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Author Topic: Amp Tube Snobbery  (Read 33432 times)

Posts: 282

« on: July 27, 2014, 01:23:44 PM »

This really isn't meant to be an ornery or sarcastic post.

I'm a bit confused at the number of "tube snobs" that haunt this (and other) forums.

Okay, time to get specific:
Eimac has evolved into an iconic name that inspires feelings of awe and wonder in the minds of many hams.  Is there a reason for this phenomenon?  In a word, YES.
Eimac has a reputation steeped in product quality.  Just as Rolls Royce used to be.  Eimac can be proud of what it's done.

But does that somehow infer that "if it's not Eimac it must be junk"?
Maybe.  But I don't think so.

Someone recently wrote (this is not a direct quote) that if Russian tubes were any good their makers would publish data sheets with 10,000 different test results. 

Well, folks, Russian "ad men" aren't as advanced as we are.  The Russian consumer mindset is not finely attuned to Western-style marketing.

What entities were Eimac's prime customer? Industry, Medicine, Broadcasting, Military and Amateur.
How about Svetlana's prime customer?  The Soviet military.

The point is, Svetlana did not need a team of 35 engineers to invent new specification parameters.  They didn't need 500 ad men to write jingles about how their tubes were the world's best.

Someone mentioned IMD products.  Within reason, who cares?  There's a "whack job" character who posts here often and writes of almost nothing except IMD.  The FCC doesn't even give a rat's butt about IMD.

What about those ugly NOS Russian tubes? Who'd want to use those?  Well, every tube ever made reaches the consumer as NOS.  the term "fresh" should apply to dairy and meat, and possibly paint jobs.  But again, someone wrote here recently about his finals being made in 1948 and still putting out full power.

Even Alpha ships it's 9500 with a Chinese 8877.  But the tube snobs can order one with an Eimac for only $600 additional.

I hope no one is offended by my little rant.  Like I said, it wasn't meant to be ornery.

Posts: 1862

« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 01:57:16 PM »

I am going to assume your post is sincere and not just a Troll job to get something going on here....or your are not just bored and have a lot of extra time on your hands, etc.

Think about it:  You could make the exact same statements about coax, microphones, headsets, tuners, amplifiers, power tools, cars, insulated coolers, tires, guns, or about almost any other manufactured product.

Are hams who chose to use expensive Andrews Heliax, or some high dollar double shielded Belden coax instead of Chinese "RG-8 type" coax, "Coax Snobs" ?

For any number of reasons, various people are more attracted to quality than others. If you were to run an exhaustive study of transmitting tubes by
brand, across the spectrum, I would be very, very surprised if you did not find more manufacturing quality in Eimac tubes and a lower MTBF than
Svetlana or Chinese product.

I don't know how old you are, but I get the impression you were not around at the height of the USSR and/or saw some of the incredible junk.....civilian
and military....that the county produced at the time. This doesn't mean it did not "work", but that does not go into precision of function, long term reliability, etc.
Do you REALLY think that Chinese production tubes are the equal to Eimac across the product lines? Keep in mind that PRICE is a HUGE driver of component
selection in the ham radio market. Do you REALLY think that Chinese business ethics and Quality Control are equal to those of a reputable American tech company??
"Good enough" or "adequate" is usually acceptable in ham equipment. This is a HOBBY...... and that is fine in most situations.....but many people, particularly those who are
knowledgeable in an area often are motivated for something above "average" or better than "acceptable". don't really understand why you call the personal opinions of a few individuals "tube snobbery"?  What are your "technical social status" thoughts on CW keys?!....or microphones?

FYI:  After the foregoing low level defense of Eimac, please note I don't meet your definition of Tube Snob:  My amp has Russian 4CX800A7's in it because of COST in order to meet a price point in the market place at the time it was built.   I would bet a very large sum of money that if prices were equal, it would have had Eimac's......
and I would rather have had Eimac's in it had I been give a choice......Hmmm?  I guess I am a Tube Snob !

73,  K0ZN
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 02:06:23 PM by K0ZN » Logged

Posts: 1400

« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 02:42:37 PM »

Like K0ZN said,it`s about tube availability at the time of manufacture,not just price. It has nothing to do with snobbery. It has to do with how well the tube was built to begin with. 8877 and 3-500Z are much heavier duty tubes than the 811/572 tubes. Apparently they are better made too,because all the complaints I keep hearing are about the 811/572. Many of them being shipped from China have shorts,resulting in an arc in a brand new tube. Thanks to our wonderful politicians for screwing us into buying everything from China.

Posts: 127

« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 03:23:39 PM »

Yes, my 1948 RCA , JAN branded 813 finals in the home brew junk box amp I am running now are still making 1200 watts out on 40 meters.  ( Not sure but I think JAN is Joint Army Navy mill spec) Someone else might know if this is correct.
40-1200 watts
10--- you got to be kidding me. These tubes have way to much output capacitance for that.

Now keep in mind that this is pushing a pair of 813 tubes way past there published design specs. This kind of service is downright abusive, but speaks to the quality of the tubes made in yesteryear. Also direct heated throated tungsten filament tubes are known for being able to handle huge overloads. I have been using them this way almost nightly for 3 years with no problems. I got a batch of 14 tubes and 4 of them were still good and the rest were gassy or had cathode to grid shorts. I don’t expect to get 10 years out of them, but they will probably last until I can build a GS35B based amplifier or maybe even one with a set of RF parts Chinese 3-500z tubes.  Made in china tubes are just good enough that they don’t have to trash to many tubes in the production process to meet the minimum spec for the model they are building. As of a year ago, RF parts will not sell an imported 813 tube because the reject rate is so high and the quality control is so poor.  These tubes from china are made is a batch of several thousand at a time and tested some go to the trash and some are rebranded with whatever the customer wants stamped on them. Russian tubes “were” made just good enough that they passed a minimum spec and hopefully you didn’t get sent to the gulag.  In china the motivation is profit at the cost of quality and in Russia of the cold war era the motivation was fear .  Eimac made a quality product ( or at least tried to) and the expectation was that the end user was willing to pay for that quality They traded on their brand.  As a hobby consumer I am happy to pay $250 to get a GS35B shipped to my door with the expectation that if I get 10 years of service out of it I will feel I got my monies worth. I look at it as a compromise between good enough performance and not having so much invested in it that I am afraid to use my amp for fear I will do something stupid and blow it up. I am sure I am not the only person in the world that has tried to tune up his amp on 20 meters with the band switch still in the 80 meter position. ------ I am not a tube snob.-------    Ok, so I rambled on in a few different directions, the point is if you “need” and will pay the price for and Eimac tube them by all means that is what you should get. IF you are a poor smock like me that cobbles stuff together to get an education and save a few bucks in the process then you are well served with the less expensive option. The guy on the other end can’t tell the difference as it is fairly easy to get just about any tube, rather it is a set of sweep tubes or a 4cx20000f7 and build and operate an amplifier that doesn’t cause spectrum pollution. 

Posts: 127

« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 03:31:14 PM »

Here is a link to my QRZ page were you can see my cobbled together ugly junk box amplifier. I wanted to learn more about RF circuits and amplifiers so I made this a test bed to try different ideas and designs. 
I am not very proud of it, but hey it works.
73, Jeremy

Posts: 565

« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 03:45:09 PM »

Someone recently wrote (this is not a direct quote) that if Russian tubes were any good their makers would publish data sheets with 10,000 different test results. 
Well, I would have responded saying that we have ham build Russian tube amps, why can't hams evaluate & characterize IMD spectra and linearity? Show me some data.

Dayton Ohio - The Birthplace of Aviation

Posts: 2979

« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 05:16:46 PM »

To satisfy the FCC all the amp manufacturer has to do is make the output rating of the amp meet the minimum IMD level acceptable.  Once the ham exceeds that specified output level, the IMD goes to hell in a hand basket.  BTW  some of the later Eimac 3-500 tubes made in the early 90's to the end of their reign in about 1996 aren't very good.  Let them sit for any length of time and they get so gassy they are no longer any good.  As time grew on EImac's quality of 3-500's went down.  For the most part the EImac tubes (especially the ceramic external anode) tubes a still very good.  There were some years where the 8877 tubes were troublesome.

Posts: 5743

« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 11:04:28 PM »

I have been building, repairing  and certifying amplifiers for over 40 years and I never see an Eimac tube being used in new units let alone used amplifiers. If there isan Eimac snobs out there they don't use amplifiers.

