my name is Jac van de Walle, I was born in Holland, and I have been an electronics enthusiast ever since I remember. My first real project was a Crystal Receiver, which my father bought for me as a kid. We lived close to the coast, and there were many ships you could receive. Some signals were so strong, you would hear all kind of voices and noises, just by putting this is series: 10 meters of wire, an OA79 diode, a crystal ear plug, and the water pipe of the house, which acted as ground. I was only six years old, and I was afraid the ships would have problems when I did not switch the receiver off after use. So my knowledge of electronics was a bit limited. Understanding the tuning circuit came later, so when that part didn't work (which was often so) I teared it down and start from the beginning again, 5 or 10 times, until it worked by coincidence. Later I added an 0C13 transistor, working on only one 1.5 Battery, to amplify the audio signal. These 0C13 cost 2.75 Guilders, I remember the price exactly. That would be like 10 Euro in today's money, and they last very short when you are a kid. So, an 0C13 was my standard birthday wish.
The 0C13 were nasty to use, because after a while the lead wires used to break off. I managed to open up the glass case, and re-solder a very thin copper lead directly on the chip. You may not believe it worked, but those chips were large, I think 3x3 mm, and they looked "soldered" to me, with a nice little drops. I had many of those 0C13 with the lead wires broken off, d so nothing to loose. For this, I wound a single filament from a stranded mains cable, around the tip of my father's solder iron. Then by cutting this wire to the right length, I could find a position which was just hot enough to melt that tiny solder drop, and not damage the chip. It worked, and it was not even hard to do. Though the gain was less than before, they worked. Later I learned these chips were factory soldered indeed, with so called Bismuth solder, which solders extremely good, and needs only 100Â°C.
0C13 (13 is the "unlucky" number) were in fact rejected 0C71. Philips set up this 0C13 part number with lowered specifications for leakage and break down voltage, and many rejected 0C71 would pass the 0C13 specifications still. 0C13 was called the "experimenter's transistor" by Philips, and the idea was to enable people to buy those cheap, and when the circuit works, you could buy a real OC71, and it works even better. Such a clever and good idea! There was also an 0C14 which was a rejected 0C74. It is funny to see the part number appears to be based on the electron tube system. The first position is not a letter O, but a zero, which was always with cold cathode tubes, so the ones that need to no heater voltage. The C is for a device with three electrodes. .
Just for an idea of prices
in 1965: 0C13: 2.75 Guilders . Today appr 10 Euro
in 1971: EM34 Philips 90 Guilders / Today appr 315 Euro.
in 1971:ECC83 Philips 12 Guilders / Today appr. 42 Euro
in 1968:Small New car: 4000 Guilders / Today appr 15.000 Euro
I needed that EM34 for my tape recorder badly. I remember the rip off price, 90 guilders (315 Euro) but it was normal. The electronics seller (shop below here!) told me, take it or leave it.
Often people complain about prices of NOS tubes, but 50 years ago, new tubes cost a lot more, as they cost now. I remember, in those days, salaries were compared per week. An adult worker would earn 250 Guilders per week, and youngsters like me got 65 Guilders per week. You need to calculate appr a factor 3.5 to get today's buying value. I needed to work 7 working days for that EM34, for my tape recorder. But I wanted to have it no matter what price. I still have that tape recorder, which gave me so much joy. But it is detoriated now and not working any more. The EM34, which I had to work for, one whole week to pay it, is still in there, with little hours on it, so I am sure it is still good.
In my brith town VLAARDINGEN, I was lucky to have two very good electronics shops, 'Dirk van de Bend' and 'P.M. Quakkelstijn'. At the house of P.M. Quakkelstijn you can still see his name on the above photo. He was a tall, grumpy old man. Later his son and wife, carried on the shop until 2010 or so, and they liked their work, and DIY people a lot more. Always when I was in the area, I payed them a visit, just to say hello. Today, both shops are gone.
When I was 12 years old, color TV was coming suddenly. Each family would watch TV together from 19h to 23h in the evening, and the next morning "what was on TV" was the thing everybody talked about. So having a TV was essential. A new color TV would cost appr 1/5 of the price of a new car. So many people would use up their old Black and white TV until it needed a repair, and then dispose of it. Like this, I got hold of defective TV's for free.
