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Posted on Nov 24, 20203
A tube checker, more commonly known as the tube tester, is an electronic instrument designed to test certain characteristics of vacuum tubes (thermionic valves). Digital Tube checkers have evolved along with the vacuum tube to satisfy the demands of the time, and their evolution ended with the tube era.
During tube testing, tester tubes are used as a low power rectifier, with all elements other than filament connections connected together as the anode, at a fraction of its normal emission. They are often referred to as the Emission Tester by mistake because they are a crude measure of emission in directly heated types (but a measure of unwanted heater-cathode leakage in indirectly heated types). Switches will need to select the correct filament voltage and pins.
Tube testing with a tube tester is essential for the measurement of vacuum tubes for various electronic characteristics, such as transconductance, gain, noise, Emissions, and so on.
The Tubes can be graded based on this information to enhance the operation or quality of a vacuum tube audio system. The selection of tubes into sets of similar measurement is called tube matching.
Tube testers are designed as a tool for repairmen to detect tubes that could be causing a problem in the item that the technician was repairing, and the digital tube testers do a very decent job in this role.
However, many people tend not to use a tube tester properly, do not interpret the results correctly, or have unrealistic expectations of them. Other people have developed poor workflow habits that need to be improved. Every tube tester has different capabilities and therefore different operating instructions.
There are quite many things you need to consider before selecting a tube tester:
With the basics covered, now you have to consider the tubes you plan to test, what level of testing is required and the needed level of test accuracy intended.
The tube tester can do a good job testing your intended tubes based on the tube sockets, operating voltages and test data available. But it ultimately comes down to features, functionality, accuracy, repeatability and your budget.
Tube testers have greatly improved in design and capability over the years. But other than laboratory models, most tube testers were service testers and most all service testers, which means they test tube at operating voltages below tube specification data sheet values, but the operating values chosen were proportionally close in test result value to the stated data sheet values so they were valid.
Despite the development, all tube testers are required to undergo maintenance and calibration every now and then. If not completed, the accuracy and trust in the test results will be rendered useless. Tube testers are unlike radios where you buy them, take them home and they eventually stop working.
So, be prepared to spend some on repair and calibration on any tube tester you buy unless it is sold as repaired and calibrated. What features and their specifications will depend on your needs and expectations in the final accuracy of the test results.
MTS gathered worldwide Tester Tube manufacturers into this online platform. Browse and search for your next supplier with us.
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