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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

OT: Roll-Your-Own Vacuum Tube Triodes!

Some folks of a certain age may fondly recall "Dusty's Treehouse", a local TV show that featured Dusty (Stu Rosen) and a number of his puppet friends. They all lived happily in Dusty's spacious (if dusty) treehouse, but my favorite part of those shows was their segments on how things got made. We watched Dusty on an old Zenith tube TV, which is my clumsy way of introducing this fascinating, long (17 min) French video (presented only with segment cards) presenting an amateur who rolls his own vacuum tube triodes. (Via Makezine.com; you can see more of this very talented amateur's website, in French, of course, here.)

Even when I was a kid, I had no idea how these were made; I have fond memories of going to the Sav-On drug store and using the tube tester there (you used to be able to service your own TV!) every so often. Of course, since Dad also had his General amateur radio license, he had a Yaesu rig that was far more romantic. I used to tune in for hours listening to the steady beat of radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado at 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz... at the tone 15 hours, 28 minutes coordinated universal time. The voice never changed, stentorian and ever-present amid the faint yellow glow and hot breath of Dad's receiver. You can still hear that voice at 303-499-7111.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the telephone company lady you got when you called 853-1212, the old local time service. Callers to that number will find her replaced by a recording saying the time service was discontinued last September. These days, we have NTP to keep our computers synchronized, and cellphones use GPS to keep their clocks aligned properly; both connect to atomic clocks for timekeeping far beyond the ken of the invisible man. We're better off in some ways, but the romance steadily drains out of our lives.

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Now that damn dusty's treehouse song is stuck in my head - man was that ever buried deep!
Yeah, I used to watch that show a lot.
Rob - Ha, 'stentorian' is the word that always comes to mind when I think of WWV. Perfect. The voice was even more stentorian way back in the '50s and '60s - it's gotten softer and less, well, "governmental" in recent decades. You can hear it as far back as 1955 on this, in fact: http://dodgeblog.nfshost.com/wordpress/?p=435 Keep the romance going! MDW

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