Articles and Publications


Content Index

the Bell Jar Online: Full Content of the Bell Jar Volume 10 Number 3/4. This rounds out the 10 years of the journal format.

tBJ Compilations: The First Five Years (Volumes 1-5) and The Second Five Years (Volumes 6-10)

Booklets, Extended Articles and New Content: Mostly new content with some updated retreads. The Ongoing Projects section is a semi-realtime log of progress on current vacuum related projects.

Steve's Vacuum Technology and Coating Articles: Complete index with direct links to my articles in VT&C magazine.

Archive: Selected Regular Articles from Volumes 1 - 10

Material About and By Frank Lee

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the Bell Jar On Line

tBJ existed through its first 9-1/2 volumes as a paid-subscription paper journal. The last issue of Volume 10 was completed in 2007 and is available only as an electronic document. (All previous issues are now encapsulatd in the two compilations.) I am going to make the new content openly available through this site in electronic format only. My hope is that donations and the sale of miscellaneous components will cover the costs of maintaining and expanding the Bell Jar. Even though it is freely available, please respect the fact that the material is protected by copyright.

Volume 10 Number 3/4: Buckyball Synthesis (G. Konesky), Microwave Oven Plasma Reactor (H. Page), High Voltage with Hardware Store DC/AC Inverters, Taking the Bubbles out of Gel Candles, Pressure Control from Cartesian Divers to PID. Click on image to download PDF.


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the Bell Jar Compilations

The articles contained in the first 10 years of the Bell Jar have been compiled into two publications. These are available as password protected downloads. After purchasing a download, instructions on how to retrieve and open the document will be emailed to you, generally within 24 hours. If you wish to remit by a method other than PayPal, please email me via the Contact Form.

The First Five Years: This is a compilation of the content of Volumes 1-5 (1992-1996). It contains over 200 pages of vacuum theory & practice, projects and useful tidbits. The table of contents is linked to chapters for ease of navigation. File size is approximately 11.5 MB. Price is $40 as a PDF download.

Click here to view sample pages.

The Second Five Years: This compilation contains the content of Volumes 6-10 (1996 - 2000) less most of Volume 10 Numbers 3&4 which is already available for download elsewhere on this page. Bookmarks are provided for ease of navigation through the 200+ page document. File size is approximately 10 MB. The price is $40 as a PDF download.

Click here to view the full Table of Contents.

Printed Copies

Printed copies of the compilations and single back issues are no longer available.

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Booklets, Extended Articles and New Content

Exploding Wires: Principles, Apparatus and Experiments. I produced this booklet in 1993 and sold a goodly number of them through Lindsay Publications. For me, exploding wires led to rail guns and other pulse plasma devices.

A Primer on Using Ace Threds(TM). Ace Threds are a great way to add electrical and fluid feedthroughs to custom glassware.

An Introduction to Vacuum Technology for the Amateur Scientist is a 40 page booklet that contains information on vacuum theory, apparatus and representative vacuum projects. This booklet was compiled at the request of the Citizen Scientists League and may be downloaded via my CSL landing page by clicking on the image to the left. The page also has a link to the CSL web site. Much of the material is available from sources on this page, some is new content.

This section links to ongoing projects in my shop. These will be updated as work progresses so check back every now and then if something is of interest. Please use the Forum for feedback and questions.

Mini-F Plasma Focus Device
Pseudospark Electron Beam Source
Vacuum Spark Soft X-Ray Source
Coming soon: a cathodoluminescense stage for optical microscopy; a low frequency oxygen plasma ashing reactor.

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Archive: Selected Regular Articles from Volumes 1-10

The following articles are a sampling from the pages of the Bell Jar. In most cases they are in their original form. Numerous updates, corrections and expansions have been made to these articles when merged into the two compilations.

Note: Articles published later than 1996 are in Adobe AcrobatTM (PDF) format and require the free Acrobat reader. Earlier articles are in HTML.

Vacuum Basics: Vacuum Fundamentals, Terminology, Applications, Reading List

Refrigeration Service Vacuum Pumps - Medium Vacuum at Low Cost

Vacuum on the Cheap - Converting Refrigeration Compressors into Vacuum Pumps

Building a Thermocouple Vacuum Gauge

A Simple Medium Vacuum System

Bob Templeman on Generating X-Rays with Receiving Tubes

Some Resources and Ideas for Plasma Experiments

Vacuum and Scientific American’s Amateur Scientist

Infrasound Monitoring with a Microbarograph

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Material About and By Frank Lee

Frank Lee, through his writings in Scientific American, was my primary source of inspiration with regard to getting involved with vacuum technology. During the mid 1990s I corresponded regularly with him and had the pleasure of meeting him once. At that time he presented me with small collection of his drawings and writings, some of which have found their way into the Bell Jar. As of this writing (late 2007) I am in the process of scanning many of these documents and they will be available here in their original form.

Some Recollections - Frank Lee

Conversion of Refrigerator Compressors into Vacuum Pumps - F.B. Lee (1959)

Hickman Oil Diffusion Pump - This is one of the pumps sold by Morris & Lee in the 1960s. I purchased one of these for about $35.00 if memory serves me right. It required a low backing pressure and, at that time, was beyond the capabilities of any of my early forepumps. Recent studies by Hablanian, et al. have shown that the Hickman pump is more of a trap than a pump.

Kurth-Ruggles Mercury Diffusion Pump - This was the other pump sold by Morris & Lee. It will operate with forepressures to 2 mmHg but was much more expensive than the Hickman.

Production of Very Low Temperatures - This was in Frank Lee's pamphlet Experiments in High Vacuum.

Estimating the Relative Mass of the Electron - This was another project in Experiments in High Vacuum.

Homemade Metal Diffusion Pumps - This is a collection of notes and letters from Frank Lee concerning his thoughts on small (1 inch) diffusion pumps.

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