News Archive

Archived news posts are sorted by date, most recent date first. There are currently 161 news items listed in the archive.


2012-12-15 Heavy Mineral Deposits  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


In Victorian steampunk times, lightbulbs were seen as a legitimate form of entertainment. We have recently acquired an early Crookes mineral tube which exists only to fulfill this need. The tube contains a cubical block of calcite, which glows red under the influence of high voltage in a vacuum due to its phosphorescent properties. In our not too distant past, electricity was still considered a form of magic.

We have also added a few other new items, including a J.H. Bunnel Telegraph Sounder in the Communication Equipment section, an unusual surface mount green Soviet LED display in the Solid State Displays section, and an assortment of General Electric 2N43 transistors to the Discrete Semiconductors section.

2012-10-10 Wired Wrong  
Posted by Accutron  


A photo editor from emailed me a few days ago, asking if they could use one of our photos in an article. Little did I know they were going to use our photo as their poster child in the mainstream media's grand perpetuation of the Holonyak Creation Myth. Their article flatly states "The first LEDs were red", and makes no mention of the actual first LEDs or their inventors.

Nick Holonyak did indeed invent the first visible LED. He did not, however, invent the first LED, and the first LED was not visible red. The first LED was invented in 1961, at Texas Instruments, by Bob Biard and Gary Pittman. Their device was infrared, not visible red. The first commercial LED was the TI SNX-100 infrared LED, introduced in 1962.

2012-10-07 The Polish Ambassador  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


How does one control an electric street lamp automatically in a time before semiconductors? If you are the City of New York, you decide to install a phalanx of General Electric 3T18SOL2 Astronomic Time Switches on every street. We have recently added one of these mechanically intensive devices to the Clocks, Timers & Counters section, and it is worth looking at a reminder of how difficult electronics used to be before Shockley's transistor invasion. Other new items added to the site in recent history include a Reflector P789 three color 'Jumbotron'-style display to the Vacuum Fluorescent Displays section, a Raytheon 2K33 reflex klystron to the Microwave Amplifier & Oscillator Tubes section, and a quite hilarious big bubble Litronix display to the Solid State Displays section.

In other news, a visitor to our site, Zygmunt Flisak, has identified the unidentified 'Eastern Bloc' green metal can LED we added to the Solid State Indicators section several months ago. It is a CEMI CQYP 32A, and has the distinction of being the first Polish-made electronic component added to the website. We very much doubt that it will be the last.

2012-08-15 Big Iron  
Posted by Accutron  


Last weekend, the VTA paid a visit to the National Pike Steam Gas & Horse Association engine show in Brownsville, PA. My dad, Chet Luckenbaugh, is the senior on-site heavy equipment mechanic and all-around troubleshooter. During the show, when he's not fixing somebody else's equipment or hiding out back with us at camp, he operates his 1929 Thew-Lorain 75A gasoline-powered shovel, the oldest working non-steam shovel on the grounds. The 75A is a notoriously difficult machine to operate - the only other people allowed to operate it during the show were myself and my two oldest sons, though I personally had the good sense to decline the offer.

2012-08-11 Prince Albert in a Can  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


Once again, we have added a number of new items to the Electronics Museum:

* Solid State Displays: A very rare military variant of the 2416, the MDL2416, which is packaged in a hermetic metal can enclosure.
* Computers & Calculators: A Tracor AN/UGC-129 Teletypewriter Set, which can both survive and carry out global thermonuclear war.
* Clocks, Timers & Counters: A Sargent & Greenleaf Type L time lock movement, worthy of appearing in a steampunk fantasy.
* Variable Indicator Tubes: A Tune A Lite 'tuneon' style linear neon tuning indicator, in an advanced state of cathode-disintegrating torment.

2012-06-16 Dot Communist  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We have added a few new items to the Electronics Museum, including an unusual device, the Soviet IV-29 dot indicator. Never before has the humble lamp been lavished with such over-engineering; the IV-29 is an entire hot cathode VFD tube built to display a single round dot. Large numbers of IV-29s would be soldered into matrices and segments, allowing characters and numbers to be displayed in pixel-assembled form.

