I have a contract programming job which is slowing things down, but will add considerable coin to my purse.
I was up at the university this past week and the vacuum pump and gauge both work!
You can see 18 microns being measured on the gauge which is considerably less then the 760 measured at 1 atmosphere of pressure (i.e no vacuum).
Next step is to finish sealing the vacuum chamber, mostly related to the holes on the top port below:
Anybody got three 1.33″ ports handy? :-]
Then I have to connect the pump to the chamber and see how many leaks there are.