Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Refrigeration and matching

When I finally got PADEX all squeaky clean and reassembled, the flowmeters calibrated, a new, full Argon bottle installed, the pumps hooked up and running, shortly, everything ready to go, I ran afoul of refrigeration.

More powerful RF-generators (more powerful here means above 100 Watts or so) have to be water-cooled. This in itself is of no great import, since there is a refrigeration-water circuit in the lab. Unfortunately, the pressure it carries is too big for my widdle RF-generator. Theoretically, I could hook it up to the industrial water circuit, but that won't work either, because that is too cold.

"Too cold?" Simplicio might ask. "Isn't the point of refrigeration to re-frigerare, to make cool again?"

"Indeed," Salviati would answer, "that is normally the case. But in this instance, one would do well to remind oneself of the original meaning of the word 'refrigerationem', i.e. 'mitigation of heat', originally in sickness. We want to prevent our RF-generator from falling in extremo, viz either burning up from heat or, equally dangerous, cooling down beyond the dew-point. Should water vapor condense inside it's equally puissant and fragile electric components, short-circuits, melting, explosions, blood, death and war might well be the consequence."

"So the cooling liquid does not always cool?"

"What it does, dear Simplicio, is remove an excess of heat, but not beyond the point of lowering the temperature of the generator below a certain point. Moderation in all things!"

We leave Simplicio and Salviati now be, which is always a good idea when Salviati starts quoting Terence.

After I had the refrigeration problem solved, the Matchbox promptly seized up and burned down, as Matchboxes are wont to do. The Matchbox sits between generator and plasma, and matches the impedance of one to the other, hence its name. (If the impedance does not match, part of the power delivered by the generator will be reflected back, and melting, burning, explosions and death will ensue, again.)

Photos of the dead Matchbox may follow later.

Update 1510h:

No photos of matchboxes, I have had it with them. All three of them. Despite (or is it because?) my mad solder-iron skills I did not succeed in resurrecting any of them. They shall molder in their graves even unto the second coming, beneath my notice, and I shall order a new one.

Anyway, here is a photo of my current mood instead - originally taken in Australia, believe it or not. Kosciuszko National Park.


  1. Aaah, to gain wisdom thou have chosen the warysome path, though wellknown to all experimental physicists: through an old faulty falling apart setup thou shall restore to funcionality, beauty and glory and so forth.
    I wish thee strong nerves and even stronger tools, so they withstand thee anger outbursts.

  2. Verily, thy well-wishes do sooth my fraying nerve. 'Tis with faint heart I undertook this venture, and often my faltering steps did try to stray. But lo and behold! for I have been grace'd with success (for the nonce), and the plasma doth warm my soul.

  3. Yeeeeha! Congrats, mate! =)
    Hail, thee Boris, master of the PADEX! Hail and Praise!