Science, Technology & Medicine

Vacuum tubes
Vacuum tubes

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There are 4 comments for this item.

Posted by Bob Matthews at 5:01 pm (PST) on Fri December 29, 2017   
I remember using the free tube tester at Lafayette Radio in NYC.
Imagine, free!
Guess nobody thought of the profit potential in making these things available.
Posted by Duff at 1:47 am (PST) on Mon November 9, 2009   
I avoided Radio Shack whenever possible. Once bought a half-dozen fuses (the tubular kind found in electronics gear) that purported to be standard size, but would not fit in the socket.

Our Zenith kitchen radio also sat atop the fridge.

A friend of mine has a little business crafting guitar amps with vacuum tube circuits.

I've been watching "Mad Men" on AMC, and caught them in a little mistake a couple of weeks ago. One of the female characters was meeting her lover at a hotel just when the news broke that JFK had been shot. The guy unplugs the TV as the girl arrives so as not to spoil the moment, and plugs it back in afterward. The picture came on right away, and that's the mistake.
Posted by Max at 9:10 pm (PST) on Sat November 7, 2009   
Nobody at Radio Shack understood what I was seeking. I asked for tubes, vacuum tubes, electron tubes. I told them they're called valves in England. Radio Shack for goodness sake! I was helping a woman at the nursing home get the electric organ back in operating condition. We finally found an old style repair shop that had a tube tester and a stock of tubes in the attic.

A navy man tells me that in Russia some of their avionics still use vacuum tubes and that it's very difficult to interfere with the signals.

My mother used to get a little extra life out of a tube from our television set. When something was not right, she would turn the set off and then tap the tops of the tubes while they were still warm. It worked. The tube would need to be replaced soon but we got a little extra mileage from it. Our RCA tabletop radio just kept playing on and on and never burnt out a tube. It was the kitchen radio, perched on top of the fridge.

The newer stuff isn't so easy to repair but in general it is more reliable. Remember how hot radios and televisions would get inside their cases? If you forgot and tried to remove a tube before it cooled off, you'd have a first degree burn if you didn't withdraw your hand fast enough. Our tape recorder had a fan in the case to keep it from overheating.

Some people are now developing a fondness for the older stuff. There is a quality of sound fans of this stuff call "tubey" to distinguish it from sound amplified by solid state, integrated circuit equipment.

I do like watching how some singers used the bigger, older microphones. They were part of the act. Some had favorite mics.
Posted by Duff at 4:53 pm (PST) on Sat November 7, 2009   
Back then, when our radio or TV stopped working, it was most likely due to a burned-out vacuum tube. With a radio, at least, it was a simple process to remove the tubes and bring them to the nearest tube tester (often at the pharmacy or supermarket), identify the guilty tube, and buy a replacement.

Nowadays, on the other hand, there's nothing you can do yourself to fix a broken radio or TV. You might bring it to a service center, but the repair cost is likely to be greater than the value of the unit.

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