Consolidated Test Data For Hickok Model 533A-600A-605A Tube Testers V2.5 Update and CSV Data File

Updated October 15, 2018

I purchased a Hickok 800 tube tester at an estate sale in the Fall of 2017. In looking for documentation I found Stan Saeger's "Consolidated Test Data For Hickok Model 533A-600A-605A Tube Testers" pdf file at http://saegerradio.com/. It's my understanding the Hickok 600A tube test data also applies to the 800 and 800A models.

Stan's document is a fantastic resource for tube test data. I thought it would be handy to have that information on my phone/tablet. I first tried just installing the PDF on my phone/tablet but that was a bit cumbersome to use. A database on my phone/tablet would be much better. I found a website that would convert a PDF to Excel. That worked so I saved the Excel file as a CSV (Comma-separated Values) file to import into a database program.

Unfortunately that wasn't as easy as it sounds. The formatting of the CSV was wrong when I imported it into the database program I was using. While fixing the formatting I ran across a number of corrections to Stan's PDF file. I sent those corrections to Stan but never heard back from him. I made those corrections to my CSV file but I also used a PDF editor to make the corrections in the PDF. Since others may find the CSV and updated PDF useful I'm posting them here. Since the last version of the PDF Stan posted was 2.5 in December, 2012, I'm calling the version I updated 2.5.1. (Updated to 2.5.2 March 2018)

Download Consolidated Test Data For Hickok Model 533A-600A-605A Tube Testers V2.5.3.pdf

Here is a list of the typos/corrections I made.

Download Consolidated Test Data Typos-Corrections-2.5.3.pdf

Here is the CSV file I created for import into a database. Note, while the CSV can be opened in Excel the format isn't correct due to the vertical alignment needed in some of the cells.

Hickok 533A-600A-605A-800-800A Test Data V2.5.3.csv

Database Info

I'm using an Android database program called PortoDB. Install it from the Google Play Store. It works great and it's FREE! If you're an iPhone/iPad user there must be something similar available.

It's really handy to be able to search for a tube. For two digit tube types such as 42 or 80 I've added Type 42, Type 80, etc to the notes field. Otherwise if you search for 42 you get every occurrence of 42 in the database. So, for those tube just search for "Type 42", "Type 80", or whatever.

For a brief explanation of how to set up PortoDB click here.

Here's a screenshot of the database on my tablet.


Repairing an Astron SS-25 and SS-30

I have two Astron SS-25M and two SS-30 switch mode power supplies (SMPS). A couple of years ago one of my SS-30 supplies quit with no voltage out during Field Day. Later one of my SS-25M supplies had the output voltage drop to 6 - 8 volts. About a year ago I took a look at the SS-25M to see if I could figure out what was wrong. After a little while with no success I gave up and put it away.

Last fall I decided to take another look. I researched SMPS's on the internet and got a bit better understanding of how they work. I read and reread many articles. I started with the SS-25M. I picked up an isolation transformer off of eBay so I could work on the high voltage side safely and use my oscilloscope.

I took voltage readings of the TL494CN controller IC and found I had Vcc supply voltage. I checked the output of the IC with my oscilloscope and saw I had a nice square wave. There was very low feedback voltage on the IC. I took voltage readings at various points in the supply but couldn't figure out how the feedback circuit worked. I wound up replacing a number of components that tested good thinking maybe they weren't working at operating frequency/voltage but that didn't solve the problem. I started checking each diode, transistor, resistor, and capacitor looking for a short or out of spec component. I did find D5 had a high resistance reading rather than infinity in the reverse direction. I replaced it but that didn't solve the problem. I couldn't find whatever was causing the problem.

Finally it occurred to me take my good SS-25M and select a number of points to take voltages. Those points are shown by the circled numbers on the attached schematic. I took voltages with it operating, with 13.8 volts applied to the input with another supply, and operating but with the TL494CN IC removed. Those voltages are shown on page 2 of the attached schematic. In my research I read applying voltage to the output of the defective supply would help in determining if the feedback circuit was operating properly. Of course, the defective supply must not be powered.

