THE DeForest DV-DL TUBES


revised 10/26/03

The early twenties was a period of turmoil and frustration for the DeForest interests. Seemingly endless lawsuits and patent litigation drained the resources of the Company and the time of its officers. RCA controlled the Fleming patents and had been granted an injunction which prevented DeForest from marketing triodes. DeForest himself was involved in the development of Phonovision (sound movies) and was not active in the affairs of the DeForest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company.


Fig. 1

The Fleming patent expired in November of 1922, clearing the way for DeForest to once again manufacture Audions. The initial tubes advertised were the DV-1 and DV-6, first publicized in DeForest Catalog K of early 1923. The V indicated a short pin or UV base while the number was the approximate filament voltage. The DV-6 was listed as having a 5 to 6 volt thoriated filament drawing .5 amps. A cylindrical element structure mounted in a horizontal plane was employed. This tube was rather short and ungettered (Fig. 1). Tests run on a number of DV-6's indicate that the filament was basically straight tungsten and ran at a white heat. A DV-6 data sheet packed inside a tube carton gave a somewhat more accurate description of filament operation than Catalog K. The sheet shows a filament voltage range of 3 to 5 volts at .5 to .7 amps. Several DV-6's tested drew about .75 amps at 4 volts. These tubes can be found with two different styles of marking. The earlier version is marked "PAT APL'D FOR" on the base and was etched DeForest in a circle around the top of the bulb. The later tubes are marked "DEFOREST AUDION" with patent numbers on the base, and have no bulb marking. Neither tube has a type number marked. It is suspected that the earlier marked tube is actually the DeForest Type 20 sold by Moorhead in 1920, but this has not been verified.


Fig. 2

The DV-1 was described as having a 1 to 1.5 volt oxide filament drawing .2 amps. This tube was described as having a horizontal structure. The filament was an oxide coated platinum type and was probably intended for use in WD-11 type applications. Although not specifically stated, it is assumed that a short bulb similar to the DV-6 was used. Ads dated March 1923 gave essentially the same information, as well as several books published around that time. All of these sources illustrate the DV-6 only, no pictures of the DV-1 can be found. Somewhat later the DV-1 was advertised and described in a different form, a tall bulb with a 3 volt filament. Samples seen of the DV-1 are normally the 3 volt version (Fig. 2). DeForest may have decided that a '99 type tube was more commercially viable than a WD-11 type. The fact that the type number was not changed after the redesign to a 3 volt tube was not inconsistent with the generally erratic marketing policies of the DeForest company. Several unmarked tubes have been seen which might be 1 volt DV-1's. It should be noted that by early 1923 DeForest had sold his interest in the Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company and all references to DeForest pertain to the Company only.


Fig. 3


Fig. 4

The first ads for the DV tubes to run in the major radio magazines appeared in September of 1923. The tubes described were the DV-1, DV-6A, and the DV-2. These tubes had nickeled bases marked "DEFOREST AUDION" and carried patent numbers along with a restrictive notice. The bulbs were gettered and had small round orange and black stickers with the type number. The DV-1 shown in Fig. 2 had a tall bulb and a 3 volt thoriated filament. The electrical characteristic were similar to the UV199, and the tube was described as a "Dry Cell Tube". The DV-6A shown (Fig. 3) was an improved version of the earlier DV-6. The main structure was about the same, but a thoriated filament was used which reduced the current in half. The tube was gettered and was listed as a "Universal Tube". The DV-2 (Fig. 4) was a new addition to the series and had a 5 volt .25 amp filament. Although described as a "Wet Cell Power Amplifier Tube", its essential characteristics were not much different than the UV201A. However, the recommended bias voltages for the DV-2 were lower than those of the'01A, resulting in higher plate current and somewhat lower plate impedance. Used in this fashion, the DV-2 was capable of slightly more output than an '01A but could hardly be considered as a power amplifier. Later DeForest data described this tube as a voltage amplifier and did not recommend its use as an output tube. These three tubes were packaged in conventional cardboard cartons. There is some evidence to suggest that the cartons contained an inner metal can of the type commonly seen for later DeForest tubes. However, pristine NOS samples have been examined which clearly did not use a metal can, so perhaps they came both ways.

df dv3b
Fig. 5

df dv2i
Fig. 6

In April 1924 new ads showed major changes in the series. The use of metal bases was stopped in favor of new materials. The DV-1 and DV-6A were dropped, and the DV-3 was added. The DV-6A with its high filament current and low Gm was not competitive with either the'99 or '01A, and was no doubt discontinued due to poor sales. The DV-1 was replaced by the DV-3, which had near identical performance. The DV-3, however, had a short bulb and horizontal element structure as opposed to the tall bulb and vertical structure of the DV-1. The first DV-3's used a bakelite base (Fig. 5), the color of which varied from maroon to dark brown. Molded into the base was a round logo which was nearly identical to the paper sticker except for the omission of the type number. The DV-2 was retained but the base was changed to Isolantite (Fig. 6), a ceramic material with excellent electrical properties. Early DV-2 Isolantite bases often have a somewhat rough texture, and some have tool marks as though they were turned on a lathe. Some of these early bases had a glazed outer coating which generally turns a slight yellowish color. The first DV-2's had a stamped circular logo on the base similar to the molded markings on the DV-3. This logo was used only briefly and then modified by adding the wording "Isolantite-bases mfg for excl" above the circle.

