Step 10: Fire it Up!

Once you've assembled the vacuum system and connected the high voltage power supply, you're ready for a test.

To begin, simply turn on the power supply and vacuum pump, sit back, and enjoy the show!

At first, a continuous red-purple discharge will appear between the anode and cathode. Then, the two colors will begin to separate until there is a distinctly visible dark space between them called the Crookes dark space. After that, striations in the plasma near the cathode will appear and the colors of the discharge will start to become paler. Finally, the striations and dark space will disappear and the entire tube will be filled with a pale blue/white glow. At this point, you have reached cathode ray tube operation.

Here is a brief document that explains some of the plasma-related phenomena visible inside the tube:

I've included a picture of the tube operating in cathode ray mode and some pictures of what it looks like during the pump down sequence.

When one takes a doorknob to accelerate particles it's... glorious.
This is outstanding. One of the best at-home particle physics projects I've seen on I'bles (neither the <a href="http://thecyclotronkids.org/">cyclotron</a> nor the <a href="http://www.tidbit77.blogspot.com/">fusion reactor</a> have writeups :-).<br><br>Thanks especially for including the (non-relativistic) physics background!
<p>Wow!! Very insteristing!! <br>I liked!! =)</p>
<p>May I know how the electrons are ripped out of the doorknob to be accelerated? Also, is the light emitted due to the excitation of the electrons?</p><p>P.S I apologise for my lack of scientific knowledge.</p>
<p>hey,could a particle target at the bottom of the machine so the electrons could hit the object at the bottom like a element or somthing ,this is what i mean,how to make plutonium,dont get bad ideas,first,you find urainum 238,then make it so it can fit in the eletron accelrators tin target,so eletrons hit it then after an hour you have pu-239 not the fission kind 238, the pic below is what i mean,thank u</p>
<p>p.s enlarge the accel pic to see what im talking about</p>
Is there any way you could seal off the vacuum and continue to run the tube w o the pump?
<p> <br> <br>Its a great <br> pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I <br> love to post a comment that &quot;The content of your post is awesome&quot; <br> Great work.</p><p><a href="http://www.monacopropertylistings.com" rel="nofollow">appartamenti in vendita a Monaco</a></p>
<p>Do i need a high vacuum? are 100 hpa enough? (or does it get lower when i fill it with steam and let it cool down?)</p>
<p>And are 1-4 kv enough?</p>
<p>All I wanted to do is make some X-Rays.</p>
<p>ok, this is not funny anymore. If my girlfriend finds I am building a subatomic particle accelerator in my room, I will need to move to a hotel.</p>
<p>Hi. I am attempting to do a project on voltage and electron speed for my 8th grade science project, and this instructable has been very helpful, but the only issue I've had with producing all of the materials for the project was when I attempted to find a relatively affordable power supply. Most have been running upwards of 600 dollars and that is simply not feasible. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!</p>
You're probably looking at something that's a well-regulated switching supply for professional lab use. You can get away with a kill-a-watt, variac, and neon sign transformer + rectifier and filter, which shouldn't be more than $100 total with some careful eBaying.
<p>Thanks! I really do appriciate you taking the time to post this instructable, and replying to questions. My Sci-Fair sponser wanted me to do something daring. Looks like I've found it in this project.</p>
<p>Can someone please answer my question(it is the #4 down).</p>
<p>for my science fair apparently you need a hypothesis and experiment ;do you know any that I would be able to do.</p><p>P.S I all ready made the electron accelerator.</p>
<p>Hi, I just made this particle accelerator and I was confused on what I was seeing. I was using a copper anode and the test started just like you showed. I had a non-fixed 18 kv power supply and 60 cm of vacuum. There was a constant purple stream touching the anode with about an inch of crooke's effect. After about 45 seconds the stream turned white like it usually does when the bottle gets hot and the contaminent is killed. Then, all of the sudden there was a huge discharge. The stream came down in a tornado-like fation then went back up and there was just a swirling white tornado touching the side with 3 inches of crooke's effect. There were a few electric lighting- like strikes at the end of the anode before it repeated the process. I have a video below. Please let me know your thoughts.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/x2JNxAcbOl4" width="500"></iframe></p>