It is a very curious observation, these old Black and white TV have some extremely difficult working circuits, and it should be fun to restore those today. So you would expect, today DIY tube enthusiasts would be interested in those. But this was not so. You could buy them on Ebay still until the year 2010 for 25 Euro, full of "PL" series tubes. Then, as analog broadcasting was switched off around 2005 or so, you could still get analog signal via cable TV. So even if there was no TV radio transmission any more, you could still use then normally via the cable TV signal. Then, in 2016, analog TV signals were shut down permanently, and you had no more signal to watch TV. Strangely enough, these B&W TV's suddenly become "trendy" and the usual picking of the right brands and types was kicked off. Though the only way to watch TV on those, is to use an analog video recorder of the type which produces antenna signal. This gives me good hope for radio collectors, because in some years, FM broadcasting will also belong to the past. So once you can't use your FM Radio any more, those SABA and Telefunken Radios probably will get expensive.
Like this, I could get these defective TVs for free. Those older Philips types without printed circuit boards were in fact incredible good build quality, with a special made 800 Ohms loudspeaker. The loudspeaker circuit worked without SE transformer directly on a PCL82 tube. Just look how amazing that worked, in order to get 800Ohms, the voice coil needs many windings, and has inductance. This inductance was used to make the tube circuit work and you need no plate choke. So amazing! The TV cabinet acted as an open baffle, with lots of "damping stuff" inside. The sound quality of those old Philips TV's was remarkably good, because the sound channel was actually FM. The famous "mustard" caps from Philips, people pay high prices for NOS now, these TV's were stuffed with those. Let me tell you, these Caps were often the problem cause with circuits which don't like leakage. They were no good at all. If a circuit didn't work, and the tube itself was good, just replace the caps around the tube, gives a 90% chance on a successful repair. These TV's had a relatively long picture tube, so they could do with not so high acceleration voltage. It was only 16kV. These TVs suffered from cigarette smoke, as most living rooms in those days were as smoky as a gentleman's cigar club. I remember everybody was smoking like crazy. Really everybody. And really like crazy. It was completely normal in those days. These TV chassis developed a lot of heat, and air circulation was high inside. The smoke would build a brownish layer, combined with household dust. That layer was typical in all old TVs, it was a bit sticky, and somewhat attracted humidity, and a smeary layer attached to all wires and plastic parts. The old timers amongst us will sure remember this. If I see a picture of such a TV, I have that "smoky" smell in my memory still, which sticked on my hands after a repair.
I still own my grandfather's 1965 Philips "Bi-Ampli" radio, with an original 'Accutronics' Reverb spiral inside, for artificial stereo. He was a heavy smoker and he "smoked" the radio in his living room for 25 years, until he died, and then the radio went to me. Even though it was not subjected to cigarette smoke any more for the next 35 years after, it still has that typical smoke smell inside. Despite that, it still works in all original condition, no repair needed ever since. I play it frequently, which is probably the reason why it is still good. In the winter, when the atmospheric condition in Europe is humid and cold, I can receive AM stations from all over Europe, without antenna.
Those old Philips picture tubes, if good, had a very sharp picture, and were very bright too. Some of that sharpness disappeared at the introduction of color TV, as a color TV signal will not appear fully sharp on a B&W TV. This is due to the chrominance "color" signal not being separated from the video (luminance) signal, and it gets displayed like noise.
Looking back, these Philips TV's were milestones of miniaturization, and quality too. You may perhaps have succeeded re-adjusting an AM Super Radio, but that is in fact very difficult. Re adjusting a tube FM tuner, there are not many who can do that at all. But re-adjust the RF circuits of a TV? I know nobody who did so. But speaking about quality: That was never needed. 99% of the problems were defective capacitors or tubes. You just needed find out which one.
As a kid, I found these broken TVs were very easy to get for free. I only picked the Philips versions without PCB, and without understanding much about the details, I could repair 50% of them, and the rest served as free parts supply. A good one would sell for 65 Guilders, which was really nice money in those days. I spend it on books and electronics parts. When I was 15 or so, my TV repair business dried up suddenly. It was strange how that happened by surprise, but suddenly nobody wanted to have a B&W TV anymore, and every week you could see a few of those with the garbage in the streets. Nobody including myself bothered even to pick out the tubes. (And there was a Philips ECC83 in each of them, in the channel selector)
I finished my electronics studies in 1984 at the Rotterdam Academy of Art and Technical Science, which later merged into Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.
