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 > Remembrances of vacuum tube days

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mr. ed

Amarillo, Texas

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Posted: 12/12/20 08:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

delwhjr wrote:

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.


Yes, I've heard the same thing about tube amplifiers having a "cleaner" sound. I doubt most people, except true audiophiles, could notice the difference compared to solid state. You mentioned Heathkits. I've built several in my youth along with many Knight kits. Included were ham radio receiver and xmitter, stereo amps and tuners, plus various test equipment (VTVM, oscilloscope, capacitor checker, tube checker, etc.)


Mr. Ed (fulltiming since 1987)
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BobsYourUncle

Calgary Alberta Canada

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Posted: 12/12/20 08:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Being an air force brat, I lived at CFB Cold Lake Alberta in the late 60s.

In 69, at age 15 I volunteered for a DJ position there. I had my own Friday and Saturday evening shows for playing teen music. My theme song was "Friday On My Mind" 1450 CHCL "Chuckle" Radio!

The whole radio station was all old tube equipment, and would go down once in a while. I remember looking into the amps and broadcast equipment at all those cool looking tube things, and learning that if it isn't glowing, it has likely failed.

There were 2 control rooms, each equipped with turntables, control boards with pots to adjust sound and inputs etc.

Sometimes one control room would go down, and I figured out on my own how to use big patch cables they had to run the output of one room into another. I would get it up and running while the service tech would come fix the problem, usually a blown tube. It only happened a couple or few times, but I was totally fascinated at all that neat-o electronic equipment.

Even as a boy I loved to play with little electric motors such as those battery operated Meccano set ones, little flashlight bulbs and batteries, wires I could fiddle with to do things etc.

In about grade 6 I won first prize for the best Halloween costume, a robot. Wearing cardboard boxes covered in tinfoil from head to toe, I ran wires, flashlight bulbs, a motor with propeller on the top of my head and more. I ran all the wires and taped the bared ends to my fingertips. The thumb was power and the other fingertip wires fed the various lights and such. I walked around touching my fingers to my thumb for the blinking, propeller spinning robot effect.
Yeah, great memory for an 11 year old!

That DJ experience was the beginning of getting serious about the hobby. I took electricity and electronics in high school, graduated with the intention of furthering my education and finding work in that field, but wound up taking work in home renovation instead for a while. 45 years later, I'm still in that industry.


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Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 12/12/20 11:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mr. ed wrote:

delwhjr wrote:

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.


Yes, I've heard the same thing about tube amplifiers having a "cleaner" sound. I doubt most people, except true audiophiles, could notice the difference compared to solid state. You mentioned Heathkits. I've built several in my youth along with many Knight kits. Included were ham radio receiver and xmitter, stereo amps and tuners, plus various test equipment (VTVM, oscilloscope, capacitor checker, tube checker, etc.)


Common misconception that tube amps are "cleaner", in reality they are not. What you do get is a slightly DIFFERENT sound sonically, some would say a "warmer" or "fuller" sound that what transistors give. Hard to describe..

Some folks say transistor outputs as being "sterile" compared to tube outputs.

Back to the "cleaner sound" for a second, tubes by nature inject considerable amount of noise into the audio signal. This happens as the filament heater gives off electrons, some of those electrons affect/interact the plates and grids electrons in the process.

Additionally, most tube amps the filament heaters are powered with a AC voltage which if you listen with a good set of headphones you will be able to hear a slight AC 60hz hum in the background with no signal. With good headphones you can also literally hear the electrons hitting the grids and plates in a form of white noise in the background with no signal. Add that background noise to your music and it gives the 1950's "HiFi" sound that you and your parents grew up with.

There are simulators you can add to your system that can add in a simulation of a tube amp if you like.. They also make tube preamps if you like..

thestoloffs

Florida

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Posted: 12/12/20 11:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are tubes, and then there are tubes!

