May 4

Steampunk Lightning Detector MARK-II

So I have been building not one, but two new Lightning Detectors similar in some respects the my original “MARK-I” unit.

These use a new circuit from Charles Wenzel, that is somewhat simpler than the original, however does not have all of the neat options that the original possessed (namely the sound, metering, etc.) These detectors however had a more exotic and Steampunk feeling mixed with some “Alchemy” and Ghostly detection capabilities..

Magick, if you will.

Anyway, To the pics and circuitry. I wont bore you with too much text about how the build progressed, it was slow going just like before.

IMG_20150426_122154752

The completed Alchemical Steampunk Detector.

ess1427159800846

The two detectors partially built.

IMG_20150426_122115156

Frontal view of the completed Detector.

IMG_20150426_122125915_HDR

Side View.

IMG_20150426_122135001_HDR

Close up of the “Ghost Crystal”

IMG_20150426_122146588

Side View showing Hermetic Symbols of Alchemical Knowledge…

IMG_20150321_101955812

Winding the Basket Coils.

IMG_20150321_103547294

The straws make it simple to slide off. Remember there must always be an odd number of winding spikes (nails in this case).

IMG_20150321_104502232

A little hot glue at the crossover points and the coil slips off in 1 piece. Ready for matte black paint.

Finally, here is the circuit I used for the detector. As mentioned above, it is a bit simpler than the MARK-I, but has less capabilities.

LD2_Circuit

That is all for now! If you want one of these you can buy it from my Etsy Store unless they are all gone, then you will have to have me build you one – which will take some time I’m afraid….

March 12

Making a Commonplace Book of your own…

Please read my post on what a commonplace book is before you make one, or you will turn into a toad.  Read it here

(Okay you rebel, I like you… besides, I’m not wasting that kind of magickal energy on you…)

There are a couple of ways to create a commonplace book that has the look of a real Victorian leather commonplace that would have been carried by a man or woman of letters (A woman or man who had the desire to further their intellectual capabilities and keep their musings, ideas, and creative juices flowing through the use of such a “rememberal”).  A leather-bound book of the size that would fit in a pocket or purse – large enough sketch and write comfortably, but small enough to keep easily, perhaps of a flexible nature.  You can buy books like this at your local hobby and metaphysical stores, or you can make one.

leatherbound_journals

I choose to buy an unlined “mini-journal” from my local “Hobby-Lobby” and then customize it to my liking by creating a leather logo and affixing it to the front cover.  Here’s a pic.

150312_105600188

My Commonplace Book.

By the way, for those who are interested, my logo is the Alchemical symbol of the Ourobors combined with the Triquetra, and the triple crescent moon which is actually the Celtic goddess symbol of Brigid in union with the horned god (Cerrunnos). My ancient ancestors would have appreciated it anyway… 🙂

This technique can certainly be used to make yourself a very inexpensive commonplace book, this one costing me about 10 bucks when all was said and done.

-DTM

September 21

Building the Steampunk Lightning Detector…

The Steam-punk Lightning Detectors that I sell on Etsy (See my Etsy Store badge on the right) were created using a modified form of the lighting detectors found at the TechLib.com, designed by Charles Wenzel.

lightnew2sch

The basic circuit is shown above, However I made some changes for the Steam-punk version.

This unit contains about 100 man hours of work to produce the Victorian appearance of age in the stain, the brass, steel, leather, and glass of the detection lamp assembly and wooden base etc.  True working Steam-Punk art is not cheap and there is a good reason – it is hard to build!

But for the real Steam-Punk aficionado looking for a piece that really works, this unit is a must have.  Visit my Etsy store if you are interested. (Special note: This particular unit was sold in just a few weeks after posting, so if you want to order one, just go to the shop and send me a message.  I am currently  as of 03/13/2015 building two more detectors, one under commission, and one that I intend to sell).

Now… onto the build itself.

Lightning_Detector_4

The parts laying about before assembly…

Aging and staining the wood for the base took nearly 2 weeks of solid work to get the right look I was going for: A cherry stain that looked like it had been around for sometime. Everything else had to be in period materials from leather in the base of the Cobalt Blue Lamp assembly – the blue glass itself, all connectors and art-worked pieces had to be of brass if at all possible or other metals.

Lightning_Detector_3

The Cobalt Blue Detection Lamp Assembly…

The lamp tube is cut from a blue bottle. That took three tries with my expensive bottles… The base is a solid cast brass candle base.The top and ball are from old door-knobs and Victorian curtain assemblies. Threaded brass rod, springs, leather complete the unit.

Lightning_Detector_2

The Circuitry before insertion into the base of the Lamp Assembly…

Using “dead-bug” style circuit assembly procedure, (and after verification of the circuit) everything was encased in a wax base to keep parts from moving once assembled into the base. The small black unit is the hidden speaker that is used to announce approaching lightning or, to allow the “Voices of the Aether’s” to speak forth – in other words, if you take this unit to the northern regions when the Aurora Borealis is up, you will hear it’s weird moaning in this speaker.  Or perhaps if you take it to your local cemetery you can hear ghosts there as well… who knows?