I then took the same readings on my defective SS-25. The voltages with it operating weren't too far out of line with the good supply, considering the output was about half what it should be. With 13.8 volts applied to the output the voltage at test points 6 & 7 stood out with both points reading about 1.5 volts vs the good supply having a voltage of 4.75 volts. Those points are at the cathode of D17 and D18. So I pulled out D17, D18, Q3, and Q4. Testing those components I found one of the diodes had low resistance both directions, basically a short. I didn't know if it was D17 or D18 since I took them out at the same time and didn't keep up with which was which.

I replaced the defective diode and reinstalled the other components and powered up the supply. Success! The output voltage was now 13.8 volts! One down one to go!

On the SS-30 I had previously connected 13.8 volts to the output and found the 13.8 volts dropped to zero. Checking the output terminals with my DVM I found the resistance was zero. (Luckily the supply I was using to provide the 13.8 volts had short circuit protection.) Testing the output rectifiers showed D7 was shorted. When I replaced D7 I still had no output voltage. Checking Vcc on the TL494CN showed I had no startup voltage. I had just purchased on old EICO 1020 variable power supply at an estate sale so I set it to 15 volts and touched pin 12 (Vcc) on the TL494CN. That kicked off the controller IC but I only had 8 - 9 volts output. Hmmm, similar to the SS-25 problem.

With my success repairing the SS-25 I went straight to connecting 13.8 volts to the SS-30 output and checking the voltages. Like the SS-25 I had low voltage at test points 6 and 7 though not as low as on the SS-25. Rather than 1.5 volts I had close to 2 volts vs the 4.75 volts on the working supply.

I first removed D17. It had low resistance in both directions. I replaced D17 and fired up the supply. Success! Again! The output voltage was 13.8 volts!

It's been educational trying to repair these supplies. Plus it gave me an excuse to obtain some test equipment I didn't have. It's very important to use an isolation transformer when working on these supplies since the high voltage side is not isolated from the 120v mains. Also when taking voltage measurements be sure to use the correct ground connection with your meter. When measuring the high voltage side use the ground side of C7 shown as RTN1 on the schematic. For the low voltage side you can use output ground connection. IF YOU'RE UNSURE DON'T DO IT!

In addition to replacing the defective components I also replaced the output capacitors in both supplies. I discovered the only difference between the SS-25 and SS-30 is the SS-30 has one additional output capacitor and inductor. The SS-30 also has a larger fan. All other components are identical.

I started out using the schematic found at http://www.repeater-builder.com/astron/astron-index.html. As I worked on the supplies I made note of the component values and added them to the schematic. I also noticed there are several discrepancies between the schematic and the as-built supplies. For example, the schematic shows a D23 and D24 that aren't actually present. There are also a number of jumpers shown on the schematic that aren't present. I have modified the schematic to account for these discrepancies. I'm sure there are others I didn't discover.

My SS-25 and SS-30 are older supplies. I think Astron came out with updated versions a few years ago. These have a hole on the side of the case to adjust the output voltage. I think these may have surface mount components.

Below are PDF files of my modified schematic and scans of my test voltage worksheet with each supply. If you're trying to repair your Astron SMPS best of luck! I hope this info helps!

Astron-SS-25-30-Schematic & Test Voltages
SS-25 Test Voltage Comparison
SS-30 Test Voltage Comparison

Crashplan Won't Start!

I've been a Crashplan user for several years and have never had any problems. A few days ago I noticed the Crashplan icon in my system tray was dimmed out. When I hovered over it the message was something to the effect it couldn't connect to the backup server. I checked the Crashplan service in the Windows control panel and found it wasn't running. When I tried to start the Crashplan service it wouldn't start.

