Topics

What years were tunnel diodes designed into Tek instruments?


J Hunt
 

The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

- introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel diodes (maybe 1960?)
- last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.


Tom Lee
 

You might lose that bet, John, but I'll give it a shot. The earliest use by Tek that I know of is in the 519 (debuted in 1961). If someone here knows of an earlier use, I'd certainly be grateful for the correction. [The 555 debuted earlier, but not plug-ins with TDs.]

I'm unsure of what the last TD-powered Tek product was, but I'll get around to checking a couple of speculations and get back to you.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
http://www-smirc.stanford.edu

On 2/20/2021 10:00, J Hunt via groups.io wrote:
The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

- introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel diodes (maybe 1960?)
- last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.




ken chalfant
 

I’m probably late to the party, but the 547 which was available at least into the early 1970’s had tunnel diodes in the trigger circuits.

Regards,

Ken

On 20Feb, 2021, at 6:48 PM, Tom Lee <tomlee@ee.stanford.edu> wrote:

You might lose that bet, John, but I'll give it a shot. The earliest use by Tek that I know of is in the 519 (debuted in 1961). If someone here knows of an earlier use, I'd certainly be grateful for the correction. [The 555 debuted earlier, but not plug-ins with TDs.]

I'm unsure of what the last TD-powered Tek product was, but I'll get around to checking a couple of speculations and get back to you.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww-smirc.stanford.edu%2F&;amp;data=04%7C01%7C%7Cd5838ce31be54257059c08d8d60ae080%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637494689492724535%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=NSN6tHIKD3LDMzt6NCjo9V0UT6H1OP1al5l04%2FDgUcY%3D&amp;reserved=0

On 2/20/2021 10:00, J Hunt via groups.io wrote:
The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

- introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel diodes (maybe 1960?)
- last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.








Brian
 

I was made curious by this thread but I've not seen all posts . Has anyone considered the 661 sampling scope and its plug-ins as candidate for the earliest .
regards
Brian

On Sunday, 21 February 2021, 18:11:13 GMT, ken chalfant <kpchalfant@msn.com> wrote:

I’m probably late to the party, but the 547 which was available at least into the early 1970’s had tunnel diodes in the trigger circuits.

Regards,

Ken


On 20Feb, 2021, at 6:48 PM, Tom Lee <tomlee@ee.stanford.edu> wrote:

You might lose that bet, John, but I'll give it a shot. The earliest use by Tek that I know of is in the 519 (debuted in 1961). If someone here knows of an earlier use, I'd certainly be grateful for the correction. [The 555 debuted earlier, but not plug-ins with TDs.]

I'm unsure of what the last TD-powered Tek product was, but I'll get around to checking a couple of speculations and get back to you.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww-smirc.stanford.edu%2F&;data=04%7C01%7C%7Cd5838ce31be54257059c08d8d60ae080%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637494689492724535%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=NSN6tHIKD3LDMzt6NCjo9V0UT6H1OP1al5l04%2FDgUcY%3D&reserved=0

On 2/20/2021 10:00, J Hunt via groups.io wrote:
The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

-  introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel diodes  (maybe 1960?)
-  last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes  (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************     
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.








widgethunter
 

https://w140.com/tekwiki/wiki/Tunnel_diodes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_diode
In the 540 series the 547 (1964) was the first scope designed with TDs.Retrofits were made to the 585/A (time base A trigger) and 555 with 21/22A time bases...

Bernie Schroder

-----Original Message-----
From: J Hunt via groups.io <jmailhunt=yahoo.com@groups.io>
To: TekScopes@groups.io
Sent: Sat, Feb 20, 2021 10:00 am
Subject: [TekScopes] What years were tunnel diodes designed into Tek instruments?

The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

-  introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel diodes  (maybe 1960?)
-  last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes  (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************     
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.


 

Hi Tom et al,
I can confirm Tek was already using Tunnel Diodes in 1963 when they developed what would become the 067-0513-00 Tunnel Diode Pulse Generator. I have the 23rd one of these that Tek made. The label inside it is dated May 1, 1963.
I posted pictures, notes, photos and comments from John Addis about the designer, Gordon Long, in the files section of TekScopes at:
https://groups.io/g/TekScopes/files/067-0513-00%20Tunnel%20Diode%20Pulse%20Generator.pdf

Dennis Tillman W7pF

-----Original Message-----
From: TekScopes@groups.io [mailto:TekScopes@groups.io] On Behalf Of Tom Lee
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2021 5:49 PM
To: TekScopes@groups.io
Subject: Re: [TekScopes] What years were tunnel diodes designed into Tek instruments?

