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 Post subject: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Thu 16, 2021 5:38 am 
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Hello! I am in Dire Need of QUALIFIED Person(s) to properly calibrate/repair vintage Hickok Tube Testers. I already know of Dan Nelson and Roger Kennedy, both Extremely Good, BUT cannot afford the upwards of one year turn-around time to get the units back. If you know of anyone within a 150 mile radius of NYC who is knowledgeable enough to PROPERLY work on these great testers, please let me know. I would definitely make it worthwhile for YOU, if I could gain a business connection here. Have many, many radio tubes, and would be happy to send some out to anyone willing to help me out here. I am looking for a person who can replicate the calibration/repair process as outlined on Roger's webpage(alltubetesters) along with the standard procedures detailed in the Hickok manuals themselves. I sell vacuum tubes all over the world, and it is imperative that my test results be highly accurate. I currently have a 539c, a TV-10/A and a TV-3. I also have others including a Heathkit IT-17 that could use a bit of looking into. Of course I don't need all calibrated/repaired at once, just one at a time on a timely basis. Thank you, Dan.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Thu 16, 2021 3:21 pm 
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lapisseadog wrote:
I sell vacuum tubes all over the world, and it is imperative that my test results be highly accurate

In that case you should not be using a tube tester. A tube tester can show that a tube is bad in a number of ways. It cannot show that a tube is good.

A tube tester measures a tube under one set of conditions. To properly evaluate a tube it needs to be measured under a variety of conditions. To do that and show that it is good you need to measure that tube using a General Radio vacuum tube bridge (slow) or a Tektronix curve tracer (faster). You need to be able to show that the characteristic curves of the tube under test match those curves which the manufacturer(s) published for that tube.

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http://plymouthcolony.net/starcity/radios/


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Thu 16, 2021 4:56 pm 
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I can't help you with Hickok calibrations, you already know more than I do about who does them, how fast, and how well.

I understand that in the tube buying and selling business the preferred Hickok models have infinite street cred. I agree with Dale however that the most valid way to test a tube that isn't the actual device it isn't intended for is a lab grade curve tracer that can confirm operation at any desired operating condition and duplicate the published curves for the tube. The uTracer devices can do that quite well if your buyers will accept the results. There are a few similar devices on the market that are commercially made instead of being kits and while they are much more expensive they may also be more acceptable to buyers. Modern devices like this SHOULD be the gold standard in the tube trading world and one day they may be but I understand that they are not as accepted as Hickok results right now and I am sorry that I cannot give you any better advice on how to get yours calibrated quickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 5:11 am 
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Thank you. I agree with you to some extent, and use a curve tracer under certain circumstances/when matching high end audio tubes. But I will say this, though. My test results are reviewed by hundreds, if not thousands of other vacuum tube enthusiasts every year, each with their own opinion and/or personal testing units. The Hickok testers I use are essential to my business with the results widely accepted both here and abroad. Lots of happy customers so far. Nearing 6,000 positive feedback on ebay with hundreds of followers. The Hickok's definitely stand up to the task. They are reliable and accurate. I send out 10-15+ packages of tubes every day 7 days a week, and I don't have to worry about whether or not they're going to work properly when they arrive at their destination, BECAUSE I have carefully tested each using a Hickok 539c, the TV-3, or my Old Faithful Hickok TV-10A/U military tester calibrated by Roger Kennedy three times now. I am 56 years old and do not foresee EVER changing to another primary tester. They are just that good. But I do need to find someone fairly local to service these bad boys. Roger is phenomenal, but he is world famous now and only one person. There has to be someone out there in the Tri-State area with the necessary expertise to work on these?? Any ideas on other possible avenues to explore in this search? My TV-10 is still standing strong, but need to switch out/freshly calibrate/possibly repair the 539c as backup. My hope is to have one tester out at a time, on a rotational basis. This way I have the best possible scenario for accurate testing and backup. Thank you very much for the comments, Dan.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 2:44 pm 
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lapisseadog wrote:
My test results are reviewed by hundreds, if not thousands of other vacuum tube enthusiasts every year, each with their own opinion and/or personal testing units.

Based upon my 60+ years of experience with vacuum tubes I would only point out that anyone who accepts a tube tester's results as indicating performance of a tube has no understanding of vacuum tube theory.