I Googled the problem and found several "solutions" on the Crashplan website, one of which was to uninstall and reinstall Crashplan. I did that but it didn't solve the problem. Then I found this blog posting: http://www.levijackson.net/crashplan-pro-wont-start. Per the posting I changed -Xmx1024m to -Xmx512m in my C:\Program Files\CrashPlan\CrashPlanService.ini file. After making that change I found I was able to start in Crashplan service in the Windows control panel and Crashplan would run.

The next day when I started my computer Crashplan was nowhere to be found. In checking the CrashPlanService.ini file -Xmx512m had magically changed back to -Xmx1024m. I changed it back and was able to start the Crashplan service but every time I tried to run Crashplan -Xmx512m changed back to -Xmx1024m. The Crashplan service would stop and Crashplan wouldn't run.

I started looking through the error logs in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\CrashPlan\log and found a reference to my.service.xml located in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\CrashPlan\conf. Looking at that xml file I saw a line that said "1024m" Hmmm...maybe that's changing -Xmx512m back to -Xmx1024m. So I changed that line from 1024m to 512m and -Xmx1024m to -Xmx512m in the ini file. This time I was able to start the Crashplan service and run Crashplan. I rebooted my computer to see if it still works and it does!

I have no idea why this suddenly became a problem or why this fixed it. BTW, I'm running Windows XP SP3.

Replacing Elecraft K3 Push Button Encoders

For a couple of years I've had problems with the CMP/PWR encoder on my K3. When I needed to reduce power to use my amp or increase power back to 100 watts I'd have to twist and twist the power control. Recently there was a thread on the Elecraft reflector of someone else having problems with one of their encoders. That prompted me to finally replace my faulty encoder.

I called Elecraft to order the encoder. Elecraft recommended replacing all four encoders. They also recommended returning the rig to them so they could do the work as well as apply updates to the rig. With the cost of shipping the rig to and from Elecraft and the repair cost I decided to try to replace the encoders myself. I ordered the four encoders at a cost of $3.34 each plus $3.50 shipping.

My K3 is SN 3329 purchased in August, 2009. The encoders in my rig are smooth with a slight amount of play. My club has a K3 purchased in March, 2009, that has encoders with slight detents. I prefer the feel of those encoders over mine. Unfortunately those encoders are no longer available. The replacement encoders are smooth but don't have the play of my original encoders.

I built my K3 and have added a number of accessories over the years so I'm familiar disassembling and assembling the rig. However, I haven't had it apart in a while so I used the DVR installation manual to refresh my memory on disassembly and the original assembly manual for removing the front panel board from the front panel. Once I had the front panel board out of the front panel and had a good look at the encoders I began to wonder if maybe I should have sent it to Elecraft.

There is an LED board that is around the SHIFT/LO - HI/WIDTH encoders making access a bit of a challenge. The CMP/PWR encoder that was faulty is easy to access so I decided to replace that one and then decide if I could do the others. Rather than unsolder the CMP/PWR encoder I just clipped the leads except for the large body ground lead I couldn't reach. With the other leads clipped I just unsoldered that one and removed the encoder.

When I ordered the encoders Elecraft alerted me that they must be mounted slightly above the circuit board so the push button function will operate correctly. I looked around for something to use as a shim/feeler gauge and found a tie wrap that was just the right thickness. (Update 3/17/15 - Mark, WH7W, wrote to me with the following information: "Elecraft has put small plastic washers beneath the encoders to provide the required board clearance needed so I did not need to use your tie-wrap feeler gauge trick.")

I installed the CMP/PWR encoder. I found all the solder had to be cleared from the rectangular holes for the larger case ground terminals. Also the bend in those terminals had to be straightened before they would fit. The encoder stayed in place with a friction fit. I then used my tie wrap feeler gauge to set the spacing and soldered two of the pins on opposite sides of the encoder. After checking the spacing again and eyeballing the encoder against the other encoders I soldered the rest of the pins.

