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Author Topic: Please allow me to introduce myself.  (Read 4126 times)
Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« on: February 23, 2007, 05:59:34 pm »

Greetings gentlepeople,

I sincerely hope this isn't out of place, but since I sense some degree of connectivity between many of the regular posters here on TSF, I decided it was time for a little personal introduction.

I have had an active interest all things technical and vintage for as long as I can remember. However and quite curiously it wasn't until quite recently that I realized the vastness of the 'net made it a near certainty that there were others like me out there. It was only earlier this year that I in earnest realized what the term 'Steampunk' meant, and that at heart I am a steampunk'er.

The main focal point of my activities centers on all things containing thermionic valves/vacuum tubes, preferably when combined with intricate mechanical mechanisms. For more than a quarter of a century (oh my, am I this old already?) I have been dismantling, designing, restoring and building all manners of devices containing thermionic valves. Additionally a professional background in the natural sciences has provided me with the opportunity to make my own electronics laboratory at home, containing objects and elements frequently deemed necessary for the craft. As mentioned elsewhere, then I'm currently contemplating a complete rebuild of said laboratory, possibly based in a very steampunk'ish theme.

The most steampunk'ish objects in my possesion are the main pendulum clock in the living room, a 1896 Gustav Becker regulator and - strangely - my everyday FM receiver. The latter is a Grundig model 3033/56-W3D, which dates to 1956 and works through the use of valves. I have restored it back to working condition myself, along with others like it.

Since I always strive to spread the arts of the thermionic valve, it would be my utmost pleasure if I could in some small way be of assistance to others in their quest to incorporate the lovely thermionic valve into their steampunk projects. I believe I may be able to help in the relevant subjects of

  • Design
  • Fault finding
  • Device selection
  • Electrical and thermal safety issues
  • Calibration and adjustment
  • DC, audio and radio frequency techniques
  • General discussion

If pressed then I may on occasion also be persuaded to discus the inanimate multilegged fuses and the electrostatic curses, which falls upon anyone unfortunate enough to have to work with them.

I live in Denmark when I step outside my door.

With kind regards

C. Sulphate.
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July 19th, 02009: Lab project delayed. Local home 'improvement' stores have apparently stopped carrying any kind of quality DIY materials... Huh
July 15th, 02009: Much progress was made today on clearing out my future laboratory, yet there is a ways to go still.
Tinkergirl
Brass Goggles Curator
Founders
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********
United Kingdom United Kingdom


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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 06:43:49 pm »

Welcome and well come, Mr Sulphate! 
I blush to admit it, but I had to go look up what a thermionic valve was - I knew I liked valves, but not what exactly the thermionic part meant.

Just to get people started off with your specialist, and deeply wonderful Steampunk topic, can you make some suggestions as to the use of thermionic valves?  Much to my shame - I know them to be pretty, and used in higher quality guitar amps (and my mum's old but rich sounding radio), but not much else.  Do they have a purely decorative side, or are you mostly concerned with their practical use?
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Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2007, 08:25:59 pm »

Hi Tinkergirl,

My personal interest in valves is mostly centered on the practical aspects, though the decoration part is important to me as well. I have built and restored many different types of valve equipment, including but not limited to radios, audio amplifiers and radio transmitters to mention a few things.

My suspicion is that many steampunk enthusiasts may mainly be interested in the decorative side. The good news to that end is that from an electrical point of view it is quite easy to achieve the nice gentle glow. You need a bit more power than to light a LED but it is pretty much the same thing apart from that. Additionally even dead valves, which are useless to the active valve practitioner, may still serve as glowing decoration for thousands of hours yet. When valves 'die' it is rarely due to the rather thick heating filament breaking, and it is this filament, which does the glowing trick (except for some very special corner cases).

One decorative use could be a 'valve radio', where the valve sits and glows on top of the contraption with a small bedside table radio hidden underneath somewhere doing the actual work. The possibilities here are endless, including the opportunities to confuse 'experts' if one research the valves used a bit before construction began. "You mean to say that you have actually made an FM receiver using valves?! *faint*"

For the individual with a bit of experience in electronics DIY it is quite practical to consider making smaller valve based projects, which actually work. In principle you can make anything, which can also be made using transistors and semiconductors. You are only limited by how many valves you want to use and your imagination. A simple example could be something like an AM medium wave broadcast receiver. A subject I would like to have an excuse for exploring is designing a newcomer friendly electronics project of general interest, which uses valves for at least part of the active devices.

