Rife Tube Light Burst

A Rife Beam Ray Generator uses a gas discharge tube filled with Argon, Neon, Helium, or various combinations of these gasses to produce specific wavelengths of light.  The tube is usually excited by radio frequency (RF) energy which is switched on and off by a square wave modulation system.  This causes the tube to produce a series of square wave pulses of light. These light pulses are then allowed to fall upon the test subject, where they induce changes in living organisms.  As reported in the literature, Dr. Royal Rife discovered that specific modulation frequencies would weaken or kill various bacteria, virii, and other disease causing organisms. Contemporary researchers continue to report similar results.

Based upon the early pioneering work of Dr. Rife, a reproducible Rife Beam Ray Generator system has been designed and documented by Dr. James Bare, D.C., which allows experimenters to build and test their own Rife Beam Ray Generator. Although much of Rifes work is unavailable to researchers, enough of his work was published and documented so that Dr. Bare and others have been able to construct working devices.  Work is still being done by private individuals in an attempt to rediscover the most effective series of modulation frequencies to obtain the most effective results.  For example, see  Robert Cathey Research Source,  and  Horizon Technologies.

Dr. Bare went back to some of Rifes original notes and determined that a fairly inexpensive and easy to construct unit could be assembled by using a modified Citizens Band (CB) transmitter as the RF power source.  An external RF power amplifier (a CB  "kicker") could be used to boost the power to a higher level if the experimenter wanted to drive a larger gas discharge tube.  A standard  "Ham"  antenna tuner could be used to feed the RF power from the amplifier to the discharge tube.  The square wave modulating frequency is supplied by a commercially available function generator which is connected to the microphone input of the CB transmitter.  Devices built according to Dr. Bares design are commonly called Rife/Bare, or R/B units.

If you decide to build your own Rife Beam Ray Generator, I strongly encourage you to obtain a copy of Dr. Bares book, Resonant Frequency Therapy: Building the Rife Beam Ray Device, and read it thoroughly.  It contains a wealth of basic information to get you up and running with a proven system.  You will avoid a lot of trial and error by using his book as a basis for your experiments.  


Rife Tube Light Burst

I have had the chance to look at several R/B units constructed by various experimenters, and having read many posts and messages from people working with these units. I am convinced that there is a great deal of confusion about how the devices were supposed to operate as well a great lack of useful knowledge about RF circuit construction techniques.  Since my background is in the field of RF systems, I was determined to build a unit which would follow proper construction techniques and safety procedures.

Another strong consideration for proper workmanship was to reduce the amount of RF leakage from the equipment.  Although the FCC regulations allow virtually unlimited amounts of leakage RF radiation within the ISM bands, the square wave modulation used by R/B units generates very broadband interference which extends well outside of the ISM band limits. Many of the existing R/B units may radiate a powerful RF signal as an unintended consequence of their unshielded construction. This RF radiation may cause interference to legal operators in the Citizens Band Radio Service, as well as causing potentially severe television interference (TVI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) with other electronic equipment. I wanted to ensure that my unit meets the FCC regulations for Industrial, Scientific and Medical Equipment (ISM).




Everything except for the tube and its enclosure is assembled in a 6 foot high standard electronics rack cabinet on wheels, minus the metal sides. I left the sides off for cooling and to provide easy access to the equipment.  Adjustable wooden shelves mounted on fixed vertical side rails allow for ease in moving the equipment as I make changes to the system.  The rack and shelves are painted a light blue-gray.   A 25 foot heavy duty 3-wire power cord with a pair of multiple outlet strips for the equipment is attached to the rack so it can plug it in anywhere convenient.   Here's what the rack looks like.

