• WARNING: Tube/Valve amplifiers use potentially LETHAL HIGH VOLTAGES.
    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
    performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with
    the safety precautions around high voltages.

Best Tube Testers?

I've got a few tube testers sitting around, but I wanted to know which ones are regarded as worth having. Sadly, I cannot afford the "engineer's model" Hickok that sells for $1000 or some of the new $2500 testers, nor do I really have a use for something that exotic at the moment.

Are there any good testers for a few hundred dollars? Is there a good place to buy them? I know that Dynamic Mutual Conductance, with a real micromho scale is the way to go.

Any input is appreciated so I can decide on which models to consider. Thanks!
 
You're probably going to get many opinions based on use and personal preference. I have owned and used many testers over the years and still own at least half a dozen. For the price range you mention, here is my short list. There's many more but I don't want to confuse the issue.

One of the slightly less popular Hickoks like the 533A, 534B, 600A, 800A or 6000(A)

B&K Dynaquik/DynaJet™ 600, 650, 700 (mine), 707 or 747.
(These have many dedicated sockets for less knob twisting)

Triplett 3444 is also very nice.

edit: Where to buy? eBay, Craig's list or local hamfests.

Victor
 
Not sure where I'll be buying yet, but just knowing I need a better tester... for that matter, I'm not set on the price, but am more curious about what you get as the cost of the tester goes up. There is a hamfest at the end of this month that may prove valuable for finding various things. I haven't seen anything but emission testers on Craigslist. I'm gathering hamfests may be either better or worse than eBay depending on the various sellers. I know I've seen overpriced gear there before that is being listed for sale (usually at someone else's request) with the intent of getting no interest! On the other hand, good deals can be found too.
 
I have been advised by a friend that the B&K 600 is not a mutual conductance type tester. (my mistake) But that the 550 is. So make that change to my list. I've been going to hamfests for years and have found many good deals there. At least before eBay became the price reference. But believe it or not, there are still some sellers that don't have computers.

What do you get as the price goes up? An extra meter or two. An extra test function or knob to turn. Perhaps another socket or two installed without needing an adaptor. More flexibility. And a whole lot of status symbol.

Victor
 

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
I went to a radio show recently and saw a very clean Hickok 539C which I initially thought was selling for a good price as I put on my glasses and looked a little closer I realized that the tester was selling for $2000.00

I remember when I purchased my Hickok 539B around 1988 (the one I have to this day) I thought the asking price of $150 which I grudgingly paid was exorbitant - today I could not be happier to not have to purchase one in this market.

There are lots of more obscure marques that have not appreciated much in value and offer good functionality. Some of the older Sylvania 219/220 series stuff might be of interest for example and is relatively cheap. Some of these IIRC use a blend of mutual conductance and emissions testing..
 

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
nhuwar said:
150 thats depressing. If that one would have been 200 Kevin I would of had you stand there while I went to an atm and got the rest of the money I needed LOL

Nick

Hi Nick,
I would have definitely suggested just that at the time if it really was just $200, but man that is a lot <!!!> of money for a tube tester - for that kind of money ($2000) I would have looked for a used Audiomatica Sophia or one of Jim Hagerman's curve tracers for considerably less money.. Let's put it this way, I refrained from saying what I actually thought when I saw that price tag.. :devilr: Diplomacy is a fine art... :D :D :D

I know someone who might be able to hook you up with something a little more economical once the you-know-what is paid off... ;)
 

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
Hi Nick,
Actually the unfortunate thing is that demand has driven Hickok 539B and C to very high prices. I've seen them sell for nearly as much on eBay so while it is highway robbery I guess it is fair in a sense - were I ready to sell mine I would be happy knowing that it had appreciated more than gold over the same 20yr period.. :D

FWIW I guess in real terms given the decline in the value of our currency over the 5 decades since mine was made it is probably still selling for less than what it cost new in 2008 equivalent dollars..
 
Never would have thought a tubetester would be a good investment LOL :D
I have never heard of Hickok until I got started in tube audio. I could definitely go for one of a lesser brand say b&k.

But I do like the military ones though, Nice heavy metal boxes and they look so clean to. But if memory serves there where Hickok's too weren't they?

Nick