Another Magnetron Teardown

[Electronoobs] has a healthy respect for the voltages and ceramics inside a microwave oven. But he still found the courage to tear one apart and show us the insides and characterize some of the components. You can see the video of the teardown below.

The danger of the voltage is obvious. However, there is also a ceramic insulator inside. Some of them are made from aluminum oxide, but others are made with beryllium oxide. You probably don’t want to inhale either one, but beryllium oxide, if powdered, can cause serious health problems. Obviously, you need to be careful if you decide to rip your oven open.  Of course, the other danger is if you put the oven back together and try to use it. You need to ensure all the shielding is back in the proper place.

The video shows the operation of several of the components using test equipment and, in some cases, some surrogate components. The animation of an LC oscillator is very easy to understand. However, when he actually cuts into the magnetron with a rotary tool, you can really see how the device works. Some animations make it even clearer.

We haven’t seen a magnetron teardown for a few years. You can do many things with a magnetron from radar to vacuum deposition of films.

22 thoughts on “Another Magnetron Teardown

  1. there is no danger from voltage whatsoever and in
    fact if mostvoltage was removed from a human body
    thats called dead
    there is no place in the universe that is free from
    electromagnetic currents at some measurable voltage
    even in dead people
    if you mean to say that higher voltages can jump a significant air gap and zap you good,then say that
    and if a transformer substation starts to make louder
    and louder high pitched whinning sounds,run

    1. Incorrect and that’s not any opinion but a fact. An improperly discharged power supply capacitor (that is not completely discharged) can kill you faster than you can blink. Also capacitors can have residual charge that can seemingly ‘come back’ after discharge.

  2. BeO is /expensive/ and a domestic oven doesn’t warrant the use of the special material, and the magnetron would carry a warning sticker if it had BeO in it. Alumina is dirt cheap and gives the high temperature stability/insulation needed. So no need to worry.

      1. Not directly in fission bombs, but in the refinement process of the fissile material in breeder reactors, where bombarding uranium-238 or thorium-232 with neutrons is necessary at the beginning of each cycle, in order to initiate the self-sustaining reaction.

    1. I asked the local recycling center a couple of years ago if the uwave oven magnetron tubes needed special handling, and was told “No”.
      I thought those contained beryllium, I guess that I was wrong.

    2. A few years ago, we put one of those pink magnetrons into mass spectrometer. Most of the content was aluminium and oxygen with a bit of silicon if I remeber correctly. So alumina, no beryllium.
      Though we use BeO quite often at work in 250W 50R RF resistors. And the ceramics is white. No special permission needed to get them at all. Normally sold at Mouser.

    1. “CERAMIC INSULATORS ARE MADE OF BERYLLIUM OXIDE” would be dangerous if ground into dust and snorted, no need to panic. The risk of dropping a microwave on your foot is thousands of times greater than being harmed by the insulator. Unfortunately, some people will panic, even when given a through explanation of any substance that could be a dangerous under certain circumstances.

  3. Like others have said you’re not going to find BeO in anything outside of very large industrial magnetrons and then there will be warnings everywhere on it. BeO is also used in x-ray tubes, air cooled argon lasers, and some high power vacuum tubes. The chances if you running into it in the wile are incredibly slim.

    1. The possibility of being run over or killed by a ” almost self driving” car, is exponentially greater, then being harmed by a beryllium car part. But some people seem to enjoy panic, and irrational fear. Just imagine the public reaction, if the national news alerted the public to the fact that, dihydrogen oxide, has been discovered in the majority of McDonalds food.

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