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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: evacuating glass for neon
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 04:27:56 EST

bill wrote:
> This may be the start of a long dialogue.....
> I'm looking to fill some blown glass components with Argon/Neon. The
> glass is a typical soda-lime base worked from a furnace as opposed to
> borosilicate.
> What degree of vacuum will I need to achieve before bleeding the gasses
> back in?

It's a little more complicated than that.  There is a significant
amount of gas and water vapor adsorbed on the inner surface of the
glass and absorbed in the glass.  Proper prep for pumping requires
baking while under vacuum.  My process for large (larger than tubes)
object is to bake under at least a 1 micron vacuum at about 400 deg
for several hours, preferably overnight.  If you don't do this,
gases will diffuse out of the glass over time and spoil the fill.

Additionally, if you plan on using electrodes, these must be heated
cherry red to outgas them and to convert the electron emissive
coating.  We normally do that with a high current discharge for
tubing but that doesn't work for large objects.  The usual technique
is to use an induction heater on each electrode while it is under

If you're not using electrodes (RF excitation), then the vacuum and
baking requirements are more severe since there are no electrodes to
getter any tramp gases.

Argon by itself makes very little light.  Argon with mercury makes
more.  Argon/mercury with fluorescent phosphors on the inside of the
glass or fluorescent glass makes the most.  Uranium glass is bright
yellow; leaded glass as used for neon tubing glows a bluish white
when pumped with argon/neon ("pumped blue" in the jargon).  The
other noble gases vary in color according to the pressure and
excitation but none are terribly interesting by themselves.
> What order of pressures of gas are required?

For tubing, it depends on the size. For larger objects, typically
2-3 mm of mercury is pretty standard.  Variations are possible to
achieve different effects.  More pressure, for example, will cause
the discharge to go 'stringy" and snake around.  Less pressure will
make the discharge more diffuse and neon will tend to go more

> Any information and leads into this would be greatly appreciated.

Best thing is to find a neon shop where the proprietor is interested
in artistic neon.  Not many are.  But in a shop that IS interested
in artistic neon, many of the variables that you would work out by
trial and error have already been figured out. Plus the equipment is
at hand.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: 12-Volt Fluorescent Lamps
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 13:59:15 -0500

MikeL40548 wrote:

> My 1999 fifth wheel trailer came equipped with 12-volt Thin Line
> fluorescent lamp fixtures. I always thought fluorescent lamps were long
> lasting but I have lost about 4 pairs of lamps in two years of only
> moderate use and one lamp control circuit, or what I call "ballast" in
> conventional 120 vac fixtures. The lamps cost about $11 a pair. I
> checked on the cost of replacing the control circuit and it was about
> $24. I wanted a bigger fixture so I replace the whole thing with a new
> Thin Line from Camping World for $37.
> I looked at the control circuit to try to fix it but couldn't understand
> how it worked. It is on a printed circuit board that is pop-riveted in
> place and is obviously not intended for repair or even easy replacement.
> It has a multi winding transformer-like component, some diodes,
> electrolytic capacitors, and a 5 watt resistor. I didn't trace out the
> lands on the PCB.  I suspect that the multi-winding transformer device
> is a part of some sort of magnetic oscillator to convert and boost the
> 12 volt DC to AC at high enough voltage to operate the lamps but I'm not
> sure.

You are correct.  The ones I've looked at are power oscillators that
run at about 35 khz and produce open circuit about 900 volts and
current limit to about 150 ma when the bulb fires.

> Questions:
> 1. Is this an unusual failure rate?

Unfortunately yes.  The problem with these cheap inverters in the
fixtures is that the wave form is asymmetric which means that there
is a DC component.  A DC component on a fluorescent lamp causes the
cathode to be sputtered by the high speed ion bombardment.  This
sputtering a) produces the dark ring around one end of the bulb and
b) cleans up the noble gas fill.  B) is what causes early failure.
There are two steps you can take to extend the life of bulbs in
cheap fixtures.  One, periodically reverse the bulb.  That will
distribute the sputtering across both electrodes.  Two, periodically
bake the bulbs for a couple of hours at 250-300 degrees.  This will
cause the trapped gas to diffuse out of the sputter film.  A higher
temperature is better but the phenolic bases that hold the pins
usually won't take much more heat.

Another step you can take if you don't mind wielding a soldering
iron is to put an approx 0.1 to 0.01uF, 1500 volt cap in series with
one lead to the lamp.  This will block the DC component.  This is
what at least one 12 volt neon driver manufacturer does.  We in the
neon world fight the same problems.

