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KY5U
03-07-2007, 04:51 PM
With all the HF newbees, thought it might be useful to volunteer your info on how to tune a tube rig, since so many are out there in good working order.

I will take the "Swan" 350 rig. Add yours.


p.s.- And please, if you're not telling us how to tune a particular rig, don't post here. There are thousands of esoteric points one could make, and you're welcomed to start your own thread if you wish to make them. Please? Thanks!

KY5U
03-07-2007, 05:13 PM
Swan 350

If you have the factory manuel, then you should follow directions there. If not you need a wattmeter to make tuning easy and follow the following steps (we'll assume a dummy load. If you're tuning on the air please ensure you ID and don't QRM someone.):

1. Ensure Rec/Tune switch is in "Rec" position. Turn rig on, and let rig warm up for 5 minutes. Ensure the "Mic Gain" is minimum (CCW)

2. Key the radio and vary the "Car Bal" pot to see a few watts of RF.

3. On the watt meter tune "PA Grid" for max, and "PA Plate" for max. You may have to move the "Car Bal" control to keep power reduced to 20W or less.

4. Chose the combination of PA Load Course (switch) and PA Load Fine (variable capacitor) which gives the best watts out.

5. Touch up "PA Grid" and "PA Plate" for max power.

6. Use "Car Bal" to give you about 50-100W and tune "PA Plate" for minimum meter reading on the rig's front panel meter. This is called "dipping the plate".

7. Adjust "Car Bal" for minimum watts (zero watts).

8. Turn up "Mic Gain" to about 10 oclock. Speak into mike and you should see power on the watt meter. Adjust "Mic Gain" for best performance. Usually 9-10 o'clock for D-104s, and 12 o'clock for un amplified mikes.

You're ready to CQ now!

General Note: You should never key your rig for more than 20 continuous seconds while tuning. Many tube rigs use "sweep tubes" not meant for continuous keydown. The whole tuning process will take you about 15-20 seconds when you get used to it. If you change frequency more than 10kHz in either direction, you'll probably have to retune (based on the bandwidth of your antenna).

Also, the "tune" control on the rig is a max power tune. You may use it to tune your rig instead of "Car Bal", but you run the risk of blowing your tube finals if you stay keyed up too long out of tune. Once you get tuned up using my method, there is nothing wrong with using the tune control to check your rig's max power. Don't key it this way for more than 15 seconds.

KC9ECI
03-07-2007, 05:47 PM
Great topic!

FT-101 (http://www.qsl.net/nw2m/ft101.html#tuneup)

K1VSK
03-07-2007, 05:48 PM
many of these rigs have sweep tube finals and can't stand to be keyed very long. If your post is intended to teach, it's a disservice to focus on un-key time. Also, don't call CQ! Bad form. There are plenty of others already doing it so just call them. There's nothing more rediculous than multiple people calling cq on adjacent frequencies

N4AUD
03-07-2007, 06:04 PM
TS-520. Love mine. This link has free manuals, how to tune, troubleshooting, and installing tubes.

TS-520 website (http://www.kg6haf.com/kenwood.html)

NM5TF
03-07-2007, 06:25 PM
Heathkit HW-101...the venerable "Hot Water 101"...luvvv mine http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

go here for the entire manual...the tune procedure is just past the last assembly page....

http://bama.edebris.com/manuals/heath/hw101full/

great topic BTW......

much better than the code/no code or NCG/NCE trash that's been clogging up the zed for waaaaaaaay too long http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif

KA4DPO
03-07-2007, 06:27 PM
All tube rigs tune about the same way, give them some drive, peak the grid and dip the plate.

Use the loading control to peak the plate current and then immediately dip the plate. #Continue the process until you have reached the operating plate current and the plate circuit is adjusted for resonance (dipped).

Always follow the tune up procedures in the manual but observe the following universal rules.

