Coulter's Smithing Home

At last, the meat of the pumpkin! Here are some of the things we have done, and some words about things we have planned.

Coherent Fusion, the master project all the others support. Warning -- large pictures/high bandwidth (for now).

This is the real reason most of the rest exists -- they are baby steps on the way, tooling up if you will. Took awhile to amass the money and time to get here, but this is my life goal, clean fusion power, and it will be "open source". Should it work eventually, the fame will be enough for me! I think of it as giving something back, my mark on the world, whatever.

Multi-Use microcontroller/logger. Designed in support of the fusion project, but has many other uses. We put a potent uP on a 40 pin dip footprint to make an enabler for projects from data logging to robotics. Check this out before it becomes a for-$ale product!

We made our own X axis drive for the mill. Two reasons we didn't just buy one. First, we couldn't be sure it would fit. Second, most drives cost almost as much as the Mill itself did! This is version A, we will be improving on this for better low speed and torque control.

A nice jig for the lathe to make blades sharp. This started out as a way to sharpen planer blades for our friend Paul over at Hidden Valley Woodworking. Somewhere along the way we got into knives generally. We can now put a very nice hollow ground edge on just about anything straight. Here is what we built, and some ways to improve it.

A low cost Pirani vacuum gage for our system. Would you pay over $1000 for what amounts to a lightbulb and an opamp? We sure wouldn't. After a couple of attempts, we have something that works pretty well. We are hoping to make a somewhat more robust one we can commercialize soon.

Some High Voltage projects and tips. We like to play with big arcs and sparks. You have to charge those capacitors up some way. Here are a couple of ways.

Our homebuilt coal forge. How can you call yourself a smithing shop if you don't have a forge? This was built before the building was. Works fine for what we use it for. This is used to hand forge knives and bend large stock. We don't use it for heat treating any more, but do use it for color and normal case hardening.

A project car. Very fast go-cart. A friend's T–Bucket project car. He bought this on e–bay from someone who didn't build it quite right. We are fixing that.

Another project car, this one for high milage. We are converting a go kart into a street legal commuter car that will get hundreds of MPG. Actually, it does already, but just isn't street legal yet, nor is it as comfortable and quiet as we want it to be. This page describes the conversion in progress, and some of the legal hurdles we are running into, due to laws to make things safe for the major auto companies.

Vacuum system. A moderately priced medium to high vacuum system for metal deposition and other things. This will be under construction for awhile, but works now. We plan to build our own diffusion pump and document it here somewhere in the near future.

Hole drilling robot. Doug always wanted to be able to make double sided pc boards with plated through holes. To do this, you need to drill the holes before doing the artwork steps. Can't do it by hand, but a robot can just follow orders from a drill file that the layout tools produce. Here is an attempt to make a 2 axis table that is accurate enough, but very cheap to make.

Mother of all bells. A friend wanted us to make him a bell out of an old fire extinguisher, this is the result.

Time and ampltude resolved photon counter. Still in progress, but coming along well enough for pictures.

Triggered spark gap for rail gun. Also in progress, but looking good.

Coming soon:

big switching devices Power source for induction heating. Doug scored a few really big IGBTs at Marlin Jones, rated at 250 amp, 1200 volt. We will use these to make a push–pull output stage driven by IGBT driver chips, using an LM3524 for the signal source, with some pots to adjust frequency and duty cycle. The idea here is to brute force rectify and filter the AC line and switch it up to the 10-50 kHz region, using the output tank coil as a step down transformer to drive the heating coil. Will probably run this at 1-2 kW. This should allow us to heat treat in a vacuum, as well as reach higher temperatures than the nice Ney–Vulcan oven will. This will bring a few more exotic steels into the list of possibles, as well as allow heat treating with no scaling.

UPDATE: This has progressed to the point of being mounted on a large heatsink with the rectifiers, filters, and IGBT driver chips. I was originally going to do the signal generation for it with an LM-3524 chip, but as the PIC logger project got going, decided to wait for that instead, as it will be a better controller.

Electrometers and electroscopes. We're having fun with John Strong's stuff. Doug made a gold–leaf electroscope the other day using a boullion jar, a bolt, shim stock, and leaf, and is having a ball with it.

Galvanometer construction. No source books on this, but we are winding our own armatures and making suspensions to do this using old pen motor magnets from chart recorders. A laser pointer makes long optical paths practical for really sensitive measurments with otherwise completely passive gear. Actually, if the books are to be believed, the old stuff was darn good already; picoamps.

Time and amplitude resolved photon counter. This is for several instruments, from broad sky scans for millisecond pulsars to radiation detectors for the physics lab. We'll use a 1p21 or 931a, as this is what we have for photomultipliers right now.

Seismometers. Geophones and tilt meters. Classifying vehicle traffic around our place. We have a shot at this as there's little traffic here. Probably be able to track deer walking around too.

Diffusion pump for our vacuum system. Designed for low thermal waste. Uses old metal vacuum tubes for glass to metal seals, internal heater, guages, and thermocouples.

Miniature rail gun. Doug has been working with tiny rail guns to be used as detonators for HE. The main features include no use of poisonous and dangerous primary explosives, small size, and safety. Teeny bombers and terrorists will find this a bad design for their uses! It takes about a billion watt pulse to do this, with concommittent moderately expensive gear to generate same, about a suitcase full. Yes, they work, at least with a relatively sensitive HE like PETN. And, yes, the DHS/BATF knows I am doing this. Don't try it at home without checking first and getting legal! They've been nice to me, but the idea is to be nice to them first.

Stuff you ask for. So ask. Could be we've done it already and just didn't put it up here yet. If it interests us, we'll add it to the TODO list. We all benefit when more people contribute ideas.

Vendors, we use mostly really good. Here are sources for most of the things we use in our projects.

Coulter's Smithing Home

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