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Thread: Plasma Globes

  1. #1
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    Default Plasma Globes

    Thought this was rather good.


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    Pretty cool. I have a geek friend (not on here) who I know will appreciate it. Thanks for posting.
    PM Sent...

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    That's pretty cool!

    Hmmm. He's using a rotary spark gap. Old school! Most Tesla Coils these days are solid state and use IGBTs to fire the primary.

    Adam

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    I prefer old school spark gap Tesla Coils. Solid state TCs generally need a breakout point so, you don't get the same coronal dance around the top load. They other thing I don't care for on SSTCs is the look of the arcs. They are sharp and jagged and flail about wildly with no flow. They are not "pretty". They look like Helena Bonham Carter's hair... a mess of chaos. Ugly chaos.

    I can't tell you how much it grinds my gears when someone asks if mine will play music. Grrrr fine, I'll take a speaker, turn it up to 11 and put foil over the drivers while playing Mario music if that will help. Rant over.

    Curious where to find decent plasma tubes (not specifically globes) for a good price. Information Unlimited has them but jeebus... $$$. I'd like to find some crackle tubes. Even the ones Spencer Gifts sold back in the day are scarce on eBay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by absolom7691 View Post
    The other thing I don't care for on SSTCs is the look of the arcs. They are sharp and jagged and flail about wildly with no flow. They are not "pretty". They look like Helena Bonham Carter's hair... a mess of chaos. Ugly chaos.
    "Helena Bonham Carter's hair".... Now *THAT* is an oddly-specific reference!

    I can't tell you how much it grinds my gears when someone asks if mine will play music. Grrrr fine, I'll take a speaker, turn it up to 11 and put foil over the drivers while playing Mario music if that will help.
    Admittedly it's not high-fidelity audio by any means! But you must admit that it's still a cool premise. We've had a singing tesla coil at SELEM twice now, and it's always been popular. Next year we're hoping to have a pair of them.

    Curious where to find decent plasma tubes (not specifically globes) for a good price.
    Chinese suppliers? I know Banggood has plasma balls, but I don't remember seeing any tubes. Maybe AliExpress?

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post
    "Helena Bonham Carter's hair".... Now *THAT* is an oddly-specific reference!
    It was an image that stemmed from a meme I saw a few years back that said, "Helena Bonham Carter's hair looks like a place where cats go to have sex". Which still makes me laugh to this day as it is somewhat apropos.


    Chinese suppliers? I know Banggood has plasma balls, but I don't remember seeing any tubes. Maybe AliExpress?
    I haven't checked any of those yet. I am really only interested in crackle tubes. Those are damn difficult to find. Velleman had some at one point. They were for car audio amps to dress them up and make them look better. I am even having trouble finding those as they were discontinued a while back. The only plasma tubes or crackle tube I can find are custom made and rarely under $1000.

    I did find one here for just under $700. http://strattman.com/plasma-crackle Still not worth it though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by absolom7691 View Post
    It was an image that stemmed from a meme I saw a few years back that said, "Helena Bonham Carter's hair looks like a place where cats go to have sex". Which still makes me laugh to this day as it is somewhat apropos.




    I haven't checked any of those yet. I am really only interested in crackle tubes. Those are damn difficult to find. Velleman had some at one point. They were for car audio amps to dress them up and make them look better. I am even having trouble finding those as they were discontinued a while back. The only plasma tubes or crackle tube I can find are custom made and rarely under $1000.

    I did find one here for just under $700. http://strattman.com/plasma-crackle Still not worth it though.
    Call me in January. I'm booked thru December solid. If you don't mind Krypton, Neon, Argon, as limited choices for your fill gas, crackle and other tubes that change paths are easy for me to make, however the Pyrex Rasching rings used are not inexpensive to buy or make for the stacked glass tubes. The rings also need fire polishing by hand. Just demand is very limited and lifetime on crackles is not great, to the point that I would cut the fill stem long enough to allow for at least one reprocessing. I can do 1 to 2.5 inch tubes easily enough.

    Steve
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    I was wondering if this would be something that could be made by a laserist with access to a pumping/fill station. Good to know, Steve!

    Adam

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    Surprisingly, its just like any other vacuum tube. Looks easy, but to make a sealed off one requires the same level of technical art as making a laser tube or a triode. They are tremendously sensitive to dirt inside, and need etched with Hydrofluoric acid and baked hot under high ultra vacuum to be worth the effort if you seal them off.

    Often there is a tiny trace element added during processing, , ie Iodine, Carbon, Sodium, barium, ITO or similar that makes the glass surface reactive or slightly semiconductive. They don't tell you about that on plasma sites for the most part because it is the real secret.

    For laser tubes I HAVE go out of my way to nuke trace elements, so it is a little contradictory to risk messing up the ion station piping for that experiment. Iodine and some organic iodides with traces of Xenon and Oxygen in Neon are rumored to be interesting, especially for the illusive bright greens (YouTube Video) but you have to get the real data from the "Deep Artistic State" and they ain't talking.
    I looked at the some of the organic compounds used and cringed when I priced them.

    If you can live without green in your plasma, then yeah, making a crackle using neon, krypton, or argon and traces of xenon is not that bad. If you really want Green, I'd have to go get a Xenon bottle at 300-700$ plus hazmat and add it to the system.

    When he charges 700% markup for a basic small crackle, there is a good reason for it, the processing and cleaning is expensive. His materials costs minus labor for the "perfect, long life, warranty grade tube " is probably 100-150$ or more. And he is THAT guy with the artistic reputation and a patent or two.

    I started on a plasma ball a few months ago, but work got um, interesting. Again, mid January.

    Be aware, that the glass to metal seal for the electrode undergoes tremendous strain, runs the risk of being pierced by the HF field of a tesla, and buying unmarked, ungraduated vacuum thickness glass flasks needs some special connections these days unless you like paying the glass supply place big bucks. " Chi"rex glassware does not always have a controlled expansion borosilicate, so I bought American, which was pricy. I bought a case of six unmarked flasks. I do have an improvised induction electrode heater, which requires a lot more finesse in its controls and coil shape then buying a 24$ ebay induction heater. So some day when I have a week off....

    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 12-07-2018 at 08:14.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    Call me in January. I'm booked thru December solid. If you don't mind Krypton, Neon, Argon, as limited choices for your fill gas, crackle and other tubes that change paths are easy for me to make, however the Pyrex Rasching rings used are not inexpensive to buy or make for the stacked glass tubes. The rings also need fire polishing by hand. Just demand is very limited and lifetime on crackles is not great, to the point that I would cut the fill stem long enough to allow for at least one reprocessing. I can do 1 to 2.5 inch tubes easily enough.

    Steve

    Thank you very much. I surely will hit you up, Steve. 2.5" tube would be amazing. Regarding the lifetime on crackles... I only intend on using it for Halloween and maybe limited other occasions. It wouldn't be a piece that gets turned on for several hours a day. It will be one more prop to add to my "Laboratory" setup. Plasma displays are preferable for me because they are quiet and somewhat safe. I would love to break out my Tesla Coil but trick-or-treaters generally don't bring ear protection or faraday suits!


    Regarding the art of filling glass tubes... I am sure a great many of us will geek out on this video I found a little bit ago. This is how a DIYer brings back the Nixie Tube!

    Last edited by absolom7691; 12-07-2018 at 11:37.

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