SPACER Home > Bioelectronics > Rife-Bare Devices > Rife Bare Tech Notes > Tube Lighting

Tube Lighting

Here is a word of caution for those who seek to obtain better 
square wave modulation and low frequency response. It is 
certainly possible to switch the RF at the pre-driver or driver 
transistor in a CB and thus generate very clean square wave 
modulated RF with fast rise and fall times and no lower limit 
to the frequency response. However, at low modulating 
frequencies such as 20Hz the plasma ionisation will be lost 
during the "off" half of each cycle, and the tube may not 
reignite at the next half cycle. 

The natural temptation is to adjust the tuner so that the tube 
does restart on each modulation cycle, and then to wonder 
whether it is safe to leave it running with the resulting high 
SWR and vibrating meter needle. In my case it wasn't and the 
amplifier transistors failed after a short while. I didn't 
learn the lesson and allowed the same thing to happen with the 
new amplifier! The four MRF455 transistors were expensive, and 
I am not experimenting with frequencies below 300Hz at the 

Maybe some of the complementary ways of wrapping the tube will 
overcome this problem, or perhaps less than 100% modulation 
would allow the tube to stay alight while still running with an 
acceptable SWR. But if you have to set the tuner differently 
for starting, and you are intending to modulate at low 
frequency other than by using the CB modulator, be aware of 
the possible outcome! -- Bob Haining

The ability to light a tube easily does depend upon several 
factors, but there is one primary factor that counts above all 
others. It is known as the "swing" of the linear. That is the 
idling power of the linear with the tube lit but no frequency 
being modulated Vs the power of the linear with the tube lit 
and modulated. This situation is seen by anyone with a Kinnaman 
generator. As the Kinnaman switches frequencies, it stops 
outputting a frequency for 12 seconds. this corresponds to a 
"dead key" state. 

After I cut the power leads to my CB, linear, and fan to a 3 
foot length and shortened the main ground wire from my CB to 
the antenna tuner to 3 feet my Palomars swing jumped 
considerably. My Palomar on medium power will now dead key at 
60 watts and swing to 125 watts ( on my meter with a 912 balun 
) at 10k frequency . It used to swing from about 90 watts dead 
key to 118 watts at 10k.

The larger swing means that there is a sudden jump in power 
that makes the tube easier to light. I have tried out 6 
different bubble tubes in the past two days since the 
shortening of the power leads and every single one of them is 
absolutely no trouble at all to light now. 



>From ma@lightlink.com Mon Nov 2 22:50:14 1998

BR Tuning #1: Easy Argon Tube Ignition

Copyright (c) November 1998 by Laurence D. "Mike" Hammer. All 
Rights Reserved. Please only send this entire paper to other 
folks, as some of the following won't work properly taken out 
of context.

This is the first in a short series intended to get some of my 
experience out to those who might find it useful. I've now 
spent about 6 months playing with different configurations 
based on the Jim Bare design, watching single-celled critters 
blow up or not under a microscope, and wondering what just 
happened to which expensive component (!). Seeing the same 
questions come over the list time and time again it seems like 
a good time to get some of this out.

NOTE: Please read the following with a touch of humor; I've 
been told I'm a bit dry. Also remember: Usually things aren't 
as bad as they seem, though I've heard much worse than the 
stories below! I've found well-built BRG's to be pretty darn 

DISCLAIMER: I have tried the following with several tubes and 
it worked every time. Unfortunately I cannot guarantee it will 
work for you on your device because I don't know how your 
device is constructed nor do I know your level of technical 
expertise. Most of all I am not responsible and cannot be held 
liable for any damage you might do to your device as a result 
of trying to perform this modification, dropping your tube 
etc. I offer this advice to you for no charge with the 
stipulation that you (a) not take credit for it, it's a 
combination of Jim Bare's (22 ga wire wrap), Bill Cheb's 
(copper sleeves) and my ideas and work (lengths, mix of parts, 
experimenting and typing all this in); and (b) that by trying 
it you agree to hold us all free of any liability whether 
perceived or implied. No charge, no liability, it's that 
simple. Also, I use my BRG device on single-celled organisms 
and do not make claims for the efficacy of this modification or 
the BRG in any other application. The standard medical 
disclaimer applies, especially the part about if you think you 
are sick seek the advice of a certified medical doctor.

Complete parts and tools required lists are given at the end of 
this paper.

I hope to post pics of performing this mod on the web soon, 
will notify the list when that happens.

The Problem:

You've ordered Jim Bare's manual and video, gone through the 
agonizing process of tracking down, ordering the correct parts, 
receiving incorrect parts, sending those back and finally 
receiving the correct parts. You've carefully put it all 
together. Holding your breath you turn it all on for the first 
time and -- the needles on the 949E antenna tuner go straight 
up, indicating infinite SWR, and you can't get your sparkly new 
argon tube to light. Twisting the knobs for 20 seconds or so 
you still can't get the tube to light. You then remember to 
shut off the CB, well after the suggested 10 second limit. Did 
you just fry the output transistors in the amplifier, you 

Or, you got it to light but nothing you do brings SWR below 
1.6:1, and the back of the CB and the balun get very very hot.

Or, you've swapped cables and perhaps even tubes but still 
can't get SWR below 1.4:1.


Believe it or not these are all related problems. In the basic 
BRG (as Dr. Bare's device is often known) everything seems to 
affect SWR, power output and component heat, sometimes trading 
off one for another and sometimes making all worse or better. 
The "output end" of the device is unstable for a variety of 
reasons at different times. What we are looking for here is a 
simple, easy way to (a) get argon tubes to light and stay lit 
between frequency cycles if you have a programmable function 
generator, and (b) if possible lower SWR or at least not 
increase it while making the device easy to light.

What I would like to pass along is a relatively simple mod that 
will help your argon tube unit light right off, while either 
not increasing SWR or perhaps even decreasing it by .1 to .2 
SWR units. Next paper will deal with lowering SWR to 1.4:1 or 
even 1.2:1 by simply swapping a few cables.


This mod applies ONLY to Bare-Rife generators that use argon or 
partially-argon tubes that are NOT fired through any tube-end 
internal electrodes. I have tried this with a Randazzo 80%/20% 
argon/other gas mix tube, a Cheb 99%/1% argon/other gas mix 
tube, and a Cheb "super H-gas" mix tube. Every time it made 
the tube easier to light, in one case allowing me to run a tube 
that was unlightable otherwise. (It had become irreversibly 
corrupted -- I test things a lot.)

If you have a Cheb Phanotron, end-fired or other special-type 
tube, this mod isn't for you. Don't even think of trying it. 
Besides, Phanotrons light right off, even at 50 watts, and run 
at pretty low SWR anyway. If you're dissatisfied with your 
Phanotron you might as well give up now, as you'll find argon 
tubes totally frustrating, especially without this mod.


Plan on two hours to do this whole procedure once you have all 
the parts and tools gathered. That way you won't rush. My 
last set went together in about 30 minutes, but I've made a few 
sets and was in practice.

Step 1. First, measure the diameter of your tube at the small 
ends. What you are going to do is make two copper sleeves from 
copper plumbing pipe that will fit over the ends of your tube, 
sliding up past the electrodes (if your tube is so equipped) so 
they are over the gas section of the tube. So obviously you 
want to buy a piece of pipe that slides on easily. If the pipe 
is tight it will crack the glass when the glass expands as the 
tube gets hot. And, you want to leave enough room so you can 
put a single layer wrap of thin cotton under the sleeves to 
insulate the glass from the heat of the copper sleeves (and 
provide a bit more capacitance, but that's getting technical).

What I did was measure my tube with a dial caliper (used to be 
a mechanic) and add 0.080" to the result. I took my calipers 
down to the local hardware store and had a nice young man cut 
me two 2" (that's two inch) long pieces of copper pipe that had 
the smallest internal size bigger than that. You don't want 
the pipe too big -- if it's more than 1/4" bigger it won't work 
right. I've been able to find appropriate sizes of copper pipe 
for all my tubes so far, and each time have only had to pay for 
4 inches of tubing, which is about 35 cents US. And they cut 
it for me for free when I asked, how nice. Wish I'd asked the 
first time.

