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 Post subject: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomend?
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 12:55 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 15, 2018 11:33 pm
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Hey There
Im just getting into tubes and looking for a good tube tester. From what im reading there are three basic types. im leaning towards a transcunductance tester just need help picking one out. What are your thoughts and what is a good one to look out for?

thank you
Sal


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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 1:52 am 
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Hi Sal, and Welcome Aboard.

I'm not going to recommend a specific tester. I have my personal preferences.
But there are many out there with which I'm not familiar.

By far the most important function in any tube tester is the SHORTs test.
If a tube is shorted, it should be discarded without further testing.
A shorted tube can damage the tester or the radio.

Beyond that, the best (aka most accurate) test is in a working radio.
You may encounter tubes that work well as audio amps but not at RF/IF freqs.
No regular tube tester will identify that problem.

I never discard tubes that are just weak. I keep those as secondaries for sets.

- Leigh

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Last edited by Leigh on Oct Tue 16, 2018 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 1:53 am 
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Sal, this topic has been discussed several times here on the forum. I'll post one or two, but you should do your own search and read all you see there, then ask more specific questions. You are basically asking us "what car should I get" ... lol. The answers will be endless.

This is just one of the threads here... the basic questions we'll be asking are'
what type of tubes are you going to test
is this for your use, or are you testing tubes for sale (if so, you'll probably want one of the Hickok models to give your tubes that "air of quality" ... "bragging rights" if you will.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=346488&p=2911582&hilit=what+tube+tester+should+I+get#p2911582

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 3:18 am 
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Id be looking to sell some tubes that I have. what are your thoughts on the EICO 667?


Last edited by sal72856 on Oct Tue 16, 2018 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 3:27 am 
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Since you're just starting, I'd suggest you wait a while and determine what genre you are most interested in, as it will have somewhat of an impact on which testers would best fit your needs.

I don't have any interest in Television, consoles, or consumer type radios. My interest is in communications receivers and transmitters, ham radio, from the 1930s till the 1970s or so. The Hickok 533 tests all but a very few tube types of the 70s, so for several decades now its been my tester of choice when needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 4:37 am 
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Quote:
Id be looking to sell some tubes that I have. what are your thoughts on the EICO 667?

The Eico 667 is a decent tube tester. However, if tube sales is your thing, you should probably go towards a Hickok. When buying tubes, buyers seem to like to see the "Hickok Tested" name. It's going to be a bit more costly however.

Also, the tester you select should be somewhat based on what type of tubes you are testing. And what age. A service grade tube tester that came along later in the tube cycle will probably not test the earlier tubes, so you end up needing two.

Someone mentioned waiting a bit. I strongly suggest that, and do a great deal of research in the meantime. My "go to" tester, is the Heathkit TT -1. But for serious testing I have a Hickok 539B.

For MATCHING tubes, if that is your thing, no tube tester is really adequate. You'll need a curve tracer. Depends on your level of potential buyer.

Hope this helps... be patient and do a lot of reading.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 6:16 am 
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Since you're Just starting out, I suggest you get one that is either easy to calibrate or is already properly cal'd when you purchase it.

Calibration is much more involved for some units and requires additional gear (e.g., oscilloscope) and thus additional special knowledge. If you decide to do it yourself, you should factor into your budget calibration tubes (if you decide on a model that needs them) — these can be pricey, but they are tubes of known/proven characteristics, and some testers require them. Read thru cal procedures on some testers and you'll see.
Cal tubes are usually sold by old timers who have been in the business of restoring and collecting tube testers for some time. Be careful, though. Sometimes tube jockeys who aren't real technicians try to pass them off, and they'll even slam specific testers as being difficult to calibrate (because they don't know how).

A pre-cal'd tester is going to cost you a lot more, but then it'll cost if you send yours in for calibration, too. And an old tester WILL be out of calibration, and probably need some restoration to begin with. If it hasn't been serviced in quite a few years, count on it being needed, and budget in replacement parts as well.

What's the big deal with having a calibrated tester? Being able to claim this in your listing can be a big selling point. Name badges are one thing, but if you have a $1500 Hickok 539c, that alone won't mean diddly squat to a lot of prospective buyers — how do they know your meter isn't way off and they'll get what they think they're paying for? Erroneous values/readings can cost you after the sale, too — it won't take long for you to realize this, especially if you sell on eBay/PayPal, since you'll be refunding AND paying for return shipping (unless you let them keep the item, of course).


Last edited by Vin Tageman on Oct Tue 16, 2018 6:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 6:21 am 
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Go here read this.... decide:
http://tone-lizard.com/category/tube-testers/

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 11:19 pm 
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Quote:
Id be looking to sell some tubes that I have. what are your thoughts on the EICO 667?


The Eico 667 is a fine tube tester for general service work assuming you get one in good working order. There is a lot of data available for them, and they'll test just about any US tubes made from the mid-1920s through the 1970s, along with a great many foreign numbers.