You might lose that bet, John, but I'll give it a shot. The earliest use by Tek that I know of is in the 519 (debuted in 1961). If someone here knows of an earlier use, I'd certainly be grateful for the correction.
[The 555 debuted earlier, but not plug-ins with TDs.]

I'm unsure of what the last TD-powered Tek product was, but I'll get around to checking a couple of speculations and get back to you.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
http://www-smirc.stanford.edu

On 2/20/2021 10:00, J Hunt via groups.io wrote:
The recent discussion about tunnel diodes got me wondering about when they were being designed into Tek instruments.

Questions:

- introduction date and model of the first Tek instrument with tunnel
diodes (maybe 1960?)
- last Tek instrument to use tunnel diodes (maybe 1975?)

I bet that Tom Lee and probably some of the Tek engineers (or rebuilders) in this group will know.

John Hunt
Portland, OR

***************************************************
Re: tunnel diodes retrace lines in curve tracer
From: saipan59 (Pete)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 13:54:46 PST

My understanding is that by the 1970's or so, TD's were obsolete because most of the practical circuits that used them could be done cheaper with modern transistors and IC's.











--
Dennis Tillman W7pF
TekScopes Moderator


Kurt Rosenfeld
 

As far as I know:
- The 661 makes extensive use of tunnel diodes and was designed in 1961.
- The 585 started using tunnel diodes in 1962.


Tom Lee
 

Thanks, Kurt. So far, then, 1961 seems to be the earliest Year of the TD, with the 519 and 661.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
http://www-smirc.stanford.edu

On 2/21/2021 12:13, Kurt Rosenfeld wrote:
As far as I know:
- The 661 makes extensive use of tunnel diodes and was designed in 1961.
- The 585 started using tunnel diodes in 1962.




Ed Breya
 

A few decades ago, I used to have a Tek 661 sampling system (actually it was my first Tek scope). As I recalled, the trigger and time-base circuits were loaded with TDs. I just looked it up, and it appears it does have TDs, and it was introduced ca 1961. So, viable, commercial ones must have existed - or had preliminary data and samples - by say 1959 or earlier. It makes sense that TDs would have been used first in the highest speed, state of the art stuff, before triggering applications in regular scopes, which were gradually getting faster and faster, thanks in part to TDs. The earliest, fastest, usable versions of TDs probably cost a fortune, but allowed the high speed triggering for samplers, and pulsers for TDR, etc to work. They were always expensive and finicky, so as soon as better alternatives emerged, they disappeared from general use, contrary to the glorious predictions of the TD makers. Remember too, that Ge transistors and diodes were disappearing, so Ge TDs were kind of on their own, as specialty items and processes, not able to take advantage of the advances in Si.

Anyway, if there's another sampler older than the 661, it may set the clock back another year or two.

I think the last use of TDs at Tek would have been in some of the 7K series time-base plug-ins - I know the 7B92A has some. The S-52 TDR pulser also falls into 7K, but it actually showed up much earlier, I think in a 3-series TDR plug-in.

Ed


 

Tom,

Concerning the last use of tunnel diodes:

The 465B, introduced in 1980, uses tunnel diodes, the 2215, introduced in 1982, does not. Is that merely a result of the lower bandwidth of the 2215 versus the 465B (60 MHz versus 100 MHz)? If so, then we can take a more comparable instrument to be the 2235, introduced in 1984, also without tunnel diodes. That puts a pretty narrow windows on the end of the tunnel diode era.

-- Jeff Dutky


Tom Lee
 

Great, Jeff. It looks like we’ve managed to narrow the window considerably. So it’s looking like the Age of the TD started around 1961 and ended almost exactly 20 years later. Not a bad run for an oddball device.

Sent from my iThing, so please forgive typos and brevity.

On Feb 21, 2021, at 10:27 PM, Jeff Dutky <jeff.dutky@gmail.com> wrote:

Tom,

Concerning the last use of tunnel diodes:

The 465B, introduced in 1980, uses tunnel diodes, the 2215, introduced in 1982, does not. Is that merely a result of the lower bandwidth of the 2215 versus the 465B (60 MHz versus 100 MHz)? If so, then we can take a more comparable instrument to be the 2235, introduced in 1984, also without tunnel diodes. That puts a pretty narrow windows on the end of the tunnel diode era.

