Vacuum tubes..

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by osx-addict, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
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    Hi all.. So, I was visiting my mother over the weekend in Oregon (long drive!) and came back with a bit of my fathers stuff (he died a bit over 5 years ago).. I told my mother I would try to sell off this stuff and give her whatever I collected... Anyway, one set of items I thought my brother had done something with a few years back was a set of vacuum tubes.. By 'set', I mean 3 boxes.. In the 3 boxes are various types of tubes -- many still in boxes -- many not..

    I've not tried guessing on qty or even trying to sort them out but I'd guess there may be more than 100 of them.. All sizes & types so it would appear. In searching around on ebay I see that virtually ALL of these are tested before being listed for sale.. I realize I could avoid that and just list them as unknown condition but realize I may be taking a big penalty in going that route..

    So, IF I were to purchase a used tube tester, what is a reputable brand and what should I look for in one of these items..? I see many of the ebay auctions listing voltages or percentages of some readings apparently taken from their testers.. I did do a quickie search on ebay for tube tester and there was one listed for something like $125.. On Craigslist though, there are higher priced ones listed for close to $300.. I guess I'll have to look and see what the range of pinouts I'd need support for in order to narrow down my quest for a tube tester..

    As an aside, some notes I apparently wrote way back when were found in one of the boxes of tubes -- 3 sheets of inventory listing the various tubes in one box.. Ugg! I recall taking many of these tubes down to be tested at a local electronics store back in the late 70's with my father .. Of course that store has been out of business for probably close to 25+ years now..

    Any help would be appreciated!
     
  2. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    Maybe this is a long shot, but it used to be that tube testers were available for free use in many electronic parts stores. You could try doing a search in your local area to see if any die-hard shops are still in business, and perhaps see if they have a working tube tester available.

    I guess the internet probably put everybody out of business. The place I worked at in high school (~1981) went out of business in the late 1990s but they still had a working tube tester when the doors closed. But, you never know. There might be a few around.

    Of course Radio Shack is still around, but I doubt any have tube testers nowadays.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  3. ramancini8

    Member

    Jul 18, 2012
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    118
    I would list the tube types and sell the lot on an "as is" basis. The cost of a tube tester will eat most of the profit, and you may end working for $0.50/hour.
     
  4. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
    10,135
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    I'm helping the daughter of an SK, and he had 4 boxes of tubes totaling about 200 units. The hamfest price is $1.00 as is. Still most of them remain unsold. It is a declining asset and I'd be willing to bet large sums that the remaining tube testers out there produce results of uncertain integrity. I'd forgo the dreams of a big windfall and just give them away to a local radio club. Your time has to be worth something.
     
  5. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
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    Thanks guys.. Perhaps I'll see if I can sort them into some sort of order from their current chaos and sell them in small bunches in as-is condition and see if I can get some takers.. I do have a few old electronics stores around and will persue that as well.. Some of the older ones may still have one of the testers floating around in the back of their stores perhaps..
     
  6. sbixby

    Active Member

    May 8, 2010
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    Where are you at, close to Berkeley by chance?

    Al Lasher's Electronics has a tube tester right in the front of the store; I think they even have some tubes floating around, but I didn't really look.
     
  7. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 30, 2007
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    I can remember when every Rexall Drug store had one, and the cabinet below was full of new tubes.
     
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  8. K7GUH

    Member

    Jan 28, 2011
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    Testing 100 or so tubes could be very time consuming; to the point where 50 cents per hour for your time would be rather optimistic. An excellent brand of tester is Hickock with prices at hamfests ranging from $200 - $400. Your best bet is to find a dealer in used tubes who will agree to buy the lot, lbut don't expect anywhere near $1.00 per tube. Otherwise, prepare yourself to attend the next several hamfests near your home. You will meet a lot of interesting people, and may even sell a few tubes.
     
  9. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I have a friend in Washington. He owns a tube tester but it might presently be held hostage in a divorce. Do you want me to ask him if the tester is available and would he test them for you?

    This would have a price for shipping both ways and some $$ for my friend.

    ps, don't forget that some of the tubes wil be NIB (new in box). That will get you a better price than "as is" or, "I don't know".
     
  10. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
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    Thanks guys.. As it turns out I have a few options I'm looking into including a not too far away store in Van Nuys, CA that does their own testing (probably for a fee) and might also be interested in buying as well.. I've also been pinged off-line by a forum member that is also interested.. I'll let you know how it turns out -- but it may not be for a while as I've got other higher priority tasks to finish before I can set aside the time to work this task.

    I really appreciate the insight!
     
  11. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
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    9
    So, just a quick followup.. I was at my mom's place again this past week and while poking around the garage racks she's got for holding boxes and whatnot, I spotted a power supply I was eyeing a while back -- it was my fathers bench supply -- provides DC or AC and has a variac to control power output. It's a bit rusty but still works fine.. :D My mother obviously had no need for it so now it's in my possession..

    While doing more nosing around, what else do I spot?? I found my fathers Heathkit tube tester that looks almost identical to this one except one of the bakelite knobs is missing.. :p I plugged it in briefly yesterday and it powers up OK. I guess I might be able to test some of those tubes I've been sitting on after all.. :eek:
     
  12. Ron H

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 14, 2005
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    Some of those old kits need to be re-capped before using them.
     
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  13. DMahalko

    Active Member

    Oct 5, 2008
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    Yes, a 30+ year old tube tester may need testing before you use it.

    A general turn-on test won't reveal any lurking problems because some tester components only fire up in conjunction with a tube plugging in for that circuit segment in the tester.
     
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  14. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    16,250
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    Best to replace the electrolytics before they spew all over the place. Tubes are high impedance devices so spattered electrolyte can mess up the tester pretty well.
     
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  15. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
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    Thanks guys.. I did try testing a couple of tubes and the meter never really moved beyond the middle scale (unknown tube 'goodness') -- so I will open it up and fix the paper roll in it and checkout the caps while I'm in there.. Hopefully I didn't cook the tubes I played with..
     
  16. dataman19

    Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    136
    29
    Recapping is easy - there is only one .1 MFd Cap!!!!! I would replace it.
    Then I would clean the contacts ob the switches.
    ...
    Here are pics:
    TC1 , then TC2 then TC2p (all use one Cap).
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Here are the schematics:
    TC1
    www.phoenixcomputerlabs.com/Images/Reference/heathkit_schema_tc1.pdf
    TC2 and TC2P
    www.phoenixcomputerlabs.com/Images/Reference/heathkit_schema_tc2.pdf
    ...
    Not sure about how these will post (never posted pics before) but the links should work. The TC2 and TC2P tube tester use the same circuitry (in fact the TC1, TC2, and TC2P use almost identical circuitry).
    ..
    Hope this helps..
    ..
    Dave
    Phoenix, AZ
     
  17. dataman19

    Member

    Dec 26, 2009
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  18. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    122
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    Thanks! I will look into replacing the one cap.. I've got the TC1 model -- anyone know what years these were made in? I suspect my father ponied up a bunch for this -- at the time.. I'm guessing it was probably purchased in the 50's but I've really got no idea nor does my mother.
     
  19. Ron H

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 14, 2005
    7,050
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    I get a "forbidden" notice when I click on your schematic links.
     
  20. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    122
    9
    I get a plesk login prompt.. :)
     
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