FAQ - High Voltage Safety

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Richard Hull
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FAQ - High Voltage Safety

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:27 pm

With the arrival of seemingly younger and less experienced, would-be fusioneers, a long overdue FAQ is in order related to safety issues with the hIgh voltages demanded for both demo fusor and full fusor operation.

High voltage is just as dangerous as a loaded pistol, shotgun or rifle!

Just like a loaded firearm, high voltage can kill instantly and un-expectedly if placed in the wrong or inexperienced hands. Just like a firearm, high voltage can kill the highly trained expert due to over familiarity and over confidence in a simple mis-step. Much like the assumed unloaded gun, the high voltage circuit that is assumed to be turned off can end a life or severly injure a person working with it. So, when working with high voltage treat it like a deadly loaded firearm.

One final warning....If you are affraid to pickup, load and shoot a firearm or if your parents will not let you own or shoot one then DO NOT work with or experiment on anything that involves high voltage. You are too young and too inexperienced. The commitment to safety and the threat of death and injury is so similar in each case. Likewise, when you are handling a gun, you must be mindful of others in and around you as you are armed and effectively dangerous! You have, effectively decided to become responsible for the actions of others about you and your firearm. Whether their actions are sane, sensible or idiotic, the unexpected can happen. High voltage gear that you maintain and operate should be fellow-human idiot proof. Assuming you have the proper training and respect for the lethality of your high voltage work, doens't mean others are aware of what is hot and what is not.

Some rules for the neophyte.

1. On-off switches are like a gun's safety. They are not to be your main line of defense against a potentially deadly accident. Add a highly visible blinking indicator and or audible pulsating alarm of some sort when the HV switch is on. Like a rattlesnake, you and others will know when danger is at hand.

2. Like a gun range, "CONTROL ACCESS"! Do not let just anyone come into your high voltage area or touch anything in or around the device. A roped off safety zone might be best for visitors and family. Be mindful of curious pets, (cats especially), as they love cubby holes, confined areas and such that are often to be found around high voltage gear.

3. Place a lot of signage noting "HIGH VOLTAGE" all over your area of experimentation. Make it big and colorful!

4. Get experienced help!!! If you have never wired a circuit or don't understand the connections, read up on the basics and seek immediate help from an adult or mentor. This is one of the most important admonitions. NEVER just rush head long into wiring up high voltage gear. Get Experienced help! When you want to own and learn how to shoot a gun, the most stupid thing you can do is to just go out somewhere with friends and load and shoot it for the first time. You need an experienced shooter to be with and teach you gun safety or, better still, formal classes in firearm handling and safety. Do the same when working with and exposing yourself to high voltage. Get experienced help!!!

5. Proper wire routing and insulation; proper "stand-off distances" and secure physical barriers and guards in your setup are a must!

6. At the voltage levels we use, the old adage of "keep one hand in your pocket" will not save you. High voltage will travel through your heart, through your shoes and into the floor. The best safety when actually physically working on high voltage gear and wiring is to....

a. Be sure all circuits are turned off and all HV alarms are off.
b. If possible, unplug the gear from the mains.
c. Short the source of high voltage to gorund with a heavy wire with alligator clips or clamps on each end.
d. Short out any storage capacitors in the circuit as well.

Remember.... High voltage is the same as working with a loaded gun and demands the same sense of proper safety procedures and cogent hands to avoid irreversable disaster.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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