April 1936 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
I tried to find some information on "direct-impedance amplification," but alas none
could be located. At first, I suspected that it being in the April edition of
Radio-Craft might have meant it was a ruse on reders, especially since author
L. Mitchell Barcus focused on the nearly sub-audible portion of the sound spectrum
down to around 16 Hz. Careful reading of the article reveals, however, that his pièce
de résistance was designing the circuit with a minimum of biasing resistors,
capacitors, and inductors that might otherwise attenuate low frequencies. Success was
in the form of direct coupling of stages sans Rs, Ls, and Cs. I'm guessing the
technique was not adopted by the wider radio industry, except maybe for sound systems
installed in aquariums where whales and dolphins could appreciate faithful
reproduction of 16 Hz tones.
Part II of this Direct-Impedance Amplification article appeared in the September 1936
issue of Radio-Craft, but unfortunately I have not acquired that edition
This is the first of a series of high-fidelity receivers which will interest the set
Part I - A 10-Tube Set
L. Mitchell Barcus
It is with considerable pride that this radio receiver is presented to the public
for the first time. Designed especially in response to many requests for a receiver of
moderate price, this circuit is the smallest and "easiest to build" of the series to
follow. Here is an easily-constructed, low-priced radio receiver which will reproduce
a 16 cycle note at a much higher volume level than the balance of the audio range!
Fig. A - (in heading) the appearance of the three chassis of the set.
Fig. 1, below. The circuit of the set with its three-chassis construction.
In the design of this series of radio sets, all the problems of present day reception
were taken into consideration. Primarily, the serious dropping off of frequencies below
70 cycles presents the greatest handicap to perfect reproduction. (The author discussed
this point in a preceding issue of Radio-Craft. - Editor) It may be safely considered
that no broadcast station of today transmits a 16-cycle note with even a near-approach
to linearity compared with the balance of the A.F. range. The only satisfactory manner
in which these losses may be retrieved is by employing additional amplification. The
use of boosters or resonant tuned circuits, as in transformer coupled amplifiers, fails
to achieve the ultimate corrective factors. Further, all other amplifying systems themselves
face the same attenuation of the low frequencies and these resonating circuits at best
barely make up for their own inherent overall losses.
In the set described here, the exclusive "direct-impedance" circuit offers amazingly
level response over the entire A.F. spectrum. Thus, given a practically flat 16-cycle
output, the additional pentode amplifier stage brings even weak low notes up to a satisfactory
level. It is this almost unbelievable performance in the lowest frequencies which gives
the set its characteristic mellow depth heretofore unobtainable.
"Tuning Out" Individual Musical Instruments!
The importance of the low-frequency response, unbelievable as it may appear, is often
not so much in the reproduction of the two bottom musical octaves, although these determine
the entire character of an organ, as in the bringing out of the background noise to which
we are accustomed in life. As an example of this we may, on the larger models which incorporate
a low-frequency volume control, cut out the low response on a xylophone solo. While we
have thus attenuated the lows below the effective range of the instrument, we still have
the normal high-fidelity performance of contemporary radio receivers, a lifeless though
accurate reproduction. By restoring the background, which may sound only like a series
of soft thumpings and indefinable noises, the solo assumes a solid and convincing reality
completely unlike the bare music.
To many, having never heard a low note on a radio set, the effect of the two bottom
musical octaves is almost inconceivable. The entire depth usually associated with an
organ is dependent on these vibrant notes and their absence alters the rich, soft music
to the thin, piping effect normally heard on even the best of radio sets.
Simplicity of Construction
Should it seem that the construction of this receiver is difficult, it may be well
to bear in mind that actually it offers fewer problems than many conventional sets. Both
power units are extremely easy to build, being little more than 2 speaker-field supplies.
The receiver itself is most conventional and is not designed to offer 'round-the-world
reception 'and other features of no consequence to high-fidelity reproduction. The incorporation
of some method of visual tuning indication is of value to builders who do not object
to the slight additional expense. The usual 2nd I.F. stage has been omitted to cut down
background noises and to offer less side-band cutting. While the variable-coupled type
of I.F. coils have not been specified in this receiver, their use is not objectionable.