-- Jeff Dutky





Chuck Harris
 

Brooke Clark on his PRC68.com website reminisced about his
days working for Aertech testing tunnel diodes. This excerpt
is gratuitously stolen from his website:

"Early tunnel diodes were made by hand one at a time. A small sphere of metal was
alloyed to a chip of semiconductor material (Germanium, Gallium arsenide, or Gallium
Antimonide) The chip was die attached into a metal ceramic package and then had a
gold screen bonded from one side of the package flange to the metal sphere and to the
other side of the package, like a bridge. Then the diode was etched in a caustic
solution forming a mushroom shaped cross section. The stem of the mushroom was
extremely narrow and the actual junction was in this stem. An improvement to that
process involved gluing a couple of very small diameter glass rods (made by pulling a
hot glass rod) on either side of the metal ball after sintering and before attaching
the mesh. The rods tended to take some of the stress off of the tunnel junction and
make the diode much more reliable. The coefficient of thermal expansion of the glass
was chosen to be close to the material of the tunnel diode.

Later a "planar process" was developed that allowed back diodes to be made at the
wafer level. This is used at Metelics. "

I recall that at University of Maryland one of my professors, HC Lin, had his
graduate students making diodes and LED's by hand in his lab... Nothing but bench
work...

Perhaps with a little guidance from Brooke, some members could start making
tunnel diodes?

-Chuck Harris

Tom Lee wrote:

Great, Jeff. It looks like we’ve managed to narrow the window considerably. So it’s looking like the Age of the TD started around 1961 and ended almost exactly 20 years later. Not a bad run for an oddball device.

Sent from my iThing, so please forgive typos and brevity.

On Feb 21, 2021, at 10:27 PM, Jeff Dutky <jeff.dutky@gmail.com> wrote:

Tom,

Concerning the last use of tunnel diodes:

The 465B, introduced in 1980, uses tunnel diodes, the 2215, introduced in 1982, does not. Is that merely a result of the lower bandwidth of the 2215 versus the 465B (60 MHz versus 100 MHz)? If so, then we can take a more comparable instrument to be the 2235, introduced in 1984, also without tunnel diodes. That puts a pretty narrow windows on the end of the tunnel diode era.

-- Jeff Dutky









Roger M
 

Poking at the embers of this thread: it might be useful to mention that, at
least thru the late '70s, we (Tek Television Products) designed TD's into
generators that needed to produce the ever-popular "multiburst" test
signal. More specifically they were a key element in a circuit that produced
fast triangles of arbitrary period that were then shaped to sine waves via a
diode ladder network.


Michael Perkins
 

I think the 7B80/85 was the last time base Tek used tunnel diodes on. The 7B92 used a proprietary  ic for trigger.Mike 
On Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 8:10 PM, Roger M<ramarin@canby.com> wrote: Poking at the embers of this thread: it might be useful to mention that, at
least thru the late '70s, we (Tek Television Products) designed TD's into
generators that needed to produce the ever-popular "multiburst" test
signal.  More specifically they were a key element in a circuit that produced
fast triangles of arbitrary period that were then shaped to sine waves via a
diode ladder network.


Tom Lee
 

Thanks for that, Michael. It looks like we've pretty much identified the beginning and end of Tek's TD era. If not, at least we must be pretty darned close.

-- Cheers,
Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
http://www-smirc.stanford.edu

On 2/25/2021 21:30, Michael Perkins via groups.io wrote:
I think the 7B80/85 was the last time base Tek used tunnel diodes on. The 7B92 used a proprietary  ic for trigger.Mike
On Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 8:10 PM, Roger M<ramarin@canby.com> wrote: Poking at the embers of this thread: it might be useful to mention that, at
least thru the late '70s, we (Tek Television Products) designed TD's into
generators that needed to produce the ever-popular "multiburst" test
signal.  More specifically they were a key element in a circuit that produced
fast triangles of arbitrary period that were then shaped to sine waves via a
diode ladder network.










santa0123456
 

I think that the last device mentioned as using a TD in Tektronix products was the SD-51 trigger countdown head for the 11800 series.
Probably sold a bit later than 1994.