We have added several items from Hamvention to the site as well, including an EMI 9826B photomultiplier to the Detection Tubes section and a Central Electric CVS-1 high vacuum switch to the Spark, Trigger, and Passive Tubes section. Our somewhat anemic Aerospace Components section has also received a new item, a Northrop 09641001 voice recorder magazine. This reel-to-reel recorder takes the tape deck to new heights of military over-engineering.

2012-05-25 The Great Material Continuum  
Posted by Accutron  


It was early Friday morning, day one of Dayton Hamvention 2012. We had just caught a glimpse of That Scrap Guy on the prowl, and we knew we had to move it or lose it, because anything priced below its gold value would be fair game for his Tibetan sky burial. Minutes later, we had an incredibly unlikely find: a HP 2100A minicomputer, priced at $10. Needless to say, $10 is very much shy of the 2100A's gold value, and this particular machine was narrowly saved from an extremely moosey fate. As it turns out, at the very same moment we were trying to figure out how to haul the 2100A without dooming ourselves to spinal surgery, That Scrap Guy was back at our booth, rediscovering the utter futility of arguing with my wife. Once again, Paula's natural recalcitrance paid off, and one more antique computer was saved from the gold scrapper.

Other awesome Hamvention finds this year include: an original Radio Shack Armatron robotic arm with box and accessories, a Garmin Nuvi 1300 vehicular GPS, a pair of vane displays, huge lots of GPS modules and large LED scoreboard displays, and a sackful of extremely rare Fairchild FLV101 LEDs. My oldest son also added his first klystron to his electronics collection, an early Sperry 2K25 reflex klystron. He was very excited to learn that his tube was possibly indirectly responsible for the killing of Nazis.

2012-04-29 Pork Chops  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


Dayton Hamvention is once again rapidly approaching, and we will again be occupying flea market booth numbers FE3038, FE3039 and FE3040. We will have our full online inventory available, including kit versions of all our Yilane products, as well as thousands of heavy bulky electronic and industrial items designed to entice equal portions of lust and chiropractic care. If you are one of those unfortunate souls that has never experienced Hamvention, feel free to check out this 57-minute long video of Hamvention 2011, filmed by our motley crew of electronics enthusiasts. Could there possibly be a better place to ride out the 2012 global apocalypse?

In non-Hamvention news, we have also added a few new items to the Electronics Museum between the busy work of Hamvention preparation; a mysterious green Eastern Bloc LED to the Solid State Indicators section, and a hilarious Wamco KW104S-DP filamentary decimal point indicator to the Filament Displays section.

2012-04-06 Going Geissler  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We have recently added another obscure item to the site, the Soviet IEL-0-VI electroluminescent display. These unusual devices, which have recently flooded the Ebay surplus market after years of absence, work on the same principle as the Chinese electroluminescent wire that has choked the blogosphere ever since the new Tron movie was released. In absence of an appropriate section in which to insert such an unusual device, we have added the entry for the IEL-0-VI to the Vacuum Fluorescent Displays section. Emails pointing out the poor reasons for this choice will be cheerfully ignored.

We have added a vintage spiral Geissler tube to the Gas Discharge Tubes section. A Geissler tube is a functionally useless decorative cold cathode lamp, and were mass produced from the 1880's onward; a time when staring at a decorative lamp was considered a legitimate form of entertainment. Other recent additions include an IEE Aurora FFD12 minitron display to the Filament Displays section, and an unknown Monsanto straight-pin LED to the Solid State Indicators section.

2012-02-28 High School Physics Musical  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We have taken a trip off the beaten path to add an article to the Electronics Museum covering an esoteric piece of philosophical equipment, a De La Rive Apparatus. This formidable device combines a low pressure electron tube with an external magnetic coil to demonstrate the effect of magnetic fields upon an electron stream, typically to an audience of stiff-collared Victorians or bored high school physics students. It is a difficult to obtain device, and we are glad to finally add one to our Gas Discharge Tubes section.

We have also acquired some new items of a more traditional fare, including a Phillips Z550 neon filled pixie tube and a Philco 1N82 point contact diode. A new entry has also been added to the Glow Transfer Counting Tubes page to cover rare transitional forms of the GC10B, which are filled with helium instead of the neon gas the GC10B typically contains.

