2020-01-29 Fusion Thoughts About The Future, Pros, Cons

So many ideas about the future promises of nuclear fusion power, how it will affect the world.

Will nuclear fusion ever become a reality? It remains to be seen. In the meantime we will have to make do with renewable energy, mostly wind and solar. The goal is to greatly reduce use of fossil fuels and restore stability to the climate.

It will take even more time than has already been spent to make fusion an inexpensive form of power. The machines that will do it will be very complex and expensive. Hopefully over time the cost of fusion power will become so inexpensive that the power itself will not need to be metered, the charges will be for transmission and delivery.

Since electricity will be very low cost, there will be much less concern about the efficiency of generation and transmission. The low costs will allow the fusion electric generation plant(s) to be located in a centralized location, probably away from populated areas. The low cost would allow transmission of electricity for long distances to far away towns and villages where power transmission has been too expensive. The local distribution will also be possible due to the low cost.

In locations where it would be difficult to run transmission lines, the electricity’s low cost will allow it to be converted to a transportable form, such as hydrogen. This can be compressed and stored in mobile container vehicles, trucks, railroad cars or ships. The hydrogen would be used to power fuel cells to generate electricity and co-generate heat, and the byproduct will be pure water, which could be used. The efficiency of the overall system would not be a concern because the fusion generates so much electricity so cheaply that there are no excessive costs. The overall system would be as efficient as fossil fuel generation plants, which are 40% or less.

The fusion energy will allow the use of fossil fuels to be greatly reduced. This will save the environment and climate. The electricity for transportation will be very inexpensive so most land and sea vehicles will be electric powered. In the far future it may be possible to reduce the size of a fusion power plant to where it could be used to power mobile vehicles such as ships and airplanes. If the fusion power plant can run continuously then it could be used for generating electricity and heat locally, and then the power is inexpensive and it can be used to charge storage batteries that will furnish electricity when the vehicle is away being used.

The gasoline pumps at service stations will be replaced with hydrogen ‘pumps’. There will be very few gasoline pumps, and those few will be E85, gasoline but mostly ethanol which is renewable.

The waste heat from electricity generation could be used to sterilize and distill water to make recycling waste water possible. The waste heat could also be used, along with light from electricity to grow crops during winter or even year round when in colder climates.

The cheap electricity will be used to refine aluminum from its ore. This has always been an electricity intensive operation. But the lower cost will mean more aluminum will be used in almost everything. The electricity could replace the fossil fuels now used in refining other metals. Processes have to be developed to make replacing or reducing fossil fuel use.

Manufacturing processes will have to be changed or replaced to eliminate fossil fuels. If possible, hydrogen can be used.

The jet fuel used in airplanes will have to be mitigated – it is still a source of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is causing global warming. Since fusion electricity will be so low cost, the demand for it will rise exponentially. One area that will require a great amount will be removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When this is done, it may be possible to make useful organic compounds with it. In that case, the carbon dioxide from the airplanes may be recycled back into jet fuel or aviation gasoline, so there will be net zero emissions from airplanes. This also applies to other fossil fuels. It may be possible to generate enough electricity to remove enough carbon dioxide to reduce the global warming.

One problem that must be considered is the amount of heat generated in making fusion electricity. If it is a large amount, it in itself could become a major contributor to global warming. This has to be evaluated so that the proper decisions can be made on how to prevent this excess heat from becoming a problem. There is no Planet B. We can’t move to another planet; we have to take good care of the only one we have.


2020-01-28 Hacking Absurdly Lucrative

A good Politifact article re: SEO hacking and trying to track down a fake news author/exploiter.

“It’s absurdly lucrative, almost like printing money,” said David Carroll, an associate professor of media design at the New School’s Parsons School of Design. “Facebook targeting makes it so easy to buy access to audiences that engage with junk content and then arbitrage the traffic off of Facebook.”

At the end it says

“See a questionable website, photo or video on your social media feeds? Send it to and we’ll fact-check it for you.”


2020-01-24 Soldering Surface Mount Devices

From FB group Vintage Transistor Radios

Gary Maker
For decades I was intimidated by SMDs, never touched them. A few years ago I bought a LED chaser kit and a SMD soldering practice kit, and I got a cheap 8 watt soldering iron that plugs into a USB charger. It has a small pointed tip. Then I got some fine gauge solder, IIRC .25mm. it’s important! Also a flux pen or bottle to keep the SMD from blowing away by your breath (really!). A tweezers and magnifying glass on a pedestal too.

With the small solder and iron I got through with the practice kit and LED kit without problems. They say practice makes perfect! And the kits are cheap!


2020-01-23 DIY Variable Capacitor 90 to 3400 pF

The beginning isn’t clear about how it looks. First, scroll to end and look at the photo.


2020-01-22 I was Zucked by a Facebook Group Administrator

Jeff Collins
There are too many admins who have no consideration for members and give no warning to members that they violated some capricious rule that the admin arbitrarily made up. I was banned without warning from an Arduino group for something that wasn’t my fault. The admin decided I had to apologize for blocking another member and unblock him, even though all members have the right to block.

The IP (intellectual property – images and text) that I authored in that group is no longer accessible to me, I cannot modify or delete it. That in my opinion is a violation of the new California law that just took effect. It’s this reason why I decided that I will post my IP to my own blog and link to it, for my own protection.

So I have been ‘Zucked’. Facebook has already had to answer to congress for its transgressions, and has had to pay huge fines. I feel that it’s still unfair to members of groups to have to be so concerned about the irresponsibility of the Facebook communities.


