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Need help making a cloud chamber

  1. Mar 5, 2010 #1
    OK I know many people here are familiar with cloud chambers particularly those of you who are teaching. I have never built one but I want to go all out on my first attempt. I have seen plenty of instructions from researching through google and I was wondering if you guys have any additional tips from past experience?

    I am thinking of using a 10 gallon fish tank. Is there any way to make it so I don't have to keep adding alcohol?

    I am going to use some really bright LEDs and I am gonna have dials for red green and blue intensity as well as strobe frequency. I would rather have them on top but where is the best place to put these?

    I also want to make this a plug in cloud chamber so I want to make it without any dry ice. Is there a certain temperature I have to get down to? Will thermal diodes get me there? Any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2010 #2


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    10 gallon tank? Wow. You really are going all out!

    I know nothing about these things, but I saw your thread when I was searching, because it came up in [post=2712301]a reply I wrote[/post] suggesting someone interested in building a betatron start out with a cloud chamber instead. There are some links in that reply, but I think they are at a more basic level than you need.

    I am giving your thread a late bump to see if anyone more competent notices and can say something useful!

    But just for my own interest... why colours like red green and blue? What does this allow you to do?

    Also, why a strobe? I am guessing this is useful if you have a chamber that is able to pick up a lot of tracks, but in that case don't the tracks last long enough that a strobe would make little difference? Or does it just let you have a more intense light for flash photography of tracks?

    Cheers -- sylas
  4. May 11, 2010 #3
    I'm not trying to do any science with this, you might be thinking of a bubble chamber. It's more like a physicist's version of an aquarium. So the LEDs and strobe are just to make it look cool.
  5. May 11, 2010 #4


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    Oh! Sorry, I misunderstood. But now I am interested, your project sounds like it would be interesting. What do you have in your cloud chamber? Have you a link to other sites that give an idea of what you are trying to do?

    Cheers -- sylas

    PS. I think in physics it is usual to refer to a "cloud chamber" as a device that shows tracks of particles in supercooled gas, while a "bubble chamber" is a device that shows tracks of particles in superheated liquid. The links I had given above were for cloud chambers in this sense of the word.
    Last edited: May 11, 2010
  6. May 11, 2010 #5
    Search for Peltier and cloud chamber---there are some 'instructables' about diy cloud chambers and at least one of them uses Peltier junctions instead of dry ice.

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