I started my first job in R&D at the company 'van Berkel's Patent', now called DEKO. I was working on Analog to Digital converters and improving old power supplies. I liked bringing products with problems in good order again. I was able to give new life to a product called 834EP, an automatic meat slicer machine, controlled by microprocessor. In fact it was given up, because the motor control would blow up, and the A/D converter was instable and all kind of unexplainable defects of the power electronics. The basics of the whole machine was intelligent and clever made, and they did not understand why it failed yet so often. Unfortunately, the PCB lay out was done by a single person who had not the required understanding of RF problems, and I must say also the persons that were working on the faults and failures, used rather force methods than brains. So when a power transistor burned out too often, they just replaced it with parts of higher quality, or such with gold plated leads. If that didn't work, they put in just a higher power version, etc. They even dipped the whole PCB is special resin, assuming it was a humidity problem. But the real failure was the PCB board design. There was inductance and capacitive coupling everywhere. They let the 'new guy' give it a last try. It was allowed to change the schematics and PCB as I like, because frankly it was given up anyway. I found many strange situations in the PCB design. They just designed on a CADET System, at those days a very good software. Only the maker of the PCBs, saw the things too easy. He mixed a design with microprocessor, with High Voltage switching electronics, and an A/D converter all on the same board. There was little awareness for RFI problems, decoupling, good grounding, and all of those issues. You can't just have a computer design program knock such a difficult PCB together. It took me half a year to improve the PCBs, and pay more attention to the high frequency aspects of this. But after this was done, came the message from the Rotterdam production site: 'll 834EP with redesigned boards are working good, right after assembly'. They never had that situation before. After that I was given much nicer projects, but I had set my mind already on leaving this company.
When I was already working in Germany at Hewlett Packard, my previous employer ramped up production of the 834EP very much. Recently, when I looked in the internet for this in, I saw 834EP is in production still, more than 35 years later, with the DEKO company, after I saved it from obsoletion in 1985.
In 1986, I moved from Holland to Germany, because of a very good job offer by Hewlett Packard. At first as an Application Engineer, and later as a field sales engineer. In those days it was a privilege to work for Hewlett Packard. At least everybody felt so, myself included. The company had an artificial subculture, like a society. It was still original when I joined, and the founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett were still on duty. You would be terribly mistaken, when you think they build this company out of nothing, just by coincidence. These two founders always made rules for overall processes. With this I mean processes, which involve the whole company as such. For them, the factor 'people' was a very important one, if not the most important. In their own way, they were keeping the company on the main course, and I am sure they have put into some simple rules as well. Though such rules were of course not always openly published.
JAC-Music was founded in 1993, originally as a hobby, building 845 based SE amplifiers. Tax wise only making loss. In 1994 I got in contact with the AVVT Electron Tubes company by coincidence, and I kept in touch. In 1998 I proposed to do their worldwide distribution, and they agreed. At that time the profit was very small, and there were only three tubes in the program: 300B, 32B an 52B. For me this was just for the interest I had in it. I convinced Alesa Vaic to expand his product range, and we went through a very innovative period. We were the first to re-issue a single plate 2A3 tube, and mesh tubes, and other nice tubes like the AD1, PX4, PX25, and the 274A.
Today, you can buy a new made single plate 2A3 from several factories, but we were actually the FIRST to re-issue it. That was in the first days of the internet, and we were so happy we could gather inputs from people on the rec.audio.tubes Usenet forum, which was free at that time, and only had text mode. It may seem hard to believe, but having a website came later. We didn't know exactly how to build a 2A3, so we started with a modified 300B but we couldn't get the characteristics like a real 2A3. Later we changed the construction to get a true 2A3. This was the first single plate 2A3 build ever since the big companies stopped with it, in the 1950's.
