Good morning everybody!
This is the very first page of the website of Vanni Piccinotti, a technician who grew old playing around magnets and other stuff composing NMR Spectrometers. Since now, I’ve been too busy to think about amenities like websites etc, but now I’m officially retired and have time to talk about my lifetime experience and to try to transmit what I learned.
Please excuse my poor English, self-learned like so many other things I know, and feel free to comment and criticise.
My businnes activity installing, servicing and (occasionally) refurbishing and reselling second-hand NMR spectrometers is definitely gone two years time from now. Clearing my lab and nearby garage from all the technical junk left (yes, my one was also one garage-based company, but it never grew-up from that stage, like some other famed ones did…) several old manuals, notebooks, schematics packages and depliants went back to light. They all concerned Magnetic Resonance Spectrometers manufactured by Varian Instrument Division dating back from early 1970’s years. Quite a good amount of technical documentation.
So that I got the idea to write down an historical rewiew, on a strict technical point of wiew, of the Varian NMR and APR instruments; will be quite a long story, and therefore will take quite some time to be written down, and very likely could be a never-ending story. But let’s start over, with what was probably the first commercially produced NMR spectrometer, the HA100 and related types. The A60 will follow, universally acknowledged as “the milestone in NMR spectroscopy”.
You will find the stories in the “The Varian NMR History” pages.
Please also note that some pages stricly related to NMR Spctrometer’s service and maintenance do no longer exists. If anybody needs technical advices on this matter I’m always available to help at my best.
What follows on this HomePage is my own personal professional history; keep reading on if interested, or go to the other pages as you like
Since I saw my first NMR gear back in 1969, I have experience to share and stories to tell; all my professional life has been working around spectrometers, both NMR and EPR, starting from this one:
The instrument I was working on was not this one, but the appearance is identical; it was a Varian DA60IL belonging to the General and Inorganic Chemistry Institute of the Florence University. It was the time of electromagnets, vacuum tubes and Continous Wave (CW) NMR, and I somehow managed to survive all the way up the recent times.
After a couple of years at the Florence University, in 1972 I was hired by Varian Associates and spend some time in the Palo Alto factory, in the hearth of what was beginning to be the Silicon Valley; the mythical A60 was out of production but a good deal of them were still on the field and needed continous maintenance, so we had a lot of service to perform!
If interested to the early days of NMR in Florence, have a look to this Poster presented at the VII Euromar NMR Congress held in Florence in July, 2010
But times were changing quickly, and next generation of spectrometers were all solid-state, with the timid appearance of integrated circuits here and there, and with permanent magnets replacing the power googling electromagnets; T60 was the first model of this generation.
The next big step was the introduction of minicomputers at reasonable cost, and with them the pulsed, Fourier Transform method; this was a real revolution, opening doors to a multitude of new applications; and doors were open to the introduction of XL100, and working with it I really learned how to fix troubles in complex machines.
The next quantum leap was of course the superconducting magnet and the climbing of the high field mountain; slowly, the electronics became more and more reliable and the electronics troubleshooting practice was not anymore an everyday job. Pity, that was really a good exercise to keep the brain in good shape. The more common duty of my professional activity was to work around SC magnets: energizing, shimming, refilling and all the tricks involved.
I am officially retired now, but still with hands on spectrometers quite often, and still like it; the great thing is not to have to run fast anymore, I take my time and do my job with the best quality I can obtain. As I say if somebody complains, I already ran fast enough.