I would like to open an affordable and approachable vacuum tubes workshop and for that I need your help.
Anyone wanting to build something themselves could come and work on their projects involving vacuum tubes, nixies, Geissler and Crookes tubes, cathode tubes in this workshop.
What and why?
I would also like to start a micro-business manufacturing nixie tubes, cathode tubes and vacuum tubes. It would rather not go commercial - I rather would like to make it affordable and available to public as I believe in science and that it belongs to public. I would like to help others with repairing their tubes or scientific glassware. Also I would like to be of help in other projects like artistic or scientific, when one needs glass working and vacuum technology. There aren't that many places with such capabilities available to public.
There will be no pictures or video on this project as I do not have appropriate equipment. I choose to spend money on instruments and machines that brings me closer to my goal.
Graphic neon glowing tubes were popular once and today are considered as rare. There are many 'old new stock' on the market but I would like to start manufacturing new stock. One can do many funny but also useful things from nixies like clocks, signs of many kind. You can make nixies with letters, symbols, not only digits. The possibilities are only limited by the size of a outer glass encapsulation. Imagine having your name build of glowing letters with separate tubes or in one tube. You can put your logo and make it blink with sequence. You can build a digital panel, clock, calculator. There is unlimited amount of projects online, even on Kickstarter with the use of nixies.
Vacuum (electron) tubes are used by audiophiles that can distinguish between a quality of sound produced by transistor and tube based amplifiers. They are manufactured as new stock (very expensive) or available again as "old new stock". It is quite important to many to have means of repairing a tube as some of them are quite unique. I would provide repair services as a next step after dealing with neon tubes rewards.
Cathode tubes were once popular science devices. Unfortunately nowadays they are quite rare in use because of their complex operation and manufacturing. I would really like to change that as they are a perfect instruments to present many scientific phenomena. Some of them are really interesting in build and performance.
For more info please visit:
I already have got:
- state-of-the-art vacuum manifold for pumping tubes
- rotary vacuum pump
- diffusion pump
- many utensils and tools
- the emission paste manufacturing line has also been assembled and is ready to go that includes the reactors, ball mills etc.
- oxygen concentrators
- gas tanks and reducers
- some metalworking equipment
I bought these myself over couple of years, mostly as heavy used items and I managed to refurbish everything so it is reliable and ready to use for another couple of decades.
Here are some pics so you can see that it is slowly getting real:
Planetary ball mill has been thoroughly refurbished
What I need:
- glass lathe (the most expensive and the heaviest item)
- spot welder
- induction heater
- turbo-molecular pump (optionally)
- some glass tubing and kovar wire plus some additional gobbins I would not like to bore you with on here.
The amount I need would be sufficient to buy a glass lathe which I already spotted. It is used and in very good shape.
Project becomes a reality
Please note that this project is for manufacturing tubes from scratch. It is not elements assembling project with old new stock being used. Thanks to your funding you are contributing to develop new technologies to The UK environment. The equipment bought due to this funding will help to expand local market and perhaps could allow other people to learn new skills and improve themselves. All items would be hand made and unique. All made in UK. Please understand - this is a very complex and difficult project. It will consume a lot of my time and effort. It is not some wooden or plastic gizmo designed in a cozy room - it would rather be sweat and tears at the beginning, but I am ready for it.
Also please note that glass workshops are closing down nowadays because of low interest in their services. I would like to change that. As I am not going to leave my day job I would make sure this workshop stays open to the public even if it is not making much profit.
What will I get?
Please look at the rewards and choose what you would like. At the moment I cannot provide serial manufactured high voltage sources for powering cathode ray tubes or nixie drivers. When choosing you reward remember that only neon glow bulbs are ready to use without any special requirements (230V, ca. 3W, E27 screw). Other rewards like nixie tubes or cathode ray tubes may required special drivers or HV sources. I assume those would be of interest of people who know their stuff and would be able to set it up working.
All questions shall be answered. I only ask for patience if this project will be funded as there may be a huge interest and I do not have anyone to help me with the works. Should anything fail in the process and you would not get your rewards a refund will be issued on your bank account or paypal.
Thank you for your interest in this project and your pledge.
Risks and challenges
Impact on the environment. The technology involves no harmful substances being released to the environment. No mercury is to be used. There are two noble gases being used - Neon and Argon which are renewable on Earth. There will be no noise pollution. The energy consumption: There will approximately 8kW/h of electricity used for manufacturing one vacuum tube. Much of it would go on kilns and heating elements. Gas consumption ca. 10kW a day for torches and burners. There will be some liquid nitrogen used for cooling the condenser in the vacuum manifold used for evacuating the tubes. All machinery is (would be) bought as used and refurbished.
Overall this workshop is intended to be very eco-friendly.
Challenges: - transporting the lathe - it weighs nearly one tonne!! I try to do my best :) - there is a risk that I would not be able to keep up with the rewards should this project would be a successful one, there may be one to two months delay