But there's a "Catch-22" here. If you have very expensive, high end audio tubes, buyers will not take an Eico 667 or anything akin to it seriously. Most seem to expect high priced tubes to be tested on elaborate testers like the Hickok 539B, 539C, or maybe one or two other models. Problem is, unless you have a large number of expensive tubes to sell, getting one of those testers and having it calibrated by the "guru du jour" will turn your venture into a non-profit enterprise real fast.

On the other hand, if you have plain old, down-to-earth radio tubes to sell, an Eico 667 would be sufficient to convince most buyers the tubes are good enough to take a chance on.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Oct Tue 16, 2018 11:29 pm 
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get a Hickok 600a

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2019 11:25 pm 
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I have a WESTON MODEL 981 TYPE 3 and I can test for Mu and Gm on just about any tube from 1930 to about 1980, 4pin to 9pin, VR tubes,locktil and acorn tubes.


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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Thu 31, 2019 5:15 am 
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I agree with everyone above...as a relative newbie, who struggled with this a few years ago, I have ended up with a 177B, Weston 798, and a precision 10-12. I don't need the accuracy of a Hikock for what I do. I am a fan of the 10-12 for my use. Relatively inexpensive, and I don't need Gm matching....

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Thu 31, 2019 6:02 pm 
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Since this will be Sal's first tube tester as he is getting into the tube world I suggest the Heathkit TT-1 for the following reasons. It tests for transconductance on a single scale with a a multiplier switch. It can easily be modified to measure plate current, which give you the data necessary to list tubes for sale or for balancing his own tube amplifiers. It has a disconnect switch for changing switch settings with multi-section tubes. Dual section diodes and triodes are switched with slide switches. Yes the Weston 981-3 has these same functions and with Weston owning Heathkit at the time the TT-1 is simply a redesigned 981-3. The big difference is calibration, with the TT-1 is having a switch selected self calibration procedure and finally there is a lot more information available on the Heathkit.

After I retired and got back into tube equipment I first looked at the Heathkit TT-1 and started purchasing, restoring and selling them primarily on ebay. Some time later I specialized in the Hickok 539B/C models and still do. Almost all of these Hickok's you will find for sale have meter issues and its an expensive fix. So many buyers of these testers think you can change a few capacitors, but there are only 2 capacitors used in the Gm circuit one between plate winding's on the power transformer and one across the Main Meter neither of which are prone to failure. I also got involved with the Triplett 3444 and 3444A Testers, but here again not in the beginning as these are more complex and very little data is available.


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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Thu 31, 2019 6:10 pm 
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+1 on the TT-1. It is my "go to" tester, even tho I have all the popular Hickoks and several lab grade analyzers, and a curve tracer. The TT-1 is just so simple to use, plenty accurate enough, and a breeze to calibrate. And also to fix should it ever become necessary. I re-capped mine just because I can. It probably didn't need it.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Thu 31, 2019 6:29 pm 
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My two cents worth (and that is about the value). When I started refurbishing old vintage radios I wanted a tube testor. Since all the tubes I really want to check are simple triodes like the 201A/301A and I just needed "Are they functional and not shorted", I elected to go with emissions/shorts test only, like the Heathkit TC-2). It is also generally much cheaper and certianly easy to use. Perhaps I should have gone with a Hickok. My son in law found one at a grage sale and I thought, WOW, what a deal. But when I started checkibg it out, found it had both HV transformer windings open. Even if I could find a transformer, the transformer is buried and a guzillian wires to remove and re-attach.

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Jan Thu 31, 2019 8:04 pm 
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I like the Jackson 715, simply because it tests all tube types. That's an important consideration if you plan on working on radios from a variety of genres.

For radio work, an emissions type tester is all you need

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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Feb Fri 01, 2019 5:10 am 
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When anyone asks me for an opinion on what I recommend for purchase, I always ask where they are on the learning curve, what the intended purpose is, and what their discretionary income is. The adage "buy the best you can" is great advice...but should someone new to radio work get a Hickok 539b/c? If $$ is no object, heck yeah...they can sell it down the road for what they paid for it. Heathkit TT-1 are almost right up there in cost and desirability. But what about "good enough" for a newbie on a fixed budget? $$ saved can buy more cool radios! I always strive for "the best I can buy in line with my experience and knowledge" coupled with " don't buy more than you need or can appreciate". In my other hobby of saxophones, I could buy a $7000 pro-line Selmer....I play a 40's Buescher that I got and fixed for $1200....I am not good enough to know the difference! We have listed great testers in different niches and applications! Just my perspective in talking to beginners in anything! But you guys are FAR more knowledgable and experienced than I could ever be.


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 Post subject: Re: Newbie looking to buy a tube tester, what do you recomen
PostPosted: Feb Sat 02, 2019 4:23 am 
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There have been many discussions in this forum regarding the "best" tube tester. I did a lot of research before buying my Hickok 600A, which I like. But as it is with most test equipment, the Hickok has its shortcomings.

If you really want to know which one to buy, you have a lot of research ahead of you. Here's a good place to start, in my opinion: http://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=275600&start=0

Best wishes in your search!

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