Mercury 1101 tube tester.

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by BobbyZ, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've been offered this tester for a hundred bucks. Guy that has it is in his 60's and seems to know what he's doing, says it works and it comes with the manual.

    I'm just looking at it to eliminate shorted and completely dead tubes before I stick them in an amp to see how they sound. Not going into the tube selling business or anything like that. Just be nice to skip the light bulb limiter step with unknown tubes.

    Anyway does this sound like it'll do the trick ?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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  3. andyfromdenver

    andyfromdenver Friend of Leo's

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    Bobby and Wally. sorry to ask in your thread, but has muchxs been posting lately? muchxs?? hi! hope you are well
     
  4. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Actually I haven't seen Muchxs post lately. Hopefully he's just busy or on vacation.

    Wally I agree with your price. However based on my conversation with the fellow I'm pretty comfortable with a hundred bucks.
    The other testers I've seen around here are usually sold by someone with no idea what they are, don't come with a manual and I've even seen them with the power cords snipped off.
    Admittedly I really haven't been looking very hard.

    Old test equipment is a crap shoot. The Tectonics oscilloscope I paid 15 bucks for ended up being burnt up inside. I gave it away.
    But I got a Hitachi from a retired guy. (who'd just sent a tube tester to the dump) That thing works great expecially for 50 bucks.
    I never actually use it but that's another story. :)
     
  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    BobbyZ, it would be good to get it for less, but a tube tester is worth having around. I have gotten more out of mine than I paid for it, for sure. IF the fellow took very good care of it, I suppose you could justify the cost.
    Andy, I haven't noticed any posts from muchxs lately. I hope all of well with him and his. It appears that his last post was on the 19th.
     
  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Bobby - if it's an emission tester it's not worth more than $35-40. I see a dozen working ones at a local electronics swap meet every month for as little as $20. IF you just want to weed out bad tubes one can be useful.

    A transconductance tester is better because if it's calibrated it *can* do a decent job with testing quality of preamp tubes along with weeding out bad power tubes (but useless for quality checks on power tubes). It also tests for shorts in all tubes. I use one for preliminary testing (A Hickok 6000A) , followed by practical testing for balance, noise, and bias comparison of power tubes in a completely serviced amp.
     
  7. jazzguitar

    jazzguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with Wally, for $25 to $30 this would be good.

    I disagree with those who try to tell you you need a transconductance tester. I have or had several Mercury testers including the 101, several Eico testers including a transconductance tester and a Sencore and a Hickok 800 (I think)

    For most purposes the readings are pretty similar (rectifiers have no transconductance anyway) and it is shorts you need to be aware of.

    No tester can tell you everything ....
     
  8. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Only one I've ever seen for less money was at an antique store.
    It didn't even have a Noval socket !
    (that's real old)

    If this gentleman can show me it works that's gotta be worth the extra 50 bucks. He might be a good guy to talk with. Who knows what else he might have laying around?
     
  9. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    Despite some naysayers attitude about tube testers, I think their worth having.

    I'm not familiar with that brand if does the basics then it might be worth it.

    Price kind of depends on the condition, I sold my B&K 707 which needed a little work for $75 about 10 years ago to a local amp tech, cost him less than $30 to replace a rotary switch and a few worn out sockets. He's also into restoring old tube radios and has a Ham radio he plays with, was a Navy Radio Tech back in the Vietnam war, very cool guy really knows his Sh.. about stuff.. Try to find out if it's tube operated, my Sencore is, it has one 6C4 so I keep a few extras on hand, one as a reference tube the other 2 if I ever need to replace it. As far as I know it still has the original tube it came with and still test strong after 1000's of hours of testing, probably never need to replace it.

    I understand Wally's point of view but if I liked it, wanted one and didn't have one I'd probably make him an honest offer. Really $100 is chump change to me.

    When you think about all the money people spend on speakers, tubes and all kinds of other junk, $100 it isn't a bad price for a tool.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  10. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    *** You know I it gave some thought and looked up the Mercury on the internet last night, looks like a good one. I think it will test compaction tubes something my tester won't do. I have to take them to a guy I know to test them 30 miles away.

    You have a few choices...


    Vintage USA made tube tester or you could spend $500 on one of these Chinese made contraptions.

    Mercury-1101-emission-vacuum-tube-tester-adimage-2.jpg 51xeie27iuL__SX425_.jpg
     
  11. ranjam

    ranjam Tele-Holic

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    I haven't done this stuff in a hundred years, but $100 does seem way too much. HOWEVER, back in the day when I was doing TV repair, I knew a lot of the older repairmen. I tried to hone my ESP and determine if I could also hit them up for tube manuals, other test equipment, their old books and magazines, etc. Then make an offer on everything. But if it seems like all you'll ever get is an emission tester, $100 is too much.
    An emission tester is OK to find dead or shorted tubes, but horrible for matching output tubes, or looking for balance in your phase inverter tube. but it's a start to your collection, since having a few tube testers is not a bad idea. ;)
     
  12. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I paid $50 for mine and had to do a little work on it to get the needle centered.
    Had fun testing all my stash for shorts, but haven't messed with it in awhile.
     