> 2. How does the circuit work?

It's a simple blocking oscillator.  12 volts is fed through the
transformer primary to the collector of an NPN transistor to
ground.  A smaller "tickler" winding on the transformer is hooked
between the base of the transistor and ground through suitable
limiting and shaping resistors and capacitors.  The phase is
opposite the main winding.  There's usually a DC bias resistor to
the base to help it start.  When power is applied, whatever current
flows induces an opposite polarity current in the tickler winding.
This turns the transistor off which induces an opposite polarity in
the tickler winding which turns the transistor on, etc at about 35
khz.  A high turns count secondary brings high voltage out to the
lamps.  Sometimes there are some caps and maybe resistors on the
secondary to try and shape the wave form to be more sinusoidal.

> 3. Do 12-volt fluorescent lamps fail more frequently if operated
> frequently, or is it better to just leave them on when you turn them on?

Since the lamp operates cold cathode (no filament current) all the
time, starting has practically no effect.  Operating is what causes
the sputtering and ultimate failure.

If you know someone who makes neon, he can make you neon tubes of
the same length to fit in the fixture.  It should run on the same
inverter "ballast".  If not, a replacement neon driver can be bought
from Scientific Systems (on the web, don't have a URL handy) for
about $15.  All neon except clear red works exactly like a
fluorescent lamp except that neon electrodes are designed to operate
cold and thus don't sputter under normal circumstances.  Neat thing
about neon is that you have a wide range of colors to choose from.
Tecnolux's "incandescent" color tubing almost exactly duplicates the
spectrum of incandescent lamps.  Gets rid of that cold feeling that
fluorescent lamps produce even with warm white bulbs.  That same
phosphor is used in the compact fluorescent fixtures sold by
Philips, etc.  You've probably noticed that in the context of the
metal halide lighting in Lowes, etc, that they appear yellowish
orange. Really nice effect when used at home.  The nice thing about
neon technology is that it will last forever if properly processed.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Signs
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2001 19:12:05 -0400

Technobarbarian wrote:

>      Do you also go around shutting off all those coleman lanterns? What
> sort of reaction do you get when you shut off people's party lights? With
> everything else going on in the average public campground I'm surprised you
> can find time away from your other "police" duties to worry about lights. If
> nothing else camping around you must be entertaining. :-}

Ben's just being his usual dickheaded self.  Just ignore him.

>      Personally I prefer a dark and quiet camping spot so we stay away from
> crowds as much as we can, but I think John is on to something here. I wonder
> how sturdy they could be made and what it would cost? Judging by all the
> party lights and signs you see around there must be some market for neon
> vanity signs.

I've developed a process to make neon practically unbreakable.  I'm
trying to decide whether to go through the agony of a patent
application so details are not public right now :-)  With my
process, you can drop the sign and not break the neon.

A good rule of thumb is to figure about $30 a letter for a completed
portable sign.  One with just a couple of letters will be more, of
course so this is just a guideline.  Something that has become
somewhat popular in this area is a neon initial, say a script "D"
for me, that installs in place of or under your house porch light.
Makes it VERY easy to direct people to your house - "Just look for
the blue D".  A small, portable, 12 volt operated version of that
would work well with an RV.  Hang it from the MH grill or 5th wheel
pin.  BTW, the 12 volt high voltage supplies I use are dimmable so
if one does not want full brightness he can turn it down.  This
supply adjusts down to the point where the glow is barely
perceptible, somewhat like phosphorescent paint.

Here's another RV use of neon, something I've mentioned before.
This is a photo of my rig at a very remote campsite about 20 miles
from nowhere.  The white neon that lights my campsite is along the
top of the side and back of the rig.  This setup provides enough
light to read by while sitting next to the rig.  It is dimmable and
is operating at about 1/2 power in this photo.  At full power, it
draws about 3 amps at 12 volts.  The neon tubes are contained in 1"
polycarb plastic tubing for impact protection and to make them
waterproof.  The only problem I've ever had with this setup is that
when I turn it on in a campground, I shortly have an audience of
people wanting to know where to get the lights!  That's a problem I
can live with.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Signs
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2001 19:20:43 -0400

Vince Wirth wrote:

> >I could make you a nice little neon one.  Even make it 12 volt
> >powered.  It would be unique to the CG:-)
> John,
> I think you have something there. Beats pink Flamingos.