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http://plymouthcolony.net/starcity/radios/


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 6:48 pm 
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Being that you do not need to be a brain surgeon to calibrate or repair a Hickok tube tester you should be able to find someone locally to do your repairs.

Seems you cater to the audio people that really don't understand vacuum tube basics and only see "HICKOK" and the tube readings when they purchase tubes.

DM


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 8:27 pm 
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Location: Centennial, Colorado
It seems strange that for so many years Companies, Military, Federal and State Governments and Private Industry would waste billions of dollars investing in tube testers. Not just in this country, but all around the globe.

Here are some those that extensively used tube testers that some now describe as foolish.

Western Electric – They had Hickok manufacture their tube testers a modified Hickok design.

Government - By far Hickok was the primary supplier.

Military – Virtually all of the military tube testers were designed by Hickok and some they manufactured..

FAA – They had Hickok design and manufacture the 752 & 752A tube testers.

Early Tube Computers – Sperry, IBM, Burroughs and others had Hickok tube testers on site.

Radio, stereo and TV service facilities – Virtually every shop had one or more of the various brands.

Private individuals – Some of these folks wanted to repair their own equipment.

Of course as solid state electronics phased in tubes and tube testers were being phased out over varying time frames. The one exception to all this was the guitar industry where many of the musicians refused to let go. And a resurgence of the audiophiles that wanted the tube sound from the golden years. These groups were not to be denied and a segment of the tube industry resumed with new being manufactured in Russia, Western Germany, China and some other Countries. Here in the United States it never resumed due primarily to environmental issues, but the NOS and used market flourished.

I find these hobbies no different than those that restore and enjoy old amateur gear, automobiles many other item from the past.

Of course there is a need for those buying and selling the tubes to evaluate them with a tube tester just like it was common practice over the years.

Curve Tracers were available from the late 50’s, but expensive and not at all practical for the service industry. Not a good way to evaluate the buying and selling for most users, but perhaps an option for some really high dollar tubes.

Just my thoughts on a controversial subject. Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 9:11 pm 
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I have a tube tester that I got in the 1960s I think. I have used it and was happy to have it.

I don't think I have used it in the past 15 years. I did take it out of the closet recently to see its model number but didn't plug it in. I also had an EICO 666 for a while but never used it and sold it several years ago.

I hang on to it just in case. My list of just in case items has grown to the point of crowding me out of the house. I suspect I have a fetish but hesitate to call it that.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Sat 18, 2021 5:29 am 
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Location: Auburn, AL
devilsmist wrote:
Being that you do not need to be a brain surgeon to calibrate or repair a Hickok tube tester you should be able to find someone locally to do your repairs.

Seems you cater to the audio people that really don't understand vacuum tube basics and only see "HICKOK" and the tube readings when they purchase tubes.

DM


I second this. It’s really not *that* complicated. A little tedious at first, but a relatively simple process if you can follow directions and use a multimeter. We have more than a few threads here documenting how to do it for various models. Some are easier than others to calibrate.

To the OP:

Those of us who have dug a little deeper into the guts, and those who understand parts tolerances understand that the test procedure used by Hickok is an approximation, and one that had relatively big tolerances as to what was acceptable. Accuracy is not needed, some level of precision, perhaps. The most useful tests that a tube tester can make, IMHO, are shorts tests, followed by filament continuity and emission. The gm Test is nice, but putting the tube into a radio or amp will also give you an indication of what it’s capable (or not) of doing. If your circuit is so critically designed that it needs tubes to be truly matched to function adequately, it’s probably not a very good circuit for everyday use.

Anyway, if you offer enough money, someone will probably calibrate your testers for you much faster than the people you listed in your initial post.

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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Sat 18, 2021 2:53 pm 
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lapisseadog wrote:
Hello! I am in Dire Need of QUALIFIED Person(s) to properly calibrate/repair vintage Hickok Tube Testers.

Sorry I can't help with your search, but welcome to the forum. I hope you find someone to help you out with your gear.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Sun 19, 2021 11:29 am 
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I'm curious as to what makes you suspect that your tube testers are "out of calibration". I assume you have been using them for some time, if you sell tubes all over the world. What makes them suddenly suspect?

One thing that's been discussed many times, and of course still applies, is that neither tubes, nor tube testers, are precision instruments. They never were, and never will be. But if you do have one or more of your testers that has been working properly, you can use a brand new tube or tubes as a "reference" of sorts, and monitor whether your results are still the same over time.

