Microwave ovens are everywhere, and at the heart of them is a magnetron — a device that creates microwaves. [DiodeGoneWild] tore one apart to show us what was inside and how it works. If you decide to do this yourself, be careful. The magnetron may have insulators made of beryllium oxide and inhaling dust from the insulator even one time can cause an incurable lung condition.
Luckily, you can’t get a lung problem from watching a video. In addition to just seeing the guts of the magnetron, there are also explanations about how everything works with some quick sketches to illustrate the points.
While we now think of a magnetron as a microwave oven component, they are important in many microwave devices including radar. They are interesting because all they can do is oscillate. You can’t use a magnetron as an amplifier (although it can pump a parametric amplifier). While they were instrumental in building compact and high-resolution radar during World War II, they have fallen out of favor today in that application because there are better alternatives. But there are over 1 billion magnetrons out in the wild, largely thanks to microwave ovens where the signal quality isn’t as important and the inexpensive construction is a big plus.
The beast has been around a long time, too, as an early form showed up in 1910. In 1925 there was a similar device but it topped out at 30 kHz. There was a time when the magnetron was top secret, but now you can make your own.