Friday, December 09, 2011

Wiped. Out.

I'm dead tired. Dog tired. Dead dog tired, and who knew they even had tires? I have spent the last week solid converting a phantasmajector (big, fat high-power vacuum tubes, 30 kW, American) stardrive into a lower-power, all solid-state one (1017 of Mom's old-fashioned hand-crufted Watts, but it'd do just about twice that if you pushed hard). Thing has been offline for several years, accumulating spderwebs, mice and grottiness. We took most of the icky bits out ("green slime" liquid cooling, 37,000 Volt, 2 Amp supplies -- "Weld the neighbors from five feet away! Farther under direct sunlight!"* -- and the fwaazommpp high-current supplies for the focus magnets) but it's still....techty. Persnickitty. Unforgiving.

I made the blame thing make power nice-as-nice after today's big repositioning of RF sample probes ("Won't hurt a bit! Just relaaaaaax!") but it still won't quite meet spec for purity of output spectrum. Or of essence -- it's been a long day and I forget which. There's one (1) Gen 1, semi-experimental automagical compensatori-izational thingie that was retrofitted with much mumbling, exclamation and poking at calculators by a factory-official coven (or was it a congeries?) of neckbeards and pocket-protectioders Way Back When and right now, when I enable it, it sets to with a vengeance and makes the signal worse. This is, as we like to say, suboptimal; what it tells me is that alllllll the other little tuning and tweaks are probably gonna merit yet another look -- after I check each and every input to the compomatic autosator, first.

To add to the fun, tomorrow includes the initial setup for some other major work at the very same location (and wouldn't you like to know!), this of a highly physical sort performed by rugged young men, using rugged equipment, ruggedly, in the ruddy cold rugged outdoors -- and I am supposed to keep an eye on 'em as they labor, unceasingly and unstinting, from 7 'til sundown each and every day until they are done.

Not that I'm complaining.

The good news, I'll still make it to tomorrow's BlogMeet, possibly a few minutes late; Ms. Tam will be in charge and I expect attendees to obey her as they would obey me: hardly at all, and even that much with considerable complaint. ;)
* Flashover distances are farther if there's plenty of UV -- so stop playing Chicken with the high-tension lines in June through August, mmmmkay?


Home on the Range said...

I just got in from the great white north. I do hope you make it, but if you don't, we can always stop by with cookies (I made Rosettes) and coffee for you.

I'm snagging Old NFO from the airport so he doesn't have to rent a car and if his flight is on time, we should be plenty early.

Keads said...

If it matters I HATED working on the lasers way back then. Cooling junk, HV, tubes and everything else about them.

Good luck this weekend and sorry I cannot make the meet.

Oh, my lasers were used to burn holes in cigarette filters as they were being made. GAH! 8K cigs a minute and up to 20 holes per!


Turk Turon said...

Put away those calculators and use a slide rule. In my experience a phantasmajector responds better to analog precision than to digital.

Dave H said...

I love the smell of burning Bakelite in the morning. It smells like... well, it smells like I screwed up again, but that's what keeps me employed.

You folks have fun at the BlogMeet.

North said...

I understood all of that and I'm STILL confuzled.

Stranger said...

Yep, and it's even more fun to change a VT transmitter from metric to US spec water cooling hardware when the local check signer is standing there looking at his watch as sign on time approaches.

The filaments have been on 8V at 200 amps since noon yesterday but there ain't gunna be no plate voltage until we have water pressure. And get the H out of here so I can work!


Quizikle said... 1st paragraph
We might be in similar lines of work.

Roberta X said...

Quizickle: Possibly -- do you prefer SMPTE 310 or ASI? We end up having to provide both; our stuff wants the former but the head-ends and ingest point prefer the latter.

Roberta X said...

...Which remonds me: Stranger, with that much filament emission per tube, just how much power are you running when that thing is operating???

Quizikle said...

I may work on a different end of the biz - and probably different applications. One of my current projects is developing the prototype for a 30kW ion-beam drive. Lower voltage, more juice.

Think electric gun as a propulsion unit - vacuum tube with no plate and pointed out the back end. Exotic control materials; vacuum stays outside. No acronyms for it yet, just a project charge number.

Ringworld, here we come...

Good to hear about others doing similar things...

Turk: Of course analog has better precision. My slide rule is hanging above my desk as a "Green Computing" example. The Greenies are not amused - they want "Green" with a switch and software.

Anonymous said...

FryDaddy here - Please send us an update on your conversion. The last time I went to work on an amp I ended up making the most gawd awful sounding oscillator you ever saw break glass. (OK - slight exaggeration for effect. It was still pretty bad and the dog never forgave me.)