Hey, you ought to see my neon Pink Flamingo!  The color is
screaming, retina-burning, flashback-inducing  hot pink, electric
enough to shock your eyes (and send Ben into cardiac vapor lock)
from 10 ft away!  I need to take a picture!  I have special
transformers that can flash or script (gradually light the neon tube
from one end to the other) the neon.

> I don't
> know how you would handle the variation in names but could do
> something like they do with coffee cups -- lots of stock -- You
> could get Camping World or Campers choice sell them.

Been thinking about that.  I had success selling neon call signs to
hams at a hamfest where I displayed last year.  I'm collecting the
equipment necessary to build a portable neon plant so I can go to
crafts shows and similar events and make to-order neon.  What I'm
thinking is building a large stock of individual letters and then
weld them together to make the desired words, then process the unit
while the customer waits.  Bet I could work my butt off at an FMCA
rally.  Hey, another excuse to hit the road!

> Slogan; "Buy one and be the LITE of the campground!!" Great
> for finding your way back to the campsite after some Snipe hunting.
> I WANT ONE. (if it don't cost too much.)
> Vince

Drop me a note off-group with what you want and I'll see what I can

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Light bulbs...
Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 01:07:58 -0400

On Tue, 03 Jun 2003 16:09:37 -0400, Chris Bryant <>

>	The neat thing about the Mark Snyder page is that he has
>separate 12 volt ballasts- so you can find nearly any household
>fixture you like and convert it to 12 volt florescent.

There are a couple of other alternatives with considerably better pricing.
One is, a company that specialized in 12 volt
powered neon power supplies.  These will light a fluorescent lamp, though not
quite as brightly as a regular fluorescent ballast.  The good thing is, you
can string up to about 20 ft of 15mm tubes together onto one power supply.
I've never asked but he might have a line of fluorescent lamp drivers too.
Absolutely superb stuff.  Never had a failure in several hundred neon car kits
I've sold.

An even better alternative is to have some white triphosphor "neon" tubes made
that will fit the fixtures.  These "cold cathode" lamps will literally last
forever.  Any neon shop can do that for you.

yet another alternative is the cold cathode lamp of the type used in scanners
and copiers.  This is quite similar to but smaller than what I describe above.
The glass tube is about 4mm in diameter and the length varies from an inch or
so to a foot or longer.  Austin Electronics (770.449.8697) in Norcross
(Atlanta) Ga has the lamps in various colors including white, a 12" tube and
12 volt driver going for $14.95.  these things are so tiny that you could
stick them anywhere, like under a counter or something.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: LED light question
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 13:59:53 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On 16 Nov 2004 14:47:39 GMT, (SOROBON) wrote:

>>Wow, $400 for a light fixture!  This may not answer your question but what I
>>did was put in a double 12" CCFL light.  One tube uses less than 1/2 amp and
>>will light up my trailer just fine.  They take a minute to warm up though.
>>I also do not use it when on converter.  My first inverter burned out
>>presumably from overvoltage.  I bought a computer kit for about $13 that
>>included 2 white tubes and the inverter.  I had to make it fit but now there
>>are some actual fixtures available (mostly marine hardware stores) for
>>around $80.  At first the light seems kinda eery but ya get used to it.  The
>>CCFL tubes have a life expectacy of 10,000 to 25,000 hours depending upon
>>who you ask.  I think CCFL lights are brilliant (pun intended).

>That is a very intresting option.  Thanks

"CCFL" is the technical name for neon, as in neon signs.  The little CCFL
tubes used in computers for backlights and for lighting up these computer
cases are relatively short-lived because of the electrode design. (I know
what they claim but claims and reality sometimes differ) Conventional neon
tubes with their much larger electrodes last practically forever.  I have
some neon in my shop that was made in the 40s and is still burning fine.

Because a neon piece is made to order, there are many possibilities.  The
tubing can be routed around cabinets, underneath cabinets to provide
indirect lighting, even fitted to existing fixtures.  I have zig-zag neon
tubes adhered to the tops of my storage cabinets, activated with switches
on the doors.

Neon, like the CCFL, is a diffuse source of light which casts soft
shadows.  One particularly interesting feature is a tube coated with
phosphor that generates a light spectrum identical to an incandescent
lamp.  This alleviates the complaints often heard of fluorescent lighting
that it is "cold" and "impersonal".  If the tube is out of direct view,
one cannot tell the difference between this light and light from
incandescent lamps.

Cold cathode lighting is THE most efficient form of lighting commonly
available to consumers.  Especially with the latest generator of rare
earth phosphors.