Regardless of weather your running sweep tubes, 6146's , 807's, or any other tube, never hold key down while running full plate current for more than a few seconds, ever. #Give the tubes 10 or 20 seconds of rest in between tuning and always tune into a 50 ohm dummy load. #

Your output tubes will last a long time if you treat them right.

WB8MKV
03-07-2007, 07:31 PM
On the ts 520 and 530, its much easier to put the switch to RF and then peak the drive\, plate & load, keeping the ALC meter below midway...none of this peak, dip, peak stuff.......all can be done in a matter of seconds

KY5U
03-07-2007, 07:35 PM
Obvilously the reason I am posting this is because you can get a tube type HF rig on eBay or at hamfests for chump-change. I see tube rigs selling for about $100 regularly. For another $100 you can buy all the coax and wire you need for an antenna as well as a cheap watt meter. Its a great way for a newbee to get on the HF bands! This subject seeks to take away any fear factor of operating a tube rig due to tuning issues.

If you're paranoid about the tubes, get a list and price them out at RF Parts. You'll see that for the rigs mentioned so far there are plenty spare tubes.

N6VMO
03-07-2007, 08:16 PM
FT-101B - Love my complete 101 line.

After a 15 minute warm-up, and Idle Current confirmed at 60 ma:
Select the band and general operating frequency to be used.
Place the Meter switch in the Power Out (PO) position.
Rotate the PRESELECTOR for maximum receiver noise/signal output.
Place the CARRIER control to position 4 and MIC control to minimum.
Momentarially engage the MOX transmitter control for a maximum of 10 seconds.
Adjust the PRESELECTOR, TUNE, and PLATE controls for maximum meter deflection.
Disengage the MOX transmitter control and let the rig cool for a few seconds.
Increase the CARRIER control two units and repeat.

Tune 1KHz up or down from a frequency that is in use.
Then, key the transceiver and say 'Helloooooo....Helloooooooo...Hellooooooooooo....m any times. #Then forget to transmit my call. #

Tune up complete.

K5XIT
03-07-2007, 09:11 PM
Quote[/b] (AG4YO @ Mar. 07 2007,09:51)]With all the HF newbees, thought it might be useful to volunteer your info on how to tune a tube rig, since so many are out there in good working order.

I will take the "Swan" 350 rig. #Add yours.


p.s.- And please, if you're not telling us how to tune a particular rig, don't post here. There are thousands of esoteric points one could make, and you're welcomed to start your own thread if you wish to make them. Please? Thanks!
follow the manual. If that is too difficult I suggest you buy something else. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif A lot of us cut out teeth on Viking II and the like. Go tune up a Globe King. The 70s stuff is simple.

WA2ZDY
03-07-2007, 09:21 PM
I always tuned for max output. Maximum power transfer occurs at resonance and resonance is what you're finding with the dip and peak. Just have to check the plate current and ALC when you're done and back off the drive if needed.

And I started with a 6L6 oscillator then graduated to a Globe Scout 680. Fun times.

WA7KKP
03-07-2007, 09:26 PM
Back when I was a Novice, this question was de rigeur for ALL hams. Except those whose bank accounts could afford a Central Electronics 100V or 200V.

Dip the plate current, and load -- repeat. Or tune for minimum smoke and maximum output.

Gary WA7KKP

W0BKR
03-07-2007, 09:28 PM
Tune for Max glow/heat....hi. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

KA4DPO
03-07-2007, 09:28 PM
Quote[/b] (WA2ZDY @ Mar. 07 2007,16:21)]I always tuned for max output. # Maximum power transfer occurs at resonance and resonance is what you're finding with the dip and peak. # Just have to check the plate current and ALC when you're done and back off the drive if needed.

And I started with a 6L6 oscillator then graduated to a Globe Scout 680. #Fun times.
That's really the bottom line on tube rigs. A resonant plate circuit is a happy plate circuit.

