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Old 10-02-2010, 07:04 PM
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RitchieMars RitchieMars is offline
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Tube Testers

I've been keeping an eye out for tube testers on Ebay lately and the only thing I've come to realize... is that I don't really need one. I think a tube tester is a cool piece of equipment, and for many applications I'm sure it's a must. But... I'm not the least bit impressed with some of the going prices of these testers, especially considering that all but a seldom few of them are sold without any real testing. I don't believe "It lights up" qualifies as a "ready to use" tester. Still, these things are selling. I mean really selling. Here's one example I had my eye on:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...T#ht_500wt_715

The 10-12 is a "dynamic" emissions tester! There's nothing "mutual conductance" about it. Granted, I would love to have one... but I just saw an Eico 666 sell for way less than this! In other cases, I've seen a tester listed by someone who claims to have no knowledge of these things and sells the tester as-is. I look at their feedback as a buyer... and it turns out that they're a regular tube aficionado judging by the very specialized items they've bid on. Wow... talk about fleecing! These audiophile guys sure know how to get suckered...

Don't get me wrong... I still hope to get a decent tube tester one day. But what I'm finding so far isn't very encouraging, to say the least!

Last edited by RitchieMars; 10-02-2010 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:07 PM
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radiotvnut radiotvnut is offline
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They're out there; but, GET OFF GREEDBAY! Even the cheapie Knight and Heathkit emission testers from the '60's and '70's go for insane prices on there. My first tester was a Knight 600A. I think I gave $20 for it, which seemed high to me at the age of 12.

You might want to check out any antique radio swapmeets or hamfest, if there are any in your area. Old TV shops that have been in business for a long time may have something. Or, check out the flea markets and estate sales. Lastly, you could try placing an ad on the VK and ARF classifieds. There are still plenty of people who are in it for the love of the hobby that are not money hungry ebay fanatics and someone will probably have something at a reasonable price.

I can somewhat see possibly paying a little more for a good mutual conductance tester; but, no way would I pay ebay prices for a basic emission tester. They were made by the zillions as recent as the late '70's-early '80's and one will turn up for a reasonable price.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:28 AM
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RitchieMars RitchieMars is offline
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I know what you mean about Ebay all too well. Granted, I've actually done really well with Ebay in the past with my record collecting and other things. If you can think of it, it's probably on Ebay. But sadly, it's also set a bad example for those who want to "appraise" something they know nothing about. "I've seen these sell for $200 on Ebay, so $150 is a deal, right?" Wrong.

I've found a couple clubs that have swap-meets, although these are held once in a blue moon and it would be a shame to drive over 100 miles and still not find what I'm looking for. Still, I'm going to look into attending one of these between now and next year. I would consider $50-$75 plenty enough for a good tester, in my opinion. Anything over that, even if it's a Hickok, would be a bit out of my price range.

Honestly, I would be okay with a "good" emissions tester. I rather like the idea of having a tester that's about the same vintage as most of the things I work with, but I'm not necessarily set out to grab an "antique" tester. I understand the limitations of the old equipment, but even a simple "good" or "bad" would be more than I've had to go on so far.

To sum it up, I would want a tester geared towards testing tubes for pre-1960 radios and televisions.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:26 AM
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radiotvnut radiotvnut is offline
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If you are planning on doing TV work, try to find a tester that will check for grid emission. This seems to be a common fault in TV tubes and excessive grid emission can cause problems in TV circuits. The Sencore "mighty mite" and the smaller B&K emission type testers usually have a good grid emission test function. The only problem is that the B&K and Sencore testers don't have sockets to test the old prong style radio tubes of the '20's and '30's.

As far as people using ebay as a price guide, I now walk away the minute someone tells me what their item is "worth" on ebay. Depending on my mood and their attitude, I usually tell them, "I'f it's worth so much on ebay; then, that's where you need to put it". I know this is off topic; but, ebay and the internet in general has done much to drive the prices up of things that we used to find at giveaway prices. 20 years ago, there was always stacks of tube audio equipment, test equipment, radios, etc. at the hamfest and antique radio meets for very reasonable prices. By the end of the day, some sellers would almost be willing to pay someone to take the stuff home. Fast forward a few years and along comes ebay and all the buyers with deep pockets who have the "I've gotta have it, no matter the cost" attitude and look where we are today. Now, it's "ebay this" and "ebay that" and it's getting to the point where one has to be rich to enjoy this vintage electronics hobby. The last couple of hamfest I attended had very little vintage electronics and what they did have came with a price.

When I thought I was done fixing tube type TV's, I sold my two Sencore mighty mite tube testers for something like $20 each and was glad to get that for them. When I got into actually collecting vintage TV's, I decided to go on ebay and find a tester that was new enough to chack compactrons. I thought a tester that new would go for a giveaway price. WRONG! I said to myslef that I'd do without a tester before I paid $100+ for a '60's/'70's era emission tester. I finally ended up buying a small B&K for $80 from someone who had it advertised in ARC. $80 was really more than I wanted to spend; but, it wasn't looking like I was going to find one any cheaper any time soon.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:13 PM
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Findm-Keepm Findm-Keepm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radiotvnut View Post

As far as people using ebay as a price guide, I now walk away the minute someone tells me what their item is "worth" on ebay. Depending on my mood and their attitude, I usually tell them, "I'f it's worth so much on ebay; then, that's where you need to put it". I know this is off topic; but, ebay and the internet in general has done much to drive the prices up of things that we used to find at giveaway prices. 20 years ago, there was always stacks of tube audio equipment, test equipment, radios, etc. at the hamfest and antique radio meets for very reasonable prices. By the end of the day, some sellers would almost be willing to pay someone to take the stuff home. Fast forward a few years and along comes ebay and all the buyers with deep pockets who have the "I've gotta have it, no matter the cost" attitude and look where we are today. Now, it's "ebay this" and "ebay that" and it's getting to the point where one has to be rich to enjoy this vintage electronics hobby. The last couple of hamfest I attended had very little vintage electronics and what they did have came with a price.
Wholeheartedly agree. I love it when people tell me they saw it on eBay for some amount - like Rick on Pawn Stars, I always ask "Is that what they are asking, or is that what they are getting? I got a TC131 Sencore checker after a seller had it up for weeks at $250 starting price. I asked two questions, laid low, and watched the price go to 15.99 opening bid the next week. Sellers learn after potential buyers ask questions they can't or won't answer that their item isn't what they think it is. I got it at the opening bid, and it survived shipping. Two sockets are shot - the 7 pin and 9-pin miniature sockets, likely the ones that got used the most.

About the only thing I look for is emission and shorts. I've never had to conductance match clear-top 12AU7A's for audio either, so decide what you'll use it for and got from there. One day I may get my Dad's old B&K 747, but for now, my TC131 and my garage sale TV-7D/U will have to do.

Cheers,
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