The typical procedure would be to find a neon shop (like me, for instance
:-) to make the tubes.  Show the neonist what you want and let him figure
out how to do it.  Then order 12 or 120vac drivers here:

These are the best drivers I've found.  The dimmable ones will dim right
down to barely visible.

The usual neon sign mounting hardware is too bulky for RV use so I
normally just adhere the tube to whatever I'm lighting with dots of RTV.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: LED light question
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 22:46:20 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 17 Nov 2004 18:33:23 -0800, "Ulysses" <>

>Interesting.  I did not realize that CCFL and neon were the same thing.

Yes.  CCFL means "cold cathode fluorescent Lamp".  Clear red (and rarely
clear pale blue) neon is "cold cathode Lamp" without the fluorescent
coating.  All other neon colors including white work just like a
fluorescent lamp - an evacuated tube partially filled with a mercury/argon
(sometimes xenon) mix and coated with a fluorescent phosphor.  We in the
neon biz refer to neon used in lighting applications (as opposed to signs)
as "cold cathode lighting."  We never picked up the "fluorescent" part of
the name.

>What IS the life expectancy of CCFL tubes?  They seem to last much, much
>longer than the typical fluorescent tubes that get dark ends after a couple
>hundred hours and get noticeably dimmer.  Backlights on laptops don't seem
>to fail frequently and when they do it seems that it's usually the inverter
>that goes, not the tube.  The standard incandescent bulbs only seem to last
>around 50 hours, give or take.  And that's the more expensive ones.  The
>generic ones only last a few hours.

Life expectancy is complicated.  There are two factors - electrode and gas
life and phosphor life.  Electrode life has to do with how fast the
electrodes sputter off metal and consume the fill gas by burying atoms
under the condensed coating of metal.  That black coating you see on each
end of the tube.  Regular Fluorescent lamps have electrodes designed to
sputter at a known rate so that you have to buy new lamps every so often.

Neon electrodes are designed to never sputter.  When properly processed,
the electrode and fill gas life is essentially infinite.  Sputtering is a
function of the electron emissivity of the electrode and the current
density (amps per square mm).  There is a current density for a given
electrode material below which no sputtering occurs. The neon electrode is
designed for current density below that threshold.

CCFL lamps fall somewhere in the middle.  The electrode area is too small
to prevent sputtering.  OTOH, the driver usually runs at a very high
frequency which reduces sputtering (the bombarding ion can only accelerate
so much in the tiny bit of time available on each half-cycle.)  CCFL
hasn't been around long enough for tubes to have actually been run to
exhaustion so the lives quoted are extrapolated from accelerated aging
tests.  Effectively, they last forever too.

Phosphor is damaged both by the UV radiation that makes it glow and by
excited gas and mercury ions.  Traditional neon phosphors were not long
lasting.  The life of a phosphor is defined in terms of its half-life,
e.g., how long until it dims to half its original brightness.  Green was
the worst, with a half life of only a thousand or so hours.  I have a tube
in my shop that was made during WWII.  It still burns OK but the green
phosphor is so damaged that only a tiny bit of muddy green light escapes.

Neon has benefited from all the research done by the big screen and
projection TV mfrs into brighter and longer lived phosphors.  The rare
earth phosphors are practically immune to UV damage.  Several companies
have developed proprietary coatings to apply on top of the phosphors to
shield the phosphor from ion bombardment.

At the relatively low stimulation level (compared to, say, a projection TV
tube), the phosphor life approaches forever.  The companies who coat neon
tubing generally quote rare earth phosphor life in terms of ">20k hours".

Nothing can kill a tube faster than poor processing.  That is, pumping a
vacuum on the tube, heating it to drive out contaminants and activate the
electrode coating, then partially filling the tube with the argon/merc

Unfortunately there are a lot of neon benders who don't know anything
about vacuum processing and just "turn the knobs like my teacher did".
I've seen many a neon plant grossly contaminated with mercury, phosphor
dust and oil.  Tubes processed on these plants start staining and turning
dark almost from the beginning.

Again, unfortunately the best glass benders tend to be the worst
processors.  I've reworked hundreds of tubes from a particular shop in a
nearby town where the guy does beautiful glass work and then fills it with

>I have some CCFL flashlights (one 4" tube) that I've been using about 1 hour
>per night for about a year and the tubes are still very bright.  I think the
>flashlights are great because they use only 4 AA batteries and can be stood
>up on a table or whatever.  I use NiMh batteries and they last about 3-4
>hours before becoming noticeably dimmer and even when they start to go they
>are still bright enough to find your way in the dark for at least 1/2 hour.
>They are just about as bright as the usual double tube fluorescent lanterns
>and don't have a bulky, heavy gel-cel battery that costs as much to replace
>as a new lantern.