2012-01-28 Is That Your Edge?  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We recently obtained a rather unusual device from Brian Stuckey, operator of the TubeclockDB Nixie clock database: a General Radio IND-1803 Numerik Indicator. Manufactured by a company not known for their display division, the IND-1803 is an edge lit display with a number of rather unique properties. Other new additions to the website include a Burroughs B9012 pixie tube in the Gas Discharge Displays section and an unusual surface mount LED display in the Solid State Displays section.

We have also veered a bit away from the world of tubes and electronics to make an entry for a mechanical device; an Eaton two movement time lock, a traditional device from a rather insular class of products. Despite a lack of any electronics, this device is a forest of moving parts and can be found in our Clocks Timers & Counters section.

2012-01-18 Imagine a World Without Fallacious Gibberish  
Posted by Accutron  


In protest of the impending SOPA legislation, Wikipedia has gone dark for 24 hours, blocking all of their pages with a dramatic funerary splash graphic which implores us to 'Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge'. Numerous Wikipedia contributors are concerned that the act of protest will damage the credibility of their work. Rest assured, Wikipedia contributors, your work has no credibility to damage.

Just in case you really need Wikipedia today, there's an easy workaround. Instead of Wikipedia temporarily shunting the entire domain to a dummy server, they simply tacked a script onto their page generating code, which covers up the normal pages with the funerary splash. To get around it, simply install the NoScript browser plugin and disallow

As far as SOPA goes, we're going to protest it by continuing to provide the same high quality content you have come to expect...while downloading TNG DVD rips at 1.2MB/s.

2011-12-26 The Undiscovered Country  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


Few arenas are as contested within the world of vintage electronics as the trade war between dekatrons and magnetic beam switching tubes, the two vacuum counting technologies of the era. Dekatrons indicate their own count, magnetic beam switching tubes are faster but require a separate Nixie for count position display. However, what if there was a magnetic beam switching tube that displayed it's own count, like a dekatron, while maintaining beam-switching tube speeds? The exceedingly rare Ericsson RYG10 is just such a tube, a sleeve-type magnetic beam switching tube that can indicate its own count on a curved phosphor screen. The RYG10 can count at up to 1Mhz, a speed that only the most advanced and elaborate dekatrons can match.

Not all of our recent additions are of the sort that light up in ways that they should not. We have also expanded our collection of high frequency tubes with a Varian VA-113 reflex klystron, a Raytheon 2K28 external cavity klystron, an undocumented Sylvania 6068A TR cell, and a hefty Varian VA-162P backward wave oscillator that could possibly be used to commit blunt force trauma in a poorly choreographed CSI episode.

Our entry for the Federal Telephone & Radio 5J29 split anode magnetron has also received an update; a picture of the questionably rational decorative lamp from which our example was mercifully salvaged. The lamp from which our specimen was liberated was last seen decorating the interior of a trash barrel at Dayton Hamvention 2010.

2011-12-08 Clocking In with the ITS1A Display  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We have added a new project build log to the Articles page, covering the construction of a rather unusual timepiece which makes use of a Melz ITS1A display. These neon filled devices use an array of thyratrons to display seven-segment numbers in green phosphor, and can be hooked directly up to a TTL microcontroller with no intermediate hardware despite the high voltages present in the tube. This is likely the only clock using ITS1A tubes so far made outside the Russian Federation... at least we could not find any other projects on the Internet using one of these tubes. Head on over to the project article page to jump down the rabbit hole; it is a very deep rabbit hole indeed.

2011-11-06 Pixel Pushers  
Posted by AnubisTTP  


We have made some recent additions to the Electronics Museum, including an unusual Soviet matrix display, the ILV2-5/7M2. This is an obscure bitmapped VFD tube that can display a 5x7 alphanumeric character in three different colors; red, green; or blue. Other new additions include a National NL5971 alphanumeric Nixie tube and the Gazotron MTX-90, a Soviet thyratron designed for indicator use, both of which can be found in the Gas Discharge Displays section, as well as a rare Toyo 6ME5 subminiture tuning eye that can be found in the Variable Indicators section.

In unrelated news, our article on the construction of a Tiny Tetris device utilizing a small camcorder viewfinder CRT was recently picked up by the Hackaday electronics blog. If you missed this project when it first appeared several years ago, it can be found in the Articles section.

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