Neutralization of GI-7b / GI-7bT
It is well known that 23cm PAs using Russian GI7b / GI7bt
tubes suffer from thermal drift and can oscillate under certain
conditions. The majority of amateur radio designs using these tubes are
based on 3/4 lambda cavities, the famous CT1DMK design being the prime
example. These amplifiers commonly exhibit thermal instability and low
efficiency. Instability may also cause the PA to oscillate or, at minimum,
create bad intermodulation distortion on the output. This creates splatter
which is especially problematic during contests, particularly if many
stations are active.
The GI7b / GI7bt tube is not the best tube
for linear amplification on the 1296MHz band, but because these tubes are
relatively cheap and accessible, many of us tried to use them. Based on
the characteristics of the tube, one should not expect PA output power
higher than 200 - 250W for ordinary operation, with efficiency no higher
than 35%, even with very well made and silver-plated cavity. Thermal
instability is a constant problem.
Where is source of instability?
One part of it is well described by KD5FZX here. The second part, which is
the primary cause at lower output levels, is due to the positive feedback
inside tube from parasitic energy transfer between anode and cathode. This
feedback can increase gain of amplifier and lower attenuation of input
reflections of the amplifier. The result is that input matching varies
with anode cavity tuning. When anode cavity is detuned by thermal drift,
feedback to the cathode decreases and rapidly lowers aplifier gain. This
results in much lower output power even if input power is stable.
How to test your amplifier:
Now you should to try neutralize your amplifier:
- Neutralization is accomplished by increasing inductance between the
grid of the tube and ground. It creates a resonant circuit with
Cag & Cgc which couples anode voltage to the cathode shifted in
phase; it is 180 degrees out of phase with parasitic transfer of energy
through Cac. This phase shifted transfer reduces positive feedback
to the point where oscillation no longer occurs.
- Theoreticaly it is simple - because of small variations in
construction of different cavities, however, there are differences in
inductance and capacitance which can complicate the neutralization
process. With this in mind, VE4MA developed a reliable method
which is shown here.
It causes a small increase of grid holder inductance by isolating part
of the grid ring from the grid contacts.
I have tested many tubes in different cavity arrangements
and can recommend the solution below which is illustrated in the pictures.
- Put a teflon (or paper for test purposes only) strip as shown, width
aprox. 24mm, on the tube, install the tube in the cavity and measure
feedback transfer as described in point four above. Feedback
should be 13 to 16 dB or a bit better (more dB). If not, pull out
the tube and change width of strip to 22mm and repeat. For
different tubes and grid holders is usually possible find proper strip
width to increase feedback attenuation to at least 26 dB.
- Next, rotate the tube in steps of 15 degrees or so. Remember
to be careful of the HV on the anode! Because grid inside the tube
is not absolutely symmetric, you will probably be able find a feedback
minimum - at least 30 dB. Make this position of tube and teflon
- Connect a load to the output and switch the amplifier on. Test
the input SWR. Although anode cavity tuning will still have an
influence on the input SWR, attenuation of reflection on the input
should be now at least 18-20dB for any adjustment of anode cavity
tuning. Do not readjust cathode from setting achieved above.
- Test gain of amplifier with low output now - maximum gain, after
peaking output with anode cavity tuning and loading, should be between
10 and 12 dB.
- Your amplifier will have a bit lower gain than before, but will be
much more stable. You will need to use higher driving power.
- Because of much lower feedback, you will be able probably setup
lower loading of anode cavity and by this way obtain a bit better
efficiency without danger of oscillations.
DO NOT FORGET to be careful with HV on the anode!!
Best regards and many successfull QSOs on 23cm.