BTW, I also started with a 6L6 Osc but graduated to an adventurer. I sure remember that old 6L6 though. That was a tube you had to be careful with. I actually melted one. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

W4HAY
03-07-2007, 09:54 PM
Watch that grid current! On many tubes, it's much more likely to result in damage if exceeded!

KL7AJ
03-07-2007, 11:08 PM
I always tune for maximum arc length.

W1GUH
03-08-2007, 05:35 AM
I've seen amps tuned for "minimum glow" on the plate. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif That was back in the "horseracing" days. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

But seriously...

The trickiest tune up is with screen modulation and AM linear operation. Both require heavy loading, e.g., the load control all the way to the right, and a decent load on the amp.

Next to impossible to do it right without a scope.

A DX-40 tuned up on AM following Heathkit's instructions results in distortion.

A DX-40 tuned up with a 'scope sounds much, much better.

WB8YUE
03-08-2007, 01:31 PM
I just aquired a TS-520SE. Don't have an antenna up yet so I have not been on the air. But I do have the manual so tuning the rig should not be a problem when the time comes. Currently uning about a 30' piece of 12 guage wire for a recieve only antenna. Unfortunately it is not working very well.

AI4EP
03-08-2007, 02:29 PM
...so now is any one going to tell any one else how to tune a tube - type amplifier ( on legal amateur frequencies, of course ) ?

AB9LZ
03-08-2007, 02:34 PM
Quote[/b] (WB8MKV @ Mar. 07 2007,12:31)]On the ts 520 and 530, its much easier to put the switch to RF and then peak the #drive\, plate & load, keeping #the ALC meter below midway...none of this peak, dip, peak stuff.......all can be done in a matter of seconds
With my 830 I do a hybrid, where I'll flip the meter to ALC and peak the front end, the go straight to RF.

When it comes to pure receiving performance, the 830 smokes both my 850 and my k2, it's not as conveinent to use as the others so I keep it as my low band DX rig.

73 Mark.

AC0H
03-08-2007, 02:49 PM
TS-520 tuneup procedure for those NOT on broadband or don't have the manual.


#1. Check idling plate current. Switch to the band you intend to use and flip the send switch up. The idling plate current should be 60ma as read on the top scale of the meter. If it's NOT 60ma use the BIAS control on the side under the access panel to set it to 60ma.

#2. Turn the meter switch to ALC and the mode switch to TUN. Flip SEND up and adjust the DRIVE control for a peak. If you don't get an indication turn the CAR control clockwise till you do but don't exceed 160-180ma on the meter.

#3. Turn the meter switch to IP. Leave the mode switch in TUN. Flip the send switch up and quickly adjust the PLATE control for a dip in the meter reading. The final section of the rig is now tuned to resonance on the frequency your using.

#4. Turn the mode switch to CW and the meter switch to RF. Flip the send switch and quickly adjust the LOAD and PLATE controls for maximum output on the meter. No more than 5 seconds with the send switch up or the key down. The rig is producing full output as opposed to reduced output when the rig is in TUN mode.

SSB operation.

Hook up a mic. Switch meter switch to ALC. Key the transmitter and speak into the mic with a normal voice. Adjust the MIC control till the highest peaks seen on the meter go NO HIGHER than the top of the ALC arc. If the peaks are higher adjust the MIC control down till they're in range. Always do this when you change mics. Mic gain set too high is the number one cause of splatter on the bands.

CW operation.

Hook up your favorite key or keyer.
Tune and load the rig as in steps 1-4 above.

Switch the mode switch to CW. Flip the VOX switch up and hold the key down. Adjust the VOX Gain control under the left side access panel until the relay operates and swicthes you out of transmit. Adjust the Delay control on the left to change the release time constant on the VOX circuit.

The plate current for CW operation should be about 180ma. Adjust the carrier control so the plate current reads 180ma in CW mode.

The final sections of these rigs are pretty tough. They will withstand some abuse but not forever. If you follow these instructions the finals in these rigs can last a lifetime. My TS-520 was purchased new in 1975. It's still running on the original finals 32 years later.

