tube tester

m3t00🌎@lemmy.world to Technology@lemmy.world – 399 points –
38

I was not there, Gandalf. This was before even my time.

It tests vacuum tubes that would usually come from televisions. If a tube was bad you could hypothetically replace the tube and get your TV working again. The various holes are for the various tubes that were sold.

Vacuum tubes would eventually be replaced with transistor designs as transistors were more reliable and required way less power to operate. Also they were vastly smaller than tubes. Today most TVs are, in essence, a small computer packed into a single chip called a System on a Chip (SoC), so they are way less user repairable. But they're also vastly cheaper than the 1930s versions. In 1939 RCA's TV that they sold went for ~$600 or about $13,280 in today's money.

So there was a ton of incentive to make TVs as user repairable as possible. It's also why we used to have a lot of TV repair shops that we pretty much have zero of today. Putting that much investment into something, you'd want to make it run for as long as possible.

Love your description, but I would add that radios were arguably an even more common reason for people to replace tubes. Also, while television stations did exist as far back as the late 1920s it really wasn't until after WWII that it became semi-common for the middle class - I live in Denver and we didn't get our first station until 1952, for example.

The furniture-style console TVs still had tubes as late as the 1970s.

We had one very similar to this until about 1980..

It was easy to pop the back off (it had little hinges like the back of a picture frame) and the tubes were right there. Very simple fix. You’d miss your show, but it meant a fun trip to the electronics store with dad.

I remember laying on the floor in front of the TV and changing the channel with my foot. I was the remote control.

LOL, pretty sure there was one in our grocery store. And yes, trip out with dad to fix the TV! Better than paying a guy fat 1970's money to do a service call.

Sylvania now: "Just throw that piece of shit in the trash and buy a new one"

I worked for Sylvania about 15-20 years ago as they were swirling the drain and trying to adapt to LED lighting. Lots of cool old equipment and facilities but it felt like whoever was steering the ship (Osram) was asleep at the wheel. The way the company handled the next 15 years proved that was true.

Some folks are still using tubes for audio equipment aren't they?

Vacuum tubes are super common in high-end guitar amplifiers

Not just guitar audio! I own a tube amp for my guitar and 2 tube amps for driving my higher-end headphones! They are neat little pieces of electronics history, not just in how they run, but also because most of the best tubes are old military surplus. My oldest pair are from 1945 and were made for early army/navy radar systems.

1945 JAN-6AK5 tubes

I've got a tube amp and a tube DAC/ headphone amp for my HiFi system. They sound amazing.

Yes, I'm a reseller. I bought a large collection of them from a pawn shop that was closing. Some of them are quite sought after. The most expensive I've sold were $200/ea. Some sellers use higher end testers in order to make claims that the tubes are "matched" in their percentage of specification from new. I think it's a dubious claim. I have a cheaper tester that says if they're good or not. I only state that they are tested and appear to be new since I obviously have no way to know if they actually are NOS or if someone used them at some point.

I worked at a grocery store that still had one of these in the mid 90s. It had been there since the 60s but no one who worked there still knew how to use it.

I remember when the local Safeway had one of these! I'm pretty sure that was in the '70s, though. It's just slightly possible that I might be old.

OK, thought I was misremembering. Yes, our 70's Safeway had one.

Found an EMC Model 213 tube tester at a thrift shop this summer. It's a cute little portable unit in a fabric covered hard case, from about the early 60s. Useless without the chart (typeset on a literal typewriter) that tells you how to set the row of 12 switches & three knobs that dial in the proper test for each type of tube. Luckily I found a scan online!

The worst part was when the little stickers you put on the tubes to remember which went where fell off.

omg, usually you could just swap in a working one from another TV/radio. if it work you knew which one to buy. pins match, good

Just because the pins matched didn't mean the tubes were the same. Also, remember that the whole point was to take all the tubes out and take them to the store where this tester was to figure out which tube was bad. So if you didn't know where a tube went, swapping with another set (if you happened to have one) wasn't helpful because if was more likely to be a good tube.

was ten. m&d let me try anything. didn't work it didn't work

I remember one of these being at the grocery store as a kid. I didn't know at the time what it was for, but it had knobs and switches to play with.

Isn’t that what the instructions are for?

The instructions were probably more helpful for someone who knew what these tubes were. I was probably about 6 at this point, hadn"t been actively involved in much TV repair by this time, and I guess I somehow didn't pick up enough clues from the context of the instructions to put it all together before just leaping into playing with the dials and switches. You know, like a kid

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You can test the tubes yourself, it's called tubing. So YouTube

I actually have a similar model for testing audio tubes. I have several 100 watt amplifier heads for my guitars and a few more home built amps for both guitar and listening audio. I even have several tube preamps I’ve designed with one or two tubes.

Such a cool era of technology to me.

I bet there’s somebody somewhere that knows why the three bottom left sockets are red.

Finding a less potato image of this device on Google, the red sockets are not testing sockets but "pin straighteners"

I'd love to have this. They're hard to find.