Links to Educational Resources


Here are some places to go for further information and resources,
not necessarily vacuum specific

All links were checked and updated as of 28 December, 2011. Please report dead links, changes or recommended additions.

Vacuum & Related Topics

The American Vacuum Society's Vacuum Science & Technology Timeline: 1500-2007 now resides on the AVS' Southern California Chapter's Resource Page. Be sure to carefully check out the period 1972 to 2007. The Resource Page also has a lot of useful information.

Roy Schmaus at the University of Alberta has an interesting site covering a variety of topics including vacuum.

A number of Surface Science Resources are listed by McAllister Technical Services, a manufacturer of surface analytical instruments. Be sure to check out A Short History of Vacuum Terminology and Technology, a nice set of tidbits that has been produced by McAllister.

Phil Danielson of The Vacuum Lab, “A journal of practical and useful vacuum technology,” has a number of excellent articles (21 at the moment) and reviews of current vacuum books at his site.

The Education Committee of the American Vacuum Society has an interesting publication Low Pressure Experiments & Modelling for High School Science Curricula. See also the Education Committee's Science Educator Workshop page for more information on the outreach work of this group. Finally, check out the AVS' listing of reasonably priced technical monographs.

Please be sure to visit Henk Dijkstra's beautiful and informative Cathode Ray Tube site.
Nyle Steiner (who has prepared a couple of articles for the Bell Jar) has developed a nice site, SparkBangBuzz. Be sure to check out the miniature cathode ray tubes.

Educational Products and Resources

The Science Source of Waldoboro, Maine has introduced an economical vacuum educational system, the Vacuum Process & Applications Laboratory - Advanced (VPAL-A). This expandable teaching system is intended for technical college and undergraduate level use. The VPAL-A comes with a manifold with inlet leak & isolation valves, Bourdon & wide-range Pirani gauges, plastic chamber with electrical feedthroughs, glass chamber for low pressure exercises, 6 cfm mechanical pump and full documentation. Optional accessory kits currently include Vernier datalogging hardware & software for data capture, a 50 sccm mass flow controller and a package of equipment for plasma and dc sputtering exercises.

Exercises that may be performed with the VPAL-A include vacuum system baseline characterization, pumpdown time constant, absolute and atmosphere pressure references, characteristics of direct and indirect vacuum gauges, mass flow measurement & control, pressure control principles, real and virtual leaks, permeation, outgassing, evaporative cooling, mean free path, the glow discharge and sputter deposition of metals. .

Note: This item has been discontinued due to the acquisition of The Science Source by another company. I plan to release the exercise and tutorial materials in the near future.

On Line Courses

Prof. Walter Lewin of MIT has a wonderful set of free on line physics lectures. These are in RealPlayer format and can be viewed using the RealOneTM player software via MIT 's OpenCourseWare site. Be sure to check out the other course offerings (about 1800 at the moment).

Other Science & Technology Links

Bill Beaty’s Science Hobbyist Home Page has a wonderful selection of links to a wide variety of interesting science resources. And a few suspect ones too.

Don Lancaster’s Guru’s Lair is a wide-ranging technical support service for readers of his various print columns.

Professional Societies

The American Institute of Physics

The American Vacuum Society

The Society of Vacuum Coaters. The SVC has some excellent publications on line including Don Mattox' The Foundations of Vacuum Coating Technology and several historical papers concerning vacuum coating processes and procedures.

The Institute of Physics. Many of IOP's electronic journals have articles that are available for free for a limited period of time.

Plasma Devices

There is a network of small (3 kJ) plasma focus devices that are in use by a number of institutions in the developing world. These are under the sponsorship of the UN University/International Centre for Theoretical Physics Plasma Fusion Facility (UNU/ICTP PFF). For lots of information go to the home page for the Institute for Plasma Focus Studies.

Some of the more interesting pages include the keynote speech slidesResearch On Small Plasma Devices at University of Malaya by Prof. C.S. Wong. These slides include photographs of a number of plasma focus and plasma x-ray devices. as well as the various theses and other documents that are available for download. For anyone intested in x-ray diagnostics, there are a number of papers that include information on the use of "conventional" PIN opto sensors for x-ray spectroscopy.