I have one of the little Eveready U tube CCFL flashlights that I hang off
my butt as a 'tail light' :-) when riding my electric scooter at night.
I've had it for probably 3 years.  Still burning bright.  This particular
tube is interesting because it has a neon/merc fill.  Neon generates more
heat than argon and is used in a mix with argon for cold weather tubes.
We don't normally use pure neon in our tubes because it has a nasty habit
of making any color tube turn red when it gets cold enough.  I guess this
little CCFL generates enough heat to keep that from happening.

I have made some neon lighting for the outside of my motorhome.  You can
see a photo here:

White neon tubing is encapsulated in polycarbonate plastic tubing for
protection.  All the tubes are  hooked in series and run on one of those
Tech22 drivers I mentioned earlier.  I have a dimmer right inside the door
where I can turn the light down to barely a glow when desired.  At full
intensity I can comfortably read while sitting beside the rig.  This is a
very soft light that casts only gentle shadows.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: LED light question
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 13:55:09 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 18 Nov 2004 09:04:53 -0800, "Ulysses" <>

>Thanks for the extremely thorough and very interesting explanation!
>I was interested in making neon lights in the past but after reading about
>them it was clear that it was beyond the reach of hobbyists.  Once I learned
>how to bend glass tubing I guess it was only natural to want to do something
>with it.

I disagree.  I started out as a hobbyist.  In fact, I decided to learn how
to do it after my ex made some stained glass pieces that we both thought
would look good with some neon. I built my first plant for the princely
sum of $1500.  I made all my fires from scratch (photos on my little web
site).  I designed the processing bench to use ordinary hardware store
components with the exception of the bombarder (heats and processes the
tube) that required a power company pole transformer.  I've added perhaps
$1000 in additional stuff over the years.

I've been thinking for years about hitting some of the craft show
circuits, making neon on-site and to order.  To that end, I've worked out
a complete neon plant that fits into one roll-around cart about the size
of a tool box that can operate from a <6kw generator.

When I decided to learn neon, I signed up for a 6 hour workshop offered by
a neon shop in Atlanta.  I was already a fairly decent glass blower so I
was doing good work at the end of the first 2 hour session.  I spent the
rest of the workshop studying and photographing shop equipment.  Then I
went home and essentially duplicated that equipment.  I offer similar
workshops and have conducted more than one with people who drove over and
stayed in their RV in my parking lot.

>How did you attach the tubes to your motorhome?  With just dots of RTV
>silicon like you mentioned before?  I've been using nylon cable holders that
>screw on for my small tubes.

I use black (UV resistant) cable ties with an eye on one end.  They're
sheet metal screwed into the aluminum header at the roof line.

>What about the so-called EL Wire?  Does that work the same way as neon?  For
>that matter does EL Wire put out enough light to use for interior/exterior

No, not enough light for lighting.  EL (electroluminescent) wire consists
of a tube containing a phosphor that fluoresces under the influence of an
electric field.  There are wires in the phosphor that conduct the

>Do the inverters put out sine wave, modified sine wave, or will square wave
>work?  What's the voltage?

The ones I've looked at are simple relaxation oscillators, outputting a
"crap" wave.  The waveform doesn't matter much so that's fine.

>Do you have your own web site for your neon work?  I have a 14 year old
>daughter who likes unusual lighting...

There are a few pics on my site (URL in my .sig) I only have 10mb of space
and it's always tight, as I mainly use the site to post pictures and
diagrams supporting articles I write.  Old stuff gets booted as new comes

I've been meaning to get a round tuit to put up a better site for years.
I'm somewhat confused about what hosting options, domain name
registration, etc I should go with so I've procrastinated.

I'm currently working on an approx 4 ft tall multi-colored neon Christmas
tree.  I've  had an approx 18" tall tree in the restaurant for years but
the floor finishers broke it awhile back.  I decided to super-size it
instead of just repairing it :-)  I'll put a picture up when I get it


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: LED light question
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 17:58:12 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 18 Nov 2004 15:34:42 -0800, "Ulysses" <>

>"Neon John" <> wrote in message >
>> I disagree.  I started out as a hobbyist.
>I guess I read the wront book :-(  Sound like a considerable investment to
>get started though.

