[time-nuts] Did a member of time-nuts buy this?

Bob Camp kb8tq at n1k.org
Sat Dec 6 10:16:38 EST 2014


> On Dec 6, 2014, at 9:54 AM, Dr. David Kirkby (Kirkby Microwave Ltd) <drkirkby at kirkbymicrowave.co.uk> wrote:
> I see this cesium reference on eBay, where apparently someone returned
> it due to the fact it had a bad tube.
> http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Agilent-5061A-Cesium-Beam-Frequency-Standard-FOR-PARTS-REPAIR-/141483787108
> I'm wondering if it was someone on this list. It is likely to be
> practical to replace the tube?

New tubes for Cs standards are in the >$20K range. Getting a modern one re-tubed with a high performance tube is > $32K. 

The stock of “new old stock” tubes is long gone. About the only tubes you see are pulls from used gear. The question with them (as with any Cs) is just how many years (or months) is left on the tube. You physically move Cs from one end of the tube to the other when you operate the device. One you have exhausted the pre-loaded stock, the tube is dead. It’s also coated all over the inside with surplus Cs. Since signal to noise ratio is very important, the drop in Cs at end of life and crud on the inside leads to degradation in the performance towards the end of the tube life. Even if the tube works, it may (or may not) be useful in a given application. 

For many applications, GPSDO’s are the more useful device. Their performance rivals that of most of the older Cs standards. They are way cheaper, and they don’t wear out. Indeed, if you have a 5071A with a high performance tube in it, a GPSDO is not going to match it’s performance. I’ve replaced two tubes in one of those, so they are correct when they talk about the projected life of the tube. 

The other subtle issue with Cs standards is shipping. If you are going to do it “right” it’s a major pain. Sending one back for re-tube does require you to do all the formal shipping nuttiness. That may or may not be an issue on the surplus market ….


> Dr. David Kirkby Ph.D CEng MIET
> Kirkby Microwave Ltd
> Registered office: Stokes Hall Lodge, Burnham Rd, Althorne, Essex, CM3 6DT, UK.
> Registered in England and Wales, company number 08914892.
> http://www.kirkbymicrowave.co.uk/
> Tel: 07910 441670 / +44 7910 441670 (0900 to 2100 GMT only please)
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