Since replacement of the CMP/PWR encoder went pretty well I decided to do the HI/WIDTH encoder next. It's surrounded on three sides by the LED board making snipping the leads only possible for three leads. I used my EDSYN desoldering tool (solder sucker) to desolder all of the leads. I was wondering if it would be able to pull the solder from the encoder side of the board but it did. Same procedure as before for installing the new encoder. For the last two encoders I just snipped the leads I could reach, heated the remaining leads, and pulled the encoder free.

I reassembled my K3 and did the smoke test. Everything worked as it should. I like the feel of the new encoders compared to my original encoders. I should have done this repair a couple of years ago!


2015 Ford Powerstroke 6.7L Diesel Amateur Radio Interference (RFI)

I recently purchased a 2015 Ford SuperDuty with a 6.7L Powerstroke diesel. The day after I picked up the truck I headed to AR and SC to visit family but also operate in those state's QSO parties. I installed my Scorpion SA-680 on the bottom part of my 5th wheel hitch and ran the coax and antenna control cables from the bed through the back doors. The only grounding I had time to do was a strap from the bed to the cab. I quickly found the fuel injectors are apparently tuned to 20m as the RFI into my Elecraft K3 was terrible. Amazingly all the other bands are fairly quiet.

During the QSO parties I relied on the K3 noise blanker to knock some of the noise down on 20m. I returned from SC just a couple of days before the Texas QSO Party. During that time I grounded the exhaust pipe in a couple of places but that didn't have any impact at all. I also grounded the other side between the bed and cab. I again relied on the K3 NB during the TQP but the noise was just terrible.

After the TQP I decided to order some ferrite cores to see if they would help any. There is a 1" diameter bundle of wires coming from the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) that I think contains the controls to the injectors. So I ordered two 1" mix 31 split ferrite cores from Mouser.com, PN 623-0431177081 (Fair-Rite PN 0431177081). I also ordered four 3/4" mix 31 split cores, PN 623-0431176451 (Fair-Rite PN 0431176451). I already had some 1/2" mix 31 split cores.

I installed the two 1" split cores on the center bundle of wires coming from the PCM and checked the noise. It was reduced somewhat but still there. I installed a 3/4" and a couple of 1/2" split cores on some split outs from that cable. Those seemed to help too but still noisy.

I have a handheld Icom IC-R10 receiver so I set it on 20m and started sniffing around. I found LOTS of injector noise on the driver's side battery negative cable. While listening to the receiver I touched a ground strap from the battery negative terminal to a nearby bolt. The noise disappeared! I made up a strap and installed it from the battery negative terminal to a bolt located on a cross member. Checking the K3 the injector noise was gone!

Wondering if I really needed those expensive ($20 each!) 1" split cores I removed them and checked the K3. The injector noise was back. Between the split cores and grounding the negative terminal on the driver side battery the injector noise has disappeared. Success!

Listening to the K3 when I turn off the engine I can hear a slight drop in background noise. I may try to track down that noise but the main problem has been fixed.

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Replacing RV Incandescent Bulbs with LED's

We have a Keystone Cougar Xlite 26SAB 5th wheel. I decided to jump on the band wagon and replace the incandescent bulbs with LED's.

First I bought a couple of LED's from Amazon someone had posted in a forum to see what they look like. The description is 42-SMD T15 12V LED. The Amazon reviews include a number from RV'ers who've bought these bulbs and are happy with them. I found the color to be OK even though it was white but they weren't as bright as the original 921 incandescent bulbs. The first picture below shows the LED bulb on the left side of the fixture and the original incandescent bulb on the right.

Next I searched on eBay to find a possible replacement. I ordered a 24-5050 SMD LED Super Bright DC12V, Warm White. It took about 2-1/2 weeks to arrive from China.