The thing is that if one looks into old books and magazines from yesteryear, then the newbie designs presented are limited to the technologies available back in the day. That in particular means no transistors or other semiconductor devices.

As you may have heard then valves frequently use high voltages [1], which can be a problem in the hands of less experienced experimenters. However if one doesn't ask high power from valves, then they are frequently perfectly content to do their job at even surprisingly low and newcomer desktop fumbling friendly voltages.

So today one could design a valve radio, which uses a simple wallwart as its sole power source. At one time this will power both the valves used for, say, the active front end to a simple radio receiver, plus a hidden semiconductor based audio amplifier for driving a set of headphones or a speaker.

I have considered designing a valve front-end radio built around a gentleman's walking stick to give a bit of sense of what is possible [2] As mentioned then the steampunk part of my valve hobby is of recent origin, and I'm afraid that most of my creations are fairly drab and austere looking functional devices. This is in no small part due to a serious lack of machining facilities here at home. I hope I will be able to find inspiration to that side of my creativity here at TSF.

Hope this didn't raise more questions than it answered.  Grin

Kind regards

C.S.

[1] Valves generally require two voltages to perform their function. A low heating voltage, which makes them glow. And another - usually much higher - voltage, which allows them to actually perform their amplifying function. However if a particular low power circuit is designed properly, then there is nothing which speaks against using the same low voltage for both functions.

[2] Not really a portable radio though, it would have to be connected to the mains supply. The average receiving valve uses 2 watts of power for the heater alone, which would be too much for batteries of a practical size. Special valves for battery operation do exist, but they don't visibly glow! I consider the valve glow an essential ingredient in all my valve contraptions.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 08:49:51 pm by Copper Sulphate » Logged
CuriousGoods
Guest
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 09:00:06 pm »

Hello Copper Sulphate!  My very-small college had just stopped teaching thermionic valves (or tubes) the year I took electronics (scary thing is, this was only 9 years ago) so unfortunately I didn't receive formal training in them.  I'm a big fan of the tube sound, although according to my recording engineer friends, it's a sound easily added by modern computers.

My father is an engineer, and I have intercepted a variety of tubes (Nixie tubes too!) that he had sent on their way to the trash.

I would love to see a photograph of your lab.
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Jake von Slatt
Officer
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Brunelian Contraptor


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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 09:24:32 pm »

Valves, or in the American parlance "tubes" are indeed wonderful things!  I worked as TV repairman after class during High School and while I was in college to earn a few extra dollars.  Since I was part-time I did not get sent to the "Solid State" training that the other techs went to and thus ended up working on all of the old tube sets.

I recall owning a 25" Color Magnavox set that had 23 tubes in it, many of which had up to five active sections.  IIRC the only semiconductors in it were diodes.  A modern electrical engineer would tell you that such a device was impossible to build.

Alas, in my callow youth I divested myself of all those lovely valves (including a Grundig console reciever! ow . . . .. )

I do have a few pieces of tube equipment in the Steampunk Warehouse and will feature one in an upcoming project, I'd be happy for your consultation, Mr. Sulfate!

Cheers,

Jake.

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The Industrial Revolution . . . This time it's personal.
Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2007, 09:56:51 pm »

I would love to see a photograph of your lab.
I'm afraid that making a photo of it isn't a practical proposition at the moment. Due to the influence of a long term and steady flux from a strong acquisition field, said lab have progressively moved location toward the living room and other parts of the premises. Making a photography would thus require a transdimensional lens with the ability of reordering the disconnected loci of particular momentarily activity and interest. Cheesy

In fact the state of disarray is currently the main stumbling block preventing progress on many of my projects, since I currently cannot have an extensive experimental setup in situ for prolonged periods of time. Unsurprisingly the reordering of the room includes a major overhaul of the state and contents of my stashes. Grin

It isn't terribly big in any case...

Alas, in my callow youth I divested myself of all those lovely valves (including a Grundig console reciever! ow . . . .. )
I will pretend I didn't hear that.  Smiley

I do have a few pieces of tube equipment in the Steampunk Warehouse and will feature one in an upcoming project, I'd be happy for your consultation, Mr. Sulfate!
Great to hear I'm not the only one in the steampunk community with an interest in tubes, Jake. Just yank my chain when you have something to discuss. Now, thanks to Tinkergirl, we have a place to keep in touch.

Take care.

