[time-nuts] Interesting Patent

Magnus Danielson cfmd at bredband.net
Tue May 16 14:56:47 EDT 2006

From: Brooke Clarke <brooke at pacific.net>
Subject: [time-nuts] Interesting Patent
Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 09:20:11 -0700
Message-ID: <4469FBBB.7030808 at pacific.net>

> Hi:
> I came across a 1946 patent for a vacuum tube based counter circuit that 
> will divide 60 Hz down to 1 Hz.  It's interesting in that there's a 
> discussion about the advantage of using binary instead of base 10 and 
> also about using feedback to change the scale of the counter from 64 to 
> 60 (or 50).  See:

Hmm... strange... these applications are no match for the Phantastron divider,
which Frederic Calland Williams invented in 1941. It did 1/5, 1/6 or 1/10 with
a triode and a diode if memory serves me right. My oldest HP counter is
virtually loaded with it, and it has a nice trimmer in the back for trimming
the power grid frequency division for 1/6 or 1/5 to get the 10 Hz reference
counter. However, mine is the de luxe variant with builtin timebase in the form
of a 100 kHz crystal oscillator (whoa!) and then the phantastron is set for
1/10 division and is preceeded with 4 phantastrons to divide down from 100 kHz
in nice 1/10 steps. Naturally there is two more for the 1 Hz and 0.1 Hz
frequencies being used for gating time, so that one has 0.1 s, 1 s and 10 s
gating time. Needless to say, it works splendid still today!

Oh, my counter is so old that it doesn't have those novelties usually referred
to as "Nixie-tubes". Oh no, we talk good old neon lamps lighting up for 0 to 9
for each digit. You see how it counts as the numbers ripples. ;O)

BTW, patent databases are wonderfull ways of learning the history, especially
if one recalls that alot of things happend outside of the patent offices too.


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