Giant vacuum tube


When we saw this giant home vacuum tube, we thought it would go perfectly along side the giant LED lamp . Constructed from spare computer parts, a glass display dome and some EL wire, it is fairly convincing looking. If only he had shaped some characters with the EL wire, we could do a giant nixie tube project.


  1. Umm… It’s not a Nixie fake… But it’s a giant fake regular vacuum tube – very nice decoration for oldschool geeks =)

  2. tony says:

    nice paperweight. now if it did something I would be impressed.

  3. Steve says:

    Uhm, I hate to be a dick here but this was lame when I saw it on instructables. It doesn’t look like any of the real vacuum tubes I’ve ever used. the insides don’t look right at all. it’s missing the nipple on top, and it’s to fat. not to mention reposting stuff from other popular sites like instructables is lame unless it’s something cool like the gek powered Honda civic that runs on wood chips; that was worth posting here. I fully realize that saying these things makes me an asshole, but someone needs to call you guys on this crap or it’s just going to get worse, and quite frankly I almost gave up on this site alltogether until ian came along.

  4. happypinguin says:


    Good, because we won’t miss you.

    Awesome work! I would use real carbon
    filaments and make them glow in red :P
    Making it vacuum is difficult, so
    NICE WORK! (again)

  5. cap slockoff says:

    Nice idea pingu :)
    How about this for an eco-unfriendly twist?
    Take the heating elements from a hairdryer or other electric heating device, stick 2 fans underneath the dome, 1 blowing in and 1 blowing out, adjust airflow for optimum glowage and bingo.
    Looks funky and warms the room :D

  6. Abbott says:

    Fairly neat i suppose, though it would be nice to see this as a real neon nixie tube…hmm, sounds like a new project…

  7. fractalrock says:

    @cap slockoff: i like the vacuum-tube-room-heater idea…
    granted, it would probably burn the house down; but it would still be worth it.

  8. liam says:

    I am somewhat taken aback that an Instructable with the succinct title “giant Fake Vacuum Tube” somehow made it to HAD as a “Giant Vacuum Tube” -no mention whatsoever that it is entirely ornamental.

  9. guyfrom7up says:

    That’s pretty nice, goes along with my lamp ;)

    I might attempt the nixie tube ;) but I got a lot on my plate.

    Very nice!

  10. AnarKIT says:

    It’s not a hack by any means, but it’s still cute. :-)

  11. spacecoyote says:

    It’s not that big, either.

  12. medix says:

    Looks like I may have a use for some giant vacuum bell jars for sputtering machines I’ve been holding on to.. ;)

  13. Oren Beck says:

    There are several well documented projects to make hobby built “Tubes” including more than one CRT. Many years ago there was a company building “Wire Ladder” electronic devices in glass tubes. I’m suspending flame comments on the repost as it’s well-intended even if edgy on hack cred level.

    IF for example the EL inverters had been crafted from disposable cameras and the “Tube” shell had been hobby shop vacuformed We’d likely be fanboy highfiving it..

  14. Nubie says:

    @ cap slackoff;

    I think just one fan would be better, seeing how it is a cylinder, make the fan an intake in the center, and then have the exhaust around the edges.

    It is “ok”, but it is an interesting idea, now to make a “circuit” using plastic glow wire and transistors hidden in the base to activate the fake tube and provide the function it should, would be a neat thing, maybe even make your room look like the inside of an old tube TV ;)

  15. localroger says:

    @steve: Actually the outside shell is a dead ringer for lots of common late 40’s/early 50’s era octal base tubes, which tended to have their nipples hidden in the base and did tend to be short and fat. Inside, the biggest error is that all practical tubes completely surrounded the filament with grid and plate. That said, the flat presentation was commonly used, and is how the Type 30 in my homemade regenerative receiver is built, except that it has grid and plate on both sides of the filament.

  16. Sam says:


    I’d be careful if I built something like that and put it under a real vacuum. If you do it, have someone test it with a geiger counter to make sure it isn’t exposing you to x-ray radiation.

  17. trollfood says:


    you’re a troll, right?
    -heating filaments producing x-rays
    -geiger counters detecting x-rays
    -vacuum blocking x-rays

  18. steve says:

    thank you for your constructive comment. I’ve never seen that type of tube but I usualy work with the 9-pin type and that does have filament is surounded by the grid and plate just like you said. I’m sorry for being an asshole but this isn’t a hack; art maybe, but not a hack.

  19. saimhe says:

    Any vacuum tube might produce x-rays at ludicrous anode voltages (tens of kV). There was even a particular scandal with General Electric TVs: a failed rectifier supplied the regulator tube with lots of voltage and eventually someone noticed :)

    And yes, a typical contemporary “geiger counter” will be sensitive to x-rays. If “someone to test it” is an acquaintance from hospital, then it’s even more probable since those meters are specifically designed for x-rays. Of course one can stumble upon more specific counters for nuclear medicine, they might be gamma-only.

    Regarding that vacuum portion, I don’t think anybody understood. However I must remind that there won’t be x-rays *without* a decent vacuum.

  20. kendon says:

    doesn’t el-wire mean that it lights up? where is a lit-up-picture? pretty cool … NOT

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