Lightning_Detector_9

The controls Close-up

The switch allows near and far detection. The control knob changes the Q of the coil for allowing more tight tuning of the strikes.

Lightning_Detector_8

The Final Product…

And the final product is a wonder to behold! Again, about 100 man hours of work here!

Below is a video of the Detector in action…The sound you hear is the rain pounding on my castle laboratory, and my evil cat (“Kitty”*) meowing in the background! And Thunder too…

*Actually, Kitty is not evil, she just likes to lay on whatever it is you are working on. I guess that is fairly typical of a cat.

January 26

Converting an inexpensive AC Welder to DC Service…

About 9 years ago I converted my standard Lincoln AC “Buzz Box” Welder into DC Service. I did this by building a massive full wave bridge rectifier. It has provided great service and welds very nice – DC welding is acutally quite a bit easier than AC welding, and in fact, this DC full wave Bridge is clean enough for Tig welding should I ever get the bug to do that.

Here is how I did it. (Excepted from my old original website hosted on Comcast – and it is still there even though I haven’t been a customer in over 9 years!)

Welding can be done with AC but for better welds and for work on thinner sheets of metal, DC is needed. Lincoln sells a inexpensive AC arc welder that can handle as much as 225 amps of current at about a dollar per amp. A DC welder of this current can cost twice as much, and a Mig welder of this current is way more. I decided to buy the cheap Buzz Box and then convert it to do what I want. First I built this DC arc conversion. Next I will build a Mig and Tig extension and then I will have a fairly complete welding system for very little money.

The basic parts – check out those massive diodes!

I acquired these four 300-amp,200-volt diodes from Ebay for $7.00 apiece. They originally sold for $90.00 each. You can get this stuff cheap and there. The old transformer will be used as the choke coil (see circuit diagram).

Close up of the diode, these suckers are Huge! The measure in at 3 inches across.

The heat sinks for the diodes and the cooling fans in the back ground.

The heat sinks are prepared.

Using copper strapping to make the connections have as low resistance as possible for the massive welding current.

The terminals and heat-sinks must be connected such that the heavy current (as much as 225 amps) can flow unrestricted, and so that cooling is possible in both air or in a oil bath, and so that the whole is structurally sound. To insure all of this I used both aluminum and copper strapping scavenged from the transformer shown earlier. Notice how the aluminum is wrapped with the copper.

Below is a diagram of the full wave bridge. Again, while the circuitry is simple, the actual physical construction is challenging due to the heat dissipation requirements and the current carrying requirements.

Schematic Layout

Completed Rectifier in the welding cart.

A view of the completed air cooled full wave bridge mounted on its nylon header. The header is made from a nylon kitchen cutting board. The box is an old main-frame computer power supply box.

Finished

The finished DC rectifier showing connection end

Choke_and_fans

Rectifier showing Choke and cooling fans

 

This welder has given me 9 years of great service – never overheated, and I have never had any issues with the rectifiers. A great way to build an awesome system and save money. Your just not going to be able to buy something of this ruggedness without spending a ton more money.

-DTM

January 25

My Vacuum Pump

All good labs should have a vacuum pump.

Why?

You need to make all those glow tubes so your lab can look like the lair of a true mad-scientist!  And in my case, I need to build a good triggered spark gap, and I want to be able to use a vacuum to control the spark duration and length within.

I need… more… Vacuum!

So I got this old vacuum pump that was originally for a neon sign shop, and then later was used by a refrigerator guy to pump out the freon from old systems, then given to a guy I knew who gave it to me. It was in sad shape, so this page is devoted to it’s rebuild.

So here is the pump so far…

Basic Vacuum Pump

Note that the mason jar is used for filtering moisture or other contaminants from the air pulled out so as not to have that enter the pump housing and possibly cause corrosion. I sanded and repainted the motor and pump housing hunter green… because that is what color paint I had on hand. The switch is from my junk box, as is the mounting hardware (old curtain rod holders).  The wood is plywood flooring salvaged from house construction in the area.

Update 01/26/2014 : I finished cleaning and fixing the connectors and have built out the system.  Need some good non-collapsible hose line and a better way to secure the moisture filter. Note that the switch plate is off as I am painting it hammered bronze to give the pump a “steam-punk” look.

Updated Pump with filter and connectors.

Close up of moisture trap

I will update this as I get it to completion to be used in my all new DC Pulse Tesla Spark Gap.

-DTM

UPDATE! 02/02/2014 – Vacuum Pump Completed.

The Finished Vacuum Pump

Looking Very Steampunk. I may decide to add a brass plate or something to make it look more “Old-School” Victorian Lab, but I am very happy with the results. It pulls 20 Hg on the scale – This should suffice for my current experiments.

-DTM