I could swear that I examined this bush during the Autumn and did not see any fruits on it, but I am clearly misremembering. They didn’t just appear out of noplace. I am grumped, because I want to know what they taste like, and now I’ll have to wait until next year to find out, as these are far gone.
I took one back to the lab and disassembled it; think I got over a dozen potentially viable seeds, which I will try to plant within a day or two. (If anybody wants any possible C. cathayensis or hybrid seeds (I have no idea where the pollen came from, and the seedlings may or may not be true to type), they should probably get in touch via email.)
A Wee Bit of Surplus Magic:
I’ve been wanting a second thermocouple vacuum gauge so I could get at least some sense of the pressure in the laser head I’ve been building & fussing with. I even went so far as to buy a used Varian 531 gauge tube on eBay, figuring I could move our controller back and forth between it and our existing tube; but it was seriously off calibration, and when the vendor (“gaj”) sent me the other one he had, it was even worse. (Sigh. At least he’s an upstanding and ethical vendor. I’d happily buy from him again.)
I keep checking for tubes and controllers on eBay, but controllers are typically about $125, and tubes add $15-30 to that, more if they’re new.
Then, last night, I decided that I should go down to the University of Maryland surplus outlet (“Terp Trader”) today, and get one there. I have no idea why this idea popped into my head; I have been to Terp Trader lots of times, and as far as I can remember I have never seen a TC gauge tube or controller there.
It didn’t make any sense to go running down there for something they never have, but sometimes I find useful items, and it’s always interesting, so this afternoon I got in the car and took off. I was well on my way before I realized that I had misremembered their hours, and was going to arrive just a few minutes before they closed, if I made it at all. Argh.
I actually walked in the door at 2:57 and ran to the back. Answered a question for a guy who was looking at computers. (“What does ‘NOHD’ mean?” “Hmmm. I bet it means ‘No Hard Drive’.” “What’s a hard drive?” ....)
Once I got past that hurdle (“What’s an operating system?”), I walked over to the shelves where they typically put small scientific instruments, looked around, and picked up the TC gauge controller (with gauge tube!). I kid you not.
Here’s what it looks like:
I chucked the tube into a test rig and put it on the roughing pump. Here’s what it did:
(Sorry that’s slightly fuzzy; handheld photo taken with my telephone under suboptimal conditions.)
This is a slightly higher reading than I’ve been getting with our existing gauge, but after I took the photo I realized that I hadn’t actually set the “off” point on the new one, and hadn’t reset it on the old one since I tested the two bad tubes, so the difference probably isn’t meaningful. I don’t have a calibration setup, but we do have one pump that I got to see on the bench at the repair place; it went to about 2 microns on a calibrated digital gauge, and I can probably use it as a sort of standard.
I still have no idea how or why it occurred to me that I should go down there, but I’m certainly glad I did.