Small plasma focus and similar plasma pinch devices are within the capabilities of a determined amateur and there is a lot of useful research work that can be performed with these devices.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel maintains a page for the WIS Plasma Laboratory. There is also a good assortment of relevant links.

The Farnsworth-Hirsch Fusor, a table-top inertial confinement fusion device, has received considerable coverage in tBJ mostly as a result of Richard Hull and his network of collaborators. Their Open Source Fusor Research Consortium also has many links and a lively forum.

Monitoring the Solar-Terrestrial Environment (VLF/ELF Radio and Magnetometry)

The INSPIRE Project. INSPIRE (Interactive NASA Space Physics Ionosphere Radio Experiments) is an amateur/professional collaboration involving the investigation of very low frequency (audio range) radio waves in the earth’s magnetosphere. Many INSPIRE participants are high school students and the group provides very simple, inexpensive kits for receiving the signals. The Web site has audio files of whistlers and other atmospherics and a link to an on-line sferics receiver.

Steve McGreevy’s Natural VLF Radio Phenomena page has a tremendous amount of background material on sferics as well as audio files and audio CDs. He also supplies an excellent sferics receiver.

Shawn Korgan moderates an excellent VLF Discussion Group that has an active base of about 300 members.

For the reception of natural radio signals, be sure to check out "Spectrum Lab" at DL4YHF's Amateur Radio Software. Spectrum Lab, a freeware program, includes a multitude of options including mixers and filters. Newly incorporated is a 50 or 60 Hz hum filter that makes suburban natural radio listening practical.

Another valuable resource is the Very Low Frequency Group Home Page. Anyone who has examined the VLF literature will know R.A. Helliwell and this is the Web site for the group he created in the 1950s at Stanford.

NOAA’s Space Environment Center has up to the minute solar-terrestrial data. Also available are daily solar images from observatories around the world.

Other solar-terrestrial resources include and NOAA’s weekly Preliminary Report & Forecast of Solar Geophysical Data.

Another good site for information on VLF/ELF amateur research is Radio Waves Below 22kHz.

The University of Oulu in Finland operates the WWW Virtual Library for Aeronomy, Solar-Terrestrial Physics and Chemistry. That says it all.

Erich Kern of Fat Quarters Software carries the line of Speake & Co. fluxgate magnetometers that can be used for geophysical monitoring. Erich also carries kits and ICs for the necessary electronics that are associated with the sensors.

Shakes and Quakes in the Earth and Atmosphere

The Redwood City Public Seismic Network is a wonderful resource for the amateur seismologist. Interactions through the mail list, data collection & analysis hardware and software, seismometer designs (tried & true as well as experimental) are all here. While I don’t have an operational seismograph, I do use Larry’s WinSDR software and 8-channel A/D with my VLF receivers, microbarograph and other monitoring instruments.

Earthquake data, seismograms and descriptions of research programs can be obtained from sites operated by the Southern Arizona Seismic Observatory.

The atmosphere also exhibits very small pressure variations at subsonic frequencies. Called Infrasound, the low frequency audio spectrum (0.01 to 5 Hz) is monitored to detect nuclear explosions. Infrasound also arises from meteors when they strike the atmosphere. The origins of many of these signals are uncertain, therefore the study of these disturbances could be an interesting pursuit. Monitoring devices are sensitive differential pressure sensors: capacitor microphones, capacitance manometers and even loudspeakers have been used. Infrasound Monitoring with a Microbarograph has information on this topic as well as details on the construction of a sensitive apparatus. This article describes my first generation instrument. Some professional resources on infrasound and microbarographs can be found at Seismology and Infrasound page at Southern Methodist University.


The US Patent and Trademark Office now has full text and/or patent document images back to the first patent, searchable, printable and free.

Good Organizations

Here are some worthy charities and organizations that do useful work and make good use of contributions:

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