HT Transformers for Vacuum Tube Preamps
« on: August 09, 2020, 06:32:28 PM »
I get a lot of correspondence about simple tube pre amps for use as mic pres or gain make up in passive EQs. Probably the most common question I am asked is which mains transformer to use for the HT (and possibly also for the heaters). And of course, the answer depends a lot on where the enquirer is located and hence what is likely to be available as well as the mains voltage required.

I have had to revisit this topic myself recently as part of the search for low cost power supply components for the poor man's tube mixer which itself has quite modest HT requirements so I thought it would be useful to share my results and to solicit other candidates.

Before I begin, let's first dispense with the question of heater supplies. I no longer use linear supplies for heaters. All my designs are based on 12V heaters and there are plenty of SMPS around that can provide any amount of heater current in a compact, cost effective product. The only thing to remember is to rate the SMPS for at least twice the nominal heater current so it can cope with the cold heater inrush current. I find the SMPS with hiccup mode made by MeanWell are excellent for this purpose and generally do not need any additional filtering for heater duty.

In terms of specification the first requirement is for a universal mains input which usually means twin 115V primaries. Secondly, we are unlikely to need more than 50mA of HT current for simple class A preamps and often a lot less. Allowing the standard factor of 1.6 to convert dc current to transformer secondary rating, we need this parameter to be about 80mA. Assuming a nominal 230V or 240V secondary for a final dc voltage around 250V to 300V this means the VA rating of the transformer should be in the region of 240V x 80mA = ~ 20VA.

And the results? So far I have found the following useful transformers:

TRIAD VPT230-110. This has 2 x115V primaries and 2 x 115V secondaries and is rated at 25VA so this is capable of a secondary current of 109mA which implies a maximum dc current load of about 68mA. It is available from Mouser and Farnell. It is a toroid type.

Hammond 182B240. This has dual 117V primaries and a 240V secondary rated at 63mA so it is good for 40mA of HT current. I t is available form Digikey,  Mouser and Newark. It is a toroid type

TRIAD FP-230. This has dual 115V secondaries and dual 115V secondaries rated at 50mA  (230V) so is good for 30mA of HT current. It is available from Digikey,  Mouser and Newark. This is a low profile UI type (sometimes called semi-toroid)

Bell Signal IF-18-230. This has dual 115V primaries and dual 115V secondaries rated at 80mA so good for 50mA of HT current. It is available from Mouser and Digikey. This one is a little unusual in that it is fully encapsulated and also PCB mounting. They also have 14VA and 10VA versions of the same transformer which share the same PCB footprint and providing 38mA and 27mA of HT current respectively.

If you know of any others please let me know.


« Last Edit: August 09, 2020, 06:42:52 PM by ruffrecords »

'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'


Re: HT Transformers for Vacuum Tube Preamps
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2020, 06:38:37 PM »
Nice list, thanks

Doug Williams
Electromagnetic Radiation Recorders

"I think this can be better. Some kind of control that's intuitive, not complicated like a single knob" - Crusty

"Back when everything sounde


Re: HT Transformers for Vacuum Tube Preamps
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2020, 09:31:43 PM »
Nice! Prices are good  too... Thanks!


Re: HT Transformers for Vacuum Tube Preamps
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2020, 03:42:47 PM »
Nice list!

I will second the Triad VPT recommendation.  For linear heater supplies, I've taken to using the Gyraf G7 scheme of buying two, VPT12's, and using the first to reduce 115VAC (parallel primaries) down to 12VAC, then connecting the second transformer to the secondary of the first "backwards" (series primaries) to go immediately back to 230VAC.

You can typically buy both for about $35, and the cost only goes up to about $55 if you need 50VA.  They are compact enough that they can be mounted to the side of a 2U project case and not even take up any real estate in the bottom of the case.

At least where I am, the Hammond transformers have steadily climbed in price to the point they aren't particularly cost effective.


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