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Friday, March 10, 2023

Troubleshooting an Intermittent with Mr. Carlson. And Troublesome Tube Re-Branding.

This is a really great video on how Mr. Carlson (VE7ZWZ) did troubleshooting on a tube-type receiver. The problem was an intermittent.  They can drive you nuts, but Mr. Carlson show us how to stay sane. 

-- His use of ordinary observation at the start of the process is very important.  He notices a flickering glow in the voltage regulator tube.  The flickering coincides with the intermittent noise that he is trying to fix.  That is an important clue. 

-- He also can see that the grid of one of the AF amplifier tubes is getting way too hot: grid emission.  That is another important clue.  

-- He checks the grid voltage on the AF amplifier and finds that it is way too low.  It is fine on the other side of the resistor that carries the voltage to the tube.  But it is close to zero at the grid.   This means that the mica capacitors on the grid are suspect. 

-- He uses some fairly esoteric test gear -- a homemade device and an an old Heathkit signal tester -- to check his diagnosis.  They confirm that the mica caps are the problem.  He replaces the caps and the problem is gone.  A very satisfying troubleshoot. 

Mr. Carlson presents us with a lot of good info: 

-- 6K6 tubes were often in fact 6V6 tubes.  And 12AX7s were often 6VJ8s!  Manufacturers were deliberately re-branding tubes. So we shouldn't be surprised if some of our solid state devices turn out to be a bit different from what was promised.  This practice goes way back. 

-- I liked Mr. Carlson's final sensitivity test on the receiver -- he just waved his hand near the antenna connection and we could hear the receiver respond.  Excellent. 

-- Mr. Carlson is very negative about the use of polystyrene caps in oscillator circuits.  But we these simple and cheap caps being used to good effect in oscillators in India.  

-- The leaky and bad micas were a bit surprising.  Carlson speculates that their proximity to heat-producing resistors might have caused the trouble. 

Finally, it is interesting to hear the Canadian pronunciation of radio words:  Solder with the L pronounced (as in the UK).  Farad with the second A long and the final D emphasized (I say it just as the first two syllables of Michael Faraday's last name). 

Thanks Mr. Carlson. 


  1. Surprised micas do fail. Just did an Arc-5 receiver which involved a lot of capacitor replacement, but did not bother checking the micas in that one.
    //Tommy, SA2CLC

  2. One must realize the age of these components. Today nothing for consumer applications has longevity as a design specification. Its make it past warranty.

  3. I think the tube mentioned as 12ax7 equivalent was 6DJ8.


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