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Author Topic: AL-811 center tube plate glowing...  (Read 25764 times)
K9AXN
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« Reply #90 on: February 24, 2017, 01:56:53 PM »

Perhaps there is a miscommunication.

I am referring to 811As used in the Ameritron Al-811 series ONLY.

I agree with Carl, if the AL-811 bias was changed, then the tubes wouldnt glow in that amp in key down no signal positions... but the AL-811 is biased for Class AB2 ICAS, so its a tube eater.

And fyi, tube dissipation is often lower under full drive than standby.  Thats why AM is so hard on linears.


Above is your comment in red and yes I know you meant idle.  If the amp is loaded as per the manual and one plate is glowing at idle and you drive the amp to 100%, it will glow brighter.  If your opinion remains consistent with the statement in red, we'll have to agree to disagree.

I have one comment before moving on.  I hadn't noticed that the RCA 811A tube data sheet had the section " characteristics range values for design.  http://www.radiotechnika.hu/images/811A.pdf

It is located at the end of page 4 and beginning of page 5.  Pay special note to the plate and grid ranges.  The plate range exceeds 2/1 and the grid is 3.4/1.  It's easy to see why the grid has a propensity to collapse when using unmatched tubes.  The grid resistors do nothing to equalize the grid current at idle when no current is flowing!!!

If you still believe, after reading that data sheet, that using unmatched tubes is sound judgment, just buy tubes until they stop melting. 

Been interesting --- Have a great weekend regards Jim     
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KM1H
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« Reply #91 on: February 24, 2017, 03:06:08 PM »

I dont believe Orr was an EE

What was he --- a cook in an oriental massage parlor that wrote several electronics texts at engineering levels? 

Your a senior RF engineer that worked for an aerospace company.  Why not share your papers and theoretical written material or maybe a thesis so we can learn what was going on in that great era --- everybody's story is interesting.   

Youre getting snarkier than usual in your old age.

I believe that Orrs title was Product Engineer which means he held hands with the end users, OEM's and hams.
I talked to him many times but his education wasnt any of my business and he always answered my questions going back as far as the Eimac 8122W.

I wrote plenty of papers in my life in my professional capacity and for the various companies I worked for. I might add that they were well received by PROFESSIONALS, unlike snarky and annoying ham commentators on hobby forums.
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K9AXN
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« Reply #92 on: February 24, 2017, 06:54:55 PM »

I dont believe Orr was an EE

What was he --- a cook in an oriental massage parlor that wrote several electronics texts at engineering levels? 

Your a senior RF engineer that worked for an aerospace company.  Why not share your papers and theoretical written material or maybe a thesis so we can learn what was going on in that great era --- everybody's story is interesting.   

Youre getting snarkier than usual in your old age.

I believe that Orrs title was Product Engineer which means he held hands with the end users, OEM's and hams.
I talked to him many times but his education wasnt any of my business and he always answered my questions going back as far as the Eimac 8122W.

I wrote plenty of papers in my life in my professional capacity and for the various companies I worked for. I might add that they were well received by PROFESSIONALS, unlike snarky and annoying ham commentators on hobby forums.


Just a bit of humor. 

You have a remarkable resume "Senior RF Engineer for an Aerospace company.  Thought it would be very generous if you would share some of your manuscripts.  I've not seen any of your technical writing.  Just send a url or direct me to the archives where they're stored --- it's never too late for me to learn something new.  In case you forget. I'll occasionally send a reminder. 

Bill Orr was extraordinarily well written --- The Radio Handbook, many QST articles, and much more.  He also collaborated with Bruene, Senti, and most Amplifier designers.   

If you don't know his education why do you comment?

A product engineer could not have had the grasp of electronic design that he had and published what he did.  Also at that time EE's didn't brag titles ---- I suppose things are different today.