  13. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    I wouldn't waste my time trying to match tubes on most testers, they simply don't do it well. I'm sure some expensive ones do it but they need to be maintained at higher tolerance and calibrated for that use, those ones aren't cheap. If you find one for a couple hundred bucks and really feel you need one buy it. The average tester used by Radio and TV repairmen back it the "Golden days of tubes" were mostly testing good or bad tubes and of lots of different tubes, most did a good job for the common issues, strength, grid emission, shorts and life (Gas). Not Rocket Science.

    The way I was trained, when something goes wrong with a tube amp (or other device) the first place to look is at the condition of the tubes. I don't need to worry about matching or mutual conductance or transconductance to find a bad tube. Those other things are only for performance, yet the real test of performance is in use not in a tester and different circuits affect the performance of a tube.

    It's funny how people value things differently. I know people who will dump a few hundred dollars on new tubes but never think to test tubes to see which ones are actually good or bad. And then pay for a tube bias without knowing even the basic condition of the tubes they are replacing. Human Nature is a fickle thing.

    To have a tester or not to have a tester, that's up to you.
     
  14. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's

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    Must be nice;) I think I understand what you meant though.
     
  15. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Picked it up this morning and met a new friend. He demoed it for me and showed me how to use it. Plus showed me his Ham Radio collection.
    Was it worth a hundred bucks? Factor in I can call him and ask questions and it works. Yeah I think so. If I'd was buying "as is" online or in a junk shop no.
    And I also think $100 bucks is chump change. A couple years ago $100 was a tank of gas in the Suburban. $100 isn't even a decent pedal. And no one in their right mind would mess with a 100 dallor hooker. :)

    Yes it's in reality a pretty worthless tester. Really only good for telling you an unknown tube isn't going to blow a fuse or whatever in an amp. Or if an amp blows a fuse telling you if it was a tube. Now I do that with a light bulb limiter so this'll save a little time and should be more accurate.

    Anyone thinking of buying a tester. You have to have the manual ! See all the knobs on it in the picture Johnny posted? Those have to all be in the right spot for each tube and there's thousands of tubes. That info is in the manual. Without that it's only a display piece for tube nurds. (like me)
     
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  16. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    Congratulations! I think you'll have fun with it, and learn a few things about all those tubes in your stash. I'd be lost without one, I hate guessing when I can measure a tubes values to know it's condition. I grew up using them and plan to keep this one as long as I have a tube amp or work on them. The one I'm using was my favorite of the 3 in my dads shop, not the most advanced one but it does what I need. BTW this one will also test TV picture tubes, something I haven't done in 30 years and doubt I ever will again. Only thing I can suggest is get a tube crossover reference book.
     
  17. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    It actually didn't make it home with me. I left it with a friend who's also a bit of a tube nurd. (only other one here I know of)
    I'll be entertaining a little lady this weekend anyway and entertaining a 3 year old is a full time job. :)
     
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  18. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    I can relate to that. Have a 3 year old grandson I like spending time with. Sooner or later he'll be taking music lessons. If he get's into guitar I have a nice stash of gear he'll get later, allot of it is already vintage.

    The tube tester can wait, I only use mine when I need it. Kids are way more important.
     
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    With what? Not one of the tube testers being discussed, except for preamp tubes in amps that run them at voltages under around 180. Knowing if a tube is simply "good" or "bad" tells you little about its actual condition (especially compared to any other tubes).

    This is n't confusing stuff - these testers do not hit tubes with the same kind of plate voltage as an amplifier does. and if the test voltage is not as high as "real world" voltage the testing has zero validity.

    Condition simply can't be tested with garden-variety tube testers. Only "good/bad" and condition of tubes in low voltage (non amplifier) applications can be performed with these units. They *can* be useful as good/bad clearinghouses - just don't spend too much money on them.
     
  20. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    It's obvious you and I don't agree. What your saying is thousands of skilled TV and Radio repairman were doing it wrong and you know more than they did. I think you're missing the point. You don't need to hit a tube with 400+ volts to measure a tubes strength or know if a tube has a short or if it has a bad heater, those are all important values to know if a tube is good or bad. Hitting a tube with 400+ volts isn't necessary for most test and stresses the tube. I've been doing this for over 50 years with lots of success and I sure ain't gonna change because you don't think I'm doing it right. I'm not saying your wrong, I think some of what you point out is good information, it's just not the most important part of testing tubes.

    As far as the value of a tube tester that's up to the buyer and seller not you.

    I'm not on here to argue with you so drop it okay.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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