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Friday, October 19, 2012

Tube of the Month: The 842


After we had a variant of the 801 with higher amplification factor last month, we will discuss another one today which has a low amplification factor: The 842.

Like the 801 and 841 the 842 is a transmitting triode from the 800 series of tubes (which is obvious from it's number). It has the same thoriated tungsten filament.

As these it has a UX4 base with the same pinout which is shown on the left. The filament requires the same 7.5V at 1.25A to operate. The amplification factor (mu) has been reduced to 3. The 801 has a mu of 8 and the amplification factor of the 841 is 30. With the reduction of the mu the plate resistance (rp) also went down to 2500 Ohms which is about half the plate resistance of the 801. This makes the selection of a suitable output transformer a bit easier. While the 801 requires a transformer with a high primary impedance (I prefer 14 to 16 kOhms). The 842 datasheet lists a suggested load of 8kOhms. I would probably use it with a 10kOhm transformer. At the maximum plate voltage of 425V the tube can deliver up to 3W output power in single ended operation. This is achieved at a moderate plate current of about 30mA. While the 842 is less demanding in terms of impedance requirements of the output transformer, it needs a very high drive voltage at the grid for maximum output power. The datasheet lists a grid bias voltage of -100V for the operating point which will deliver 3W. This means it needs a driver which can deliver a whopping 200V peak to peak. Not an easy task if this swing should be delivered with low distortion and preferably with considerable headroom.

I have not used this tube yet but will certainly give it a try in a single ended power amp. The 841 would probably be a good candidate as a driver, or the 801 with an input transformer to get sufficient gain.

The plate curves look very linear, so this should make an excellent sounding amp:

As always, let's verify if the actual plate curves hold up to what the datasheet promises:

Certainly a good candidate for an amplifier project. Unfortunately this tube seems to be quite rare. All I have are these three globe tubes:

A pair of RCAs with grey plates and a single DeForest with blackened plate. I hope to find some more of them, particularily also ST shapes. If you happen to have some 842s which you are willing to sell or trade for anything else, please contact me.

Let's have a closer look at the DeForest:

The electrodes are aligned by wires which are fixed in a stem of glass:

A side by side comparison:

Some close ups of the RCA 842:

The same electrode alignment with the glass piece:


The next photo shows how the filament is suspended from two hooks on the top:

A close up of the filament lit up:
The 842 in operation:
I hope you enjoyed this presentation of the 842. Stay tuned for another tube from the 800 series next month!
Best regards


  1. I think 842 in upgraded st shape is the same as VT-52. I don't' remember where I saw it, but should not be difficult to find some link. VT-52 was also known as 45 special with 7.5V filament. I am just speaking from memory. I hope someone can give more concrete answer.

    1. Hi!
      As far as I know the 842 and 841 are simply variants of the 801a with different grid spacing to get different amplification factors and rp


  2. Hi Tomas, I have acquired few 10, 801, 841 and a pair of 842. I plan to use them as driver tubes. My plan is to make a 100TH A2 SE amp driven by an inverted inter-stage transformer & 801. I want to use 841 as the voltage amp. 801 and 841 will be in safe loftin white configuration with a 5ma ccs from the cathode of 801 feeding the plate of 841. 801 will have about 30 ma and grid of 100th will draw 20ma at idle. all the filament supplies will be CCS with a switch to change polarity every month. I have a preliminary schematic of this project. I will share it on various forums to receive critique and ideas for it.
    My plan for 842 or VT52 is to build a small amp for close listing, such as chamber music or vocals and use it with open baffle full range speakers.

  3. The 842 is indeed quite rare. I hunted down about 12 pieces, mostly ST shaped and 3-4 globes, and that was with internet stripmining for them :)

    One of the last amps I put on paper used the 10Y and 842 but sadly it was never finished as I could not decide on the other tubes and it was around the time I stopped building/listening. Now, 15 years later, I am afraid to use them as I only have 2 pairs and the rest are all different brands/constructions, plus the rarity makes me hesitant to waste these tubes

    So many awesome tubes out there. Keep lighting them up for us. I really enjoy your photos and stories!!!!