Posts: 5557

« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2014, 02:14:43 AM »

Tube Snobs that's funny!
Why would anyone really care about this?
Obviously some tube companies are going to be better than others and they will of course charge more. That's how it is with any product. If I buy the better product and mention that it's better does that make me a Snob? If that's the case the world is full of snobs, I might be considered a Scotch slob since I won't buy the cheap stuff Grin

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)

Posts: 606

« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2014, 07:42:04 AM »

...and then there is the audio market.
I have four Gold Lion Mullard KT88's in my Citation II that are worth more than I am, even slightly used.   Grin

That notwithstanding I have Nation Union 813's in AM Rf service that were built in the year of my birth for US WWII military service and also modern Eimac's of the 8873/4/5 family and the 3cx800/1500 family.  Good stuff. 

Rick, W3RSW

Posts: 3022


« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 08:30:22 AM »

I see plenty of amps out there running Eimac, plenty run Russian tubes and plenty run Chinese tubes... you can't tell the difference on the receiving end. Run whatever makes you happy Smiley

One of my amps has chinese 572b in it.. and another has an eimac 8877... both work just fine and dandy..

Posts: 688

« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2014, 10:25:54 AM »


Here in Europe a lot of Russian tubes are available and also Dutch, French British and German Czech Chinese tubes etc.
And we do not have troubles in getting the specs for these tubes.
Lots of Russian tubes are based on EU and US designs , and some of these tubes are even stronger and better build as the original designs from the EU or US.

We also have a lot of surplus CCCP army stuf on our flee matkets and hamfests.
These Russians build very well build and designed vacuum capasitors ceramic caps and roller inductors, etc.

Look at these amps that are build with lots of different tubes, the roller inductor he uses in this 40KW PEP amp is Russian build, I use a similar one in my 5 KW PEP tuner.
I only think that 40 KW PEP is a bit over LL hihi.
Also other European countries made wonderfull vacuum tubes that are great in quality.
We can buy Russian tubes for 1 KW anode dissipation or even more for about a 100 Euro's a piece.

Nothing wrong with other vacuum tubes , you just have to know what type to use.
A simple google for the specs will do just fine, just use the Cyrilic characters for the search GI7B is ГИ7Б  etc.
Anode is АНОДЕ

73 Jos
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 10:35:44 AM by PA1ZP » Logged

Posts: 70

« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2014, 01:48:18 AM »

In my shack I have my 3 favorite amps. One German made with Tubes from USA, two Australian amps, one with Chinese tubes and the other with Russian tubes. All three amps make me smile, don't annoy other band users. Don't care where the tubes are made. Biggest problem is not the tube origin but the LID using it.


Posts: 3342

« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 06:39:45 PM »

"Tube snobs"?   

I sure havent' seen them here or on QRZed.

The point is, Svetlana did not need a team of 35 engineers to invent new specification parameters.  They didn't need 500 ad men to write jingles about how their tubes were the world's best.
Yeah sure. It's amazing how motivated engineers can get when you execute a few of them, and threaten the rest with The Gulag!

KA0HCP, ex-KB4QAA Relocated to Ks. April 2019.

Posts: 606

« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2014, 06:13:21 AM »

Much Soviet stuff from National radios, to cars to atom devices ("gadgets") were perfect or as perfect as possible copies of Western technology that materials, motivation and manufacturing methods would allow in a police state having spying agencies as one of the largest of bureaucratic organs.  Klaus Fuchs was feeding original nuc. Device plans back to USSR from the US as fast as they hit the drawing boards...  Or faster since he was on the design team.

Fascinating reading for those who haven't yet read (I'll bet a many on this board already have):

Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and his sequel, "Dark Sun,"  the hydrogen bomb counterpart, Simon and Schuster, N.Y., London, 1986, etc.

I killed an entire beach week at Nags Head one summer reading the first, ignoring family and beach, absorbing and reflecting on most of it

What a book ! --A compendium of European and scientific history, Jewish diaspora, persecution,  intrigue of politics, nuclear physics ( history, theoretical and applied), brilliant insights in early nuclear research, key players, infrastructure development, nuclear device technology, espionage,  ultimate use and moral implications.

Rick, W3RSW
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