A few more months went by, and then I got a free dryer off Craigslist. The motor worked well, even though the first attempts to use it didn't. One time the motor spun so fast the ball mill container flew off toward the ceiling! I finally figured out a way to harness the speed of the motor with some belts and wheels to tame its ferocity. However, the ball mill still had the small bars on the inside. Most ball mills don't have these, for good reasons - they are loud and hard to clean (especially when attached with duct tape!). So, I took them off, and the balls in the mill proceeded to slide, rather than tumble. After a few more months of apathetically looking at the years-long failed project, I finally got the motivation to finish it and found a container that I hoped was the right size - the balls filled it approximately halfway up. To my extreme surprise, the ball mill worked! After years of dissapointment and failed prototypes, the mill jar finally opened to reveal ultra-fine aluminum powder! This is how many things in the inventing/experimenting business go. They take perseverance and dedication to finish and might not be immediately rewarding, but they will pay off if you finish strong and pull through until the end.
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
― Thomas A. Edison