Very nice job!<br><br>Unfortunately, I don't have any background in plasma physics, so I can't say what's causing the effects you're seeing. It does appear that you are getting a better vacuum than I did, though.<br><br>One thing to be careful about here is the production of x-rays that can penetrate the glass vessel. With less than 10kV to 15kV of accelerating potential, the x-rays are stopped by the glass, but above that they can start making it through. Ideally, you would want to test for this with a Geiger counter, but if you don't have access to one, you can just lower the potential somewhat and stay back and operate everything remotely to keep your exposure as low as possible. I'd also keep a sheet of acrylic or other transparent plastic between you and the tube, as it is at risk of imploding.<br><br>If you have the materials to make another tube, try extracting some phosphors from the CRT screen (look up how to do this safely), then mix them with water, pour it into the tube, and let it dry out at the bottom. This way, you'll be able to see where the electron beam strikes the bottom of the tube (I suspect it will be everywhere, since the beam is not focused). Then, you can experiment with other electron gun designs and deflect the beam with a magnet.<br><br>Good luck, have fun, and stay safe!
Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to implement your suggestions.
<p>Its 5 pascals enough vacuum???</p>
<p>This is a very good instructable.</p><p>One question though. Any problems with implosion of the wine bottle while you were experimenting?</p>
<p>Cool and easy build!</p><p>I used one of those new plastic cork. I drilled a hole, used a barbed connector and a copious amount of epoxy.</p><p>Of note, the bottle was still containing a few drops of water and it refused to work until the vacuum pump had forced all the water to evaporate. </p><p>Over time, I've seen many hues of blue, red, orange...</p><p>The power comes from a simple flyback transformer driven by 12v and a 555 oscillator.</p>
<p>Could this be powered with a van de graaff generator? I'm new to doing these types of projects and am thinking this might be a safer option (thinking about amps).</p>
You should have got your vacuum pump from here:http://viot.us/HVAC/product_info.php?products_id=43. It was only about 160 dollars. Also, how much did the neon sign transformer cost you. I got my wine bottle for free.
<p>hi ninja .. your link give me error </p><p>so can you give another link</p>
i got one of the same rating for $15 plus $18 shipping, the trick is to find a used non-GFI unit on ebay that is still guarunteed working,and buy from a top rated seller.
(referring to the Neon Sign Transformer)
<p>Very cool :)</p><p>I ran across this crowdfunding platform a while back: <a href="https://experiment.com/" rel="nofollow"> https://experiment.com/</a></p><p>It might be useful? I think I saw some other more science oriented crowd funding sites elsewhere too.</p>
<p>May I please have a list of materials? I am aspiring particle physicist and would like to do this. </p><p>Thank you! </p>
I would just like to know how far you've gotten with your open-source accelerator.
You should try to focus the beam with an electromagnet :)
Would it be possible to attach the anode to the bottom of the bottle?
Can I use copper for the anode?
That is intriguing - thanks, Xellers!
How could I do this project using different variables?
Could you use fluorescent highlighters for different color ray tubes instead of the phosphors from a fluorescent tube?
does this not produce large amounts of x-rays?
Nope - they don't have enough energy to penetrate the chamber with the acceleration voltage I'm using. Your concern is addressed in the safety step.
oh yeh, thats stupid of me. so is prolonged exposure to soft x-rays dangerous? and is using a fridge pump for vacuum and 30kv+ dangerous?
Prolonged exposure to any type of x-ray radiation is dangerous, but this produces very little and should not be operated for long periods of time. You won't be able to get 30kV of acceleration potential with only a fridge pump.
I wasn't able to detect any x-rays whatsoever coming off of my tube. I guess I was using a little lower voltage (a 6kv NST). Either way there is either no or negligible amounts of radiation coming off of this. I even tried reversing the polarity so the metal vacuum port was being bombarded with electrons (this is basically how ex-ray tubes work) and still no radiation was detected. For good measure I measured background for 5 min. and then turned the tube on and measured another 5 min. for each test. In no cases was the latter measurement higher than the former by a statistically significant amount (in fact a couple times it was lower).
ok, thanks for replying, so does that mean i wont be able to do this experiment with a fridge pump?
You can certainly try, but I doubt it - you can definitely make a simple gas discharge tube, but I don't think it will full enough vacuum for good cathode rays.
what pressure is the running at? because i have seen videos of people getting fridge pumps to works at 20millibar (10 torr)
Use an air compressor in reverse!? I know that works good.
a fridge pump is an air compressor!
I mean one of those air compressors you use for air powered tools and all, there quite different in design. I am not sure which one works the best for drawing vacums.<br>
Sorry to sound like a bit of an airhead, but what is the function of the diode?

About This Instructable


491 favorites


Bio: My name is Daniel Kramnik - I like building Tesla coils, quadrotors, and robots!
More by Xellers: Build a Robotic Arm for the Science Olympiad DIY Electron Accelerator: A Cathode Ray Tube in a Wine Bottle How To Build A Spark Gap Tesla Coil (SGTC)
Add instructable to: