“Nu tube” – GU74b that is!


gu74b Quite a while ago there was a post on the Acom amplifier reflector that its tube, a GU74b became hard to get, not to say almost impossible to find a replacement tube. All online sources were exhausted. I had planned to buy a spare tube "just in case" as it isn’t really expensive. I remember seeing it priced around 90 Euro (140 US$) on a German web site. However, as happens with more of my plans, I was too late. Indeed it seems hard to get a GU74b these days.
Then there was a Dutch ham who offered a few NOS (New Old Stock) GU74b for sale. I jumped on the case and ordered me a spare. Price was 120 Euro or about 180 US$. The only problem was the box didn’t come through. It was sent on Friday but by the next weekend (8 days later): still no tube in sight.
I began to think I was being ripped off. There was no indication to doubt the seller except the box’s tardiness.

As I told you in my previous post, I was skipping RDXC. A painful decision: I love contesting and RDXC really is a great contests. A couple of things got in the way and my motivation was below zero. But staying at home would drive me nuts thinking there was this contest going on. On Saturday there was a major ham fair in Holland and a couple of locals had a seat left in the car. I invited myself and went along. Thanks for having me guys! At 7 AM the radio’s WX forecast predicted heavy showers and T-storms so I was glad I didn’t put up the antennas and went to the ham fair in stead.

There was a huge crowd as it really is a big fair so the first hour I didn’t see anything but familiar faces. I spent the time shaking hands and talking to some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. You should go abroad to meet Belgian hams. The same situation occurs in Friedrichshafen. You travel more than 600 km across 2 or 3 countries to meet ON hams. Then I started a tour but I really suck at digging for gold among all the rubbish on display. And I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. But an alert local friend ON4BHQ spotted a GU74b priced only 85 Euro. What to do? There was this tube I ordered that was supposed to be anywhere between PA and ON. But what if that tube didn’t come through? Given the high demand and no offer situation I decided to buy the tube. Always a gamble, it might as well be a bad one. While losing 85 Euro would be a crying shame, I don’t need to eat a slice of bread less in the end. But when I got home in the late afternoon, there was this box on the table containing the first tube I ordered. It was delivered on Saturday. So now I have TWO spare GU74b tubes.

I promised the XYL to cook dinner but I negotiated and went upstairs to check 20m. I wanted to make a handful of contacts anyway. With the tower down and the yagi only 9m high I didn’t expect to work many DX. Some US guys were S7-S9 but many only S5 or less. So after about 50 QSO I called it a day and started my culinary tour of duty. There were some showers that night with heavy gusts so I was glad all my stuff was safely down. Sunday morning I had 2.5 hours left to the end of the contest and made 250 QSO in that time, averaging +100/h. My best rate all time was an 160 hr in RDXC 2006. It is possible in this contest if propagation cooperates which it clearly didn’t in 2008. I never listened on 15m but I saw some hopeful spots about 10m yet I heard NOTHING. So WX and propagation, two of the main reasons for me to sit this one out, were indeed spoiling the fun. I really hope to be back in 2009.

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