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 > Remembrances of vacuum tube days

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delwhjr

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Posted: 12/11/20 07:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Started at a very young age by helping my grandfather and then my father repair electronics (TVs, radios and early HiFi rigs. I liked to build Dynaco stereos and loved my McIntosh stereo equipment. I still think the old tube type equipment has a better sound. I worked for many different electronics shops and went into teaching electronics after closing my own shop. I was always sought out by the local hobbyists to fix their Heathkits when they messed up. Eventually I got into computers and networking. When the students quit taking electronics classes(math was too hard [emoticon]), I changed to computers and networking classes. Retired from teaching at the Community college after teaching high school for many years.


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ktmrfs

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Posted: 12/11/20 09:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

nice thing about the AM tube radios is that the "all american 5" design (5 tubes for battery power, 6 with AC) covered probably 99% of the AM radios and all mfg were so similar once you understood how one worked, you knew how all worked, and could fix any of them.

today I have a philco portable, A Zenith transoceanic portable AM & SW (portable in that they run on batteries or AC power) and philco AC powered radio. All use the same tubes, basically the same design. Even the battery packs for the Zenith and philco are almost identical. With todays batteries they will run about 500-700 hours on a home made battery pack of 6 D cells and 60 AA's (Or 10 9V but those only last maybe 100 hours). And not needing a rectifier they come on almost instantly with the fast heaters on the filaments.

The earliest "farm" AM radios had the 1.5V filaments in parallel rather than series and ran on a 1.5V "A" battery, those 1.5V batteries bigger than a beer can and a "B" battery of 90V. about the size of a 6 pack.

Grandfather had a nice "farm radio" they didn't get electric power till the 50's and he kept it around for winter storm power outages.

A eventually went away and the AA, AAA, C, D replaced them, B disapeared need to make those from either 9V or AA's.


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OkieGene

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Posted: 12/11/20 09:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Whoa! There is a guy local to me with an interesting electronics business and he has multiple tube testers and piles of tubes. All new old stock.

BobsYourUncle

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Posted: 12/11/20 09:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OkieGene wrote:

Whoa! There is a guy local to me with an interesting electronics business and he has multiple tube testers and piles of tubes. All new old stock.

Wow, that's cool. Maybe I should order spares for my jukebox!


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MrWizard

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Posted: 12/12/20 02:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Mom had a Zenth Transocenanic , would set and listen to distant radio stations, sometimes I could pickup ham radio or aircraft or fire, swapping tubes for the tv was my introduction to electronics, then trying to assemble a transistor radio shortwave board kit,
two years electronics schooling after HIGH school, at the time IC's were getting wide spread attention ,
having been introduced a few years earlier,
A speaker from Texas Instruments came to electronics school and gave a presentation on digital ics, that was in 1967, my career in electronics led me to machinery where I became an industrial electronics service tech on cnc milling machinery, used heavily in aerospace mfg, installation and repair, that job required a lot of travel, my hobbies in electronics
Lead me to repairing many different radios, TVs amps, CB radios, car audio stereo etc..and eventually computers, my first was a Sinclair kit, programing then 3 different Commodore's Vic20 c64 the first Amiga 1000, lots of programming, hacking and game disc collecting copying trading, and authoring educational games for the vic20 c64 and radio shack color computer
Oh what years those were the 70s to 90s
Oops sorry to long winded, thanks for the stories and memories

* This post was edited 12/12/20 03:11am by MrWizard *


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wa8yxm

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Posted: 12/12/20 03:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You can still buy Tube amplifers and receivers if you know where to look.

They have a "Sound" that is quite a bit different from modern "Solid State" stuff. Much (And yes I know this sounds somewhat like a pun) "Warmer".

(The pun is that due to the filament heaters and other sources a big tube amp can heat your room)


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roam1

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Posted: 12/12/20 07:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Those were the days, when you had to figure something out or order the Sams schematic. My journey started in the 60’s when a friend of my grandfather invited us out on his yacht on Lake Michigan, At the end of the ride I was presented with a electronics study kit by our host, Mr DeVry. I loved to take things apart and see how they ticked. Then there was 2 years of high school electronics which I convinced the teacher to open a 3rd and 4th year so I could do self study. At the age of 16 I walked i to the local electronics repair shop and inquired about a job. The owner sort of chuckled but then sat down with me and drew some circuits out for a test, 30 minutes later I was on the bench repairing equipment and making $5/hr which was 3 times the minimum wage! Tubes were my favorite cause with very little documentation I could fix most gear. Then came an EE degree and a job at a small semiconductor company in Silicone Valley that Andy, Bob, & Gordon started, but that’s another story.

I still have a H H Scott 299B stereo tube amp and a Decware “Rachael” in my shop keeping me warm [emoticon] along with tube testers, VTVM, variac.....

I don’t know if I would have gone that path if I had not met Mr DeVry so my favorite gifts to nieces and nephews is something that they can learn from and grow.

* This post was edited 12/12/20 07:28am by roam1 *

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Posted: 12/12/20 07:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have to tell a true story of the late 1950’s. We had just gotten our first black and white TV, it died. My bedroom was just a bed in the unfinished basement. The TV was moved there. I was a teenager at the time and had a bicycle propelled paper route and there was a radio/TV repair shop on the route. The shop owner never had to pay me for the paper, I was always buying parts for something from him. Anyway, I told him what it was doing, I think it was a vertical or horizontal stabilizer control issue (remember those).

He told me to bring the tubes to him and he would test them. Sure enough one was bad. A new tube and the TV worked again. For almost a year I had a working TV in my bedroom and nobody knew it but me. I could only use it after everyone else had gone to bed upstairs and had to keep the volume down, but mine alone. Mom also stored her home baked cookies in the freezer next to my bed. I rotated which bag I raided to make it less obvious what I was doing, but I think she was wise to me.

One night after we all went to bed, dad surprised me eating cookies and watching TV, with an unexpected visit. The next day the TV was back up stairs.

Anybody remember Heath kits and Lafayette radio?


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Posted: 12/12/20 07:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wa8yxm wrote:

You can still buy Tube amplifers and receivers if you know where to look.

They have a "Sound" that is quite a bit different from modern "Solid State" stuff. Much (And yes I know this sounds somewhat like a pun) "Warmer".

(The pun is that due to the filament heaters and other sources a big tube amp can heat your room)


Yes I remember the great tone of the old radios before “superhet’s” came along

As an avid “DXer” on the AM band (before FM was common), I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found a radio with a three gang variable tuning capacitor or condenser can’t recall which we called it..

vermilye

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Posted: 12/12/20 08:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I remember an interesting part of the shift from tubes to transistors. The radio controlled model airplane receivers were vacuum tube models when I started. Miniature tubes, but still the receivers were pretty big.

The president of our model airplane club owned a hearing aid company. He arrived at one meeting with a hand launched glider that he flew around the meeting room that had rudder control. He had his engineers build a transistorized 27Mhz receiver that was about the same size as the rubber band actuator. Impressed the hell out of all of us.

* This post was edited 12/13/20 09:54am by vermilye *


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