That said, your tube, when tested in one of your testers, is probably not going to give the same results when tested in another. As has been mentioned, and worth keeping in mind, no matter what results a GM tester is showing, it is only showing that result at one specific point in the operating curve of the tube under test. So it's an average, regardless.

So ... a followup to my original question.... is it calibration that is the issue, or is there some problem with one or more of the testers ?

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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Sun 19, 2021 12:42 pm 
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Calibrating Hickok testers is really very straightforward, this is one of the many benefits of their design with the precision power transformer over other testers.

You can follow the procedure in their manual. It can be assisted with an ACS calibration tool to avoid having to use a Variac controlled external transformer. My ACS is being cloned by Dan Nelson I believe, so you could drop him a line and see if he has any ready for sale yet.

If you read my article it will help you understand the calibration of Hickok testers and you will be able to do it yourself with just a DVM and not be dependent on paying others:

https://www.worldphaco.com/uploads/Hick ... e_ACS..pdf

If you got the ACS you could determine right away if your tester was in calibration, many of the testers you have might not need calibrating.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Sun 19, 2021 5:59 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sat 28, 2019 4:18 pm
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Location: Corinth, TX
Bill Eccher Jr wrote:
It seems strange that for so many years Companies, Military, Federal and State Governments and Private Industry would waste billions of dollars investing in tube testers.
. . .
Military – Virtually all of the military tube testers were designed by Hickok and some they manufactured..
. . .

My first intro to tube testers was the TV-7 in MCSC Barstow in the late '60s. After a couple run throughs with the setup, I put together a stash of common tubes that I KNEW worked and I would just test by substitution. Much quicker and more reliable.

Easy when you have access to a whole depot of parts. :)

John


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Tue 21, 2021 3:09 pm 
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Dale H. Cook wrote:
lapisseadog wrote:
My test results are reviewed by hundreds, if not thousands of other vacuum tube enthusiasts every year, each with their own opinion and/or personal testing units.

Based upon my 60+ years of experience with vacuum tubes I would only point out that anyone who accepts a tube tester's results as indicating performance of a tube has no understanding of vacuum tube theory.


His customers are guitarists and audiophiles. Science and logic do not apply in this case. The customer is always right, even when he is wrong, dead wrong!

Someday his customers will wise up and as we both say they will be far better served by modern curve tracers. Until that day comes he will have to get his Hickok's calibrated in order to serve them as they demand to be served. When that day comes those of us who want a highly prized Hickok simply because we collect such things and not because we have unrealistic expectations from them will suddenly find that they have become affordable again!

In the mean time my 533A and I-177 are good enough and when they fail my uTracer 3+ or the radio will tell me the rest!


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Tue 21, 2021 3:14 pm 
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I am re-inspired to build the ACS "standard" that Mr. Valve designed. I actually have all the parts. Have had them for well over a year. But to find the time.......... lol

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https://www.bbtvtestequipment.com


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Tue 21, 2021 3:32 pm 
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Location: Waukesha WI 53188
Barry H Bennett wrote:
I am re-inspired to build the ACS "standard" that Mr. Valve designed. I actually have all the parts. Have had them for well over a year. But to find the time.......... lol


Barry, a bit off topic but do you have details of the Mr. Valve kit? I have info on the uTracer3+ but would like to see what other options there are for a curve tracer.


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 Post subject: Re: Hickok Tube Tester/Calibration/Repair
PostPosted: Sep Tue 21, 2021 3:38 pm 
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The Kit is for a plug-in alternating current sink, a reference standard if you will, for any tube tester. It's not a curve tracer, just a modern solid state replacement for the legendary "Bogey Tube" of days past, and now forgotten.

He's got it on his site here:
https://www.worldphaco.com/uploads/Hickok_Calibration_and_the_ACS..pdf

There's another available which is here, and has been discussed here on ARF as well as elsewhere. Also a calibrator.
https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/d8d319a5/files/uploaded/6SN7%20CALIBRATOR%20museum.pdf

I think your options for a curve tracer are somewhat limited. There is, of course, the legendary Tektronix 570, 575, 576 (tube and solid state version) but they are getting hard to find, and expensive when they show up. The uTracer (version 6 now I believe) is by far the best I've seen. I have come across a few others, but none that I remember particularly.

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https://www.bbtvtestequipment.com


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