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Old 05-25-2011, 06:13 AM #33
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Default Re: Argon!

Funny you mention killing a circuit breaker by running an argon laser....a couple of years ago I was running one of mine (BTW never noticed any color difference between a multi-line and a single line 488nm, probably because I've never run two of my argons at the same time, our electric bill is high enough w/o doing that, + I'd have to be sure they would be on two different circuits) and it totally destroyed one of the breakers. I don't mean it just tripped it, I mean it permanently broke it. Cost $175 to have a new one installed.

But I told my mom that it broke when I was running a space heater (not a laser!), so I was only half fibbing....

And speaking of space heaters, every Halloween I fire up one of my argons (I do run them more often than that!) and fog my garage, and I swear that just one argon running can keep a 2 car garage maybe 10 degrees warmer than the outside air! I have actual space heaters that don't perform that well.


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Old 05-25-2011, 12:20 PM #34
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Default Re: Argon!

At full power, a 60X draws 1760 watts with a classic switching power supply.
That's nothing for most residential circuits in the US, but our extension cords are skimpy and some of our plugs/wall outlets are not the greatest. It costs less then 25$ at home depot to build up a cord with proper screw terminals and stranded 10 guage wire. Avoid commercial extension cords with crimped connections when using ion lasers!

However, some older magnetic circuit breakers do not like 1800 watts CW with the high peak currents of a switcher. So yes, you can "burn" a circuit breaker if its older or poorly made. I've had it happen with both lasers and microwave ovens.

Usually, what happens is the circuit breakers have sat installed for 20 years, temperature cycling, and work loose and start to arc. Ours are 40 years old, in a attached garage, and cycle from well below freezing to 80-100 degrees F, they work loose over time, and fail under a sudden large load from self heating at the contacts.

More then one laser hobbyist has found issues with excessive ohmic heating and series resistance with cheap cords and less then standard wall wiring with air cooled argons. About .5 to 1 ohm in series with a switcher can wreck havoc with the feedback loop.

I've ran medical tubes to 4.2 watts in the garage, this works out to around 7 kilowatts, and I had to back off the power after 20-30 seconds as I was pulling so much load that the transformer that feeds my home and our neighbor's was sagging down to about 210 volts. I imagine this happened when his air conditioning kicked on. The reason for backing off was the cathode transformer was not able to be tapped up enough to keep the cathode emission up, at the low voltage, and I could not risk having the cathode sag.

Until you think about it, its not intuitive, but drawing electrons from a hot cathode actually cools it. Tungsten has a region where its butter soft as it heats up, then becomes tougher when hot. If you cool it too much, it causes the cathode to "sag" down into the bore. Too hot is a issue as well, but no where near as bad as too cold. So if you running a big laser off single phase , you have to watch the cathode current.

When you see the size of the motor required for a classic phase converter, you might be shocked how much iron is in one. Most are mounted on carts, and have starter motors to spin them up. Its not uncommon to find a 5-7 HP motor in a home phase converter. The weight seems inversely tied to the number of phase shifter caps you have, if you have a large cap bank, you can get by with less iron... Most could not be lifted by a single human.
Adding caps gets the size down, but at the cost of the electric bill going through the roof. With a large (somewhat expensive) cap bank, motor size comes way down, but you need oil filled, or other high energy caps. Volume does not come down, as the caps are big, but weight does decrease.

However, if you can find a Ronk rotary phase converter, which is a motor made back to back with a generator, you get a very quiet, tiny unit, and they are well built.

Its just easier to find a medical switcher PSU when you want to run a big ion in your basement. Ie HGM20 or HGM E8 psu or a Meditech.

If you want to run a big laser at home, it also helps to find a krypton or mixed gas tube, KR tubes, in the 1 meter long class, run about 10 volts lower then their argon counterparts. Whitelight tubes are usually 85-95% KR, and run 5 volts lower then their pure argon version. Downside is you get far less light then a pure argon.


When you rectify three phase, the ripple frequency is 360 Hz, vs 120 or 100 Hz for single phase, so the filter components in the PSU can be much, much smaller and less expensive. This is the other reason big plasma tubes are sized for three phase. A three phase filter cap is just a little bigger then a beer can. A single phase filter cap is usually a array of caps or one really massive electrolytic. So you need to beef these parts up as well if your home made 3P is so clean or balanced.


7-35 kilowatts is not something you want to see on a residential electric bill. We can see the jump in billing when I run large ions a whole day.

Compared to my neighbors welders, my lasers are small.

Steve

Last edited by LSRFAQ; 05-25-2011 at 12:49 PM.
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