Glad to hear from you --- have a great evening --- Regards Jim   
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VK3BL
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« Reply #93 on: February 24, 2017, 08:07:59 PM »

It is located at the end of page 4 and beginning of page 5.  Pay special note to the plate and grid ranges.  The plate range exceeds 2/1 and the grid is 3.4/1.  It's easy to see why the grid has a propensity to collapse when using unmatched tubes.  The grid resistors do nothing to equalize the grid current at idle when no current is flowing!!!

If you still believe, after reading that data sheet, that using unmatched tubes is sound judgment, just buy tubes until they stop melting.    

Jim,

Do you have a particular axe to grind here? 

I have noticed its not just with me, you seem to be bating Carl as well.  If you're interested in actually reading - and I question that because you have not engaged with the article I linked to - you can find a wealth of information Carl has published over the years on the contesting.com lists.

Not only that, you continually bring up that quotes of mine from this thread, as if they are some particular thorne in your side.  I'm not sure why, because ample explanation has been provided by myself and others.

Let me put it this way, if I had said something as controversial as you are making it out to be, Carl would be more than happy to point it out, as he has on many occasions before.  In this case, the silence is deafening.

As for grids collapsing, once again you are misrepresenting my comments.  I stated that Russian and Chinese 811A variants are prone to the PLATES collapsing when abused, NOT the grids.

I am not aware of a single case of 811A grids collapsing.  Unlike ceramic tubes and many tetrodes, the grids in 811A tubes can withstand considerable abuse.  In fact, Tom W8JI is of the opinion they can sustain enough current to the point they glow, without any physical deformation.  Certainly, if one takes a look at an 811A tube, they would rightly come to the conclusion that the grid wire is substantial.

As for tube matching, most people with experience believe it is little more than a marketing gimmick.  I certainly do not know of any tube vendor that can provide a quad of tubes matched for transconductance, and will warrant that they will stay matched over their useful life. 

Please do inform us which linear amplifier you own, and please do provide a graph of your linear amplifiers plate dissipation / output for various drive levels.

Otherwise, I can only come to the conclusion that you have little experience with linear amplifiers, and are only participating in this thread for the purpose of trolling.

 

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J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
K9AXN
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« Reply #94 on: February 24, 2017, 09:09:43 PM »

No Jared, no ax to grind.  Just a lot of curiosity regarding the 811 tube line and the reported problems in the amps that use it.  I've heard a lot of opinions regarding the problems with the 811 and very few if any tangible technical reasons.  Also heard and read seems like a thousand theoretical reasons why the AL-811 series amps are problematic.  I haven't heard or read anything that hasn't been contradicted.  QJ is the first gentleman to drill down into it.  I am not going to boast my competence with linear amplifier design however I am completely comfortable understanding and executing the calculations required for design and do sea trials to verify the concept.  As for Carl, I believe he can defend himself.  He did a fine job when you started with our political system.

In conclusion, the answer to the majority of problems with the 811A will be found in the following url.   http://www.radiotechnika.hu/images/811A.pdf    

I hadn't noticed that the RCA 811A tube data sheet had the section "characteristics range values for design".  

It is located at the end of page 4 and beginning of page 5.  Pay special note to the plate and grid ranges.  The plate range exceeds 2/1 and the grid is 3.4/1 .  It's easy to see why the grid has a propensity to collapse when using unmatched tubes.  The grid resistors do nothing to equalize the grid current at idle when no current is flowing!!!

If you should read that data sheet and take a moment to digest the implications you will see exactly why the four tubes have a tendency to behave wildly differently.  You will also see why those tubes must be matched at least to some degree.

Look at note #3 and #4.  Note 4 states that the grid current can vary from 25ma to 85ma with the same plate and grid voltages.  Without design intervention or using matched tubes disaster is imminent.  If you believe that matched tubes or design intervention is unnecessary --- that's your choice.  I know there's a lobby that suggests using matched 811A's is a waste of money but the data sheet says differently.  The data sheet answers all of the questions that I had.  You can read and heed it or continue to mindlessly stuff tubes in a perfectly good amplifier.    