No tube company had that tube available! Think of this while you can buy a 2A3 now from Russia, and from Yugoslavia, where did they all come from? I can tell you! In 1998, I had the first re-issue 2A3 I had on my desk made by AVVT. It looks terrible, but it works good. This tube is some piece of HiFi history! Quickly after that, we made a mesh version, with real 2A3 characteristics, and it was the first re-issued MESH 2A3 tube, that we made that way. I still have this tube, it looks very nice, and it works perfect. It's a milestone of today's Retro-Tube-Technology. This was the first mesh tube ever re-build again, and we never changed anything fundamental to the design of that tube. The initial ideas for a mesh tube came from some of our friends from the New York tube scene. (thanks Dave Slagle!) Today, there are many factories building 2A3. They are all followers of our ideas. Most of the marketing work was done by me, and the technical work was by Alesa Vaic.
A breakthrough we had, when I bought for Alesa a tube tester, of which I knew it was a bit off calibration, the reading was a tiny bit too low. They had to pass any tube by this tester, because I had exactly the same one here, but with normal calibration. Later he understood, his tester was a bit 'weak', but like that we would never have a discussion about a tube that was only 'just good' on his tester, as it would be 'fine' on my (good) tester. He accepted that.
As quality improved, business was picking up, though lifetime of the products to my opinion could have been a lot more better.
Then things went faster, sales started to rise suddenly. It was good business now. Then In 2002, unexpectedly I received a three lines email from Alesa's charming wife, telling they decided to do all sales them self. Period. In the weeks before that, she had started to fired unwanted workers in the factory too. The distributor network that I was taking care of, was send a similar email by here, saying my company was dismissed, and they can now all buy directly. Most distributors contacted me of course, to ask what was going on, but all I could say, I don't know what this is, all I received was the same information, and it is not a fake.
Then something happened, which AVVT had not expected. Some of those people that were fired, teamed up against AVVT, and they contacted me, because they wanted to produce tubes by themself, and needed somebody to take care of the sales. This was the beginning of the Emission Labs brand (short: EML). We tried to be as good competition as we could, though we had to start with little business. The first thing we did, dealers had to choose. If they sell AVVT, we won't supply EML. The Hong Kong Dealer choose for AVVT, but all the others choose for EML.
You have to understand, this was just before the internet, and before Ebay, and AVVT's main communication tool was a fax machine. I remember how slow a sales network builds up, just by postal mail or fax. The small distributors only buy something when they have an order already in their pocket. The big guys have no interest to pre-pay an almost bankrupt company larger sums. Just a few months later, AVVT had to close down.
Today, EML produces a complete line of High Power Triodes that are unique in quality and life time. Also we have re-made some original tubes as the first company. The 45 that EML re-introduced as the first o the market, was later picked up by the Chinese factories. Added to this are now some limit-breaking tubes, like the 1605, and some of our unique mesh tubes.
For my hobbies I have almost no time. That is keeping my Hammond Organs in good condition. I own an original B3 tone wheel organ, born in the same year as myself. It has a mechanical tone generator, and all tubes electronics inside. The B3000 I have, is a 1970's CMOS version of the B3, with the original Leslie Tone cabinets. Unfortunately I don't have the time to play them very much. Here is a sound sample of the B3.
Hammond B3 after 60 Years
Quality made in the USA. This is 60 Years old electronics. Switch it on, and it works flawless
Here is some more info about it
European Triode Festival in Langenargen 2004
From Left to the right: Jean-Hiraga, myself, a technician of Sun Audio and Mr. Uchida, owner of Sun Audio Japan. This was at the morning we left, after three days triode-fun.
My Technical background:
1984 Received my Engineering degree at the HTS in Rotterdam. Specialty: Energy, and High Voltage Electronics.
1984 ... 1986. R&D Engineer at Van Berkel's Patent, designing microprocessor hardware, and interfaces.
1985. Finished Post Academic Classes (PATO), University of Eindhoven, Holland, for Grounding and Shielding Methods.
1986 ... 1989. Application Engineer at Hewlett Packard, for Optical Communication Devices.
1987. Finished Post Academic Classes, George Washington University, for Grounding and Bonding and Shielding Methods.
1989 ... 1999. Field Sales Engineer at Hewlett Packard.
1999 ... 2001. Quality Engineer and Auditor at Agilent Medical division.
2001 ... 2003. Process Engineer at Agilent, for Optical Measurement Systems.
2003 ... Today. Working for MODC. (My Own Damn Company).
A final word: Thank you for the many nice and interesting comments I received on this page :)