Solid state replacement for #83 tube

I am frequently asked by B&K and Hickok owners to explain how to replace a #83 tube with a solid state version. This question is popular because #83 tubes are scare and expensive. Other benefits are increased reliability (no tube to wear down), less heat generated inside the tester case, and less load on the power transformer. So, if you want to Do-It-Yourself, I will explain how these replacements are made.

I will preface this tutorial with a few caveats: First, this procedure is easier to implement with B&K testers than Hickok testers. Hickok factored in the load that the real #83 tube has on the power transformer, and sometimes you cannot properly set the line without circuit modification. Keep this in mind if you plan to try it with your Hickok — you may be getting in over your head. Hence, substitution may be more effort than it is worth, especially when some Hickok buyers do not want the modification and would have to undo the circuit mods that were made. This leads to the second caveat: not everyone feels that the solid-state substitution works ‘excellent’ in Hickok’s. In fact, some “purists” will not even use a Hickok with a solid-state #83 replacement. They cite the fact that silicon diodes have less voltage drop than a tube rectifier, and feel that the tube test results will not be “pure.”

Personally, I always use a solid-state replacement for B&K testers. For most Hickok, I prefer to use a real #83 tube only because circuit modifications are sometimes necessary, which makes going back to a real #83 difficult for the tube tester owner or future buyer.  This problem is particularly true for the “red-case” Hickok’s.

That said, I have no disapproval with using a solid-state #83 in a Hickok model that lends itself to working well, and have found that any tube “test score” differences are trivial. In my opinion, the people who argue about small test score variations are really over-thinking the purpose of testing a tube — the end-result is NOT a test score, but to ascertain whether the tube will work satisfactory in your circuit. Common sense and practicality are important.

Here it goes…

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Repair & calibration NRI 70 Tube Tester

This article will discuss repair and calibration of the NRI Professional model 70 tube tester. High voltages are present, repairs should only be attempted by a qualified technician. Copyrighted, all rights reserved.

NRI 70 beautiful hardwood case

NRI 70 beautiful hardwood case

Introduction

Built by Precision Apparatus Co for NRI, the high-quality craftsmanship of the NRI Professional model 70 tube tester is readily apparent. It has a beautiful hardwood case (appears to be oak or birch) with finger-joint construction. Eight rubber feet protect your desktop in both the working position and the standup position. Internally, the tester uses a large beefy transformer and quality Pace (Precision Apparatus) meter movement. The tester has very small size, measuring only 10.75 x 10.75 x 6.25 inches (27cm x 27cm x 16cm) and weighs a hefty 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg). Most of the weight is due to the large transformer and hardwood case.

The NRI 70 has eight built-in sockets consisting of 4-pin, 5-pin, 6-pin, 7-pin large, 7-pin miniature, octal, loctal, and 9-pin miniature. All sockets use standard wiring (1-to-1, 2-to-2, etc.), and the control lever numbers correspond to their RTMA pin numbers (Lever 1 controls socket pin 1, Lever 2 control socket pin 2, etc.) (more…)

brown-black getter flashing does not mean ‘Used’!

Discolored getter flashing (brown or black marks) does not mean that a tube was used. This fiction is believed by both uninformed buyers and seasoned tube jockeys. This myth seems credible because some new tubes have perfect shiny mirror getter flashing; therefore the assumption is that brown or black stains in the getter flashing must indicate a used tube. The myth says that the more brown/black discoloration, the “more used” the tube is. Wrong.

Excerpt from Electronics Magazine

Excerpt from Electronics Magazine

The purpose of the tube getter and flashing is to remove gas inside the tube envelope during manufacture. This discoloration myth can be quickly debunked by reading the article in Electronics magazine, October 1950, entitled “Getter Materials For Electron Tubes”. The article explains that if the getter is vaporized very slowly during the manufacturing process, “the first barium atoms evaporated will absorb the gas present so that the remaining getter is deposited in a very high vacuum, exhibiting a shiny mirror.” If the getter was flashed very rapidly during manufacturing, then “the getter mirror will be discolored due to the dispersion of the barium.” The article then explains that the discoloration “does not mean that the getter is contaminated, but merely that the deposit is finely divided and therefore absorbs light.”

Several photos of NOS tubes below demonstrate this myth.  Likewise, I provide photos to demonstrate how the flashing looks when a tube is actually used. Let us proceed…

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Repair & calibration Sencore Mighty Mite

This article discusses repair and calibration of the older tube-based Sencore Mighty Mite tube testers that use the 12AU7A tube inside, such as model TC130, TC136, and TC142. I will also discuss the most common problem that causes “faulty” Grid Leakage detection. High voltages are present, repairs should only be attempted by a qualified technician. Copyrighted, all rights reserved.

TC130 Mighty Mite

TC130 Mighty Mite

TC130 Mighty Mite case

TC130 Mighty Mite case

Introduction

Sencore Mighty Mite testers employ a Cathode Emission test circuit, with short detection and industry-best 100-Megohm leakage detection. The leakage detection circuitry is really the reason that every technician should own a Mighty Mite as part of his/her tube testing arsenal.

All Mighty Mites are designed to test newer tubes. You will not find any antique sockets (such as 4-pin, 5-pin, 6-pin, 8-pin large, etc.) Socket configuration consists of Octal, 7-pin miniature, 9-pin miniature, Nuvistor, novar, Loctal, and Compactron.

Each model has a roman numeral designation: TC130 = Mighty Mite III. TC136 = Mighty Mite IV. TC142 = Mighty Mite V. There are no practical differences among them.

The older Sencore Mighty Mite tube testers have tube circuitry inside, whereas newer Mighty Mites (such as TC154 and TC162) are transistorized. Otherwise, their functionality is comparable. Some units have a CRT picture tube wire harness with socket attached. This harness is very bulky, so common sense would suggest to remove it. It serves no practical purpose and only clutters up the case. Some models have a few pin straighteners on the front panel.

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Kennedy model 62LS console radio

Early this year I found this vintage Colin B. Kennedy Corp radio. Model 62LS lowboy console with model 54A shortwave unit. I recently finished rebuilding this radio. It is available for purchase (local pickup preferred, but crating and shipping can be arranged but will be quite expensive). It would make a beautiful addition to any old home or turn-of-the-century mansion. This beautiful antique radio is more than a radio — it is a beautiful piece of furniture as well. Colin B. Kennedy Corp marketed themselves as the “The Royalty of Radio”, and the high quality craftsmanship is readily apparent.

Colin B. Kennedy Corp model 62LS lowboy console radio with model 54A shortwave unit.

This is actually the second Kennedy console radio in my collection.

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