Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If you have been following, by now you know that our accelerator is up and running and very close to being finished. What you may not know it that all of this work could not have been completed without the dedicated work of Kurt Kapfhamer from NEC (it would have easily taken us months rather than weeks). Two weekends ago we took some time to show Kurt some of beautiful Colorado in Estes Park. We saw some elk, ate trout, and even walked on a frozen lake.Stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Hi Everyone,

The Pelletron has been charged up to 3 million volts!
We did a bit more work on the Pelletron today, filling the tank all the way up to 80PSI of SF6.  We also tried running up the voltage on the Pelletron and was able to get it up to 3 million volts!  Unfortunately it started sparking at this point, which is normal.  It sounds a bit like a gun but a little quieter.  We've got it now at about 2.5 million volts and we'll be "conditioning" it all night.  This really just means we'll leave it running and any of the rough edges or dust still left inside the high voltage terminal will be blasted away by the sparks that are created.  With any luck, the Pelletron will be fully functioning tomorrow morning.  Keep your fingers crossed!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Alive!!!

Hey Everyone,
The Pelletron has been charged up to 1,437,000 volts!!!

Great news, we just tried turning on the Pelletron now that the vacuum tube is at vacuum and the tank is full of 60PSI of SF6.  As you can see in the picture, we were able to get it up to about one and half million volts!  It's a little on the noisy side, but it isn't too bad as long as you're a couple of feet away.  We'll start actually conditioning it and do more thorough testing tomorrow and hopefully be up to 3 million volts before the end of the week.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pelletron Status

Hey Everyone,

So we've got quite a bit of the Pelletron wired up and the vacuum pumps have been attached.  We'll be finishing up the wiring and then tomorrow we'll hopefully have the entire thing under vacuum and powered up.  We were able to get the chain spinning so we at least have that going in the right direction.  We'll be checking to see if the chain is properly charging tomorrow and hopefully be able to run the entire thing up to 3 million volts!
The Pelletron as of 1/19/11.  It's wired
up (mostly) and the vacuum pumps are

A close up of the Pelletron chain.

The power box and the Pelletron in the background.
If you look at the chain, it looks like a solid metal piece because
it's actually spinning in the picture!
For those of you wondering, a Pelletron is a device similar to a Van der Graaf generator that creates a large electrical potential difference.  The main difference between the two is that instead using a belt to pick up and move the charge from one side to the other, a chain made up of metal pellets connected by insulating nylon links is used.  Also, the charge transfer occurs by induction preventing any spark damage or rubbing.  These machines can generate potential differences up to and beyond 25 million volts.

If everything goes well, we'll be firing dust soon.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pelletron Has Arrived!!!

Hey everyone,
The Pelletron arriving at the lab in the back of a
truck still to be unloaded

Sorry for not posting much lately, it's been really busy in the lab.  The Pelletron, the high voltage end of our accelerator, arrived yesterday so everyone's been really busy putting it together.  We're all super excited that its finally here after about a year and a half of waiting.  We can't wait to fire it up and shoot some dust.
The pelletron on its tracks next to the
gas tanks of SF6

We've already done a bunch of work on the pelletron and have the shell on its rails and the SF6 gas tanks in place.  We're hoping to be able to get the head stand in place by tomorrow so we can start aligning the pelletron to the rest of the beamline.  We took a bunch of pictures of the whole process of unloading it from the trucks and when we find time they'll all be on our flickr account.  Also make sure to check our webcam from time to time to see how the progress is going.  Both links can be found in the links section on the right side of the blog.  We'll keep taking pictures of the whole process so you'll get to see all the exciting work going on right now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Interlock Control Box for CCLDAS

Yesterday, I finished work on a new interlock control box. It was designed and built here to provide localized control of several pneumatic gate valves along the CCLDAS beamline.

This box allows the valves that it is interfaced with to be easily controlled and monitored from one place, and can also automatically close valves connected to pressure-sensitive pumps in the event of a vacuum fault somewhere on the beamline. The system also has a capability to communicate with other components such as LIEL and the Pelletron.