[time-nuts] homebrew atomic reference oscillator?

Tom Van Baak tvb at leapsecond.com
Mon Apr 18 15:01:59 EDT 2005

Hi Bob,

Yes, it is not at all impossible, but I've never heard
of it being done by anyone other than a government
funded time lab or a commercial company. For that
very reason I looked into this myself ten years ago.

Atomic beam physics is done by some undergraduate
students and making a cesium clock out of a senior
project is an obvious next step. There are many pieces
to the puzzle but none are show-stoppers. The best
part is that all the design information one would ever
need is in well-written papers and books spanning
some 50 years.

I dropped the whole idea when 1) I figured it would
take 5 to 10 years of my life to do it at home and
when 2) dirt cheap surplus cesium standards started
showing up on eBay in the late 90's.

But if you were to make it your project, you'd certainly
end up with a wonderful and wide set of theoretical,
technical, and mechanical skills.

Before you start consider which atomic method
you want to pursue (Cs thermal beam, Rb vapor,
or H maser). I chose Cs rather than Rb. Two other
guys I've heard from over the years chose to make
hydrogen masers (and have made zero progress
as far as I know).

You also need to decide how pure homebrew you
want to make it. With almost all the parts available
surplus on eBay you need to decide, for example,
if you want to spend a year building your own 9192
MHz microwave synthesizer and wave guide or just
buy 'em used for $10.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Aurand" <bob at aurand.com>
To: <time-nuts at febo.com>
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 07:17
Subject: [time-nuts] homebrew atomic reference oscillator?

Asking this question just out of curiosity:   Is it at all feasible to home
build an atomic standard?  I guess it would be Rb and not Cs.   What are the
difficulties that would be encountered?


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