Have a great day --- Regards Jim


 


 
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VK3BL
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« Reply #95 on: February 24, 2017, 10:51:19 PM »

If you should read that data sheet and take a moment to digest the implications you will see exactly why the four tubes have a tendency to behave wildly differently.  You will also see why those tubes must be matched at least to some degree.

Jim,

I'm the first to defend the AL-811 line.  I think they're a valuable option for Hams who don't want to commit a lot of money to an amplifier, and don't want to fiddle around with older amps.

Right now I am fixing up my 80s THP HL-1Kgx because some NOS chinese 4CX250Bs (FU-251F) tubes arc'd over and welded one of the contacts of the relay shut. 

I didn't appreciate that hassle, and I fully understand most hams wouldn't either.  That's why I think its great that there is a low cost option with full manufacturer support.  I believe I have probably stated this at least 20 times thus far on eham.  All I have for this amp is a sketchy schematic, and next to nothing is written about these amps online.

That said, with respect, if you bother to look at 99% of the AL-811 threads on eham, as well as my blog, you should come to the conclusion that I am intimately familiar with both the amplifier and the tubes.  I have read every datasheet available, and am *constantly* seeking out new knowledge - hence mucking about with this bizzare THP amplifier; one of the only commercial HF amplifiers ever made that uses a pair of 4CX250Bs.

With regards to tubes, I can assure you that NO VENDOR can provide a truly matched set of 3 or 4.  They might match on one variable, but they sure as heck don't chuck them in a piece of test equipment to measure their individual characteristic curves.  Even RCA and EIMAC never did that sort of thing; there was always a tolerance, and the manufacturer (the customer) was expected to make do within the tolerances.

Once again you have misinterpreted the datasheet.  The tube producer is not saying buy a matched set, they are saying if you're going to be silly enough to use more than 2 tubes in your design, you should make efforts to match them with circuitry.  This is literally what the RCA datasheet says.

The aforementioned reason is EXACTLY WHY it is considered BAD ENGINEERING PRACTICE to use any more than 2 tubes.  The only reason it is done in the amateur world is to keep products cheap.

I don't have a problem with that.  I don't have a problem with the fact the grids are directly grounded to protect my transceiver.  I think that's a great safety feature for a Ham who has just purchased their first amplifier in a world where glass tube quality varies from day to day.  Just recently I mentioned I had received a brand new 'tested' 572B tube that had the anode bar practically touching the filament tensioning springs.  Within 15 seconds of applying filament current, the springs would touch the anode bar and arc over.  Anode to Filament arcs are about as catastrophic as they come.  Shu Guang claim a 24 hour burn in and a hi-pot test.  Bullshit.  At best, they binned this tube and someone decided to resell it.  At worst they outright lie.  The vendor I bought it off claimed THEY did a hi-pot test as well.  Once again bullshit.  A simple visual inspection is good enough to regard this tube as faulty.

As much as I like the AL-811 series, there is no point providing unbalanced advice.  There is plenty of that floating around.  Thats why in this particular thread, I have highlighted the fact that with 3-4 tubes biased at around 30 watts dissipation each, it is not unreasonable to expect one of the plates to glow if the key is left down with zero signal long enough.  I also pointed out this is a non issue as NO ONE RUNS THEIR AMP LIKE THAT!

If you ask any qualified transmitter engineer, or even a reputable tube manufacturer NOT a retailer, they will tell you exactly what I have above - it is bad engineering practice to use more than 2 tubes because manufacturing tolerances dictate they cannot be matched.  They certainly can't for a few dollars extra.

And I didn't have a go at your political system, I had a go at mine.  If you bother to re-read the thread, you will see that Carl was AGREEING with me, and reminiscing about his time spent here and how vegemite sucks.


« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 10:58:29 PM by VK3BL » Logged

J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
K9MOV
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« Reply #96 on: February 25, 2017, 12:11:21 AM »

I own a AL-811 amp. for 15+ years and have been licensed from 1957. No engineering data, just practical experience. Back in the late 50's and early 60's when SSB was getting popular, the 811 and the 813 were the most popular tubes because they were cheap and readily available. The 811 was the most popular because of the filament voltage and cheaper sockets. There were hundreds of homebrew 811 amps. and as an example-- GE ham news vol 4, no 4, a pair running in push/ pull for 400 wts output. there were hundreds of Amps. running 400w out for a pair or 800w for 4 in GG( keeping within the 1kw power limit) There was even one whole issue of RCA ham tips with RCA giving hams some new ratings for the 811. The reason they gave is because the filament materials used they could sustain the brief overloads in SSB or CW service without reducing tube life due to filament emission. ( its late, ready to go to bed, can't find the issue) They wrote and I quote-- running the 811 at the new rating would reduce the tube life 30% as compared to running it in CCS. Of all the hundreds of amps. run that way, I NEVER heard of grid collapse or plate collapse. I only heard of a few that pushed them even further resulting in the glass sucking in and destroying the tube that way.
 I have 6 brand new spare 811's. 3 new matched Chinese 811's and 3 NOS JAN/RCA 811's. Last year I made a test. After breaking all of the tubes in the amp. I them measured the GM of the tubes. The results were-- the Chines tubes were 740--825--910. The JAN/RCA's were all 1300, plus or minus 7%.
VK3BL is exactly correct in his post, but k9axm is kinda right also. The problem is the Chinese 811 and the RCA 811 are NOT the same tubes. The specs. may be the same, but the filament material is junk in the Chinese tube and the Chinese 572b uses the exact same filament.
The AL-811 is a good low cost amp. The problem with it is the TUBES and some of the hams that use it.
Lane-- K9MOV
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VK3BL
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« Reply #97 on: February 25, 2017, 01:17:42 AM »

There was even one whole issue of RCA ham tips with RCA giving hams some new ratings for the 811. The reason they gave is because the filament materials used they could sustain the brief overloads in SSB or CW service without reducing tube life due to filament emission. ( its late, ready to go to bed, can't find the issue)

They wrote and I quote-- running the 811 at the new rating would reduce the tube life 30% as compared to running it in CCS. Of all the hundreds of amps. run that way, I NEVER heard of grid collapse or plate collapse. I only heard of a few that pushed them even further resulting in the glass sucking in and destroying the tube that way.

 I have 6 brand new spare 811's. 3 new matched Chinese 811's and 3 NOS JAN/RCA 811's. Last year I made a test. After breaking all of the tubes in the amp. I them measured the GM of the tubes. The results were-- the Chines tubes were 740--825--910. The JAN/RCA's were all 1300, plus or minus 7%.

VK3BL is exactly correct in his post, but k9axm is kinda right also. The problem is the Chinese 811 and the RCA 811 are NOT the same tubes. The specs. may be the same, but the filament material is junk in the Chinese tube and the Chinese 572b uses the exact same filament.
The AL-811 is a good low cost amp. The problem with it is the TUBES and some of the hams that use it.
Lane-- K9MOV

Lane you're spot on.  I've read the RCA Ham tips recently, including the article on the 811As.  I did so before I made the argument earlier in this thread that 811As are best used as Class B Modulators or a Class C Amplifier.

I do understand Jim K9AXM's points, I really do.  Our point of difference really just centres around theory vs practice.  The facts of the matter are neither the AL-811 or the current 811A tubes are world class designs.

I never had too much of an issue with the Chinese filaments, but they certainly didn't last as long as the set of NOS RCA 811As I had.  Wow they're beautiful tubes aren't they Lane?  And you're right, there is no way the plate would sag and touch the grids like often occurs with the communist variants.  The welded on U channels the RCAs have add considerable re-enforcement.

