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Old Physics Apparatuses - Identification Help

  1. Jun 13, 2012 #1
    Hello,

    I am an undergrad in my senior year at a small liberal arts college. This summer, I have been given the task of assessing our physics labs. Specifically, we have a lot of old equipment that the professors don't know much about, and they would like me to find out if it works anymore. After some Google searches, I have not been able to come up with anything for a few particular apparatuses. Would this be an appropriate place to post some pictures of the equipment, in the hopes that someone can help me identify it?

    Thank you in advance for your help!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2012 #2

    krd

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    Post some pictures, let's see what you've got at your liberal arts college.
     
  4. Jun 13, 2012 #3

    Danger

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    If it has a zipper and a kick-starter, your arts college is too liberal.
     
  5. Jun 13, 2012 #4

    sophiecentaur

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    I can't wait! If it's made of Mahogany and Brass, so much the better!
     
  6. Jun 13, 2012 #5
    Well, not necessarily mahogany and brass, but we do have some really old stuff. I believe some of it dates from the 40s. It is a possibility I'll find even older stuff hanging around though; I'm sure this thread will become longer as I find or am assigned more equipment to investigate :)

    So, here's the first one:
    The only markings on it say Fisher Scientific 900725-065
    I can find no documentation/manuals on it anywhere in our labs, nor on the net.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Jun 13, 2012 #6
    Here's the second one. This is the one I believe may be from the 40s.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Jun 13, 2012 #7

    Danger

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    It looks like some sort of optical comparitor, or perhaps a stereoscopic microscope... :confused:

    edit: That's in response to the first. Now I'll look at the second.

    2nd edit: Okay, that other thing is one freaky looking piece of kit. One piece is labeled "klystron", which is almost a maser (ie: semi-coherent and focused microwave generator). The plaque in the last picture would tend to support that it outputs EM. The audio dial seems out of place, unless it's some sort of radar system that beeps. And once again, :confused:
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  9. Jun 13, 2012 #8

    sophiecentaur

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    The first is a spectrometer, I reckon. One arm is the collimator, to produce a vertical slit illumination and the other arm is a telescope. You put a prism or grating on the central table and measure the relative angles of the spectral lines. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY!!!! Someone will regret it if you do. (And I will hate you for ever)
     
  10. Jun 13, 2012 #9

    sophiecentaur

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    The other is a microwave test set of some sort. There is a klystron and a transmitting horn on a line with a detector / wavemeter (?). The electronics is ancient but that could always be updated. Again, it's worth hanging on to because replacement kit is always ridiculously pricy and not always good quality.

    Got any more??
     
  11. Jun 13, 2012 #10
    Haha, don't worry, I'm not going to throw any of it away! We just have a bunch of equipment that hasn't been used in at least a decade (or more than half a century).

    Would you know anywhere I could go or a source I could consult to find some documentation or manuals on these setups?

    We only have two advanced physics lab classes currently on the books. Each course is taught only once every two years (and sometimes there is a longer gap between offerings). In total, there are about 10 apparatuses/experiments that are used between the two, and several are out of commission, so we're just doing a general inventory to see if some of our old stuff works well enough to be brought into use again.

    I will have a few more setups, but not right away. I'll do my best to post them as soon as I can, but it may be a week or two. Thank you for the help! Any and all speculations are welcome on what this stuff is or how I could find out enough about it to use it.
     
  12. Jun 13, 2012 #11

    Danger

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    Hey, now! I just noticed that statement. Keep in mind that some of the people who you are asking for help also date from the 40's. :tongue:

    (Not me; I''m young... but some guys like Turbo and Thomas are older than dirt.)
     
  13. Jun 13, 2012 #12

    krd

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    The first one is definitely a spectrometer. And it looks in nearly never been used condition.

    Be careful - there are other bits and pieces that come with it. (at least usually - or stuff you'd need to do experiments) Slides with gratings on them - light sources (little neon type tubes of stuff) and maybe a few prisms.

    The table - the bit in the middle - they'll be other bits a piece for clipping what you've got into it.

    I haven't touched one in years - I love to have a go.
     
  14. Jun 13, 2012 #13

    krd

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    These kids.........At their liberal arts college......probably think the Olsen Twins are geriatrics.
     