DeForest sales brochures of the period describe the DV-2 and DV-3 as having Yttrium or Yttriated filaments. Since General Electric controlled the thoriated tungsten patents, it is not surprising that DeForest resorted to other materials. The expiration of the DeForest triode patent in early 1925 brought forth a flood of independent tube makers into the market and the general use of thoriated filaments. No mention of Yttrium is made for other DeForest tubes.

df dv2b
Fig. 7

df dv3a
Fig. 8

df dv5
Fig. 9

November of 1924 brought several changes. The company had been reorganized and was now known as the DeForest Radio Company. The base of the DV-2 was changed from Isolantite to bakelite (Fig. 7). The molded logo was the same as used on the DV-3 and the paper sticker was unchanged. The bakelite bases were used on the DV-2 and DV-3 into 1925 but by the end of that year had been switched to Isolantite.

1925 saw the introduction of two new tubes to the series and also a new label. The DV-3A (Fig. 8) was the first of these new tubes and was electrically the same as the DV-3 but had a smaller base which was compatible with the standard '99 socket. The base marking was changed to a square format and included the DV-3A type number. This was the only tube in the series to have the type number on the base. The small round sticker used on the earlier types was replaced with a larger label which wrapped half way around the tube. This label gave the tube number, filament voltage and general function of the tube. This label was used on all new types and only the DV-2 and DV-3 can be found with either the round sticker or large label. The other new tube of 1925 was the DV-5 (Fig. 9). This tube was used mainly as an audio amplifier and had higher ratings than the DV-2. The DV-5 was particularly useful as a driver for an power output tube.

df dv7
Fig. 10

df dv9
Fig. 11

Next to appear was the DV-7 output tube (Fig. 10), released in late 1925 or early 1926. This tube had a 5 volt .5 amp filament and was intended for use in the last audio stage only. Despite the higher filament current the DV-7 was only capable of about 70 mw of output, not much more than an '01A operating at the same plate voltage of 135 volts. The UX-112, which appeared about the same time , was good for almost twice the output of the DV-7 at the same operating voltages.

In July of 1926 the DV-9 was announced (Fig. 11). The DV-9 was a transmitting tube with a 7.5 volt filament and used a spherical bulb. This tube is rarely seen, and the few samples known have no marking other than the standard DeForest logo on the base. The operating conditions are unknown. This tube was apparently replaced the next year by the type D transmitting tube. A companion rectifer, the DV-9R was announced in the same ad as the DV-9. No specifications are available for this rectifier, and it is seen even less frequently than the DV-9. It appears to have been replaced in 1927 by the DR.

df dl2bb
Fig. 12

df dl4
Fig. 13

df dl5bb
Fig. 14

df dl7bb
Fig. 15

The DL series was introduced in 1926. The DL tubes had long pins and the then new UX base. Four DL tubes appeared in 1926 but only one was really a new design. This new tube was the DL-4 (Fig. 12), intended for use as an RF amplifier. The DL-4 had higher Gm and lower grid-plate capacitance than an '01A and gave improved performance with weak signals when used in RF stages. This tube was also recommended for use as an oscillator in superhet receivers. The other tubes released that year were the DL-2, DL-5, and DL-7 (Figs. 13, 14, 15). These tubes were identical to their DV counterparts except for the base. During 1926 these types were made with black bakelite bases, but by 1927 had been changed to Isolantite.

df dl3
Fig. 16

df dl14
Fig. 17

df dl7l
Fig. 18

1927 brought the last four tubes of the DL series onto the market. The DL-3 was a UX based DV-3 (Fig. 16), but the other types were all new designs. The DL-14 was a medium power audio output tube with low output impedance (Fig. 17). This tube had the same recommended plate and grid voltages as the'71A, but had a somewhat higher plate impedance. The DL-14 had a max output of about 630 mw while the 71A would produce about 700 mw. A larger bulb was used on the DL-14, the same size and style as used on the earlier Moorhead VT. During 1927 the DL-7 was modified to use this same larger bulb (Fig. 18). Another power tube brought out that year was the DL-9. This tube had a max output of about 2 watts, somewhat more than a '10 which would produce about 1.6 watts. The DL-9, however, required a 500 volt plate supply and had a rather low Gm for a power tube. The DL-9 probably had limited usage due to the introduction in early 1928 of the '50. Under similar operating conditions the '50 had almost 2 times the output power and required less filament current.

