DIY: Tube Amplifier Kit Build (In Recycled Box), Part Too

DIY: Tube Amplifier Kit Build (In Recycled Box), Part Too

Jul 25, 2008

Well; to... no; two. So many tues out there. Last week we talked about how tubes are actually little traps for fairies and we cut apart an old computer box to make room for some new electronics. This week we will paint and screw and make the old, new.

After cutting and a quick coat of metal primer, you can start to see how things will fit inside. The color was actually kind of inspiring in a Road Warrior sort of way, but we didn't stick with it:

Meanwhile, we needed to arrange the top so that the tubes would be seen. If we just take a little time to measure (which we did), everything will look mucho more better. DIY is like that; patience is always rewarded. We built this whole thing with very few and low tech tools. All told we employed only a drill, a file, a soldering iron, a blunderbuss, and the metal snips shown last week. There was a brief moment on a bandsaw to cut the top to the right dimensions, but a hacksaw would have done it just fine, as long as you dont mind being extremely angry. So, if you take a look at the below shot, you will see that a typical spade bit that you might otherwise use to hack through your wall to peer into your neighbor's apartment, can generate nice results with a little patience.

After trial fitting the parts which mount to the back, we found that the box was not as strong as we had hoped. When wires were plugged in, they tended to bend the surrounding area when moved. The deep disappointment gave us strength to innovate however, and we soon had some clever little reinforcements that we now pretend were planned from the start... or used to... oops.

This may not look like much, but it is a little plug that you can insert your ipod miniplug into and it automatically shuts off any other inputs into the amplifier. It's hot. Tssssssss.... We mounted this under the RCA/phono connectors in back:

When everything was all painted, riveted and screwed in, this is what the back looked like. A little bit of steampunk, a little bit of... old looking... stuff. Ignore the red switch in the bottom right corner; it isn't used. Ignore it.

After painting the lid, this is what it looks like. We coated the whole thing in what is called "Wrinkle Finish", which is basically a paint that you spray on thick and apply heat to. You can put in in an oven, out in the sun, or near a slumbering dragon, just make sure you do it quickly to get the paint to wrinkle up evenly:

We can only imagine that this pic is a little intimidating for some but it's just about following directions. Stick wire "A" into hole "A" and so forth. The directions that come with the kit are super easy to follow... and you can always buy the whole thing already built for an extra 50(ish) [very stable] American Dollies.

Next time we will take a look at some of the challenges which came up toward the end of the project and show the final results. There's gunna be Bakelite, so be sure to come back.

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