It is by no means fatal to vary the layout given in the heading illustration. As shown,
however, there are several basic principles to which the builder must adhere. In the
receiver unit, for example, it may be noticed that the power transformer (L) occupies
the left corner with the 2 filter chokes (J and K) ranging along the left end. This placement
segregates the power supply from the balance of the chassis, especially the two A.F.
chokes (G and H) which may be seen behind the tuning condenser. The units in the heading
photo correspond as follows with the symbols in Fig. 1: 1-V1; 2-V2; 3-V3; 4-V4; 5-V5;
6-V8; 7-V6; 8-V9; 9-V7; 10-V10; A - aerial coil; B - R.F. coil; C - C2; D - oscillator
coil; E - first I.F. transformer; G - Ch.1; H - Ch.2; J, K - Ch.3 and Ch.4; L - Pt.1;
M - Pt.2; N - Ch.5; P - Pt.3; R - Ch.6.
The mention of induced hum naturally calls for added discussion of that phase of construction.
In view of the tremendous low-frequency gain of the amplifier, it might seem that the
elimination of hum would be a serious and difficult obstacle, but such is not the case.
It is unnecessary to purchase heavily-shielded A.F. chokes to arrive at completely
hum-free performance. The fact that considerable current is flowing through the windings
limits the inductive pick-up.
The uninitiated constructor would very likely connect units 1 and 2 with a 4-wire
cable. Nothing could be more disastrous to humless performance. It is always essential
that the plate-to-grid lead be separate from the rest of the cable, but may be wired
to the same plug and allowed to hang loosely from the cable.
The Low-Frequency Unit
The low-pass filter which precedes the final 2A5 is so adjusted as to pass only notes
below 70 cycles, to any extent. As shown in the diagram, it is composed of (a) a small
A.F. transformer with the primary shunted and (b) a bypass condenser of unknown value.
This transformer is usually one of the low-priced universal replacement units of about
3-to-1 ratio and the condenser varies in value depending on the set-up used. It frequently
has a value of about 0.25-mf., but may vary from this value to as high as 0.5-mf. or
down to 0.1-mf.
In addition, a condenser is placed across the output transformer to resonate it to
these low frequencies. This, too, depends on the speaker. The correct value for maximum
performance is found by experimentation. It usually runs from 0.5- to 1.0 mf.
List of Parts
One 3-gang tuning condenser, 350 mmf., C;
Four Cornell-Dubilier condensers, 0.1-mf.,
Eight Aerovox condensers, type GM, 8 mf., 525 V., C2;
One Aerovox mica condenser,
type 1467, 370 mmf., with Hammarlund EC-35, C3;
One Aerovox mica condenser, type
1467, 0.001-mf., C4, C8;
Two Aerovox mica condensers, type 1467, 100 mmf., C5;
One Aerovox mica condenser, type 1467, 250 mmf., C6;
One Aerovox mica condenser,
type 1467, 500 mmf., C7;
One Aerovox condenser, type P-5, 8 mf., 525 V., C9;
Two Cornell-Dubilier condensers, 0.5-mf., C10;
One Cornell-Dubilier condenser, 0.25-mf.
Two Cornell-Dubilier condensers (see text), C12. C13;
Two Centra lab carbon
resistors, 500 ohms, 1 W., R1, R5;
One Centralab carbon resistor, 400 ohms, 1 W.,
One Centralab carbon resistor, 25,000 ohms, W., R3;
One Centralab carbon
resistor, 30,000 ohms, W., R4;
Two Centralab carbon resistors, 1 meg., 1 W., R6;
One Centralab carbon resistor, 50,000 ohms, 1 W., R7;
One Centralab potentiometer,
One Electrad voltage-divider, 15,000 ohms. R9;
Two Electrad resistors,
25,000 ohms, 10 W., R10, R11;
*Two A.F. chokes, type T-3736, Ch.1, Ch.2;
filter chokes, type T-1607, Ch.3, Ch.4, Ch.5 ;
*One A.F. transformer, type T-2999,
*One power transformer, type T-7021 supplying 700 V. C.-T., 6.3 V., 5 V.,
2 1/2 V., P.T.1;
*Two power transformers, type T-4900 supplying 700 V., C.-T., 2'h
V., 5 V., P.T.2, P.T.3;
One Wright-DeCoster speaker, model 790, 2,500-ohm field,
single 2A5, reproducer No.1;
One Wright-DeCoster speaker, model 1,980, 2,500-ohm
field, single 2A5, reproducer No.2;
Sockets, speaker plugs, chassis, etc.
Sylvania type 78 tubes, V1, V3;
One Sylvania type 6A7 tube, V2;
type 85 tube, V4 ;
One Sylvania type 56 tube, V5;
Two Sylvania type 2A5 tubes,
Three Sylvania type 80 tubes, V8, V9, V10.
*Name of manufacturer will be sent upon receipt of stamped and self-addressed envelope.
Posted January 23, 2018