What to do with old vacuum tubes?

I recently found a really old tv in a crawlspace at work and I brought it home and salvaged 13 vacuum tubes out of it. I figured I could make some sort of cool project out of them like maybe a mad scientist lamp with LEDs or something. But before I actually start using them I wanted to brainstorm some more ideas of possible projects. So if anybody has any good ideas of cool things to do with vacuum tubes, let me know. Also, just out of a nerdy curiosity I was wondering what exactly vacuum tubes are designed to do, does anyone know?

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blackhol13 years ago

a vacuum tube can be used both as an amplifier or as a rectifier. It amplifies by using a filament much like in an incandescent light bulb by heating the cathode(-) it will knock of electrons which have a negative charge. These electrons are attracted to the anode(+). In this process it will be able to amplify the voltage given to it. The hotter the filament the more elecrepes emitted the higher the voltage.

damadtatter6 years ago
what kind are they? guitar amp comes to mind
please please grab that tv or send it to me because i love old tube raqdios tv ext
Orro8 years ago
You could give it to me. As i cannot afford one.
Sunbanks8 years ago
You can make some pretty cool magnets with them.
Yeah, with the little ones. I wouldn't suggest it with the biggest tube though.
Goodhart8 years ago
I keep a few around home (since I still have an old tube AM radio) as well as the ones used for the bridge of that same radio (I had to fix my wife's grandmother's radio a few times). What I would love to get a hold of would be a few of the Nixie tubes (like the GN-4). :-)
gmoon8 years ago
Vacuum tubes are roughly analogous to the modern transistor. In a general sense, they are used as a valve that controls the flow of electrical current (in fact, the British term for vacuum tubes is valve.)

Here's a nice explaination on how they work.

You can certainly build something, but there are some caveats...

They are high-voltage devices (and power tubes are high-current), so there's some inherent danger. Most of the tubes in a TV are RF (high-frequency) and aren't always usable for simple projects.

But the TV will also have a moderately-HV power transformer, and that is a very handy thing...

There's a Vacuum Tube Group here on Instructables, too.
cannedham160 (author)  gmoon8 years ago
I'm not really much of an audiohead, radios made with normal transistors sound just fine to me, but I really like making cool lights so I was hoping I could make some sort of lamp out of these. Is is possible to make them light up using their own circuitry or would I be better off drilling a hole in the bottom and inserting an LED or something?
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