I installed a 386/40 computer running WIN3.11 which operates a GT-310 (plug in card) frequency synthesizer manufactured by Guide Technologies, Inc.   The GT-310 is also distributed through Industrial Computer Source, Inc for $495.00 plus shipping. The GT-310 can provide the RF carrier frequency, as well as any  modulating frequency desired. The GT-310 has 4 output channels, all of which will produce square wave outputs from 360 KHz - 120 MHz. One channel will also generate signals between 0.0024 Hz and 120 MHz. All outputs are 50 ohm impedance. The card has an internal crystal reference timebase (there is a high stability version available also) or it may be locked to an external reference signal between 1 MHz and 100 MHz. It also does burst mode operation and accepts external trigger pulses.   If you want to computerize your system, this is the card to use, but you do have to write your own control software. The card comes with a simple control panel program which does give full control of the basic functions of the card. It does not allow you to save your frequency setups.


The RF exciter unit is a Cobra CAM-89 Citizens Band (CB) base station. After some modifications, it produces a solid 10 watts of unmodulated RF carrier output.   The internal modulator or crystals are not used.  The GT-310 synthesizer card is used to provide an accurate carrier on 27.12 Mhz as per FCC rules for ISM equipment.  A separate circuit using transistors mixes the carrier frequency and the modulation frequencies from the GT-310 card to directly modulate the carrier.  This signal is injected into the RF pre-driver stage of the Cobra CB transmitter. The result is an exceptionally clean square wave RF pulse from the Cobra, with no overshoot or wave form distortion problems.

The RF signal from the Cobra CB goes to a vacuum tube CB amplifier - a Dynamite 150 - now there's a good, honest, name! <G> which was  rescued from junk box.  Surprisingly, it is built with reasonably good circuitry, although with abysmal-looking construction practices. Following the amplifier, is a Heath SA-2060A antenna tuner which feeds the RF to the tube.  View my RF equipment, and take a look at the tuner.


When I connected everything together and attached the amplifier to a dummy load, I observed very clean square wave RF pulses at all modulating frequencies.  The average RF power output runs about 150 watts with square wave modulation, and about 225 watts with no modulation applied.

Using an oscilloscope, I observed that the output remained very clean, with negligible slope, droop, or overshoot until I finally reached a modulating frequency of better than 500,000 Hertz.  At that point, there was about a 55/45 off/on ratio, and about 15% slope in the rise/fall time of the modulation waveform.  The signal did not approach a sine wave shape until the modulation frequency exceeded 500,000 Hertz.


I ordered a gas discharge tube from Robert Randazzo of  Absolutely Neon for $65.00 plus shipping. I requested a 25mm diameter x 24 inch long tube as measured between the electrodes.  This makes the entire tube length about 30 inches overall.  The tube has a 7mm 90/10 Argon/Neon gas mix fill. The tube arrived by Priority Mail in a few days, in perfect condition.  The tube is first-class in quality; well made and very clean.  Tests showed that it was easy to light with RF, and the spectrum looked good.  Here's what the tube looks like running at 100 watts.


An important item in my unit was the construction of a well shielded enclosure for the tube to meet FCC regulations for ISM equipment. I began by cutting a series of wood panels from 1/2" thick high density plywood which I would later assemble into a case which measuring about 36" long by 10" wide by 7" deep.  The outside of each panel was then covered with .010" thick sheet aluminum, sold in building supply stores as flashing materiel, for RF shielding.  Look at the finished enclosure.

Each wooden panel was then covered with the aluminum by folding the metal sheet around the edges of the board and then on to the other side of the board for about an inch, where the edge of the metal was then stapled to the wood. Another piece of aluminum was then stapled over the partially covered side of the board.  This extra piece of aluminum was to act just as a light reflector for the tube when it is in operation. (The side where all the material was stapled would become the inside of the box when it was assembled.)

I assembled the panels (now covered all around with aluminum) by screwing them together with standard sheetrock screws every 3" around the edges of the enclosure.  This ensured a tight metal-to-metal contact at all the edges for RF tightness.  This construction method was quite a bit easier than trying to wrap the metal around the assembled box.  It also makes a much neater job, too, since the metal sheet is nice and flat with properly rounded edges.  After assembly, all the joints were taped up using 2" wide aluminum tape.  This helps to make sure that the joints do not leak RF energy.  Here's the back of the case showing the tape and Here's a close up of the taped enclosure joints.

