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Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:32 pm
I think the easiest and most beneficial obstacle to tackle is LabView.

I've already wired up many physical sensors, but I'm struggling on the software side. I could do so much more with the physical setup I already have.

It's really been frustrating me.

A new license of LabView Base is $1,249.

Maybe someone out there has a license I can borrow, maybe we can find a used license on ebay.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:38 pm
by rcain
Hi Famulus,

Welcome again (we were just talking about you :) - sorry our posts literally crossed there).

Really impressed by the progress you are making and in how you find time also to keep us all informed over blog & tweet and raise cash to boot. You got a small army working for you? Sounds like you need one.

We were attempting to pin down some key experiments that might help resolve 'discussions' we have been having here over the past 2 years - particularly with the media blackout from EMC2.

Kiteman wants to study coil geometry, I want to look at cusp flows. That seems to be about as far as weve got so far.

So please tell us, whats top of your agenda at Prometheus Labs? (Apart from more neutrons and a new PC with Labview). What exactly is the 'Sydney Experiment' looking to study - or is it mostly a catchup?

ps. what physical sensors do you have on the bench so far?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:43 pm
by BenTC
FAMULUS wrote:I agree with M.Simon that more diagnostics are needed. I'm trying to transition to LabView for data acquisition because my custom code is too buggy and cumbersome. But it's expensive and the mac version is crippled. I have a PC in the lab, perhaps I'll try it... but PCs make me want to gouge my eyes out.
From a quick look around for open-source Data Acquisition...

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:53 pm
rcain: mostly catchup to begin with. The Sydney experiment is the first copper coil polywell outside of EMC2: ... the-scene/

I think it's doable on my budget.

BenTC: Maybe these open source DAQ tools are useful. I don't know. I would prefer an open source solution, but really we just need to get _something_ working sooner than later.

This would in fact be a perfect sub project to delegate: a working open source hardware / software combo. Or just getting LabView running.

My current hardware is a NI USB-6008

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:28 pm
by rcain
theres a copy of Labview 6i going for 500$US on ebay at mo - ... 19bae508bc - 4 days to go. Dont nkow if its suitable.

As you suggest, going for anything less mainstream might land you with more work to do than the Polywell itself. Just as important as the feature list is the amount of knowhow and free support available to get you up and running fast with your sanity intact.

Anyone here with direct experience of the alternatives to Labview?

How about the sensor inventory/wishlist Famulus?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:11 pm


pressure from ion gauge.
Flow rate from mass flow controller.
Voltage and current reading from Glassman. However I think this outputs on the glassman are wildly miscalibrated. Furthermore I cannot send this unit to glassman for calibration because it's part of a varian electron microscope. Their contract with varian means they can't service it without a release from varian.

I have a 1000x voltage divider to take direct voltage measurements but that still needs an aditional 3x voltage divider. Measuring the current on a high voltage line is really tricky.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:19 pm
by chrismb
FAMULUS wrote: I have a 1000x voltage divider to take direct voltage measurements but that still needs an aditional 3x voltage divider. Measuring the current on a high voltage line is really tricky.
I either use an isolated voltmeter across a resistor, when tuning manually. Or for data collection use a laptop (running on battery power) with a usb device (data logger or oscilloscope) to measure the voltage drop across the resistor. Put a fast transorb parallel to the resistor of a suitable speed/rating and voltage to protect the USB. Put the laptop and USB logger on something nicely insulating and stand well back after pressing the 'go' key.

Use an old laptop(!) - or someone elses :) though I have had no problems this way.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:51 pm
by Aero
It seems to me that the big problem long term is funding. Am I wrong?

It also seems to me that donations from visitors here and at will be insufficient to carry the project to fruition. After all, the navy has spent upwards of $20 million and they are just reaching the interesting (from a public viewpoint) and expensive stage of research. While I laud Famulus for his success in raising over $3,000 recently, it seems to me that we need a new paradigm for fund raising and I don't think venture capital is it. (Venture money comes in and next the lid is clamped on the information. We could stick with EMC2 for that.) What I would like to see is for the IP to remain in the public domain. That does not mean that there will not be a Nobel prize (or equivalent) for key individuals but it does mean that I will know the answers and so will everyone else who donates.

A new fund raising paradigm? I think we have one from Obama's election campaign. That is, proper use of the Internet as a fund raising tool. Obama's election campaign had a product to sell - Obama - and we have a product to sell - clean, safe, green energy too cheap to meter. We don't have thousands of biased news reporters following our every move, but then neither did Obama when he started. (Later on, we could probably get some news coverage (Cosmic Log?).) Further, we don't have the election deadline that Obama faced. Does anyone have a good handle on just how Obama's Internet campaign worked?

Now, a question for Famulus - "What would it take to convince you to change the color scheme on" No offense, but you do know, don't you, that 20% of the public has some level of color blindness (including me) which automatically eliminates them from visiting We need every visitor we can get. For a successful color scheme, see, or Go with black text on a white or light blue or gray background for the maximum positive impact.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:29 pm
Aero: yes, the big problem is long term funding.

