Good morning everybody!    Buon giorno a tutti!

Riapro il mio sito dopo lungo silenzio. E lasciamo perdere l’inglese, poi se avrò voglia farò le traduzioni; ma ormai anche l’inglese, come tante altre cose, è abbastanza arrugginito!

Ormai per me l’NMR è un capitolo chiuso (o quasi, ho appena ricevuto una chiamata da un tecnico NMR, mio vecchio amico oltre che collega, che chiedeva lumi su un vecchio strumento ancora in funzione…).

Ora ho altri interessi: treni storici, interazione con animali (cani in primis, ma non solo), alberi in generale e olivi in particolare.  Vi terrò informati; se vi interessa, legete, altrimenti chiudete la pagina.


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:

Varian HA100 – Source: WWW.yorku.ca/cliveh/nmr


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!

Varian A60 NMR







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.

15 thoughts on “Home

  1. NMR Users

    Buongiorno Signor Vanni Piccinotti,

    sono da poco responsabile di un Bruker Avance III Ultrashelded 500 MHz presso l’università di Basilea.

    Fra i miei compiti c’è anche quello di provvede al refilling di azoto ed elio e riguardo a quest’ultima operazione..sono un po’ preoccupata.

    Mi domandavo se lei ha mai avuto esperienza di quench provocati da errori commessi durante il refilling di Elio.

    La ringrazio molto.

    Cordiali saluti.

  2. Prof. HMN Bandara

    Pl. let us know the prices of the following items.

    01. Probe for EM360A 60 MHz CW Spectrometer
    02. Varian 300MHz 4N Auto switchable PFG Probe


    1. vanni Post author

      Hello Prof. Bandara,

      EM360A Probes is 255 euro plus shipping

      I don’t have a Pulse Field Gradient Probe available right now, can search for one and let you know.

      Thanks for your request and best regads,

      Vanni Piccinotti
      NMR Service

  3. maria fittipaldi

    Ciao Vanni,

    come va?
    Sai se qualcuno ha una transfer line per l’elio per la banda X Bruker che non usa più e che ‘regalerebbe volentieri’?

    Grazie, a presto,


    Dr. Maria Fittipaldi

    Department of Chemistry ‘U. Schiff’

    University of Florence and INSTM R.U.

    Via della lastruccia 3-13

    50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI)


    tel. +39 055 4573338


    1. vanni Post author

      in giro ci sono un paio di linee di trasferimento flessibili Oxford per NMR, credo che si possano usare tranquillamente anche per EPR. Dammi un’idea delle dimensioni (lunghezza e diametri) io intanto verifico.
      vanni Piccinotti

  4. sherif edward /nitco / cairo egypt

    hello mr piccinnotti,
    i was so happy to see your web page
    please advise availability and price for commplete barrel assembly lenght 68 cm long inside magnet and 11 cm outside magnet for sample spinner introduction
    it is a barrel for varian 300 mhz probe without vt.its old gemmini system
    also need spinner turbines for this system
    awaiting your reply
    sherif edward
    cairo / egypt

    1. vanni Post author

      Hello Mr Sherif,
      as I remember, we met in Cairo some years ago, am I wrong?
      I’m 90% sure I have what you need , but pls let me check, will take 2-3 days

      How is life in Egypt? we have quite bad news here
      Vanni Piccinotti

  5. David Baumann

    I am considering purchasing a Varian Gemini 300 MHz NMR. The instrument was decomissioned properly, but was moved by university surplus without the shipping hardware. Is the magnet destroyed or is there a chance that the magnet may still be good. How can one tell? Do you have diagrams of the shipping hardware since it would need to be moved several hundred miles to its new location.
    Thank you,

    David Baumann

    1. vanni Post author

      I apologize for the long delay in aswering.
      If the magnet was moved in upright position, and had no big shocks, there are some chances it is still ok; the only check one can dois to open the vacuum valve to feel there is still some vacuum in the inner chambers; no way to test the coils, switches etc.
      I had a home-made shipping pallet with rubber shock adsorbers, but it’s gone time ago and have no drawings or photos, sorry
      Vanni Piccinotti

  6. Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy

    Dear Vanni,
    I am writing to seek permission to use a picture of the magnet from your website.
    I am using your magnet picture in a cover art to a journal. Could you please
    give me the permission to use this picture?

    Please give me your email address so that I can send a form to get your signature.
    Thanks very much.
    Best regards,
    Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy
    Professor of Biophysics and Chemistry
    University of Michigan

    1. vanni Post author

      I apologize for such a long delay; no problem for the photo, if still interested, but please quote the cutting job was done at Department of Chemistry, Pisa University.
      Best regards,
      email: vanni.piccinotti@tin.it

    2. vanni Post author

      Oops, is the photo you’re talking about the one where I’m holding up the magnet? if so, no need to quote anybody else…
      Vanni Piccinotti

  7. Ettore Castiglioni

    complimenti per il sito, dove sono entrato per caso.
    Vedo che non sei cambiato in tutti questi anni, giustamente famoso per la tua professionalità.
    Grazie per i link alla faccenda Agilent, quando l’ho saputo ho fatto fatica a crederci!
    ciao, Ettore


Leave a Reply to vanni Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *