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PHILIPS VALVE AGEING RACKS c1955 - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There has been much discussion over the merits and dangers in running up valves using precious valve testers rather than the safer option of using a powered rig for this purpose.   I have delved into the Mullard document archive today and came up with the photo below which shows Willeke Fokkink in 1955 at Philips Herleen attending to one of the giant valve ageing racks - simply super stuff indeed.

 

 

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HOW DID MULLARD MAKE MUSTARD CAPACITORS? - Monday, July 14, 2014

Well, this weekend, there has been a run on Mullard Mustard capacitors, or in old money - the C296 range.  So for your delectation, please find below a photograph of the the Philips designed. Mullard machine that made the mustard caps - enjoy!

 

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RICHARD CRANIUM AND THE COMMITTEE MEETING - Wednesday, July 02, 2014

 

I just LOVE this piece of artwork which comes from a 1950s pulp novel and is titled "The Committee."     I smiled when I first saw it and it put me in mind of some self aggrandising buffoons who comprise the committee of an organisation I once belonged to - before they expelled me.  There are some true 'Richard Cranium's' about in real life not just pulp fiction

 

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TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, RACAL RA17 - Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Thought you might be interested to see a triplet of Racal RA17 in the latest incarnation in film of Le Carre's seminal spy novel.  As John Hurt and Gary Oldman stride out you can just see the lady operator turn to them as if about to say "Please Sir, my Edward Turner S meter has gone O/C."  If you have problems with your RA17 then why not give my pal Ian at 'chav free zone' a call?

http://www.chavfreezone.me.uk/racal.html

 

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TRAINING AIDS FOR GIRLS - THEY ALWAYS REMEMBER A BIG ONE! - Sunday, June 22, 2014

 

Today's stroll through the Mullard company's document archive threw up this rather fetching photograph which was attached to a memo from Philips BV in 1954, advising Mullard Blackburn of how operators were trained about valve componentry and assembly at Philips Heerlen.  They advocated the use of  a LARGE training aid because apparently, girls tend to be impressed by large things and the training association sticks..   

Who said it's not the size that matters but how you use it?

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ATOMIC SUITS FOR INDUSTRY AND "NUN OF THAT!" - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

 

Isn't this exciting, this is an 'Atomic Suit' developed by GE for use at the Richland Washington Atomic plant in the US.  GE, unlike Mullard, had it's fingers in many manufacturing pies and this is just one of their other interests.    This suit was meant to protect the wearer from the effects of nuclear radiation, however, the suit potentially could have other uses.

Cue entry of the stern faced Sister Annette of the nearby Hanford based Pendlebury-McCarthy School for Girls.   As pastoral care nun and basketball coach, she was there to ensure that no impropiety occurred when the lower half of the suit was fitted to the model and of course to assess the efficacy of the lower suit area as a potential aide to modesty and chastity  if worn by some of her more high spirited charges.

 

 

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WE'VE GOT 17 MULLARD VALVE TESTERS AT THE BBC - Friday, June 13, 2014

 

Today's dip into the Mullard factory archives has come up with this photo of a suited gentleman testing valves using a Mullard High Speed Valve Tester (MHSVT).   How many people wear a suit whilst valve testing  - I wear a string vest and a lime green thong whilst testing our wares -  however, I digress.  The formal attire should give a clue for this is the MHSVT in the main transmitting room at BBC Alexandra Palace some time in 1953.  

I think this photograph was taken during valve maintenence testing undertaken immediately prior to filming an episode of Jigsaw  where a young art student from Perth, Australia, got an audition drawing cartoons  - "Can you tell what it is yet, little girl.........?." said the art student.   "Is that an 813 in your pocket or just a small digeridoo?"  innocently trilled the pigtailled young lady.  

Altogether, the BBC had 17 of these instruments, indeed, the fourth one off the production line of the first production run was bought by the BBC for use at Lime Grove studios where it was used for peridoic testing of a stock of 12000 valves.

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ZONE REFINING OF GERMANIUM FOR YOUR OC71 etc. - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

 

A pal of mine, knowing I am a chemist decided to bring me this photograph from his time at Mullard Semiconductors - he thought the Dreschel bottles in the background would float my boat but in actuality it's the process being undertaken that piqued my interest.  My pal told me that this was an Orgone Accumulator - silly boy - but we know different!!

What we have here is a photograph taken in 1955 at the Mullard semiconductor materials laboratory with a Process Engineer purifying an ingot of Germanium for semiconductor manufacturing by a process known as Zone Refining, an elegant method which depends on  the concentration of impurity solutes in the liquid phase due to a low partition coefficient.  

And here's how it works: -

A germanium ingot is placed in graphite container called a boat which in turn is placed inside a silica tube under an argon or nitrogen atmosphere.  A molten zone is created in the ingot by passing it through an RF heated zone which raises a portion of the ingot to 932oC which melted the germanium and as the solubility of any impurities is higher in the liquid than the solid phase, the impurities tend to concentrate in the molten zone which gradually moves down the ingot, taking the majority of the impurities with it until they are eventually concentrated at one end of the ingot.  

The impure end is 'lopped off' and the process successively repeated until a 99.995% pure germanium ingot remains.   The process was quite slow with transit of the ingot progressing at 1cm/hour so purification could take some time.  This photograph was taken only 5 years after this process was originally invented by Dr. W Phann at Bell Laboratories in the 'States.  The process is still in use today with silicon for chip wafers being refined in the same way, however, the process has been refined (sic) over the years to be much faster as a continuous process with new material being added as the impure bit is removed rather than the slower batch process you see here.

Interestingly enough, a similar process known as Zone Remelting was used to put impurities back in to the germanium ingot with a high degree of homogeneity to 'dope' it with antimony and/or arsenic to inbue negative, n-type semiconduction or conversely aluminium and/or boron to imbue positive, p-type semiconduction.

 

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RADIUM IT'S HEALTHY STUFF - GLOW IN THE DARK OR WHAT! - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Well, I had a query from Vicky today who was interested in buying a watch from us but  was concerned that the dial might be radium luminous.  Most pre war watches are of course radium lumed however, post war, we moved towards dials using the 3H isotope of Hydrogen, Tritium, to give luminosity through a Jablonski decade emission, today, on watch dials we use a proprietary compound known as Luminova which is a strontium aluminate photoluminescent compound invented in the early 1980s.

Anyhow, Vicky, just look at how well rated radium was in the 1920s and the health benefits so claimed - simply super stuff: -

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GLAMOUR OR SID - WHICH ONE FOR THE 1955 MULLARD CALENDAR - Thursday, May 15, 2014

As early as 1952, Mullard top brass were considering how best to promote their product range with the expounding of an idea which became all too prominent some 10 - 15 years later.      The idea was of course a calendar and not just any calendar but a glamour calendar, much board room discussion was made of the merits of Roedean-esqe girls showing cheeky smiles, a shapely ankle or even a svelte swimsuit with a plunging back line but the eventual conclusion was that such an approach might sully the wholesome Mullard image - the phrase 'sex sells' wasn't yet coined by Madison Avenue though I am sure Don Draper and Roger Sterling must have thought of it!!!!!!

Instead, a compromise was reached, the calendar format was used with a rather fetching presentation of Sid the Serviceman on the front cover and handy valve equivalents and operating data inside for common valve types.  Here we see the Mullard Top Brass at the Mullard Dealer event in 1954 perusing an advance copy of the wall chart with the chap on the right, Mr D M Hall, Manager of the Mullard Valve Sales Department appreciatively commenting, sotto voce, "I say, phwoarrr, look at the getter bloom on that!"

Today, these wall charts do occasionally turn up with their page edges crinkled and worn, a testimony to their use as an aide-memoir in some long gone radio service workshop.

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