During my junior and sophomore years of high school, I experimented with several home built fusion apparatuses. The first one consisted of a polycarbonate vacuum chamber constructed with hardware store piping, an air conditioning vacuum pump from an auto parts store, and a custom designed power supply constructed with three microwave oven transformers (MOT’s for short). This system provided me with the basics to start experimenting. The chamber immediately had problems with the immense heat, the vacuum system was not good enough for good plasma densities, and the 5-7kV power supply did not accelerate fast enough to achieve fusion. The second apparatus was constructed from a thick glass bell jar, a higher voltage neon sign transformer, and a much better rebuilt vacuum pump. This system had all the qualities required to achieve. Unfortunately, I did not possess the means to acquire deuterium or tritium to start sending neutrons flying. A concept called “PolyWell” was also heavily researched and prototyped, however the project was put on hold due to money and time constraints.
The electrostatic motor project started as a physics II project and ended up becoming a mini-design competition with myself. The original project description was to build a working model of an electrostatic motor to run off a Van de Graaff generator. After reading countless articles going over designs from hundreds of years ago, I decided to start designing and building. Within a week, I had gone through four iterations and learned a great deal. I had also fabricated my own power supply from a flyback transformer found in an old tube tv. The final motor design approached 8000 RPM during some tests. There was visible corona discharge between the stator and rotor which emitted a faint purple light and smelled of ozone. Something interesting to note with these motors is that their upper RPM limit is only defined by the resultant friction of the system. The force on the rotor is constant through all RPM’s unlike most motors we are familiar with. The motor ended up winning first place in the class and achieved a maximum speed of 6,000 RPM. The closest runner-up acheived 1,600 RPM.