The front of the enclosure has a tight fitting metal screened cover which is made of 1/2" mesh hardware cloth mounted in an aluminum framework fabricated from 1" x 1" x 1/16" aluminum angle stock.  The hardware cloth is sandwiched against the angle stock by sections of 1" x 1/16" flat aluminum strips.  These strips are secured to the face of the angle stock by sheet metal screws every inch around the front of the enclosure.  (Yes, I know, that's a LOT of screws!)  This screened front cover is adjusted so as to be a snug fit against the metal on the outside of the enclosure. In actual use the cover is screwed to the aluminum shielding of the box.  Here's how the screen is clamped to the angles.

I needed a good support for the tube, and I was able to make one by using PVC plumbing parts.  The tube is supported by two supports which are each made from a 1 inch PVC tee fitting which has been cut down so as not to obstruct the tube.  Only a slight bit of filing inside the tee was needed to clear the 25mm tube itself.  This is the finished support, and this is a before and after picture of  the tee fitting.

RF power from the antenna tuner enters the tube enclosure through an SO-239 coaxial cable connector attached to a metal plate which covers a round hole cut through the rear of the enclosure.  The metal plate is screwed to the enclosure with eight screws. RG-8/U coaxial cable is used to connect the antenna tuner to the tube enclosure. Take a look!

The balun is located inside the case, rather than inside the antenna tuner as is commonly done in the units constructed by Dr. Bare.  Mounting the balun inside the tube enclosure allows the use of a convenient length of coaxial cable to connect the tube to the antenna tuner.  The balun is mounted on the inside of the case near where the coax connector comes through the enclosure wall.  The connector and balun are centered in the box so that they are located near the center of the tube.  Here's how it looks.  Note the large coil in front of the balun.  I'll discuss that a little later.


Power is fed from the balun to the tube by simply winding a few turns of insulated wire around the tube starting about half way out from the center of the tube and extending to the ends of the tube, partially covering the electrode area. The wires fan out from the balun to the tube in a "Y" pattern, and touch the wall of the tube about 5" from each side of the center of the tube.  The wires then make 5 or 6 turns each around the tube.  Each turn is spaced roughly an inch between turns.  There is no connection to the far ends of the wires, nor are there any connections to the tube electrodes.  The last turn of the coils extends out over the electrodes of the tube.  The wires themselves are #12 bare copper wire, which are slipped inside lengths of Teflon tubing.  They were wrapped into coils around a section of 3/4" PVC pipe.  Here's a picture of the coils.

A powerful RF electric field is generated around the wires coming from the balun, especially where it is wrapped around the tube.  This high electric field will cause the gas in the tube to ionize and give off light.  The electric field has to "pass through" the glass wall of the tube to get to the gas. The wire acts as one plate of a capacitor, and the glowing gas is the other plate.  The glass wall of the tube is the dielectric of the capacitor.  Unfortunately, glass tends to be a rather lossy dielectric at RF, and it will get hot when you apply lots of RF energy to it.  If the field is too concentrated at one spot, the tube wall will overheat, causing it to fracture or melt, which will cause the destruction of the tube.

Electrical charges are concentrated by small pointed objects, and the concentration effect gets stronger as we get closer to the point.  We may consider a small diameter wire to be sort of an "extended point" object.  Using very thin wires very close to the glass wall is an invitation to disaster.  However, making the "point" (wire) larger in diameter and/or spacing it away from the tube wall will reduce the electric field strength at any given point on the tube wall.  A reasonable choice for wire size is #12 or #10 wire.  It is readily available at hardware stores, and is inexpensive.  It is large enough in diameter so that it does not create an intense charge concentration at the wire and tube surface.

