This Freeform Compactron Tube Radio Is the Best Way to Listen to AM Stations

Early radios utilized a handful of vacuum tubes in their circuits, some for power and others for picking up and amplifying the actual…

Cameron Coward
2 years ago

Early radios utilized a handful of vacuum tubes in their circuits, some for power and others for picking up and amplifying the actual radio signals. But, with the development of transistor radios in the late ’50s, the popularity of tube radios began to wane. So, General Electric released the all-in-one Compactron tube in 1961 to compete with transistors. Now, TubeTime has used a Compactron tube to build one of the most beautiful radios we’ve ever seen — and it’s freeform.

This radio was created for the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture contest, which is already bursting with gorgeous freeform designs — a couple of which we’ve recently featured. But, we think this one is going to take the cake. Unlike most of the tube radios you’ve probably seen, this one has just one tube: the Compactron. That’s possible because it packs the elements of multiple tubes into a single glass envelope.

But that’s not all that makes this radio standout. The freeform circuitry is perfect for exposing the Compactron tube and the other components. Those include a rotary variable capacitor for tuning the radio, a power transformer, and a small speaker. There are also a couple of potentiometers, presumably for volume and gain. Put those all together, and TubeTime has come up with an art piece that tube radio enthusiasts will all be drooling over.

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