This LED bulb is brighter than the bulb from Amazon even though it only has 24 LED's compared to the 42 the other bulb has. The eBay ad said it was rated at 300 lumens. One source I found on the internet shows a 921 incandescent bulb has 264 lumens. The color is almost the same as the incandescent bulb. The second picture below shows the LED from eBay on the left side of the fixture and the original incandescent bulb on the right.

The third picture below shows the two LED bulbs. The one on the left is from eBay.

I was a bit surprised how hot the LED bulbs got. I thought LED's were supposed to run cool. I was a bit concerned with the heat, especially the LED from eBay. The large diameter of the bulb contacts the aluminum reflector of the fixture and didn't want anything to melt! I used a non-contact infrared thermometer to take a few temperature readings. First I measured the temperature of the fixture lens for all three bulbs. Then I removed the lens and measured each bulb. Last I removed the bulb and measured the aluminum reflector in the fixture.




BulbThru LensWithout LensReflector
Incandescent220350219
Amazon LED8821296
eBay LED115269103

As you can see, the large LED bulb is hotter than the smaller LED but both are much cooler than the incandescent bulb. The temperature of the lens and reflector for both LED's are similar and much cooler than the incandescent bulb.

Next I was curious about the current draw of the LED's compared to the incandescent bulb. I ran the trailer from the battery for these measurements. First I measured the current with no lights, then with one incandescent, the Amazon LED, and the eBay LED.





BulbTotal CurrentBulb Current
None0.22ampsN/A
Incandescent1.60 amps1.38 amps
Amazon LED0.34 amps0.12 amps
eBay LED0.54 amps0.32 amps

The LED bulb from eBay has almost three times the current draw as the LED bulb from Amazon but about a quarter of the current as the incandescent bulb. I prefer the brighter light from the eBay bulb so I've ordered enough to replace all the 921 incandescent bulbs in my trailer.

If you're considering replacing the incandescent bulbs in your trailer with LED's, first order a sample to see if you like the light. Don't order 20+ LED's based on someone's forum post!

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Categories: RV

Mailbox

Back in early June someone abandoned a dog at our cluster mailbox at the end of the block. Ourselves and several neighbors began leaving him food and water. Since it was early June and it was hot, as the sun rose he would first sit in the shadow of the mailbox, then he'd move across the street into more shade, and then find some shade in a neighbor's flower bed. But he would always return to the mailbox.

My wife decided we should adopt the dog and began trying to coax (as in persuade, not the cable :-) ) him to our house. He would take food from her hand but if she tried to pet him he backed away. He stuck by the mailbox for 5 or 6 days, apparently hoping his owner would come back and get him. Finally one morning I went for a jog and he began following me. I circled around the block and he followed and then into our backyard and he followed me right on in. The gate was closed and he was ours!

He quickly warmed up to us, letting us pet him. We decided to name him "Mailbox", seemed fitting. He lost his collar so we bought him another. He was so proud of it when we put it on him! We took him to the vet to get checked out and get his shots. The vet thought he was 3 or 4 years old and mostly Blue Heeler.

In the five months Mailbox has been in the family he has brought us so much fun and enjoyment. He jogs with me. He loves to chase rabbits. I don't know what he'll do if he ever actually catches one. He's treed the neighbor's cat twice. He loves to go wherever we're going.

Thank you to whoever gave us Mailbox!

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AR QSO Party 2010

The 2010 Arkansas QSO Party was held on September 11. I decided to make the 600 mile trek to AR after conversing with AD5WI and K5END after last year's ARQP. Last year the only mobile in the ARQP was N4CD.

AD5WI, K5END, and myself made a few postings on eHam last year and started making plans to make a showing in the ARQP this year. The sponsor of the ARQP doesn't really do anything to promote the QP other than putting an announcement on the ARKAN web page. For this year I put together a web page announcing the counties planned to be activated by the three of us. A few weeks before the QSO party W3DYA contacted me with his plans to head to AR as well. It should be noted K5END, W3DYA, and myself are in Texas.

