To start at the beginning, this road trip is about a mission from Dallas TX to Los Alamos NM to retrieve a 'free' 43uF 12KV capacitor.

On the way from Dallas, we passed some wind farms belonging to Innovenergy. there are several open non-signed, unfenced entrances along the high was and we went in and took some pictures, but stayed on the dirt road and well away from the machines proper as I doubt they want anyone near them.

There was this very wierd storm in NM as we continued to Roswell. It was extremely windy and violent and I was concerned about tornados because it was very black and suddenly the endless dirtfields to one side had an enormouns dust rising, like one might see at the base of a tornado that has just touched down, combined with wind rushing in that direction, wind so strong I had to slow down to 40MPH to keep it on the road. I was in a tornado before and I don't like them. As if by the hand of God, and I would not gainsay it at all, there was a 'tunnel' of light, right over the highway, going as far as the eye could see on the flat endless plain, and it was black everywhere else. This is in the desert where there is nothing, just flat. well we definitely stayed on the road, and headed for the light. How unusual is that?


Monday saw Jacob and myself in Roswell NM where we visited the UFO museum as well as the Official museum, that one having Goddard's workshop preserved. In Roswell is the Roswell Museum and ART Center in Roswell,NM. (This is the official museum, not the UFO museum.)

Goddard is the father of rocketry, and many military rockets come from his research. There is his entire workshop preserved there and you can see the innards of the earliest of his rockets. The serious real home made innards.

In the Goddard exhibit, the museum has also shown Goddard's prowess with vacuum tube invention. The section says that he invented a tube called a Gammatron.

Three items are together. One is a picture of him making a tube with seems like it might be a prototype of the device shown in the patent. One is a picture of the drawings of patent 1,159,209, which is a vacuum oscillator using a magnetic feedback method via a coil to switch an electron beam back and forth between two anodes. The third item is a reproduction of an advertisement for the Heintz and Kaufman Gammatron, which is known to be an electrostatically grid controlled triode.

The display of the ad for the gridded HK triode should be exchanged for a display of an ad from the Frank Jones handbook, showing the gridless tube. I learned this only later, on, but I knew something was wrong with the display so when I was done at the museum which includes all sort of exhibits besides the preserved Goddard laboratory, I asked the counter staff to take a look at this with me. They sent one employee to explain the exhibit. I ended up explaining the principles of operation of the patent device and then the Heintz and Kaufman product, and concluded that they were two different types of devices operating on different principles regarding oscillation. The staff member, now understanding the difference, was rather at a loss to explain the connection. Gamma is a vacuum tube parameter. Was there a marketing trademark arrangement between Goddard and Heintz and Kaufman to allow them to use the Gammatron name?

All I succeeded in doing was to annoy the employee but I am going to find that advertisement and send it to them, to help them show the right tube.


Next day, we set out very early for the VLA (Very Large Array) some 60 miles west on Roswell. nice setup. The "tour" is self guided and the facility has a video that describes how the array works, how it focuses, and the like, but the walking path of about a mile was restricted to only certain areas, so my scientific curiosity was not very well satisifed (I guess if you have friends there, it would be different. What would I have liked to see? the correlator, the new correlator if it is built yet, the spectrum display of the signals being received, data for the object being studied..) . However, it is most impressive and well thought out, and is being upgraded to cover 1-50GHz, 120GB/s data collection per dish. It is well worth the trip to see this instrument in person. There is a large system diagram on the wall showing the basic block-level schematic. Although the dish is almost 100FT in width, the base is small enough to fit in most HOA-estricted city lots. They also have thier own VLA toilet paper. Now that is class! It is a wonder it's still hanging there.. I spent about 3 hours enjoying the VLA site. I recommend it.


Picked up some uranium ore rocks. We took our geiger counters specifically to find a few rocks.


checked out a few places in Albuquerque.

Jones Surplus Barn Inc 10921 Central Avenue Northeast Albuquerque, NM 87123-2729 (505) 298-9295 This is an Army Store with bonus electronics items such as RT-68 items, some piece parts like switches, etc, . There are also a few hundred books, mostly eclectically related to military/politics/cold war, etc of the 50's-70's. There is a set of books there, something like "the 60's day by day" that tells what happened during the 60's. I am sure that would be useful for those that lived through it and now cannot remember it.

Items that interested me:

An aircraft application vane-axial fan for 400Hz , of about 12" diameter. It is sternly warned on the side of the unit that it is not to be used below 40,000 FT. It was $59.95, and had been obviously sitting in the bin for a decade. The fan blade assy is slightly bent (1mm or so) so you would not want to run it near full speed. I think at a lower speed (reduced Hz and voltage) it would be excellent and very interesting as a ventialtion fan. I pointed out it was bent, and tried to negotiate, they would have none of it. So I suppose it will be there for the forseeable future, as who would pay so much for a high speed fan with a bent hub?

