the junk reflex

M:  "Hey, want this bucket with 20 gallons of vacuum tubes? I'm throwing it away."
jwz:  "You can't throw that away, those are neat! I'll take it."
...30 minutes later...
jwz:  "What the fuck is wrong with me? I have absolutely no use for this junk."

Want some vacuum tubes? Get them from the back room at DNA before the garbage gets taken out.

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32 Responses:

  1. laptop006 says:

    Oh well, I'd never manage to get it home. Australian customs would probably claim it as "military parts".

  2. ding_0_ says:

    Awesome. Vacuum tubes were a source of radioactive material for both the Radioactive Boyscout and that team from University of Chicago who built a breeder reactor for a scavenger hunt

  3. fenchurche says:

    Oh man... we have a garage full of stuff like that.

    Although vacuum tubes... have you checked eBay? Apparently, people actually pay money for those.

  4. uke says:

    do you want some old computers?

  5. ammutbite says:

    cool, now I feel less like an idiot for doing the same thing with grocery sacks full of plastic babies and bugs an artist friend gave me when moving...

  6. I'm so tempted, but I already have more vacuum tubes than I need.

  7. azul_ros says:

    I know a guy who makes amplifiers with vacuum tubes. :)

  8. wisedonkey says:

    Maybe you could put them in the bathrooms and the kiddies would destroy and/or steal them rather than breaking the toilets and sinks?

  9. kstlfido says:

    Did these come from oakland? I think I was the original provider for art usage. I'm an old friend of M's. I think most are for TV= fairly useless (series string filaments).

    Vacuum tube amplifiers are very cool..w/ parts you can see w/o a magnifying glass. Got 1000's of em. I can rescue these if they are still available.

  10. djverablue says:

    after an entire weekend of trying to convince eric to get rid of random stuff like this....i totally want some of those.

  11. baconmonkey says:

    wait, are vacuum tubes too new to be considered "steampunk"?

    if so, save them, in 15-20 years, I'm sure they'll be part of the latest retro-futurism fad with a stupid name.

  12. badgerbag says:

    i saw some nifty jewelry & tiny sculptures made with them at maker faire! Surely someone wants them - stick them on craigslist!

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, sure, "stick them on craigslist, deal with questions and pickup". Or, I could go with plan B, "leave them where they are and they'll get thrown out." Which do you think I'll pick?

      • badgerbag says:

        but, but, but, they're like tiny glass orphans! Crying!

      • vokzal says:

        You mean they're tiny? Like useful for jewelry?

        Ah, but I'm on the wrong side of the Bay...

        Don't people like Urban Ore pickup?

      • vokzal says:

        admission promo?

        "Round out your collection of obsolete hardware! One with entrance! Perfect for ---"

        --- I can't actually fill in, because I always pictured tubes as being biiiiig things, but either they're TV sized, old TV sized, or hand held sized. Which?

    • only craigslist can make giving something valuable away free too much trouble to be worth the reduction in clutter.

  13. bifrosty2k says:

    I have ridiculous storage, I'll take em...
    I need to drop by the DNA sometime soon anyways :)

  14. king_mob says:

    Guitar players prefer amplifiers with vacuum tubes in them because they distort naturally and pleasingly when the amp is turned up. Until about 1991, there were American companies manufacturing vacuum tubes because the Pentagon was buying them as backups. (DoD built a bunch of vacuum-tube powered stuff because vacuum tubes are immune to EMP.) In the early 90s, the Pentagon figured out they had a 150 year supply or something stockpiled and quit buying them. Since the amplifier market isn't big enough to justify keeping factories open on its own, all the American companies quit manufacturing tubes more or less instantly.

    Guitar players freaked out more or less in unison, but they were saved by the collapse of the Iron Curtain; now there are companies manufacturing vacuum tubes in Russia, China, and Slovakia. Unfortunately, there are quality control problems, and tubes which would have been just fine for industrial applications end up not having the unique pleasing characteristics guitar players want. There are companies which have sprung up solely to test tubes from overseas and rebrand them as a way of saying "We vouch for the quality of these tubes."

    In addition guitar players(well, really, amplifier technicians -- most guitar players are stupid, like most other musicians) worry a lot about how long the overseas factories themselves can remain productive. Apparently, a couple of years ago, there was a hostile takeover attempt aimed at one of the Russian ones. In Russia, of course, that means that thugs with the tacit backing of the government walk into your factory and say "Give us this or we'll blow up your car with you in it."

    Finally, tubes in guitar amps wear out. My own amp has seven tubes in it, and they're about a year old, so they're getting due. They wear out faster than they would in industrial applications, because the whole point of having them in an amp is to overload them and get distortion.

    As a result of all of this, tubes from the days of American (and I think British) manufacturing are highly sought after. Guys who never got around to selling their tubes before now advertise them as New Old Stock, i.e., "look what we found in the back." They can command a pretty penny.

    All this is a roundabout way of saying I wish I lived in the Bay Area.

  15. merovingian says:

    Goodness boy howdy. I just had the same reaction you did, but stopped myself in time. I was thinking "Oh, I'd better head to DNA and get them!" and then realized I'd have no use for them, either, and would probably have to pass them on, too.

    • merovingian says:

      Which leads me to wonder: How many people have owned that very bucket and passed it around?

      • morrisa says:

        2, me and Kstlfido. I sorted through the top half of the can and took what I wanted for more art than I'll ever make, but hey, a girl's gotta have a nice selection, n'est ce pas? The bottom half is still full of wonders. I didn't sort it and take the best ones.

  16. inoah says:

    That explains how you got that bucket of cocks you so frequently invite people to choke on.