K5XIT
03-08-2007, 04:29 PM
Quote[/b] (W4HAY @ Mar. 07 2007,14:54)]Watch that grid current! On many tubes, it's much more likely to result in damage if exceeded!
Sure enough! I saw a ad on Ebay, some guy has a Drake L-4B listed and showing it loaded up and the meter selector on on grid current. He was sure getting over 1 KW out but the grid current was way past limit. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

KC0UWF
03-09-2007, 08:25 AM
Quote[/b] (AC0H @ Mar. 08 2007,07:49)]TS-520 tuneup procedure for those NOT on broadband or don't have the manual.


#1. Check idling plate current. yup, can do

#2. Turn the meter switch to ALC and the mode switch to TUN. does this fine too...

#3. Turn the meter switch to IP. Leave the mode switch in TUN. Flip the send switch up and quickly adjust the PLATE control for a dip in the meter reading. The final section of the rig is now tuned to resonance on the frequency your using.
#3. Turn the meter switch to IP. Leave the mode switch in TUN. Flip the send switch up and quickly adjust the PLATE control for a dip in the meter reading. The final section of the rig is now tuned to resonance on the frequency your using.

This is where i'm having a problem with. the meter is already all the way on the left side. won't dip anymore.
I've tryed many times to dip the meter. just can't do it.
I asked a buddy to look it over and he couldn't make it dip either. I've been using it on 10 m voice and works fine. tryed tuning it up on the lower bands (with a dummy load) and needle stays at left side of display.

http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif???

AC0H
03-09-2007, 02:52 PM
Quote[/b] ]This is where i'm having a problem with. the meter is already all the way on the left side. won't dip anymore.
I've tryed many times to dip the meter. just can't do it.
I asked a buddy to look it over and he couldn't make it dip either. I've been using it on 10 m voice and works fine. tryed tuning it up on the lower bands (with a dummy load) and needle stays at left side of display.
Do you get a good peak when adjusting the drive in step #2? Where is the CAR control set?

KA4DPO
03-09-2007, 03:15 PM
Turn the drive down until the meter reads about 1/2 to 3/4 scale and tune. Then you can crank the drive control back up to the 12 O'clock position and tune for maximum output.

WS2L
03-09-2007, 03:50 PM
Let's see, years ago I had some tube rig's

HT37 Transmitter - at least a dozen tubes
HQ170 Receiver - Another one with at least a dozen tubes

Let me add that when I had this combo my bedroom was always at least 10 degrees warmer than any other room in the house. It was great in the winter and with the way they lit up I didn't need a desk lamp.

Tempo 2020 - 3 tubes and what a dog of a rig that was. I remember when WA2ZDY borrowed it and put it in his car for a drive down to Florida using a 109" CB whip for an antenna.

Kenwood TS530 - 3 tubes and I still kick myself for ever selling that rig. I had just bought a TS440 and didn't want it sitting around collecting dust. Who would have thought 20+ years later I still want one.

I remember at the Metuchen (NJ) Radio Club they had a Tempo one. Cant remember what was worse, the Tempo or the Swan 3 Drifty. Always knew an op who had a 3 Drifty because you would start the CW QSO off on one frequency and depending on how long you talked to the guy the more you drifted up the band. http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Since the TS440 all of my rigs have been solid state.

TS440S
TS-570
TS2000

Ok, so I'm a kenwood fan.....I can't help it http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

WA2ZDY
03-09-2007, 04:55 PM
That 2020 kept me company on the long overnight runs from NJ to Daytona and Daytona to Ft Walton Beach. #And back. # You won't hear a bad word from me about that rig. The fake digital readout was goofy though!

Yep, I had an HT37 too, probably around the same time. # No dip and peak with that rig. # It had a relative output meter and one plate tuning capacitor. # It worked just fine.

The HQ170 . . . # I dunno if I'd admit having that one, though I don't remember yours being particularly bad. #WB2YAT's was BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!