I think I have all the books out there on making neon.  They were all
written by people who came up the hard way, typically through
apprenticeships.  They don't like to think about there being an easier
way.  In fact, until about the last 15 years, it was almost impossible to
find someone to show you anything about neon outside an apprenticeship or
trade school.  The old guild mentality.  The net has opened things up.

> In fact, I decided to learn how
>> to do it after my ex made some stained glass pieces that we both thought
>> would look good with some neon. I built my first plant for the princely
>> sum of $1500.  I made all my fires from scratch (photos on my little web
>> site).  I designed the processing bench to use ordinary hardware store
>> components with the exception of the bombarder (heats and processes the
>> tube) that required a power company pole transformer.
>Do you sell any of your creations or do you build to special order?  Are
>they really expensive?

All the above.  I keep a small bit of stock stuff around, things like OPEN
signs and the like.  The Chinese red army-run neon slave labor camps (I'm
not exaggerating*) have all but killed the small artistic neon object
market.  When the labor is free, they can sell neon tabletop items for
$19.95.  Just the base costs me over $50.

The worse problem is that this cheap stuff that burns out rapidly sets the
expectations of potential customers.  It's hard to convince a customer
that a custom sculpture that might take a week to complete is worth $3-500
or more when they can go to Walgreen drug store and buy a smaller one for

I mostly do custom commissions.  "Expensive" is relative, I suppose.  I
figure prices on a labor rate of $30/hr.  One can't make a living at that
rate but it's fine for hobby work.  I can do simple stuff in a few hours.
Complex things can take a week or more.


* The Chicoms cram several thousand prisoner tube benders under one roof,
elbow to elbow.  Each bender does one single type of bend for a particular
production run.  People I know who have visited one of these "factories"
say it is unbelievable.  Imagine several thousand gas fires burning in a
closed building with little ventilation.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: RIP Pink Flamingos
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 04:28:22 -0400
Message-ID: <>

In the South they're called Witch's Balls.  Something to do with
warding off evil spirits.

I do know that I can take one of those, slosh around some nitric acid
to get rid of the mirror, then bake, dust a little multi-colored
phosphor around the inside, add a drop of mercury, evacuate and charge
with ~8 Torr of Argon gas and then set it on the open end of a #10 can
that has a microwave oven magnetron sticking in through the side, the
glow is VERY spirit-like :-)


On Thu, 26 Oct 2006 16:32:20 -0400, "Eisboch" <> wrote:

>"Hunter" <> wrote in message
>> On Thu, 26 Oct 2006 13:22:49 -0400, "Eisboch" <> wrote:
>>>Next to go will be those iridescent  blue balls the size of basketballs on
>>>stands outside most homes in senior mobile home parks.
>> They are called gazing balls.
>> Hunter
>Seriously?  I always wondered what they were ... or what they were for.
>Basically, nothing.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: RIP Pink Flamingos
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 19:06:59 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 27 Oct 2006 05:06:49 -0400, "Eisboch" <> wrote:

>> I do know that I can take one of those, slosh around some nitric acid
>> to get rid of the mirror, then bake, dust a little multi-colored
>> phosphor around the inside, add a drop of mercury, evacuate and charge
>> with ~8 Torr of Argon gas and then set it on the open end of a #10 can
>> that has a microwave oven magnetron sticking in through the side, the
>> glow is VERY spirit-like :-)
>> John
>Yup.  I've played with  (well -- actually made a living)  building equipment
>to create and manage various forms of plasma discharges .... for sputtering,
>etching, cleaning, etc.   Disassociate some methane or other hydrocarbon gas
>with a seeded substrate exposed within the plasma and grow your own
>diamonds.  Lotsa fun.

Lots of folks (me included) are playing (and working) around with
microwave oven-based plasma reactors, plasma etchers and such.  I
mean, how can you NOT play with 2.54ghz when you can buy a 600watt RF
source at wallyworld for 30 bux?  Heck, there's even a commercial
product that is little more than an oven with holes for the glassware
inlet and outlet.

About diamonds.  A couple decades ago I worked with a prof at NC State
who had developed a method of growing planar single crystal diamonds
using little more than an acetylene torch and a water-cooled copper
plate.  The setup involved a torch held in a clamp running a rich
mixture with the orange flame impinging on a copper plate that was
moved back and forth by a servo.  When conditions were just right, the
diamond crystal would grow on top of the soot coating. He grew me a
crystal to use as a window on a very low energy alpha radiation


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