They're (The AL-811 series and the Chinese FU-811) are both great value for money however, and sometimes that's what counts the most! Smiley

At least with the 811A (FU-811), the plate isn't made of graphite so they're much easier to produce.  I've never had a new gassy one from China.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 01:22:57 AM by VK3BL » Logged

J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
K9AXN
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« Reply #98 on: February 25, 2017, 01:34:15 PM »

Some history regarding matched tubes.  RCA, as far back as the 50's sold three grades of a particular tube; matched throughout the conduction range, matched within any 1 of 4 quadrants of the bias range, and simply off the shelf.  You could select tubes based on your design limits.  Each cost was assessed on volume, degree of match, and who you knew.

RCA and later Burle were the only tube builders that provided that data sheet information.  Burle color coded the 8122 with Red, Blue, Green, and black to distinguish the four quadrants.  EIMAC and others did not.   

If you carefully read that data sheet it would be quite clear that designing an amplifier would be very costly if you were to take any tube --- or tubes off the shelf insert them and have wide enough adjustments to make them work in your radio. 

The AL-811 series amps have fixed bias and for all I know everyone else had fixed as well.  Collins and others sold part numbered tubes that would work properly with their design without glowing or melting.  All was good until they went soft and the tubes were replaced with off the shelf stock.  Then, they to enjoyed the squirrely problems you are hearing.  Now if your lucky enough to get four tubes that are within the same quadrant your happy with your radio and can't understand why everyone else has trouble saying heck mine has been trouble free for years.     

Last:  Using unmatched tubes in any quantity in any multi tube amp that has fixed bias is mindless.  If the 811A builders sold tubes the same way, you could look at that data sheet divide those huge plate and grid ranges into four and select one and set the bias diodes.  Then you wouldn't have red plates at idle and the molten tubes would be history.

BTW, I didn't misinterpret that data sheet and it didn't infer anything about more than one tube.  With those ranges one tube could fail with fixed bias.  Using the close matched tubes sold by the amp builders would preclude circuit changes.  Do you know of any 811 commercial or ham designer that has variable bias for each tube? 

I'm certain that if that section of the data sheet had been read by anyone that has participated in discussions regarding 811 amplifier problems, this thread and dozens of others would never have existed.

Regards Jim   
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KM1H
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« Reply #99 on: February 25, 2017, 02:11:25 PM »

Quote
Jim,

Do you have a particular axe to grind here? 

I have noticed its not just with me, you seem to be bating Carl as well.  If you're interested in actually reading - and I question that because you have not engaged with the article I linked to - you can find a wealth of information Carl has published over the years on the contesting.com lists.

Not only that, you continually bring up that quotes of mine from this thread, as if they are some particular thorne in your side.  I'm not sure why, because ample explanation has been provided by myself and others.

Let me put it this way, if I had said something as controversial as you are making it out to be, Carl would be more than happy to point it out, as he has on many occasions before.  In this case, the silence is deafening.



You are spot on Jarrad as he has a long history of baiting on whatever forum/URL he picks with a seemingly innocent post, sweet language, and then goes into attack mode and never lets up. I generally ignore him as anything value added is far from original. A smart lawyer never asks a question that he doesnt know the answer to ....get the picture?? Roll Eyes

As far as Orrs involvement is concerned he arrived with a basic EE education and worked his way up the chain as it would have been impossible to not absorb a wealth of a specialized education not taught at university just being around the engineers for decades.

He was happiest at writing for the company, and being the Eimac face to customers, new and old, and all his ham radio works which are legendary. Since we were both from the NYC area we hit it off well with my first phone call when I was at National Radio and continued on to shortly before his death, often just "ragchewing" about our families and ham radio in general.

My own path was more roundabout and via several companies in the Boston area as it wasnt until later in life I took time off to go back to university so I could qualify for the senior jobs I needed to boost my salary and wind up with a much higher monthly Social Security check...my parents didnt raise a dummy  Grin Shocked
Plus I had expensive hobbies in ham radio and antique/performance vehicles. Wink

Carl
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K4RVN
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« Reply #100 on: February 25, 2017, 05:39:08 PM »

Bill Orr was an EE a graduate from the University of California. He grew up in N.Y.
His initial title was Engineer.
 He also designed several amps some which were used at W1AW.
This is from Bill's obituary in Zero Beat volume 37,issue 3 Southeastern Mass. Amateur Radio Association March 2001.
Official news letter of the association.