And yep, I had the HT37 and R4B together. # On the other side of the room stood a 6foot rack with my GE Pre-Prog 2m rig. # I left them all on all the time. Sooooooooo cozy in the winter!

And oh yeah, that Tempo One was a dog and a half. It was a Yaesu reject - they made them to a lower standard for Henry to sell under their Tempo name. The 2020 on the other hand wasn't really all that bad and it was made by, of all companies, Uniden.

Fun times in Woodbridge, NJ.

KC0UWF
03-09-2007, 07:53 PM
Quote[/b] (AC0H @ Mar. 09 2007,07:52)]
Quote[/b] ]This is where i'm having a problem with. the meter is already all the way on the left side. won't dip anymore.
I've tryed many times to dip the meter. just can't do it.
I asked a buddy to look it over and he couldn't make it dip either. I've been using it on 10 m voice and works fine. tryed tuning it up on the lower bands (with a dummy load) and needle stays at left side of display.
Do you get a good peak when adjusting the drive in step #2? Where is the CAR control set?
getting a real good peak on the drive control. my CAR is set at about 7 or 8. up enouph to get a good reading, but not so high that it's off the meter.

here's my settings:
RF all the way up
AF about 2 or 3
Drive set to peak, little off center to the left
Plate is in the 10 meter range. marker pointing directly at the "28"
Load control is pointing all the way to the left
meter switch is in the IP
heater switch is ON
NB is on
other toggle is in the "SLOW" spot, ( book recomends this for voice)
VOX is in Manual
and the selector switch is in TUN
RIT is OFF
Mic is set about half way 5 ish
I'm using a LDG X-100 tuner for the antenna. and that tunes up my dipole good and quick. It'll even tune up my 65 ft. long wire on 10, but reception/recieve is not good. the dedicated 10m sloper dipole works good for local comms.

it'll peak the drive in all bands, but the meter needle is on ZERO when checking the Plate current.
Signal reports on 10m is good. we have a local group and they say i sound real good, "just like a Tube radio should sound".
I have a copy of the owners manual and followed that by the book. and looked on the net for other hints. but they all say the same thing about tuning up. I just can't dip the plate, because it's already on zero.

any hints? or is it ok, sence it's already as low as it will go??
thanks all...
and I do try my hand at CW on the lower bands once in a while. so, if you hear a real slow CW sender,it'll prolly be me.
Mike

AC0H
03-09-2007, 09:13 PM
Quote[/b] ]any hints? or is it ok, sence it's already as low as it will go??
thanks all...
and I do try my hand at CW on the lower bands once in a while. so, if you hear a real slow CW sender,it'll prolly be me.
If you've got the CAR control at 7 or 8 and you're getting less than the top of the ALC arc and when you peak the DRIVE control something is wrong, even on 10m where the radio isn't optimized.

I never have to run my carrier control past 5 on 10m and it's usually down around 2 or 3 on the lower bands. Could be a driver tube, 12BY7A, going soft.

Post your questions on the TS-520/530/820/830 Yahoo group and see what the collective wisdom is over there.

Linkage (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TS-520_820_530_830/)

W0IKZ
03-10-2007, 02:18 AM
There are sa many ways to tune a tube rig as there are posts in all of QRZ. I've run the same Swan 700CX for years and no matter what my OF instincts tell me .. The Swan manual RULES! A bit unorthadox to me at times, but it does load well if I have any kind of decent antenna tied to the output.
I did snicker about the "Maximum Arc" thing .. Nothing i,presses folks more than the arc drawn with an old pencil !
good posts guys... we were all newbies once , don't ask us to relate to the "smoke tests"of our past ..
73 de flip

