8000+ hours on my Simple SE - diyAudio
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Tubelab Discussion and support of Tubelab products, prototypes and experiments

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Old 25th October 2009, 05:45 PM   #1
w5jag is offline w5jag  United States
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Smile 8000+ hours on my Simple SE

I am estimating my Simple SE has now exceeded 8200 hours in service, based on 75 hours / week, which is probably conservative. It was out of service for a week about a year ago for a complete chassis overhaul.

It is the only amp for the entertainment center so something is playing through it whenever someone is at home - internet "radio", satellite radio, DVD, TV - it all has to go through the SSE. Sometimes my wife just forgets to turn it off, so it idles with no input for hours.

The PCB has outlasted one power transformer, two filter chokes, at least a half dozen 5AR4's, a couple of sets of cathode bypass caps and cathode resistors, a few misc toasted resistors, two fried CCS chips, and lots of tinkering parts changes. Whenever it gets really nasty, I toss it in the dishwasher for a good cleaning. I need to do that again, because it is starting to have a nasty goo oozing up through the center pins on the octal sockets (old flux migrating due to board heat?).

The filter caps are original to the build, and the amp is still hum free on 96 dB speakers. My first 6201, a used GE, ran for about a year before it got crackly. I replaced it with an Amperex (Mullard) 12AT7 that now has 4000+ hours on it. Most of the power tubes cycle in and out according to my whim, but but I have one GE 6087 (5Y3WGTB), that likely has seen 3000 hours in the Simple SE, and it also started as a used tube.

If it were not for my half baked tinkering, and deliberate attempts at destruction, it likely would have been trouble free for the entire run to date.

Right now it is playing some CCR through (coin base) GE 6W6GT wired triode at about 345 volts across the tube (13.5 watts PD), that venerable 6087, and the Amperex 12AT7.

Great job, George!

Win W5JAG

Last edited by w5jag; 25th October 2009 at 06:00 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 25th October 2009, 06:10 PM   #2
Glowbug is offline Glowbug  United States
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Whenever it gets really nasty, I toss it in the dishwasher for a good cleaning.
"Honey, have you seen my favorite coffee mug...and tube amp?"

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Old 25th October 2009, 08:41 PM   #3
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Whenever it gets really nasty, I toss it in the dishwasher for a good cleaning.
I have never tried that. I would have thought that the dishwasher detergent would have corrosive effects on the PC board or the sockets. I have a really nasty board that has been used for my experiments that have a high probability of smoke release. All of the smoke and most of the stinky goo was violently released from one of the cathode bypass caps during the "lets blow up some defective 6V6's" experiments. I have been tempted to toss it in the trash since I have a freshly built board that is unused, but the cheapskate in me keeps fixing it and then blowing it up again. I cleaned up most of the goo with WD40 and a toothbrush.

Maybe next time Sherri is out of town I will toss it in the dishwasher. I am sure that she would not approve.
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Old 25th October 2009, 09:43 PM   #4
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Nice to have reliable tubeamps in the home

But that cleaning method... isn't that hard on the sockets, if they aren't gold?

I just use an acetone bath for flux removal.


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Old 25th October 2009, 10:22 PM   #5
rknize is offline rknize  United States
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Brakleen fan myself, though it tends to remove the printing on some components, like caps.
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Old 25th October 2009, 11:30 PM   #6
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Brakleen fan myself
I haven't tried Brakleen, but I know that Gumout carb cleaner will do a fine job of cleaning the silkscreen and the solder resist right off of the PCB! It melts some resistors too.
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Old 26th October 2009, 12:01 AM   #7
w5jag is offline w5jag  United States
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Originally Posted by tubelab.com View Post
I have never tried that. I would have thought that the dishwasher detergent would have corrosive effects on the PC board or the sockets.

...

Maybe next time Sherri is out of town I will toss it in the dishwasher. I am sure that she would not approve.
I learned of it from a friend - I was at his house one afternoon, and he had most of the innards of an Icom in his dishwasher.

Since then, I routinely clean PCB's and other electronic parts in the dishwasher. Really gnarly computer boards come out like new. I suppose it is possible that some soaps could cause an adverse result, but I have not had this happen.

The really big stuff gets the garden hose ( or car wash ), after removing parts that obviously would be damaged by water.

My wife does not permit our dishwasher to be used to wash dishes or silverware - it's essentially just a drying cabinet - so if it were not for PCB's, car parts, etc., it would never get used.

Our clothes dryer cannot be used to dry clothes, either, but that is another story.

Win W5JAG
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Old 26th October 2009, 01:13 AM   #8
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and he had most of the innards of an Icom in his dishwasher
I am not so sure that I would subject an RF board to the dishwasher. I am an RF engineer in a Motorola plant in my day job. If the Icom was old enough to have tubable indictors that were sealed with wax, the dishwasher would make retuning needed. Ditto trimpots and trip caps if they even survive. I have to believe that the tap water and the alkaline detergent would leave some conductive ions behind to cause trouble later.

35 years ago I worked in the test equipment lab at Mot. We had an equipment cleaning booth for cleaning up dirty test equipment. It used deionized water and a mild sudsing detergent sprayed through a wand. The rep for the cleaning equipment stressed the use of DI water, which was available in the plant. The metal ions in tap water (mainly iron and copper) can leave conductive particles in the equipmemt.

Some of the test equipmemt was vacuum tube based (including some old Tek scopes), so I expressed my concern about "washing" a HV power transformer. The rep explained that it was commonly done, and with DI water and the proper bake out all would be OK. The equipment was baked in a low temperature (the equipment was too hot to handle comfortably but would not burn you) oven for at least 24 hours after washing. I typically left the tube stuff in over the weekend. After washing a lot of test equipment with shiny good results, I started bringing in some home projects. That machine would take all of the cigarette stink out of an old guitar amp and make it smell like the car wash. I even washed a Moog Synthesizer.

I may toss the old Simple SE board in the dishwasher when I have the opportunity just to see what happens, but I don't think I'll be washing any transformers any time soon.
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Old 26th October 2009, 03:43 AM   #9
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I clean practically everything with either brake cleaner (CRC green can) or simple green.

In my limited experience, carb cleaner would melt kryptonite if given the chance. Brake cleaner seems a fair bit less aggressive, although it sometimes melts thermoplastics, but never thermosets like rubbers, etc, and leaves zero residue.

In recent years, I have been trying to use less brake cleaner and more simple green because of (perceived) toxicity and environmental concerns

I've only used alcohol on PCBs/flux so far.
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Old 26th October 2009, 04:42 AM   #10
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I use alcohol for cleaning pcbs and removing flux. More aggressive cleaning has rarely been necessary but in this case it is usually hot tap water with green dish washing detergent and a tooth brush.. I try not to get transformers wet and around them may use exclusively alcohol - being careful not to actually get it into the transformer where it might dissolve the old varnish on the windings.

In the 1990s there was a fad revolving around sticking dirty computer keyboards in need of a good clean in the dishwasher. I tried it with a couple of mine, and I will say they looked great, but none of them ever worked again. They ended up in the trash pretty quickly. (No recycling in that town at the time.)

I have found red wine to be quite effective in inducing radical malfunctions in Microsoft Wireless Keyboards, hilariously so in fact, generating completely unexpected combinations of characters at every keystroke, and happily if somewhat surprisingly I have also found disassembly and a wash with distilled water equally effective at restoring reliable operation long term.
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