DIY Electron Accelerator: A Cathode Ray Tube in a Wine Bottle

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Step 7: Prepare the Pump

Picture of Prepare the Pump
Oil Indicator and Drain.JPG
Gas Ballast Valve.JPG
If you've worked with vacuum pumps before and already know what goes where and who connects to what, then you can skip this step. On the other hand, if you're never used a vacuum pump before and are just pulling yours out of the box it shipped it (my condition when I began this project), then read on to learn how to set everything up correctly.

The first thing you will need to do once you unpack your pump is to fill it with oil. Most new pumps come with a small bottle that should be enough to get started.

To do this, you will need to remove the exhaust filter (picture 3) by unscrewing it. Then, using a plastic funnel, carefully pour your entire bottle of oil inside of the pump (picture 1). If you're not using a bottle that was included with the pump, then this may be too much so you will need to check the oil level indicator (picture 2) on the side of the pump. Give the oil a few minutes to reach the indicator after you pour it in.

If there is no oil visible in the indicator, then you will either need to wait a little longer or add some more oil into the pump. Add oil in small increments; remember, the oil you are using has a relatively high viscosity and it needs to flow all the way though the pump before reaching the indicator, so it will take time for changes to become apparent.

If the oil level is anywhere between the "MIN" and "MAX" markings, then you are ready to go. Reattach the exhaust filter and follow any pre-use instructions that may be included with your pump (ie. run it for 15 seconds and then check the oil level to make sure it is ok). If there are no problems, then proceed to the next step.

If the oil level is above the "MAX" marker, then you will need to drain some of it away. Unscrew the oil drain (picture 2) and transfer the excess oil back into the bottle or into a plastic container. You should do this in small increments for the same reason that you should add oil only in small increments.

***Gas Ballast Valve: The gas ballast valve (picture 3) should be tightened all the way for maximum vacuum to be attained. My pump shipped with the gas ballast valve in this condition, but your may not. Check to see that it is tight before moving on.
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