NotTaR of Television Sets : An informal history of X-ray protection 
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An informal history of X-ray protection

(The following is from: Marty).

Most of the old tube type color TV sets used a shunt HV regulator tube, usually a 6BK4. If it failed, or some component in the HV circuit failed, the high voltage, normally 25kV, could go up to 35kV or more, causing some X-Ray leakage from the CRT. In the early 70s when news of this radiation scare was first announced, there was a public outcry to immediately fix the problem. The feds hastily imposed a requirement on manufacturers of TV sets to somehow render a TV set "unwatchable" if the HV exceeded rated limits.

The manufacturers first response was to follow the letter of the law and the first "HEW" circuit simply blanked the video when the HV exceeded a setpoint to make the set "unwatchable".

It was quickly noticed that the HV was not turned off with this circuit and the CRT still could emit some radiation. Many TV sets with this feature were left on so the consumer could listen to the sound, so the feds tightened the requirement.

By this time new TV sets were all solid state and some manufacturers experimented with HV shutdown circuits, but most of these circuits were poorly designed and not reliable.

Zenith thought they had the answer by regulating the HV with a bank of 5 capacitors across the horizontal output transistor to "hold down" the HV to 25kV. If one capacitor opened, the HV would only rise about 2kV, not a dangerous situation. This wasn't good enough for the feds.

The "fix" that Zenith finally came out with, was a "4 legged capacitor". Two legs were the emitter return for the horizontal output transistor, & two legs were the HV holddown capacitor (the equivalent value of the bank of 5 caps). This "fix" was accepted by HEW and millions of TVs were produced. It worked so well, that other manufacturers soon followed the lead (Magnavox, GE, etc.).

Then the worst happened! The 4 legged monsters started failing in a large numbers. Not opening completely & not shorting out. They sometimes allowed the HV to skyrocket to over 50kV. Some of them even cut the necks off of the CRTs.

Zenith issued a recall on those models with the problem (more than one entire model year). After several "improved" versions of the capacitor, the problem was fixed but that recall almost bankrupted the company. Other companies had failures too, but usually not as dramatic as Zenith's.

Magnavox used the HV holddown capacitor, both single & 4 leg version in several 70s era TV sets and is a good candidate for fireworks as well.

(From: Roy J. Tellason (rtellason@pa.net).)

The problem was reputedly due to a capacitor maker substituting a different (cheaper) material for the one that Zenith originally specified, leading to the failures. I can't recall who the cap maker was (some company in Taiwan?) but remember hearing as to how they were the ones who ended up having to pay for all those warranty repairs, including CRT replacements.

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