  15. Jun 13, 2012 #14

    Danger

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    They're a bit too old for me, but still pretty hot. :tongue2:
     
  16. Jun 13, 2012 #15
    My apologies. I was referring to the technology behind the apparatuses (vacuum tubes and the like), not to people. It would be great to hear from people who actually have used set-ups like this before. Our professors here are just a bunch of young whipper-snappers :biggrin:
     
  17. Jun 13, 2012 #16
    We have drawers and cabinets full of optical accessories. I'm sure they're hanging around somewhere. It's just hard to find the right ones since I can't locate a manual haha!
     
  18. Jun 13, 2012 #17
    I'll agree with the spectrometer assessment, but the second one looks like a radio of sorts. Maybe a kind of radio transmitter/receiver? An old timey walkie talkie?
     
  19. Jun 14, 2012 #18

    sophiecentaur

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    Fit for the scrap heap, some of us. The polish has worn off the mahogany.
     
  20. Jun 14, 2012 #19

    sophiecentaur

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    Did you not notice the klystron (centre) and microwave horn (on the right)? It's a lot posher than the standard School Microwave stuff but there's no doubt about its purpose. That big grey box could be chucked out if it doesn't work when turned on. It wouldn't be hard for a 'constructor type' to design and make up a better power supply / modulator. Perhaps a new valve may be needed but most types (or equivalents) are available these days.

    Haha - you use the term 'Old Time' like it had a spark transmitter and coherer. Cheeky young pup.
     
  21. Jun 14, 2012 #20

    Danger

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    You shouldn't have rubbed it so hard. :rolleyes:

    Adventurer, have you considered contacting either the Smithsonian or the Library of Congress? If there is printed material such as operations manuals for your stuff, one of them might have it. Even if you aren't in the USA, they might be willing to assist you.
     
  22. Jun 14, 2012 #21

    sophiecentaur

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    For something like a spectrometer, you certainly wouldn't need a specific manual - just an old text book with some descriptions of experiments in spectroscopy. Blue Tac and sticky tape are fine for fixing gratings and prisms in place if your box of accessories is missing. All the essentials seem to be there in your pictures.
    Even the microwave equipment would only require a general knowledge of microwave equipment (no manual you could find would tell you how to Mend It, in any case). I should have hoped that you could drag out some ancient old academic from some dusty cupboard to fire up the klystron - given a multimeter and oscilloscope. But a Gunn oscillator (solid state) source would easily do the job and these are available and more reliable.
    Time was when Lab Techs were good at this sort of thing but now they only know about software and simulations.
     
  23. Jun 14, 2012 #22

    epenguin

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    You never know when the old things may turn out useful.
     
  24. Jun 14, 2012 #23

    AlephZero

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    Some if that may be meant to be humorous, but seriously I would be very wary of trying to power up any 50 year old high voltage electronic equipment, unless you know enough to give it a at least a thorough clean and visual inspection first, and ideally check it out at the level of the individual components as well. Ancient high voltage capacitors etc don't improve with age, and they can fail in quite spectacular (and dangerous) ways.

    Also, general safety standards for lab equipment back then were not the same as they are now. Not that students 50 years ago were killed very often in lab accidents, but they were much less likely to sue you over minor incidents compared with today. And today's students probably haven't built up the years of experience of working with the sort of lab hazards that were "normal" back then.
     
  25. Jun 14, 2012 #24

    sophiecentaur

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    A reflex klystron isn't a high voltage device. I'm pretty sure it only uses the same voltage as normal valve equipment. Its output power is not many tens of mW.
    I can't see more of an issue than turning on an aging audio amp. It would be necessary to give it a PAT test first.
     
  26. Jun 14, 2012 #25

    AlephZero

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    Well, it depends what you call "not high voltage" or "normal valve equipment"

    Some old data sheets for on Mullard refkex klystrons here. http://frank.pocnet.net/other/Mullard/PD/klystrons.pdf The output powers are tens of mW as you say, but the voltage difference across the two electrodes are of the order of 500 to 1000V. That need to be taken seriously IMO. If you fire up a 400V eletrolytic capacitor that's been gathering dust for 40 years, it's a bit of a gamble whether it's open circuit, short circuit, or a small explosive device!
     
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