Crash and Burn

Last night I tried to wrap up my tube stereo amplifier kit. I mounted the board, connected all the transformers, added a power cord, a switch, a fuse and put some banana plugs on some speakers. Things were looking good and I felt reasonably confident it would power up and I could boast about my extreme warm tones.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. When I flipped the switch there was a nice hum. It sounded like a real tube amp, which seemed like a positive development. No sparks seemed like a good sign. I watched the tubes waiting to see a nice glow, but then noticed a little smoke coming from the power transformer. I turned things off and saw one of the coils started to melt a plastic shield around it. Somewhat dismayed, I took it back into the garage and checked for obvious errors on my part, clipped a few leads and tried it again. The same thing happened.

I’ve started looking up the best way to debug the problem on different forums. While I had hoped I could avoid getting too involved in the actual science of resistors, transistors, capacitors and the like, it seems I might need to get a little more serious about it all. This is far from a bad thing, but it does mean I probably won’t have my sweet tube stereo playing our EP on vinyl anytime soon. Worst case scenario, my wife found a good vintage stereo repair guy in town that I can probably talk to about how to fix things up.