I agree that Obama's election campaign is the model to follow for large scale community fundraising.

And essentially I've started that process on a small scale with the kickstrarter fundraiser we just completed.

From my perspective, the only real currency this project has is story. But it's got that in spades... and it's the story that spreads the idea across the globe. It's the story that moves people to donate and help.

Actual research accomplishments will magnify the story a thousand fold.

Regarding the color scheme: I had no idea this was a problem for color blind people! Which colors specifically?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:51 pm
by Aero
FAMULUS wrote: Regarding the color scheme: I had no idea this was a problem for color blind people! Which colors specifically?
Unfortunately the fix is not so simple as choosing colors. Color blindness runs the gamut of colors and is more prevalent in men than women. Here is an exhaustive description of the condition.
Good graphic design avoids using color coding, or color contrasts alone, to express information as this not only helps color blind people, but also aids understanding by normally sighted people.
It boils down to good contrast, black on white is most widely readable, while toning down the white to light blue or light gray helps the reader to avoid eye fatigue when reading long articles. Too dark a background reduces contrast and introduces eye strain and fatigue, but improving contrast by adding colored fonts introduces problems for the color blind.
Honestly, pick the most successful website you can think of, then look closely at their color scheme. They are not successful by accident and neither did they choose the color scheme by accident.

Here is an example of a site that is very readable, and also very boring. The message is interesting, but the presentation is boring. They didn't even use a single horizontal rule to provide the reader with a resting place.
You don't have a problem with boring presentation. Your presentation uses images and videos to good advantage, its just the words that are hard to read.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:21 pm
by tombo
Could FAMULUS get funding (and a degree on the side) by finding a university and professor to take him and his project under his wing as a thesis project?
What he is doing is masters degree level work at the very least.
The level of enthusiasm shown is seldom seen and a big selling point.
One advantage to the professor would be that FAMULUS has his own lab space and would not need to encroach on other projects.
There may be political, personal or geographical show stoppers but I thought I would toss it out there.

PS Congratulations on the job.

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:32 pm
by MSimon
Open refers to the area intercepted by the coils as seen from the center of the configuration. Dr. B thought that you needed 80% open area to account for alpha impingement on the coil shells and the resulting heat load.

Rick looked at the question again and decided that if the magnetic field was sufficient in relation to the coil size that alpha impingement on the coil shells as a practical problem went away.

I did some calcs on it a while back and a 3T field gives a gyroradius of .1 m. IIRC. So a 3T magnet with a bore of 1 m will see practically no alpha hits. Since for a given number of amp-turns the field scales linearly with size.

You could go with a 30T field and a .1 m bore - the intercepted area goes way up (same volume of coils - roughly) but you still have no alpha impingement problem as the gyroradius has decreased in proportion.

Now of course reality will be a little different. But the general idea is correct.

All this assumes pB11. For D-D you get neutron problems. If they are sufficiently intense you have a problem. One of which is that you are close to success.

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:29 pm
by rcain
thanks for the clarrification MSimon. makes sense.

to instrumentation and useful results: its looking a little cramped in there. do you suppose we have a chance of collecting any meaningful (or even 'suggestive') measurements of whats happening around the cusps at this scale?

same goes for possible geometry studies as well i am thinking.

also, are those aluminium angle brackets going to affect things any?

@Aero: whilst i am a supporter of all things 'accessible' in web design also, i have to say i really like the Prometheus livery as it is. which 2 colours are the problem for your eyes here?

@Tombo: Famulus is already in communication with Joe Khachan in Sydney, which has got to be a good thing (though I've heard not a peep out of his lab for well over a year now - much overdue it seems to me).

In order to get serious, research should be original and cover new ground, ideally. which is where i came in on this thread.

if we could come up with those suggestions as to work Famulus might include in his programme, that made a truly original contribution to the field, however modest, then that might indeed attract further possible academic support, and who knows, funding.

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:54 pm
by Aero
@rcain and FAMULUS,

Don't be concerned about my difficulties, I drag my mouse across the text and read it in negative.

Think of the bigger picture. If we do anything at all by way of fund raising, won't we be driving interested public to the web site for information and donations? If not, no problem. If so then consider the percentage of hits, hence donations lost because the visitor has difficulty reading the material. Website design is reasonably mature technology so it is known that some color schemes retain visitors for longer than other color schemes. Google Analytics will tell the webmaster how long a time visitors spend per page view and how many visitors "click out?" immediately. (These are just two, Google Analytics provides many more statistics, almost an uncountable number.)

My point is that anything which motivates a visitor to click out is a negative and will cost donation opportunity. If 20% is the correct number of color sighted impairment in the general population, then in a period of time where $100,000 is collected, $20,000 may be lost due to visitors' visual impairment. Or more immediately, in a period of time in which $3,700 is donated, $740 may be lost. It will cost money to drive visitors to the website, do we want to accept such losses, or even risk such losses when that risk can be eliminated?

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:08 pm
by rcain
Aero - I'm sure your point is noted - but this is now drift.