a little open source program that helps extract data from graphs.

It looks like this in action:

I tried it with my oscilloscope photographs and it worked OK.  But it does not compensate for trapezoidal distortions.

If my camera were perfectly lined up with the oscilloscope g3data would work great.

This got me to thinking… maybe I could build a camera holder for the oscilloscope?

So I did.

I designed this mount using sketchup and had it printed at shapeways. It came in the mail today.

 

Works like a charm. Now all my oscilloscope photos will be perfectly centered and flat:

You can download at thingaverse or purchase at shapeways.





Arduino Controls 30,000 Volts

10 09 2011

All photos.

Today I made arduino control 30,000 volts.

My arduino has 3 channels of analog output 0 to 5 volt.

For testing I used this sin wave generator sketch:

 

 

int pwmPin = 9; // output pin supporting PWM

void setup(){

pinMode(pwmPin, OUTPUT); // sets the pin as output

}

void loop(){

float something = millis() / 1000.0;

int value = 127.5 + 127.5 * sin( something * 2.0 * PI );

analogWrite(pwmPin,value);

}

 

This generates a lazy 2 Hz sin wave.

But the output is not really analog, it’s pulse width modulation(PWM):

This tutorial shows how to smooth out  PWM using a low pass filter. My low pass filter used 6kΩ resistor and 4.7 µF @ 45V capacitor.

Here we have the raw PWM output superimposed with the filtered output:

Looks good!

Now we just add the voltage doubling op-amp circuit I made previously, and BOOM:

This shows the source signal and the voltage doubled signal.

Sweet! Now we can control the 30,000 volt glassman power supply.

Here the arduino is sending a slow sin wave to the glassman’s voltage control:

From 2011-09-10

The Glassman’s slew rate is really slow without a load.

Here is the setup:





How to Read an Oscilloscope

25 08 2011

Here is a quick tutorial on how to read an oscilloscope.

Voltage increases as you go up the screen.

Time passes from left to right.

The three numbers circled below are the keys.

In this example:

1V  means the distance between each gridline bottom to top  represents 1 volt.

500µs means the distance between each gridline left to right represents 500 microseconds.

2.160V is the voltage between two lines I manually adjust. This is called a cursor.

The small cross circled on the lower left indicates zero volts.

Those are the basics of reading a ‘scope.





Oscilloscope

25 01 2011

All photos.

I recently purchased a used Tektronix 2445 oscilloscope. It’s a 4 channel 150 MHz analog scope.

I also purchased a Tektronix 2430 digital scope which is en route. The digital scope has the key advantage that it can capture and display a single frame from a trigger. The digital scope will show readings from the Langmuir probe in the Sydney experiment.

It has taken me a few days of reading the manual and playing around with the scope to get a grasp. But I’m getting the hang of it, and wow… it’s a new way to explore the world!

My first discovery is that one of my bench DC power supplies is rather noisy:

The other bench power supply looks much cleaner:

But neither DC power supply is as clean as the perfectly flat signal you get from a battery.

I also used my iphone to display some sine waves:








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