For audiophiles, musicians, and ham radio operators, the soft glow of the vacuum tube filament is not only an indication of function, but a nostalgic trigger for memories of simpler times. Though they may have been outpaced by tiny transistors and integrated circuits, these workhorses still may have something to offer in many modern devices.
Over the years, I have accumulated a bunch of chips from before the era of true PCs when computers with names like Altair, KIM-1, and Cosmac ELF were popular. I’ve been looking for a way to use them in new projects, so I designed a system around a 40-pin PIC16F887. I figured this would put some of my historic chips to work and be a great learning tool for understanding how a microcomputer works.
This six-digit, beautifully designed timepiece showcases cold war era components — Numitrons instead of Nixie tubes — along with modern LEDs and a Microchip PIC to create not only a useful clock but a great conversation piece as well.
I love restoring old electronic equipment. A while ago, I was excited to find a vintage Heathkit EC-1 analog computer for a reasonable price on eBay. It definitely needed a little TLC. Here’s how I brought it back to life.
Even though they're ancient by today's standards, old tube radios can almost always be brought back to life, and there's still plenty of broadcasts out there for them to receive! Not to mention, they just look so classy and have a presence few modern electronics can match.
In the fast moving world of digital electronics, I find it incredible that the vacuum tube — a piece of early 20th century analog technology — has managed to survive. It should have bitten the dust long ago but that just did not happen. This back-to-the-future one-tube radio is made with readily available parts, operates on 12 volts, and offers amazing performance.
Most folks believe that first came the vacuum tube and right on its heels came its successor, the transistor — an historical fact, correct? Not really. Another competitive control technology developed by US and Nazi engineers came in between. It was the magnetic amplifier. Rugged, dependable, EMP-proof, and capable of handling greater electrical powers than either transistor or tube, the magnetic amplifier is a simple device that can be built by anyone.