Between the four of us we planned to activate 70 of the 75 AR counties. Not a bad showing! If this QSO party were promoted a bit, especially with AR hams, all 75 counties could be easily activated.

I headed to AR on the Thursday before the QP and spent Friday resting up from the long drive, visiting relatives, and getting the equipment rigged up in the truck.

Saturday morning at 8 am I hit the road. My wife, K5AKS, drove while I operated. There was good activity but 20m seemed to be in poor condition. N4CD called me from Polk county. I didn't know Bob was coming to AR so that was a nice surprise. I also worked W3DYA and K5END during the QSO party. In all I finished up covering 18 counties in S. AR and made 725 QSO's including a number of DX stations.

Check out my Log on a Map for the ARQP. If I worked you in the QP use the search function on your browser to find your call.

NM QSO Party 2010

I recently participated in the 2010 NM QSO Party. This is the second year I've entered. This year the organizer changed the entry categories so if you have a driver you are in the multi-op category. My wife, K5AKS, drove so we multi-op'ed.

The QSO party started at 8:00 am MST so we drove over from Midland planning to arrive in NM by the start time. Unfortunately we ran into some thick fog on the way over so we got a late start. The first QSO was in the log at 8:39 am MST.

We had a great time covering 10 counties on the way to Taos. We arrived in Taos around 4:30 pm, which was near the start of the Super Bowl. In total we made 340 QSO's with 46 multipliers. With the addition of 50,000 bonus points for activating 10 counties with 15 QSO's or more our claimed score is 112,192 points. Not bad! That's about 2-1/2 times our score from last year. Of course, those bonus points really helped!

As always, I used CQ/X de NO5W for logging. However, this is the first time I've remembered to set up the GPS log so each QSO is recorded with the latitude and longitude of the location of the QSO. On my way home I started wondering if I could set up the GPS log in a KML file to display each QSO on Google Maps. I did some searching and found a program to convert a CSV file to KML format. After some gymnastics with Excel I had the GPS log in a format suitable for the conversion program. I was able to insert that KML file into a county map overlay KML created by CQ/X and, voila, my log was on Google Maps!

NO5W has now added that capability to CQ/X (as of patch 177-06) so I can skip the reformatting step and go straight from GPS log to KML file. That's a really nice new feature in CQ/X.

I'm looking forward to seeing the QSO party results which should be available around May 1.

Watch Out for Crappy Chinese Cables!

At the beginning of the ARRL 10M Contest a couple of weeks ago I noticed several "squalling" noises across the band. I had heard these before but hadn't investigated. I thought it was probably from the Ethernet cabling in my house I decided to see if I could do something about it.

First I disconnected the coax from my rig, the noise disappeared. I reconnected the coax and turned off my router and wireless internet radio. The noise was still there. Next I disconnected the coax from the remote sensor for my SWR meter. The noise was still there. Hmmm, that's strange. I disconnected the coax from the antenna from the back of my amp. The noise was still there. Next I disconnected the jumper from my rig from the back of the amp. The noise was still there. At this point the only thing connected to my rig was a 6' coax jumper. I disconnected it and the noise disappeared!

That coax jumper was factory assembled with molded strain relief at the PL-259's. I replaced that cable with a homemade cable and the noise stayed gone.

I cut open the factory cable and found the coax had maybe 10% coverage, if you could call it coverage. It was junk. If I'm not mistaken I bought that cable from one of the large dealers at Hamcom. Below are a couple of pictures. It looks pretty until you cut it open.

A few months ago I was getting ready for the Texas QSO Party. I was testing a USB>Serial adapter that uses a separate USB cable. When I connected the adapter there was a noticeable noise increase in my Elecraft K3. Again, I tracked that noise down to the USB cable, which was a piece of junk from China. After replacing the USB cable with a Belken cable I didn't hear any noise from the adapter.

Moral of the story, beware of crappy cables from China!

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