TUBE AMP BY GENETIC FRACTALS: THE LEAR (PART 2)

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Last month I posted part 1 of the LEAR Tube Amp by Genetic Fractals but I kept the best for last: the LEAR Power Supply for the Tube Amp. On paper it looked impressive but in reality it looks like the beast it is supposed to be.

This is a design blog and I won’t spend time explaining that the Power Supply feeds high voltage power to the Tube Amp which it needs to amplify sound.

What I will tell you  is how the design evolved. Let’s zap back to the eighties. As a fresh graduate I hit the equivalent of the jackpot and was offered a job at CERN, the particle research centre in Geneva, Switzerland. I just wanted to work abroad for a while and didn’t realise that jobs where you get paid good bucks to do what you love and then go skiing in the weekend are mostly reserved for cheesy film plots.

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I was hired as a power supply technician and my job was to design a huge power supply for LEAR, the Low Energy Antiproton Ring which was an antiproton factory. If you don’t know what that is then think of science of Star Trek and wonder why no one told it really existed.

For two years I designed and developed this big power supply, the size of a big fridge and in the process discovered what damage electrical power can do when badly handled, that physicists and engineers make a wonderful cocktail when mixed with alcohol and mountain chalets and that life is too short. Even in the perfect job. In the end I quit and took a flight and a backpack to the other side of the world, Sydney, Australia.

So when I set out to design this LEAR Power Supply for the LEAR Tube Amp, it was journey in time, a monument to youth, electronic engineering and the freedom of opportunity.

It all started with the centre piece: the R-transformer. R is for racetrack because of shape of its metal core. Since any circular accelerator is a racetrack, when I spotted this one on eBay I knew I had to buy it and design the Power Supply around it.

It put it on a pedestal of perspex and wood. This pedestal is reminiscent of a Cockcroft-Walton high voltage generators for accelerators. Left and right of this high voltage pedestal are the Tube Amp’s power transformers. I painted them black for style.

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Cockcroft-Walton at Brookhaven National Laboratory

In front of the HV unit are the rectifier diodes, encased for effect. Effect as in Dr Emmet Brown’s flux capacitor. After all, this Power Supply is a bit of a personal time machine. This time travel unit is flanked by, what else could they be, a pair of black capacitors (non-flux).

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Back to the Future – Flux Capacitor

The whole power unit is built in top of a CNC-ed wood and perspex case, just like the one of the Tube Amp itself. In the centre is a black perspex with a small genetic fractal tree engraved. This is my signature.

When putting together the LEAR Power Supply and the LEAR Tube Amp I was taken away by the beauty of these two units. The beast of the Power Supply with majestic towers of the Tube Amp will rival great industrial architecture like the Battersea Power Station in London.

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Battersea Power Station [Pink Floyd Cover Art]
As an artist and engineer I have made a handful of designs that I’m proud of. The LEAR power and sound factory are right up there. Hope you like it too.

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