df dl15
Fig. 19

The last tube in the series was the DL-15, designed for use as a detector (Fig. 19). This tube had a rather high u and Gm, much like the '00A. DeForest data sheets claimed superior results for the DL-15 when working with weak signals. To test these claims a special test circuit was built up using lab equipment. The circuit itself consisted of a basic grid leak detector stage in a well shielded enclosure so that operation at low signal levels could be checked. Several DL-15 tubes were tested and found to have consistent but disappointing performance. As a low level detector, the DL-15 was about equal to an '01A and much less efficient than an '00A. The internal construction of the DL-15 strongly suggests that like the '00A it was a cesium vapor tube. Unlike other brands of '00A's, the DL-15 had a silver colored getter. It may be that some reaction took place between the getter material and the cesium over time which reduced the effectiveness of the tube. There must have been some valid technical reason for other manufacturers to not silver getter their '00A's.

df dl2i
Fig. 20

df dl5i
Fig. 21

df dl7i
Fig. 22

With the advent of the DL series in 1926 all new types introduced after that time were made with the DL base only, thus the DL-4, DL-9, DL-14, and the DL-15 do not have DV counterparts. However, the earlier types were marketed with both base styles through 1927. The Isolantite base versions of the DL-2, DL-5, and DL-7 appeared in 1927 and are shown in Figs. 20, 21, and 22. The author has a large DeForest advertising sheet of 1927 which shows that the entire series, including the DV types, were all available at that time. This listing does not include the DV-1, DV-6 or DV-6A which were dropped in 1924. The DV-DL tubes were phased out in 1928 with the appearance of the D400 series. This new series used industry standard numbers (like D400A) and had Isolantite bases.

Note that the number DV-8 was apparently skipped, likewise these is no known DL-8. The numbers 10 through 13 were also not used, but this was to be expected. Tube types '10 through '13 had already been issued by RCA, and DeForest would have avoided using these to make his designations unique. Type 8 had not been used at this time (later used by Philco for a ballast tube) so the reason for it not being issued by DeForest is unclear. Perhaps this designation was used for a prototype that never made it to production.

Published technical data for the DV-DL tubes is scant, and even DeForest data sheets seldom gave more than the recommended operating voltages. Due to this situation the following table of characteristics was generated. Most of this information came from publications like Enno Hann's Radio Trouble Shooting and other generally obscure sources. No published data was found for types DV-1, DV-6 or DV-6A. Data for these types was obtained by testing a number of tubes of each type at the DeForest recommended operating conditions. The results were averaged for the table. Published data for the DV-2, DV-3, and DV-5 differed considerably from tests run on five or more samples of each, and the table data is based on those tests.


TYPE
Filament
Voltage
Filament
Current
Plate
Voltage
Grid
Voltage
Plate
Current

Rp

u

Gm
DV-1 1.0-1.5 V .20 A 40-60 V ? ? ? ? ?
 
DV-1 3.0 V .07 A 67.5 V -1.5 V 2.6 Ma 16 K 6.4 400
 
DV-2
DL-2 5.0 V .25 A 90 V -1.5 V 4.8 Ma 9.6 K 8.0 830
 
DV-3/A
DL-3 3.0 V .06 A 90 V -4.5 V 2.7 Ma 15.7 K 6.6 420
 
DL-4 5.0 V .25 A 90 V -4.5 V 5.3 Ma 7.8 K 9.0 1150
 
DV-5
DL-5 5.0 V .25 A 135 V -3.0 V 6.9 Ma 9.7 K 9.7 1000
 
DV-6 4.0 V .74 A 60 V -1.5 V 1.0 Ma 30 K 8.1 270
 
DV-6A 4.0 V .36 A 60 V -1.5 V 1.4 Ma 23 K 7.4 320
 
DV-7
DL-7 5.0 V .50 A 135 V -9.0 V 6.0 Ma 6.5 K 7.0 1100
 
DV-9 7.5 V 1.0 A ? ? ? ? ? ?
 
DV-9R ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
 
DL-9 7.5 V 1.6 A 500 V -51 V 35 Ma 6.0 K 6.5 1083
 
DL-14 5.0 v .50 A 180 V -40.5 V 15 Ma 2.6 K 3.0 1100
 
DL-15 5.0 V .25 A 45 V Grid return to F+ 3.9 Ma 23 K 17 725