Failed Rebuild of the Edwards E2M18 Vacuum Pump

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Over the past few days I have been working hard at rebuilding the faulty Edwards E2M18 vacuum pump I got used from eBay. To summarize it, the rebuild was a complete failure. While everything went back together fine after cleaning without issue, with all new seals and no missing parts, the pump performance did not improve at all. You can see the full in-depth rebuild thread on the AIS Twitter in the link below.

This is honestly a devastating setback to my efforts at AIS. I can’t risk going for used pumps like this again. I also can’t currently afford a new or even professionally rebuilt scientific grade pump with the throughput specs I need at the moment. Maybe I can buy a cheap refrigeration pump like the Yellow Jacket I had before, assume it disposable, I don’t know. Roughing pump issues have plagued me since late last year, and ever since V3 of the gPPT3 after October I have experienced continuous failure and setbacks. 6 months without vacuum capabilities now, and it looks like it will be much longer at this point. I am just a roughing pump away from testing the ILIS1, but I honestly have no hope or expectations for it anymore. I will still test it when I can, but only for closure. With all the failures up until now, I see no reason to expect some miracle with this new thruster.

I still have stuff I can work on at least. I am wrapping up the design for my first thruster learning kit, a 1:1 analog of the gPPT3 that allows for the same control and readout as the real thing, and will do the same for the ILIS1.

I have to thank the community for their absolutely incredible support during this rebuild process. This failure has really beaten me down hard, and has completely derailed not only the biggest test ever at AIS for the ILIS1, but continued thruster testing moving forward. I’m honestly not sure what to do now, but I appreciate all of the support from everyone in the community, and thank everyone for continuing to push me forward and still believing in me and this effort. This is the hardest time yet for AIS, and a lot of uncertainty for it in the future.