What does a Fusor Cost?

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Nick Peskosky
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Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:02 am
Real name: Nicholas Peskosky
Location: San Diego, CA

What does a Fusor Cost?

Post by Nick Peskosky » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:23 am

Richard attempted to answer this question in a previous thread viewtopic.php?f=24&t=9072 by giving some ball park estimates for total cost incurred along the road of building a demo, super demo and full neutron producing Farnsworth-Hirsch Fusor. Making good on my word, I finally sat down and dug out all my old hardware store receipts, eBay, PayPal and other miscellaneous cost invoices and crunched the numbers for the device that sits in my garage. I have attached an excel spreadsheet which sums the costs for all of the Fusor related equipment, material, literature and tools I have purchased since I committed to this endeavor back in September of 2012. Be careful when sorting the different cost entries as they are currently grouped and summed for total cost and system sub-category cost. As many seasoned fusioneers on the board would probably agree, building a Fusor involves a lot of sunk cost in test equipment, specialty tools and high vacuum odds-ends which may not necessarily make it into your final working product. To reflect this fact, I first broke down my total expenses by which systems/components/parts/pieces are currently connected to or used in my 'as-is' neutron producing Fusor. All other random detectors, spare vacuum hardware, high voltage potpourri and test equipment has been separated into its own cost sub-total.

All said and done, I have spent just shy of $6k ($5,963.48) on my Fusor hobby when you include shipping, test equipment, vacuum hardware, detectors, power supplies, etc. Assuming you scrounged as I did, re-purposed hardware and pack'd (in the words of Richard) the necessary electronics/radiation test equipment you could build the barebones Fusor I have for $3,703.46 (or $3,201.43 if you didn't have any eBay shipping related expenditures).

Feel free to browse through my purchases and ask questions about ball park costs for vacuum equipment, gauges, etc. In all honesty, I scored some great deals on a lot of vacuum hardware just by waiting/deep-diving on eBay and the total insured value of my device is somewhere in the neighborhood of $>15k (won't specify exactly for privacy reasons). As an asterisk to my excellent scores (turbo, turbo controller, HV feedthru, chamber, HVPS) I can honestly say that a lot of money was also wasted on components that I thought would serve a purpose but later turned out to be ill-fitting or not quite user friendly. For instance, I bought 3 different variations of equipment I thought would get me to the proper high voltage/current needed for fusion but ultimately decided I wanted a professional lab grade supply. This refinement process essentially doubled my HVPS costs and taught me a valuable lesson in estimating/planning upfront. This same scenario played out with the Mini-convectrons and MKS Hot Cathode vacuum gauge equipment I don't currently use (replaced by all-in-one Inficon gauges). Additionally, I think it's worth noting that I know much more about the Fusor as a whole (especially detectors and vacuum theory) than I did when I first began buying hardware... had I known then what I do now I can almost assure you that I could cut the total incurred cost on building a Fusor from scratch by about 35-40%. Experience definitely pays dividends when selecting components!

For the newbies, really take a look at the percentage breakdown and total costs which were associated with each sub-system of the Fusor. As will agree with most historical data/information you will find elsewhere on this Forum, it is readily apparent that the chamber, HVPS and N-detector really constitute the brunt of your dollars spent. Deceptively so, a good mounting frame, bolt/nut hardware and individual KF/NW/Conflat hardware racks up cost very quickly as well.

Keep in mind that I do use some premium lab grade equipment in my design (tubomolecular pump, He-3 detector, Glassman supply) and their use (read convenience/tolerance) has added about $700-1,000 of additional cost to my IEC device.

Happy fusing and feel free to ask questions!
Fusor Cost_Data Analysis 18JUL15.xlsx
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Nick Peskosky

"The whole of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking." - Albert Einstein