Back in the "dark ages" (60's & 70's - my HS & college days), I used my 1st Class Radiotelephone license to work as an engineer for several 50KW clear channel AM stations in the Philadelphia area.

Their transmitters were so big in the pre-solid state days that we actually walked inside the room-sized cabinets and took off all our jewelry before entering (to prevent RF burns). We had to wear white linen gloves to touch any of the tube glass parts, because a broken tube could explode violently. (No OSHA in those days?!)

2oldman

south

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Posted: 12/12/20 01:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The only product I'm aware of that still uses tubes is guitar amplifiers.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 12/12/20 01:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2oldman wrote:

The only product I'm aware of that still uses tubes is guitar amplifiers.


You are in the "stone age" my friend..

Poke your head out the door once and a while..

Found lots of brand new Tube audio power amps HERE

Been a revival rage for the last 5-10 yrs with a lot of small companies building them..

[image]

Pix of 35W per channel with USB/BT inputs..

[image]

Pix of 50W per channel with USB/BT inputs

[image]

Pix of Tube preamp..

[image]

Pix of tube headphone preamp kit

How about a McIntosh? Yep, they are still building tube stereo power amps..

[image]

JKJavelin

Milwaukee, WI

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Posted: 12/12/20 02:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I sure don't miss the electrical shock you can get from those tubes if you didn't ground them (yes, with the TV unplugged). I got it several times.
JK


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Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 12/12/20 03:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JKJavelin wrote:

I sure don't miss the electrical shock you can get from those tubes if you didn't ground them (yes, with the TV unplugged). I got it several times.
JK


Actually shocks were not just a "tube" problem it was very common in a lot of solid state equipment, that was caused by manufacturers being cheap skates and not using a transformer in the power supply and tying one side to the 120V line DIRECTLY to the chassis.. [emoticon]

It is called a "HOT" chassis and if not careful when servicing would end up biting you or worse yet becoming a pretty good arc welder when attaching serving equipment like oscilloscope ground to the chassis..

With most older equipment having non polarized line cords you can imagine the havoc that can cause when the HOT side of the line ended up on the chassis.

Spent a lot of my younger yrs servicing 1970s-1990s consumer stuff with one hand stuck in my pocket for safety.

And for the record, CRT TVs, the 2nd anode connection to the tube is to be respected.. CRTs can hold a second anode 20KV+ charge for YRS with out power, was taught to take a long flat blade screw driver and a clip lead from it to chassis ground before ever touching that connection..

wa8yxm

Wherever I happen to park

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Posted: 12/12/20 03:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

georgelesley wrote:



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


I don't know that Superhet or Superregan made that much difference. though on a Superhet the passband was generally Tighter.

I am looking for a Knight Kit Star Roamer... Want one working, Likely will search E-bay for one.. This is a Superhet with a Regenerative stage..

The Radio is tubes (Save for the power rectifier) and the Regen was supposed to be used to "Fake" a BFO for CW reception (Or SSB but not that good at SSB) However if you adjusted the Regen (Front panel knob) just BELOW self-oscillation man did the RF gain go up... Stations you could barely detect were suddenly 5x9

It was also one of my first "Kits".. but alas that one is long gone.
I want one for multiple reasons

In other news.. Moving into an apartment is fun My Kenwood TS-2000 is now up and powered with a long wire for Receive only on HF and a Dual band Diamond V/Uhf on the VHF port. It's working at 15 watts on the VHF All I need for the ONE repeater I can hit from inside the apartment) I just found the long wire tuner. now I need to find the radio end of the cable to link 'em up Then I can "Tune" the long wire.

Ghost Wire will be used for an indoor long wire (Twin 16 ga wires buried in tape Stick it on the wall and hook it up)

Getting there. And I also plan on an MFG Mag loop Just for fun.


Home is where I park it.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
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2oldman

south

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Posted: 12/12/20 04:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:

You are in the "stone age" my friend..Poke your head out the door once and a while..
I always look forward to your insults.

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