Frank
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 05:46:52 PM by K4RVN » Logged
KM1H
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« Reply #101 on: February 25, 2017, 07:02:09 PM »

Quote
Bill Orr was an EE a graduate from the University of California. He grew up in N.Y.
His initial title was Engineer.

That says very little about what he studied, what his actual degree was, etc. and it is not covered in anything I found before I first posted. The subject never came up during our long distance talks.
He apparently was very happy with his life and I'll leave it at that.
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VK3BL
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« Reply #102 on: February 25, 2017, 07:10:11 PM »

Some history regarding matched tubes.  RCA, as far back as the 50's sold three grades of a particular tube; matched throughout the conduction range, matched within any 1 of 4 quadrants of the bias range, and simply off the shelf.  You could select tubes based on your design limits.  Each cost was assessed on volume, degree of match, and who you knew.

I'm certain that if that section of the data sheet had been read by anyone that has participated in discussions regarding 811 amplifier problems, this thread and dozens of others would never have existed.

Regards Jim   

RCA doesn't make tubes anymore.

I offer advice to the modern Ham, who couldn't give a rat's ass because the time spent at zero signal with bias is two-tenths of a bee's dick.

I am certain that these threads wouldn't exist if Hams:

1) Knew how to tune quickly
2) Only used SSB & CW (No AM / No RTTY)
3) Understood that ICAS usage means 500-750 tube hours life at best, and accepted it
4) Didn't take advice from people whose only experience is with ancient literature

I don't even understand why you are fixated on matched sets of tubes now. 

Anyone with any experience with the AL-811 would realise its like buying two "matched" drag car engines and then expecting them to be "matched" by the finish line!

Anyway, I'm with Carl.  You're very polite Jim, but your tendency to:

1) Focus exclusively on small details at the expensive of others
2) Fail to engage with the broader argument / bigger picture
3) Refuse to engage with any referenced material
4) Focus on idealised scenarios not the accepted real world
5) Continually hound the other party over a minor disagreement
6) Refuse to provide any evidence of qualification / experience on your behalf

Means that you're really adding zero value. 

The ancient greeks had a term for people who were good with words, but didn't accomplish anything for the community:  Sophists. 

I like rhetoric as much as the next guy, but we're just wasting time if we argue with sophists.


At the end of the day, if you ask yourself "Would I have more luck bending a spoon with my mind than changing the other person's opinion?" and the answer is 'yes', most of us know its time to give up.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 07:19:44 PM by VK3BL » Logged

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K9AXN
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« Reply #103 on: February 25, 2017, 07:38:16 PM »

There's a huge community that understands the implications of that data sheet regarding multiple and single tube design.  RCA is now BURLE.

In the era when I was educated Engineers didn't boast titles.  Their command of technology, written material, and designs said everything.

Have a good evening and good luck to you.

See ya down the road someday.  Regards Jim
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 07:56:23 PM by K9AXN » Logged
K4RVN
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« Reply #104 on: February 25, 2017, 08:55:47 PM »

Carl,
I read that his first job after getting his EE degree from Cal Berkley was to work on innovative radar systems for combat airplanes during WW2. After the war he went to work for Eimac involved with engineering  Eimac  RF tubes. That may be a clue for what he
was interested in and good at. I did not ever talk to him but gave him a transformer he was looking for to refurbish a Hi fi amp  along with some tubes I had. We sent emails and he wrote me a nice note and sent me a book on cubical quads I wanted. I think he enjoyed his work and amateur radio very much. He was an amateur as a teen in NY. Just passing this along for those who may be interested. I have his QSL card as W6SAI and his Radio Handbook. He also worked on the Oscar amateur project in the early 60s.

Frank
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