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Building a cyclotron - tips/ideas

  1. Oct 15, 2012 #1
    Hello!

    I am interested in building a cyclotron. Since I doubt that I will be compotent enough to build a cyclotron right now, what are some tips that you can give me to get me started on the (long) process towards building a cyclotron. I understand the several dangers - I am interacting with high voltage electrical circuits and x-ray radiation.

    I do not want to simply start building a cyclotron and expose myself to such dangers, so can you give me some projects to work on that may help me when I finally get started on the cyclotron. Some topics to read about would be helpful - I am only twelve, so I can safely say that I have a LOT of time.

    I am hoping to start working on this project by the time that I am in my late-thirteens. I do have a decent knowledge on how cyclotrons work - the idea behind it is rather simple, but the actual building and experimentation is far more difficult. I don't want to sound ignorant or foolish, but if I do , I'm sorry.

    Thank You.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2012 #2

    Drakkith

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    May I recommend that you instead try to build a "demonstration" Fusor instead? It is a tabletop fusion reactor that even high school students have built as science fair projects. Demonstration means you don't actually use fusible fuel, as that would produce Neutron radiation that is VERY hazardous and MUCH harder to stop than X-Rays. The projects would be FAR easier to build yet it takes the same skills. High vacuum, high voltage, and you could even incorporate magnets if you wanted to to do a psuedo "polywell". (Look up Fusor and Polywell on Wikipedia to learn more, and head over to fusor.net for more info on making a fusor)

    STILL, I highly recommend that you wait a few years, learn some stuff about all of this, and get a RESPONSIBLE adult to help you. (Uncle Johnny who likes to light fireworks in your shoe is probably not the best choice) The highest risk you will be exposed to is the high voltage, so I recommend learning as much about electronics as you can. There are plenty of resources online and you should acquire some basic electronics books if you haven't already.

    I think they key thing is to start SMALL and move on up from there in steps. You know the old saying. You have to walk before you can travel faster than light. :biggrin:
    Start with electronics, and build a bunch of stuff using the skills you are acquiring. There are massive amounts of kits out there and the skills you learn could actually be useful in the future.
     
  4. Oct 16, 2012 #3

    jtbell

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  5. Oct 16, 2012 #4
    Wow - this is great! THis is perfect, because this was the exact sort of thing I was looking for. I do want to build a cyclotron - but as I said before, I have a lot of time. Assuming that I put a lot of hard work, and spend a huge amount of time looking into these matters - how long do you think it will be before I can build a cyclotron. I am currently taking Calculus three and Physics 180 (Mechanics) at my college. Any tips?

    I don't want to jump into this headfirst - that would be like jumping into an empty swimming pool. Now that I have project that I can put some effort into, I want to know some physics/mathematic topics that I should learn.

    Thank You.

    P.S. I have access to the Physics Department at my college, so I am sure that there would people who are willing to help me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  6. Oct 16, 2012 #5
    I have already read several other threads on this topic - most people dissuade the person from making the accelerator. I'm not sure of what to think of this - I want to build the accelerator, but I do not want to do something that could risk my life. WHat do you think?
     
  7. Oct 16, 2012 #6

    Drakkith

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    You only have one life. Is it worth it to build something for essentially no reason? You won't be contributing to science, and it is a dangerous device capable of not only killing or injuring yourself, but others as well. It is one thing for an adult who has already had years of experience in electronics and other areas to attempt to build one, it is quite another thing for yourself, lacking those qualities, to build one. And it's not just the "skills". It's also the ability to mitigate risk, to understand what is acceptable and what isn't when it comes to safety, and a hundred other little things that you don't even know about yet. I am 28 years old, I have worked on nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, bombs, and electronic test equipment and I do not have the ability to build a demo fusor, let alone a cyclotron. Do you really think you are going to based on a year or two more of "experience"?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  8. Oct 16, 2012 #7
    That is true - I guess I can look into something else.
     
  9. Oct 16, 2012 #8
    Do you know other projects that I can work on though - something that I can handle safely, but not something too simple. Something that I can truly learn from.

    Thank You
     
  10. Oct 16, 2012 #9

    Drakkith

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    I don't know how much you already know so it's hard to say. Have you ever built any basic electronic devices before?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  11. Oct 16, 2012 #10
    Yes. Sorry this is vague, but I've "played" around with circuitry before. I've never attempted anything huge before, but I have a mediocre knowledge on circuitry (and the physics side of it ). Also, a fusor reactor is not the best project for me - a kid at my school has already made one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  12. Oct 16, 2012 #11

    Drakkith

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    Well, I don't know then. I would say keep studying the basics and getting them mastered and if you eventually find a project that you can reasonably accomplish go for it. Try doing a google search for electronics projects, maybe you'll find an idea or two there.
     
  13. Oct 16, 2012 #12
    Yes, I did try google searching, but I unfortunately did not find much. Most of the projects were rather simple. I guess I will keep looking. I really want to find a project that I can really put effort in, and work on. This really the only way I could get anywhere with my life - just taking the academic classes won't be enough.
     
  14. Oct 16, 2012 #13

    Drakkith

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    Don't look down on the classes themselves. They are integral to getting where you want to go. Hands on experience is nice to have, however you CAN get that while in college. Depending on what field you actually want to get into, you may not even be able to get any real hands on experience before then.

    What area do you think you want to get into as a career?
     
  15. Oct 16, 2012 #14
    I am certainly interested in physics. However, I am not sure about what aspect of physics I will get into - I really enjoy accelerator Physics. I may not understand completely, but I am fascinated by the topic.
     
  16. Oct 16, 2012 #15

    Drakkith

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    Well, do you want to get into the theoretical aspects of it, or the hands on building the actual machine part? Those are two very different worlds.
    Keep in mind that you don't need to decide now, and I wouldn't expect you to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  17. Oct 16, 2012 #16
    I actually want to get into both - but I am especially interested in the hands-on part. I will be taking quantum mechanics at my college in about a year or two, so I think I would be able to understand the theoretical part in the future.
     
  18. Oct 16, 2012 #17

    Drakkith

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    The best advice I can give you is to focus on your school courses and get the best grades possible. Make sure that you not only can do the math, but that you understand how math actually works. Once you get out of high school and get into college that is where you will actually start going in a particular direction. Until then getting your basics down is the key to any career.
     
  19. Oct 16, 2012 #18

    Drakkith

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    Excellent. Just keep it up.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  20. Oct 16, 2012 #19
    I'm sorry if I sound demanding - but you have no idea on a project to work on?
     
  21. Oct 16, 2012 #20

    Drakkith

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    I'm sorry I do not. I have already linked some basic electronics, but if you have already surpassed those then I don't think I can help you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
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