There was also a big handheld light for signaling aircraft. About 10" diameter, two handed operation, twisting the front handle changes the light from red-white-green. 6-volt 50 watt lamp. This had some dents and two small holes poked in the case, and they wanted $45 which I thought was too much for it considering the problems, so I left it with a little regret.

The item I bought was a military transport case having 19" rack rails mounted inside. This was $65.

The next place was
Surplus City
10805 Central Avenue Northeast
Albuquerque, NM 87123-2727
(505) 292-7131
If you like electronics or chemistry this is the best place in Albuquerque. I found switches, vacuum tubes (304TL,HY-5430, 7213, VA-162, and a NL-1052A ignitron, etc), PRX CM300HA-24H brick transistors, small relays to large contactors, rackmounted TEK 485 scopes, "large" heatsinks, breakers all sizes, toroid coils, 4000 series ICs and old USA-made transistors, HP/TEK plugins, power resistors, oil diffusion pumps, Photomultipliers, a Rexon Scintilator with a CaF XTAL and Hamamatsu R1307 PMT, roughing pumps, 10 racks with "Sandia Labs" logo, all full w/ power supplies and static freq. converters, 5" square 2-wire klaxons for 6VDC and 12VAC, 10-50A "variacs", a 12" dia. 500 Ohm 1.25A dual rheostat (actually a power potentiometer) raw speakers in 2-3" round and 4-5" square, "Plastic Capacitors" 3-15KV for $5-10, Burroughs 122P224 Nixies were $4, Chemistry glassware and thermal mantles, military 18kBTU a/c units, Miller and Sureweld welders up to 400+ Amps, CO2 laser power supply, a 2.8uF 60KV cap, an X-ray tube and power suply, Dewars, and all the usual items of electronics. Also, ultrasonic transducers and laser levels. They also have some militay surplus and other clothing, nuts and bolts, etc. Out back there is a huge yard full of junque. I bought some ultrasonic transducers and photomultipliers. This will interest geiger counter fans: I almost bought the scintillator, but went to the hotel and called the manufacturer about it first. It was then I found out it is sensitive only to the 17KeV X-rays from plutonium, and would not be useful to me. I was connected to the president of the company who is a physicist and he gave me quite an education. The reason for interest in scintilators is that sometimes radium dials and the like are found, as well as other items. It is a pain to have to sweep everything with a geiger counter. With a scintillator, the sensitivity is much better and counts will accrue 100X or more faster. This means you can be at a greater distance and still discover the material.

If the geiger counter has a sensitivity of 1x, then here are the sensitivities of various scntillation crystals when used with photomultiplier tubes: 100x NaI(Tl) Sodium iodide activated with thallium 125X CsI Cesium iodide 200X BGO Bismuth germanate the above technology are way more costly than a geiger counter unless found surplus.

The last place was
Kaufman's West Army & Navy Gds
1660 Eubank Boulevard Northeast
Albuquerque, NM 87112-4115
(505) 293-3229
This is a regular army store plus a police goods store. The vast majority of the goods are new. The optics are mainly Leupold with prices to match.


Los Alamos area:
Called the guy about the capacitor. It turned out the thing was stored in a shed way out in the desert. Imagine the area called "the valley" near Los Alamos. Now, imagine going up out of the valley where the unique New Mexico "hills" are. The place was in between these things, and accessed via 10FT wide dirt roads apparently carved into these features. This went on for 4-5 miles and got more and more rugged. We had to creep along in several places and the path was full of sharp inclined turns and switchbacks. The 2WD pickup did OK, but it was a pretty rough ride.

That brings us to the Black Hole referenced at the start of the e-mail. I bought some scientific items there so be sure to check out the pics, it is an amazing place!


We did not get time to see: the white sands missile range or the atomic museum, among other cool things. Carlsbad Caverns, . South from Carlsbad you will hit IH-20 in Pecos and can go home that way if you want to detour further, south and west of Pecos is Balmorhea State Park (it is one of the coolest (literally) places you will find in TX at this time of year, a BIG spring fed swimming pool. Sand Hills State park in Monhans, TX is very nice, but will be hellishly hot, the Commemorative Airforce Museum in Midland as well as the Petroleum Museum. East from Midland TX 20 miles in Stanton is Sam's Surplus. In Abilene there is a small outdoor display of aircraft at Dyess Airforce base.