An easy way to space the wire slightly away from the tube is to use insulation on the wire.   Most commonly available electrical wire has a form of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) insulation on it. Unfortunately, PVC insulation goes into meltdown at RF frequencies, and will damage the surface of your tube, possibly fracturing the glass.  Your tube will probably run hot enough to melt the insulation anyway.  Teflon insulation, on the other hand, is resistant to the heat the tube produces, and has very low loss characteristics at RF.

Connecting the tube electrodes directly to the balun results in a very strong discharge through the tube and a low VSWR reading on the tuner.  However, the tube electrodes become red hot within a few seconds because they cannot handle the large amount of power supplied by the amplifier.   Using the "wire wrap" method described above, results in spreading the RF energy over a larger area of the tube - sort of creating a "virtual electrode" as it were - and spreading the heat over a larger area.

What happens is that when the RF power is turned on at the beginning of each pulse, but before the tube lights, the impedance as seen by the balun is quite high.  However, after the tube lights, it effectively becomes a short circuit and causes the load seen by the balun and antenna tuner to change drastically.  This results in non-linear operation of the ferrite material in the balun and causes the balun to get hot after about 30 minutes of operation.

This means that you have to make a compromise setting between the best power transfer to the tube when it is lit, and the setting that is needed to light the tube at the beginning of each pulse. The antenna tuner VSWR meter will show you an average between the two conditions.  In other words, the configuration of antenna tuner, balun and feed wires needed to start the tube is quite different from what is needed to run the tube after it starts.

This was confirmed by my second VSWR meter, which is designed to indicate instantaneous VSWR values.  It shows that the system has two states; one existing at the moment of RF power turn on before the tube lights, and the other during the time the tube is actually lighted.  However, all in all, the "wire wrap" feed is fairly good. My tests show that the light output from the tube is quite even, with little variation in light output along the length of the tube.  The tube also heats pretty evenly across its length, with no hot spots apparent using the "finger" test.  (Measured with the power off, of course!!)

When a gas discharge tube is driven by an RF source and is fed by a balun as is done in R/B units, it is difficult to get the tube to light immediately when the RF power is applied at the beginning of each modulation pulse.  Until the tube actually lights, the balun sees the tube as an open circuit.  This causes the balun to build up a high RF voltage on the feed wires which are wrapped around the tube.  Eventually, enough energy is transferred to the gas molecules in the tube so that they ionize and the discharge begins inside the tube.  If the tube electrodes are directly connected to the RF source, the tube will light much faster, however, as mentioned above, if you do that, the electrodes may overheat badly, possibly destroying the tube.

A partial solution to this problem may be accomplished by creating a resonant circuit using the capacitance of the tube electrodes as part of the circuit.  This is accomplished by simply connecting a coil of wire between the tube electrodes.  If you adjust the number of turns in the coil so that its inductance resonates with the capacity of the tube electrodes and the capacity of the connecting wires between the coil and the electrodes, you will have formed a series resonant "trigger" circuit.  Here's a picture of the trigger coil, and this is a close up of the trigger coil wire connected to the tube electrode.

When the RF power comes on at the beginning of each modulation cycle, the RF field from the balun wires will excite the "trigger" coil and cause it to produce a high RF voltage between the tube electrodes.  This will cause the tube to light very quickly, resulting in a much cleaner light pulse from the tube.  Here's what the tube looks like just as it starts to fire from the trigger coil signal.

Another problem I found was that the balun tends to get very hot during extended operation of the unit.  Measurements show that when the tube is lighted, as far as the balun is concerned, the tube is a very low impedance load.  I realized this when I found that the coaxial cable between the tube enclosure and the tuner was becoming quite warm.  It appears that the tube may represent as low as 5 ohms load to the balun.  With that in mind, I rewired the balun so that instead of being used as a 1:4 step-up device, it is now operating as a 1:1 unbalanced to balanced transformer.  This reduced the coax cable heating quite a bit and the balun now does not overheat nearly as badly as it did before.  This may or may not be needed in your setup, depending on how you feed RF to your tube.

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