2020-01-21 Powering AC Adapters From 48 VDC or ??

I have thought about how to convert low voltage DC solar power for use inside the home. If the solar PV panels put out 24 or 48 VDC to a storage battery, the usual battery system is followed by a DC to AC inverter that puts out standard electric power, 120VAC in the USA. But the standard for low voltage power over Ethernet cable allows 48VDC at up to 15 watts to be sent over 2 pairs of a 4 pair Cat5e or Cat6 cable.

I’ve been viewing several AC to DC adapter teardowns on YouTube (Big Clive and Diode Gone Wild) and various other schematics, and the adapters are simple and are rated to work from a wide range: 85 to 250 VAC, 50 or 60 Hz. The schematic shows one that might furnish 12VDC at several watts output.

This is typical of the adapters: they have a diode full wave bridge rectifier on the incoming AC power, and a small filter capacitor rated for 400 VDC. Then the DC goes into a switching circuit that drives the primary of a small ferrite transformer. The feedback winding keeps the switch oscillating. The secondary winding is isolated from the AC line, and its AC is rectified and filtered, and sent to the 12VDC output.

The full wave bridge rectifier makes the incoming AC line inherently insensitive to polarity so it could accept DC as well as AC. It should work at full power on 120VDC, which is about what 85VAC would be after rectification and filtering (85VAC times the square root of 2). The question is what DC voltage do these power adapters stop working at? Could I get partial power from it with 48VDC applied to the power plug?

I think that if I changed some of the resistors (or put another resistor in parallel) in the circuit, it might give maybe 1/3 power with 48VDC applied to the power plug. Since it’s straight DC without any ripple, the main filter capacitor after the bridge doesn’t seem to be that critical.


2020-01-20 Costs of Radio Assemblies and Parts

From FB group Vintage Transistor Radios

A thought occured. Do you think that Motorola may have had a lot of parts for tube sets and they decided to use them up by putting a transistor chassis in them?

If you break down a radio into its assemblies and/or parts, which of them has the highest cost? I would expect the case to cost quite a bit because it would be contracted out to a plastic molding company or whatever. The assembled chassis would probably be the most cost, lots of labor involved. Maybe the reason why several lines of radios may have a common chassis. It would be interesting to see the Bill Of Materials for one of these old radios.


2020-01-18 More Zenith Royal 200 Conversion to Silicon

Continued from post 2020-01-15

I dug through my drawers and boxes of transistors and found a bunch of MPSA56 PNP general purpose on tape, and put them into the LO and mixer. I think they helped slightly – they are lower minimum fT than the 2N3906s.

I adjusted – optimized – the trimpots I had in some locations, then I unsoldered and measured the resistance. I then put in a regular resistor. The original carbon composition resistors had changed to more than 20% higher values, it wasn’t good, so replacing them has helped some, too. I still have others I should measure and replace if necessary. So far almost all of the 10% carbon composition resistors have drifted more than 10%. Some of the resistors had no tolerance band, they were 20%, but they too had drifted too much.

Update, later, in January. I tried a germanium PNP transistor in the local oscillator, and it put out a clean sine wave without the parasitic oscillation. I didn’t leave the germanium transistor in the LO, I put the MPSA56 back into the LO. The performance of the radio doesn’t seem to be any different.

I tried the 2N5142, a PNP TO-105 in the LO and converter stages. They work okay but the ringing is still visible on the o’scope. So I changed back to the MPSA56s. I’ve been thinking about trying some BD136 PNP power transistors in the LO but the pinouts are different, so I have to make a spaghetti mess with shrink tubing to get it to fit.

I spent some time tweaking a 1k trimpot in series with the 100 ohm and collector of the LO. If I go high enough to get rid of the ringing, the LO level drops too low. If I increase the LO level the ringing comes back. I replaced the trim pot with another resistor of about the same value. The 73 mix ferrite bead helped.

The radio is working okay. I need to stop experimenting and find a speaker for it. Then get all the pieces back together. It will never be the way it was when new, it’s still missing the tuning knob, so I used a pot knob. It has numbers but no frequencies. It’s better than turning the bare shaft. The battery compartment is okay.


2020-01-16 How To Remove Battery Corrosion

I took a battery holder that was corroded by leaking alkaline cells and I put it in a cup of vinegar. After several hours it came out clean, and I washed it off and let it dry. It looks pretty good now.


2019-01-15 Zenith Royal 200 Conversion to Silicon

My Zenith Royal 200 conversion to silicon transistors is going slowly. Right now I’m working on getting a good sine wave out of the local oscillator (see photo). The waveform had high frequency parasitic ringing every other cycle. I put a 100 ohm resistor in series with the collector lead and it helped some. I pulled the 2N3906 out of the socket and put a ferrite bead on the collector lead and that helped a bit more. I lifted one end of the 100 ohm and put another ferrite bead on it, and it helped a bit more. At first only a single very strong station was received.  Now several more are heard. Before my modifications the sine wave had more ringing than in the photo. The photo was taken after my modifications.

I’m thinking of pulling up the end of the 100 ohm and looping the lead a few times through the ferrite bead. If that still doesn’t stop the ringing, I’m thinking about replacing the bead with an RF choke. Every time the ringing is reduced the reception gets better.  I checked to see if I had some higher inductance ferrite beads.  I found some ’73 mix’ beads and put them in place of the ’61 mix’ beads.

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