My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Surfin': Long Live the Vacuum Tube

Read this week's installment of Surfin': Long Live the Vacuum Tube, then add your comments here.


  1. Brought back a lot of wonderful memories of sitting in my garage shack listening to foreign broadcast with the "Wonderglow of Tubes" lighting up the room and keeping me warm, and later, as a ham, getting on the air with my old Heathkit gear. Like Stan, I'd pull the tubes out of my TVs and radios and take them down to the corner drug store to test them, until the day the clerk looked at me with that "Are you kidding?" look I'll never forget. The old tube checkers were gone.
    Love the link...I plan to build some of those circuits when I get time...and find the tubes!
    Joe, w6udo, San Diego, CA

  2. Yes, I used to use the drugstore tube testers. When I was in high school, I earned my spending money by fixing the neighbors' TVs. They were all black & white then, and I could almost always fix them with a new tube, fuse, or tuner cleaner. I charged $3.00 for a service call plus the cost of the tubes. I was able to buy the tubes at 50% off froma local TV parts store, and sold them for list price, which was usually $5.00 or less.

    Occasionally there was nothing wrong with the TV except to adjust the vertical or horizontal hold control or tweak the fine tuning screws in the tuner.

  3. Wow, $5 tubes! Now those were the days! I have an old stereo amp I'm keeping for sentimental reasons... was still using it until a few of the tubes died. I'm not looking forward to the price of replacements. These days of throwaway $40 CD/tape FM players, it's a lot cheaper, and that's too bad.
    Probably the first TV I actually fixed was my folks' old Philco BW. The picture tube died and they bought a color TV. Back then (~1970), a BW tube was $50 plus the old one. I have an old RCA tube radio and a BW tube TV I keep fixing, even to replacing the old filter caps and yoke, again just for sentimental reasons.