Vacuum Tubes: It's Not Rocket Science

You mow your own grass. You shovel your own driveway. You make your own granola. You grind your own coffee beans. You chop your own firewood. You change your own oil. You reload your own ammo. You make your own vacuum tubes. Wait. What?

Has this ever happened to you? You get the feeling that your life is spinning out of control, that everything has been outsourced, that you have become a helpless observer of your own life, that despite all of your knowledge and skill, you can't really do anything?

If you have that feeling, you should seek professional counseling because there's nothing I can say here to help you. Oh, hang on — wait a minute — there is something I can do to help. In a world where everything is done for you, and you're not allowed to do anything for yourself, I would like to propose that you build your own vacuum-tube audio amplifier from scratch. And I mean, from scratch.

And I'm not talking about some candy-ass hobby kit. I am talking about a real DIY job, where you roll up your sleeves, exposing your manly (or womanly) forearms and open a jumbo can of whoop-ass. You might recall the Les Grossman character in “Tropic Thunder.” In that vein, I want you to take a big step back and rain down a firestorm on those electrons. I want you to go scorched earth on that audio signal. I want you to call the United Nations and get a binding resolution that will make those filaments burn. I want you to make your own vacuum tubes.

Yes, you heard me. This is something I know you can do. I wouldn't ask, if I didn't have complete faith in you. You are not a helpless observer of your own life. You are calm, capable, and confident. You are captain of your ship and you're sailing across the Step Aside I'll Handle This Ocean.

  • Cutting pieces of metal?......Check!
  • Bending pieces of metal?......Check!
  • Wrapping wire into little coils?......Check!
  • Blowing glass?......Check!
  • Creating a vacuum?......Check!
  • Applying a voltage?......Check!
  • Soldering a few components?......Check!
  • Standing back and basking in the warm glow of your awesomeness?......Check!
You can do this. Tony Stark built the first Ironman suit in a cave using only a piece of flint and a Bic pen. Hell, with a lever, Archimedes was able to move the earth (theoretically). I am supremely confident that you can make vacuum tubes and use them to power an audio amplifier. Before you jump in, you might want to consult a YouTube tutorial. For example, here is a superb video on making a 1920's style amplifier, complete with DIY tubes. It's not rocket science. Just follow the video. Elsewhere on YouTube you'll find a plethora of other tutorials on handmade vacuum tubes. It's a thing.

Now get out there and fuel up that rocket ship. Then we'll head over to Mars.

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