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…)

Repair & calibration Sencore Mighty Mite

TC130 Mighty Mite

TC130 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 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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Jackson 561 Tube Tester

This article will discuss repair and calibration of the Jackson 561 tube tester. High voltages are present, repairs should only be attempted by a qualified technician. Copyrighted, all rights reserved.

Introduction

The Jackson 561 appears to be a rare (uncommon) model. Very little documentation exists, and I have seen only a small number of them for sale.

The model 561 is a combination of the Jackson 634 and the 648. Photo below shows Jackson 561 (right); Jackson 648A (left).

Comparison: Jackson 648A vs 561

 

If the 634 and 648 mated, the 561 would be its offspring. It shares the following characteristics from the 648: (a) the same meter, (b) variable leakage control, (c) color scheme, and (d) case design. From the 634, it shares (a) the same test method (which Jackson calls “Dynamic Output”), (b) Shorts Test control, (c) lack of a Noise test, and (d) function control layout. In fact, the 634 tube setup chart can be used (with slight modification) with the 561, as explained later.

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Jackson 634 Tube Tester

If you appreciate vintage tube test gear, you will enjoy this 1940 vintage Jackson 634 Tube Tester. It is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a quality, well-built, tester that can test the VERY OLD tubes, such as #50, 01A, 1V, #10, 2A3, #15, #19, HY113, HY115, HY125, #26, #45, 71-A, #83, etc.

This article is also relevant to Jackson 637 tester, which is same as model 634 tester with additional integrated multimeter functionality (volts and ohms testing).

(Jackson 634 testing Cunningham CX-350 Globe #50 Triode tube)

Jackson 634 testing Cunningham CX-350 Globe #50 Triode tube

What is really “cool” about this tester is its very small size. Measuring only 8.5 x 8.5 x 6 inches and weighing 9 lbs, this unit packs a big punch in a small size!

This tester has been in my personal collection since 1990, and it is the oldest tester in my collection (except for a Supreme 550 Radio Tester from 1936, which also has some basic tube testing capability).

Jackson 634 - 637 modernization bulletin

Jackson 634 – 637 modernization bulletin. Click to enlarge.

This tester is so old that it did NOT come with a 9-pin-miniature socket installed — that was too modern!

(Article UPDATE, Nov 3, 2008): I found an original Jackson modernization bulletin, and the Jackson 634 and 637 testers were released in 1939. All 1939 models were sold without the 9-pin-miniature socket installed. The 1940 models were already modernized at the factory.

I have installed a new 9-pin-miniature socket, and will teach you how to “modernize” your 1939 vintage Jackson 634 also. (Jackson sockets are wired unique, and do not correspond to the 1-to-1, 2-to-2, wiring that many testers employ).

Service information and many additional photos are as follows…

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