Pictures of my Tube Amplifier

Here are some pictures of the tube amplifier I built for my science fair project. These were taken by my grandmother using a HP digital camera (my grandparents are up-to-date technologically). I hope you like these pictures!

My vacuum tube amplifier

This is a close-up shot of my vacuum tube amplifier. Note that the flash glare makes the pilot light look pink and white; it's actually red (I have a green lense for it I can switch in if I feel like it). Yes, the can capacitor is actually gold (came like this out of the box; it's actually gold-painted cardboard). Another project in the same room (about building a good pair of speakers) used a 250 watt solid-state amplifier that blared techno and heavy-metal music almost constantly. That pretty much drowned out my little 3 watt tube amplifier when turned on (although I could hear my amplifier from across the somewhat large room when the other project was turned off).

My project board

Here is a picture of the project board for my science fair project, which was titled "Tubes versus Transistors" (as stated on the project board, as well as the banner printed from my Mac SE on a dot-matrix printer to make it look dated). My project took about a month to build (counting time waiting for my parts), and cost me and my partner $90.87. For my efforts, we got a honorable mention! The small white board sitting next to my tube amplifier is the transistor amplifier, which I hastily built on a piece of proto-board in a day. Next to that is the very bright 811A vacuum tube I used as a display item (thanks to Thomas Buster of!). After that is some literature I left by the amplifier (including the essential article "Tubes versus Transistors: is There an Audible Difference?" by Russell O. Hamm). Before the amplifier is my journal book (which contains information also found on my journal page), the speaker I used to test the monaural amplifiers (an Optimus XTS-33), and my Aiwa portable CD player (which, sadly, was stolen from my science fair booth the day after this picture was taken). My board contains schematics for both amplifiers, as well as four vacuum tube pictures (from left to right, top: WE 300B, 210; bottom: Arcturus Blue 127, WE 205D). The tags on the table are pointing to the amplifiers, the 811A tube (the tag read "An Actual Vacuum Tube!"), and a warning not to touch the tubes (mainly so that no one would smash the tubes, my biggest fear). My project was very popular with people familiar with vacuum tubes (including the engineer who judged the science fair), and it drew in the old-timers in like a magnet (one said, "My father used to make vacuum tubes.", another one exaggerated "I haven't seen these used in four thousand years." I think it was a hit.

Me and my project board

Here is a picture of me standing alongside my science fair project. Underneath the table (I got a table all to myself, while the rest shared tables) you can see the old Craftsman 6 volt battery charger I used to power the 811A tube (not visible in the previous photo) since I couldn't find any other 6 volt power supply with a high enough current rating to power the tube (it requires 4 amps). I hope you like my picture gallery!

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