Valve Numbering Systems
The following information is derived from various sources, including Radio Bygones magazine, Volume 9 (February/March 1991).
This are probably the most commonly encountered numbering system in the UK - and also the most
informative. It consists of two or more letters followed by a number (normally two digits).
Examples - UL41, ECC85, UABC80.
The first letter gives heater rating.
|D||0 - 1.5V (previously 1.4V)|
|G||Misc. (previously 5V)|
The remaining letters give the types of device in the valve. They are normally listed in alphabetical order.
|H||Hexode or heptode (hexode type)|
|K||Octode or heptode (octode type)|
|L||Output tetrode or pentode|
|M||Magic eye (tuning indicator)|
|N||Gas-filled triode (thyrathon)|
|X||Gas-filled full-wave rectifier|
The first digit indicates the base type. Where there is only one digit this is assumed to be the second digit, and be preceded by a zero. For example, EM4 should be interpreted as EM04.
|0 and 1||Miscellaneous bases (P-base, side contact etc)|
|2||B10B (previously B8B/B8G (Loctal))|
|3||International Octal (8-pin with centre locating spigot)|
|4||B8A (8 pin with locating pip on side)|
|5||B9G and B9D (wire ended)|
|6 and 7||Subminatures|
|8||B9A (9-pin glass)|
|9||B7G (7-pin glass)|
The remaining digit(s) are used to differentiate between valves that would otherwise have
One digit for early valves
Two figures for later entertainment valves
Three or Four figures for later professional types
This consists of one or two letters followed by a number (normally two digits). Examples L63, KT88.
The letters have the following meaning.
|A||Industrial valve (could be anything!)|
|GT||Gas-filled triode (thyrathon)|
|H||Signal triode (high impedance)|
|H||Signal triode (medium impedance)|
|KT||Kinkless tetrode (beam tetrode)|
|KTW||Vari-mu RF kinkless tetrode|
|KTZ||Sharp cut-off RF kinkless tetrode|
|L||Signal triode (low impedance)|
|MU||Indirectly heated rectifier|
|QP||Quiescent push-pull double pentode|
|X||Triode-hexode, heptode, octode (frequency changer)|
|Y||'Magic eye' tuning indicator|
|Z||Sharp cut-off HF pentode|
The digits are simply to distinguish similar valves and cannot be decoded:-
One digit for early valves
Two figures for later valves
Note: Suffix 'M' indicates external metallising
These can be confused with the US code (below). The codes consist of digits, then letters, then digits. Examples 10D2, 6F18.
The first digits give the heater rating.
The letters indicate the type of valve. Mazda codes do not normally double-up the letters - so for example 'D' would be used for single and multiple diodes.
|F||Signal tetrode or pentode|
|K||Gas-filled triode (thyrathon)|
|M||'Magic eye' tuning indicator|
|P||Output tetrode or pentode|
The final digits distinguish between valves which would otherwise have identical codes.
A selection of some of those codes from the era of British 4, 5 and 7-pin based valves, and also Mazda Octals. Some codes were used by one manufacturer only, some by more than one.
We have tried to limit this table to those codes that, in general, always had the same meaning, though some had different shades of meaning under different brand names. Sometimes code letters were combined to identify a multiple valve, for example the AC/2PenDD, a double-diode output pentode with 4V heater from Mazda.
|D||Single or double diode|
|ME||'Magic eye' tuning indicator|
|PP||Power (output) pentode|
|SP||Straight RF pentode|
|TH||Triode-heptode or triode-hexode|
|U||Rectifier (usually half-wave)|
|VP||Vari-mu RF pentode|
The US codes consist of digits, then letters, the digits, then possibly further letters. Examples 6V6GT, 5Z4G, 5R4GY
The first digits give heater rating.
|1||Up to 1.6V|
|5||4.5 - 5.6V|
|6||5.6 - 6.6V|
|7||5.6 - 6.6V with Loctal base|
|14||11.2 - 13.2V with Loctal base|
Figures other than those in this table represent the nominal heater working voltage. For tapped heaters the figure indicates the rating with the sections in series.
The next letters do not give much helpful information about the device function.
'S' often indicates a single-ended (no top cap) version of an earlier valve with such a cap. 'L' often indicates a lock-in type in the battery range.
The letters were allocated in sequence starting with 'A' and omitting 'I' and 'O'. Rectifiers follow the sequence backwards starting at 'Z'. When all single letters are used, the combinations continue with double letters starting at 'AB' (pairs of identical letters are seldom used).
The second digits give either the number of active electrodes, or the number of external connections.
The final suffix letters often specify the type of envelope. Devices with no final letters have metal envelopes.
'A', 'B', 'C' etc indicate a later/modified version which can be substituted for a previous one but not vice-versa. Other letters have these meanings.
|G||Large glass envelope|
|M||Metal-coated class envelope|
|WA||High quality version|
These are electronically similar to a number of standard types, but have improved mcehanical construction to reduce microphony and vibration failures. They are also more closely controlled in manufacture and testing.
System 1: A 4 figure reference number. For example, a 6060 is a special quality 12AT7
System 2: The RMA system followed by the suffix 'W' indicating a military type. For example, a 12AT7WA is a special quality 12AT7.
The prefix 'Q' is added to the standard type number. For example, the QZ77 is a special-quality Z77.
System 1: Uses the Pro-Electron code, but with the figures for base type and serial number placed after the letter for filament or heater rating. For example, the E88CC is a special quality ECC88.
System 2: An initial letter 'M' followed by a 4-figure serial numler. For example an M8088 is a high-quality EF91.
Most special quality valves used in military equipment have 'Common Valve' numbers in the CV4000 group. See the 'RSGB Equivalents' section of this CD-Rom for commercial equivalants.
Please refer to the 'RSGB Equivalents' section on this CD-Rom for an explanation of the various codes used and lists of commercial equivalents.
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