If you aren't sure what size to get, GENTLY wrap your tube up 
in a BIG towel, put it in a box to protect it from breaking and 
bring it with you. Find the smallest diameter copper pipe that 
the tube slides into with some room left over, and have the 
nice man cut you two 2" long sections of that pipe. 

MATTER WHAT!!! Tubes are expensive. Nuff said.

If you can't find a nice man don't panic, just buy a short 
section of properly-sized copper tubing and bring it home. 
Using a hacksaw with fine teeth cut two 2" (that's two inch) 
long pieces off.

So now you have two, 2" long pieces of copper pipe that slip 
easily over the ends of your argon tube. Good.

Step 2. Using a partly round or completely round file, file 
the ridge off the inside of each end of the copper pipe 
pieces. This ridge is formed when you cut copper pipe, and it 
only takes about two minutes to get rid of it. If you don't it 
will pinch your tube and possibly break it, so file away until 
the entry into the pipe is nice and smooth. A bit of chamfer 
here will help when you slide the piece onto your tube -- I 
usually file them so there is a 45 degree angle going into the 
center of the pipe, which makes putting them on very easy. Do 
this for both ends of both pieces of pipe, or four times.

Step 3. Perpare the eyelets. Using a pair of wire cutters cut 
the plastic cover off the eyelet if so equipped, and slice open 
the wire-holding part the long way. Now grab the flat end of 
the eyelet with a pair of pliers and, using a pair of 
needle-nose pliers bend the wireholding part that you just slit 
out so that it becomes almost flat. You are going to solder 
this part onto the copper sleeve so you can bolt the connection 
wires to the copper sleeves. Bend the eyelet part (with the 
hole in it) so it makes about a 45 degree angle from being 

Step 4. Now you want to solder an eyelet on to each copper 
sleeve. This is the tricky part. Using a plumber's blowtorch 
(aka propane torch) heat the copper pipe up til it's real hot 
right at the end. You want it just below glowing hot. Put 
some paste flux on the copper pipe to clean it, then solder the 
non-holed part of the eyelet to the outside of the copper pipe 
right at the end. The result should be that the bend you put 
in the eyelet is at the end of the copper pipe, and the holed 
part of the eyelet sticks out past the end of the pipe. Then 
do this with the other piece of copper pipe so you have two of 
them. Soldering on copper pipe is tricky so it might take a 
few tries; be a bit careful with the heat so you don't melt the 
copper pipe. If it starts glowing red where you're applying 
the heat it's too hot. Solder one eyelet on each piece of 
copper pipe, so you'll do this step twice too.

Step 5. Now cut two 24" long pieces of either Radio Shack 
monster wire (8 gauge stranded copper if memory serves) or 1/4" 
braided ground strap. You'll use one for each end of the tube 
to connect from the copper pipe pieces to the output posts of 
your balun.

Step 6. Now just like when you assembled your BRG in the first 
place, solder one ring eyelet connector to each end of the two 
wires you just made in Step 5, for a total of four separate 
connections. Cover the wire with sufficient-sized tubing for 
safety if not already covered. So now you have two wires with 
eyelets on each end and two sections of copper pipe with 
eyelets sticking off the ends.

Step 7. Now cut two pieces of light cotton from an old t-shirt 
or something similar. Make these pieces 2" wide plus about 
1/4", and just long enough to wrap around the tube once plus 
1/4". These will go around the tube under the copper sleeves. 
(I have also used card stock paper and typing paper, each of 
which worked as well as it was thick. Contrary to what you 
might think the paper doesn't burn! Consider these if the 
tube-to-pipe fit is tight.)

Step 8. Wrap one piece of cotton fabric around your tube so 
the tube sticks out about 1/4" and slide a copper sleeve over 
it so the eyelet points toward the center of the tube. Then do 
the same thing on the other side, so you have a copper pipe on 
each end of the tube with the eyelets pointing toward the 
center of the tube.

Step 9. Now take the section of 22 gauge wire and solder one 
end to one of the copper sleeves. This is easiest if you 
"tack-solder" it to a bit of solder sticking out from under the 
eyelet you soldered on previously.

LEAST!!! So you've been warned.

Step 10. Wrap the 22 gauge copper wire around your tube so 
that you use all of the wire 2" or so before it reaches the 
other copper sleeve. Slip the end of the wire back under 
itself so the last loop is a circle. 

Jim Bare has a drawing of this wire wrapping on pages 59C and 
59D of his manual for bubble- and straight- tubes 
respectively. The changes are that copper sleeves are used 
instead of the hose clamps shown, the 22 gauge wire forms a 
completed circle at it's end, and the gap between the wire and 
the "far end" sleeve should be 2" not 1/4", primarily for 
safety. Don't wanna blow that amp. Nope.

Step 11. Connect each wire to the balun at one end and, using 
the nut and bolt, to the eyelet on the copper sleeve at the 

Step 12. Adjust your BRG's antenna tuner to 8/8 on the 
transmitter and antenna controls respectively, set your 
function generator to your favorite number (between 1000 and 
1550 if you want me to give you a start), and turn on your 
unit. The tube will most probably light right up -- now tune 
for best SWR and see if it works better in terms of lower SWR 
and/or higher forward power. If the tube doesn't light dial 
the Transmitter side down (toward lower numbers) slowly until 
it lights up, then dial it slowly back up and let the tube 
settle into its lowest SWR reading. You will most probably 
also have to adjust the Antenna side to achieve best SWR. Each 
tube has its own favorite settings so I won't try to give exact 
numbers here.

What you have done is constructed a new "tube coupling" system 
for your BRG, one with more surface area for better coupling 
and with the wire to decrease the gap that must "fire" to 
ignite the tube. Once in operation the wire becomes 
insignificant in terms of capacitive coupling. 

You may find, if you run a Kinnaman, that your tube now stays 
lit during the "between" or off cycle rather than winking out. 
You may also find that your rig now runs very differently than 
it did before no matter what FG you use. I find that the 
lengths of the cabling between the CB and linear, and linear 
and antenna tuner, affect SWR and power more than any other 
single factor in the basic Bare design, in fact allowing you to 
'tune' a device to work better in a particular band of 
frequencies as programmed into the FG. But that's the topic of 
the next paper...

WILL FRY YOUR AMPLIFIER AT LEAST!!! So you've been warned 

ONE POSSIBLE complementary:

If you have some patience and like fabricating, one complementary 
to the copper sleeves is to visit Ralph Hartwell's web site and 
read about his "balun-less twisted transmission line" design. 
I have received both good and bad reports about this setup. 
The good reports (the majority) say that it gives very rapid 
tube lighting and achieves a very low SWR, often 1.0:1 (or 
perfect impedance matching). The bad reports (a minority) say 
that this modification decreases the "felt" and observed 
effects of the device, in one case to the point where the BRG 
stopped producing MOR effects on single-celled organisms. As 
always, maybe no 100% perfect solution.

Yet Another Disclaimer: I have not yet built an output coupling 
according to Ralph's design, but it's on my list of things to 
try next Spring or so at the rate I'm going down my list. Darn 
broken wrist.

Complete Parts List for the copper sleeve mod:

Quantity Part
2 2" copper pipe sections
6 12 gauge ring eyelets
1 oz pipe soldering flux
8" electronic solder
48" bare 22 gauge copper wire
2 1/2" 6-32 electrical screws
2 6-32 electrical nuts
2 24" sections of Radio Shack monster wire pulled apart (one piece 
wire), or 1/4" grounding strap, or 3/16" grounding strap
2 23" sections of aquarium tubing to fit over the above, if 

Tools required for the copper sleeve mod:

Hacksaw (if the hardware store doesn't cut the pipe)
Wire cutters
Needle-nose or regular pliers
Round- or half-round file
Plumbers torch
Soldering iron
Small adjustable wrench

As always, Good Fortune, 

Mike Hammer


Shopping iHerb or Life Extension or Bulk Apothecary supports Electroherbalism.
Please read the Introduction and Warnings . None of this information has been approved by the FDA or any medical agency. It is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.
All articles and other information written by electroherbalism are © 1995 - 2017 and may be reprinted for non-commercial purposes with attribution and a link to electroherbalism.