January 1945 Radio-Craft
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
With most solid state
devices, be they discrete elements or integrated circuits, discerning their
functions by visual inspection is nearly always impossible. A trained observer
can use a microscope on a
bare die to get a good idea of what the various parts do.
Memory banks, transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc., are usually pretty
obvious even to someone relatively new at the job. Opaque overmolded packages
and/or extremely small features complicate the task. In the vacuum tube days,
anyone accustomed to working with them could fairly easily look at the the
arrangement of heaters, cathodes, grids, and plates - sometimes singular but
often multiple - and figure out the function. Experts could even make a fair
guess at the key electrical specifications. Of course that only applied to those
with clear glass envelopes. Tubes with special shapes might have been a bit more
difficult to guess the application. To wit, the long, skinny R-1110 "Pirani
Tube" shown here is an example. It is designed to measure ambient pressure using
an ingenious principle that measures a change in the resistance element as a
function of pressure even though it resides inside the sealed tube. Sylvania
made many such special purpose vacuum tubes, many of which can be found using a
Special Tubes by Sylvania
role of the electronic-tube in industry is ever more and more varied. To meet
special needs, many types of tubes have been and are being devised. Some are
not widely known - others are at present restricted to war uses only. These
and others will play an increasing part in the development of modern electronics
when civilian needs again assume priority. A brief description of a number of
interesting specialized Sylvania tubes is given below:
Type 631-P1 and SN-4. These two tubes are similar except
that the former is designed for viewing moving objects. the latter for electronic
relay work. They are cold cathode tubes. The 631-P1 emits sharp, brilliant flashes
of red light at low frequency. By viewing rotating objects under its light,
an illusion of "stopped" or "slow" motion is created. thus allowing study, adjustment
and alignment of rapidly moving machinery. This tube, for instance, is used
in the General Radio 631-B Strobotac, a device directly calibrated to produce
from 600-14,400 flashes per minute, (of 5-10 microseconds in length). The SN-4
is an electronic relay with no moving parts operating at a maximum of 60 pulses
A basic circuit for either tube is given in Fig. 1. Switch closure places
the voltage on C2 between cathode and grid #1 to initiate discharge.
The condenser assumes the full DC voltage while the switch is open. Other tube
elements may be utilized as shown in the chart.
R-1110. This tube may be used to measure a vacuum between the limits of 10-1
to 10-5 millimeters pressure. The Pirani principle is that of measuring
the resistance of a wire placed in an atmosphere of low gas pressure. Since
heat conduction changes with the pressure, a current meter determines the degree
of vacuum. The tube tip (which is open) is sealed into a vacuum chamber which
it is to measure. The filament resistance is about 6.6 ohms when cold and rises
to about 16 ohms with 100 M.A. flowing (in a vacuum).
Fig. 1 - Strobotron. light is emitted directly from the tube.
R-1100. This tube may be used for similar applications to
the above and has the same range of pressure measurement. It also works on the
principle of varying thermal conductivity with gas pressure. In this tube, however,
the center point of the filament is the hot junction of a thermocouple, the
output of which is measured to indicate degree of vacuum. Its filament resistance
is 1.5 ohms, thermocouple resistance 3.5 ohms. Like the previous tube, its open
tip is sealed to form part of the vacuum chamber under measurement.
R-1159. This tube finds application in low current drain
circuits for voltage regulation, The voltage across it varies with the current
flowing through it, thus maintaining the voltage across the load.
OB3/VR90 OC3/VR105 OD3/VR150. These three tubes may be used
in circuits requiring higher operating currents. The load in this case is placed
in parallel with the tube, which maintains a constant voltage with widely varying
current flow. The first code letters in the tube names determine operating current
range, the last number being the operating voltage.
R-1130. This is a cold cathode tube designed to emit a pinpoint
of photographic light in the range of 3500 6500 Angstrom units. It may be used
in facsimile receivers where a modulated EMF is applied to the tube. The emitted
light is focused onto a sensitized photographic paper attached to a revolving
Near Ultra-Violet Lamps
Blacklight Lamp. Sources of near-ultra violet light, these
lamps resemble ordinary fluorescent tubes, with a red-purple glass envelope,
which acts as a filter to absorb visible light. They can be operated with regular
fluorescent lamp equipment and fixtures, though the smaller sizes have a special
base. As they cause many naturally fluorescent materials to glow, they are useful
for many inspection purposes, as well as their ordinary uses in lighting fluorescent
dials, etc. As an example, the lamp is used in sorting acetate and cellulose
yarns, which glow differently under the light though they may resemble each
other very closely under ordinary light.
RP-12. This fluorescent lamp represents a compact source
of visible and near ultra-violet emission in the range of about 3600 Angstrom
Units. Operating from a 24-volt D.C. source it may be used to illuminate fluorescent
painted dials such as an airplane instrument panels, for inspection lights,
Blacklight lamps resemble ordinary fluorescents.
Posted March 1, 2021