Frankenstein, an all-tube home theater amplifier


Here’s an exercise in excess if we’ve ever seen one. While working on his undergrad at Michigan State, [Gregory] thought it would be a great idea to build an all-tube home theater system. He calls his seven-foot tall rack of amplifiers ‘Frankenstein,’ and we’ve got to agree this build is an impressive monstrosity of engineering prowess.

[Gregory]’s Frankenstein is a complete 5.1 home theater system. In the interests of sanity, the majority of the equipment in the rack is off-the-shelf gear including a CD player, surround sound processor, and a beautiful McIntosh solid state preamp. The power amps, though, are where this build really shines.

For the sub, [Gregory] built a wonderful monoblock tube amp, able to push nearly 300 watts into a subwoofer. The other channels for this home theater system are amplified with a huge four channel tube amp providing 480 watts per channel. In total, there are 23 tubes in [Gregory]’s amplifier system, enough to consume 20 amps of filament current.

You can check out [Gregory]’s demo video of his system after the break.

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Beautiful tube amp uses a TV tube


Most audio tube amps we see use common tubes – usually a 12AX7 for the preamp and one of the more common power tubes such as an EL34.[Daniel], on the other hand, decided to build his own audio tube amp with a 13EM7, a tube originally used for a television’s vertical oscillator. The resulting project is a wonderful stereo amp that sounds really good, to boot.

[Daniel] picked up the idea of using a 13EM7 tube from [Fred Nachbaur]’s MiniBlok SET amplifier. This very tiny 1-watt tube amplifier uses a single tube originally designed for use in old, old televisions. The secret behind this build is the fact this tube is actually two triodes in one package; one side of the 13ME7 has tons of gain but not much power, making it perfect for a preamp. The other side has a lot of power, useful for delivering two watts of power into a speaker.

After [Daniel] etched a few boards for his amp, he milled out a piece of wood for the chassis. When everything was mounted he had an awesome looking stereo amplifier that also sounds great.

Cute little amplifier has a tube pre


While you won’t catch us in an argument with an audiophile regarding the sound quality of tube vs. solid state amps, there is a general consensus that tube amplifiers sound much better than their transistorized brethren. Actually building an all-tube amplifier, though, is a bit harder than one built around common ICs – there are transformers to deal with and of course very high voltages. One solution to get the sound of tubes easily but still retaining the simplicity of integrated circuits is a hybrid amp, or a tube preamplifier combined with a solid state power section. They’re easy enough to build as [Danilo] shows us with his hybrid tube amp design (Italian, translation).

[Danilo]’s design uses two ECC86 for the left and right channels powered by a 12 Volt supply. Each channel is sent through a tube and then amplified by a TDA2005 20 Watt power amplifier. After plugging in a CD player, the result is a clear, warm sound that can put a whole lot of power through a speaker.

DIY amplifier minder turns off your stereo when you forget


[zmashiah] has a nice Nova tube amplifier in his living room, and he often forgets to turn it off once he’s done listening to music. He feels guilty when this happens, as it not only shortens the lifespan of his stereo, but it’s not exactly the greenest behavior either. Rather than let his receiver idle any longer, he built a simple device that automatically turns it off when he forgets.

He wired an Arduino to the line level output of the receiver, sampling the audio every two seconds. When five minutes pass without an audio signal, the Arduino sends an IR command to the receiver, turning it off.

He says he’s aware that it might be overkill to use an Arduino for this application, but that he would rather fork out an extra dollar or two instead of spending hours poring over AVR assembly code. While we’re all for efficiency, we can’t exactly argue with that logic – time is money!

[zmashiah] is kind enough to include his schematics as well as the code for his project, so be sure to check it out if you occasionally forget to turn off your IR-enabled appliances.

High Voltage Hacks: A 1000 Watt tube amp

Normally when we hear of a Champ guitar amp, we think of a sweet-sounding rig that puts out 6 Watts through an 8-inch speaker. [John Chambers] of Champ Electronics wanted to build a true champion for the field of battle and came up with The Champ 1000 Watt Tube Amp, an amplifier that probably puts out enough heat to keep an igloo warm.

The amp is based on 807 valves. With some clever engineering [John] managed to coax 100 watts out of a pair of 807s, so the entire amp “only” requires 20 power tubes. The build log shows some pretty impressive examples of electrical prowess. We can’t recall the last time we featured a build with point-to-point wiring on tagboard, and [John]’s work is some of the best we’ve ever seen.

[John] has been working on this amp off and on for a few years now, but he should be wrapping up the build sometime soon. We haven’t seen this amp in action, but we imagine it would look something like this 36×10 monstrosity. Send us a message or post a comment if you can find a video and we’ll put it up.

Baking pan tube amp sounds better than you’d expect


A few years back, [Gio] decided to try his hand at building a couple of tube amplifiers.

The first amp was more of an experiment to see how well a DIY single-ended tube amp would sound. The amp is based off the 6T9 design created by Spare Time Gizmos, and incorporates a pair of 6T9 vacuum tubes, hence the name.  He wired things up in an afternoon, then got busy drilling holes in a baking pan, where he mounted the amp. Bear with us for a second, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The amp actually looks pretty good mounted in the dark black steel, and this sort of enclosure is far cheaper than most DIY amp enclosures. He says that he was sure to be extra careful in isolating all of the electronic components from the metal chassis.

The second amp was built to test the performance differences between Pentode-mode and Ultra-Linear mode configurations. While both amps share a substantial amount of the same components, his UL amp benefits from slightly better capacitors and an uprated power supply, not to mention a more conventional case.

Both amps sound great, according to [Gio], but should be paired with efficient speakers for the best experience. He does note that the ultra-linear amp is the better choice, mounting options aside.

[Thanks, Philippe]

[via RetroThing]

555 Two-fer – Baby swing upgrade and a Headphone tube amp


[Jason] sent in two 555 timer driven items that were worth sharing, both of which are entries in the 555 Design Contest.

The first item is a circuit that automatically resets an infant swing. [Jay], who built both items, has an infant swing for his daughter that spins a mobile and plays music. It’s great but it only works for 7 minutes and 15 seconds before a button push is required to trigger it again. He found this limitation to be annoying, and as I have owned the same swing, I can echo his frustrations. He probed the swing and found that a 5v pulse was required to reactivate the mobile, but it had to be sent after it turned off to have any effect. He put together a simple circuit that would do the button pushing for him, as you can see in the video below.

[Jay’s] other entry is a headphone tube amp using a quartet of 6DJ8 vacuum tubes. The 555 timer in the amp is used to drive a FET and the hand-wound transformer he built for the amp. You can see a video of the amp in action below as well.

The projects are lacking a thorough write-up, but he does provide schematics for both the swing reset switch and the tube amp for those looking to replicate either item.

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