AC0BU
03-10-2007, 04:14 AM
Quote[/b] (AC0H @ Mar. 09 2007,07:52)]
Quote[/b] ]This is where i'm having a problem with. the meter is already #all the way on the left side. won't dip anymore.
I've tryed many times to dip the meter. just can't do it.
I asked a buddy to look it over and he couldn't make it dip either. I've been using it on 10 m voice and works fine. tryed tuning it up on the lower bands (with a dummy load) and needle stays at left side of display.
Do you get a good peak when adjusting the drive in step #2? Where is the CAR control set?
I've got the same situation, but the rig seems to work fine... has for years

w3mv
03-10-2007, 05:15 AM
Quote[/b] (AG4YO @ Mar. 07 2007,12:35)]If you're paranoid about the tubes, get a list and price them out at RF Parts. You'll see that for the rigs mentioned so far there are plenty spare tubes.
Plus, many tubes, like the 6146, have subs. In a pinch, the 6550 is basically a re-based 6146, and one can get current production 6550s (and its big brother the KT88). Granted, one has to rewire the finals (the plate is connected via a pin on the base on the 6550 versus having a plate cap connection like the 6146), but that is not a difficult modification.

Here are few tube suppliers:

www.tubesandmore.com
www.newsensor.com
www.radiodaze.com

Here is a link to a great tube datasheet website:

http://tdsl.duncanamps.com/tubesearch.php

KD8CGF
03-12-2007, 03:36 AM
I have a TS-520 and used the manual's specifications as previously mentioned, with the sole exception of not using a dummy load. I tried to tune into a poorly tuned antenna tuner & random wire & had all kinds of trouble, including a blown fuse. Then I used a dummy load, following the specs exactly & had a much easier time.
The TS-520 manual specifically advises against using the rig on a random wire. Putting an antenna tuner in the system does make it possible.

WA2ZDY
03-12-2007, 06:31 PM
CGF, that's correct. The pi-network output of that rig can probably deal with an SWR of 5:1 or so. And end fed random wire is very likely to be much farther from 50 ohms than that.

Tune the rig into the dummy load, then switch to your antenna tuner/wire and bring the SWR down quickly. You might need to touch up the rig tuning as the antenna tuner and dummy load probably differ by a few ohms, but things should be close at that point.

WA9CWX
03-14-2007, 01:42 AM
Early Drake Twins:
A, B, C Line.

Again, follow manual, BUT points to pay attention to FIRST.
CHECK bias adjustment on AC4, need to have current on unkeyed transmit (Rig in Xmit, but NOT keyed, ie VOX relay closed) as indicated by line on MA meter for bias.

Also, the drive preselectors on both the RX and TX are very touchy, and have backlash. These need to be reset slightly every time you QSY more than 20 or so Khz. BOTH need to be reset if you are in transceive using the RX. It will not be noticeble in receive, but the DRIVE to the finals will be greatly effected.

Last point, these 'finals' are rather delicate "sweep tubes". The above points in the other posts about NOT keying down for long periods are especially true with these tubes.
I have used Drake gear for decades, and the finals WILL last for many, many years, but I run them at reduced power, and use caution when tuning, keeping the power very low.

BTW, in my humble etc. etc. you can't find much better old tube type gear than the Drakes... http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

WA9CWX
03-14-2007, 01:56 AM
Couple of other pointers for Drake. If possible, get a quiet "muffin" type fan for the top of the transmitter. I use a 220 volt fan that I run from 120 volts. Runs VERY quiet, and produces a nice air flow that is not obnoxious.

The 'Backlash', is a sloppy kind of mushy feeling of the preselector/drive controls.
These controls operate a pully system and drive chain that raises and lowers a set of slugs in a vertical arrangment in several cans for the RF and mixer stages.
As I recall, the pully is at one end of the whole arrangment, and results in some uneven forces being distributed across an arm that extends several inches.
It works better than my description makes it sound....BUT the whole thing creates a little 'mushy' feeling that needs a gentle touch to 'seat' it properly when peaking up the rigs when changing frequency.

For the transmitter to give proper output, you will find this control to be very critical in its' setting.

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