C.S.
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Cephias
Gunner
**


« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2007, 01:01:49 am »

Where the deuce does one even get a valve in these days?  I should think they have stopped producing them long ago, as such, would you divulge your source of the veritable sprocket of the turn of the last century?
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Your's ect.
G. S. Cephias
Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2007, 08:31:16 am »

Where the deuce does one even get a valve in these days?

ePay, countless on line dealers, old radios from pawn shops, ham radio swapmeets and many similar places. There must still be millions of the things languishing in warehouses around the world. Some types can be pricey as they are sought after by Hi-Fi enthusiasts, but most valves are quite inexpensive even today.

I should think they have stopped producing them long ago, as such, would you divulge your source of the veritable sprocket of the turn of the last century?

Actually they haven't stopped making them yet! The previously mentioned types sought for Hi-Fi use are still being manufactured by factories in Slovakia, Russia and China. Unfortunately the number of different types still in production are nowhere near what it was back in the fifties and sixties, but then there is New Old Stock. Not to mention that the shelf life of a good valve is nearly infinite. Any second hand used specimen you may run across is more likely to work than the opposite. Valves has an unjustified reputation for being shortlived and unreliable, but this is actually due to a misunderstanding on part of the observer.

Chinese valves have a mixed reputation, but I would have no quarrels building stuff using valves from any other source out there.

Let me know if you are looking for a particular type and I will see what I can come up with.

C.S.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2007, 01:24:42 pm by Copper Sulphate » Logged
Tinkergirl
Brass Goggles Curator
Founders
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********
United Kingdom United Kingdom


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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2007, 01:42:05 pm »

Due to the influence of a long term and steady flux from a strong acquisition field, said lab have progressively moved location toward the living room and other parts of the premises.
I just love that line, Mr Sulphate - I think that you're not alone in suffering the results of such a field.  I know it blows over my domicile with terrifying frequency!
I really out to see about rearranging the one spare room into a proper workroom - the best I've managed so far is being able to order my junk into different drawers in a large set of drawers.  One for sewing and leather, one for goggle making, one for assorted 'other' Steampunk items.  If I'm to be getting into electronics in any way shape or form - I'll need to have somewhere better than just a random drawer!
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Vermilion
Guest
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2007, 06:10:47 pm »

I never really thought that these where still used. I have a big box of like 25 of these tubes I had set a side for future art projects...maybe i should look into this stuff and maybe produce something functional with them. Is there an easy beginner's project you recommend? 
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Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2007, 01:25:01 pm »

Is there an easy beginner's project you recommend? 
I probably have more ideas than I know what to do with. Cheesy

Projects I believe to be within reach for someone with a bit of experience in building and debugging DIY electronics could include but is not limited to: Simple AM broadcast receivers, audio amplifiers, more or less primitive musical instruments/noisemakers, neon lamp blinkers/running lights and similar optical effects.

With the exception of the first two, then one probably wouldn't find too many circuit examples on the 'net as copies from old books. Back in the day electronic components were expensive and 'wasting' a few valves to make a blinkenlight wasn't done too frequently as a beginner's project.

I also have some ideas for more complex projects, but I wouldn't expect too many being interested in copying those due to the complexity and component count, so I will probably not make too many noises about those for the time being.

If/when I have the time and if there is sufficient interest, then I intend to make test and publish a number of simple circuit building blocks, which could then be customized to suit components at hand and combined - 'LEGO' style - to achieve different ends.

Please let me know if you have something particular in mind and I could put on my thinking hat.

C.S.
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Fantômas
Snr. Officer
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Netherlands Netherlands


As many steps ahead of this claim as I want to be.


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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2007, 02:13:20 am »

Is there an easy beginner's project you recommend? 
I probably have more ideas than I know what to do with. Cheesy


C.S.

I can relate to this completely. I have between ten and fifteen a day, five or six in the middle of the night usually interrupting my otherwise tormented sleep, and those of course which interupt...ahem...intimate activities.

there is simply not enough time.
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" 'I' Is For 'Infamy' "
Clym Angus
Zeppelin Admiral
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


Lord of Misrule


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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2007, 06:06:24 pm »

It is a pleasure to make your aquaintance CS. Smiley

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Copper Sulphate
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Denmark Denmark

Teslarian Electrosteam Contraptor


« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2007, 06:25:40 pm »

Thank you very much Mr. Angus, a pleasure being here.  Wink

C.S.
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