Tekporn, and a spider

Something for everyone! In the last spider zen thread, I showed off my collection of junk optics, and someone mentioned Tektronix oscilloscopes. I have those, too! Two of them!

These are relics of my old days, when I spent my day punching teeny-tiny electrodes into teeny-tiny neurons. I wasn’t a hard core electrophysiologist, I was mainly interested in delicately poking in without killing the cells so I could fill them up with interesting probes that glowed all kinds of garish colors. I brought them here with me with the idea of using them in neuroscience classes, but it turns out that you need all kinds of other infrastructure to do neurobiology of that sort right, which a small liberal arts college lacks (unless you’ve got a core of several faculty who were interested in building that infrastructure, which we didn’t have — I was alone.)

Anyway, these almost certainly don’t work anymore. They were old and finicky when I was using them, and they’ve been neglected for 20 years.

But who cares? Here’s a spider.

The scale bar is 1mm. All of the spiders are hunkered down in that pose — that’s a very relaxed spider, kind of like a cat all curled up and snuggled down for a nap. They’ve been stuffing themselves with flies lately, and are all comfortably replete.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Furrion Exo-Bionics has built a real exo-suit called Prosthesis. If they can create something with eight legs instead of the current four, you could combine techno-porn with spider mechs.

  2. Dunc says

    Those scopes look pretty modern compared to the Telequipment D43 I’ve got in a cupboard… That still worked the last time i fired it up, and since that was only a few years ago and the thing’s ancient, I expect it probably still does. Tends to smoke a bit as the valves warm up though… And I wouldn’t trust its calibration as far as I could throw it, which is not very far at all.

  3. cvoinescu says

    Interesting transitional form you have there. The lower one, the 564, is a venerable tube-based model from the early sixties, just before they switched to transistors (546B, I am reliably told, so that model really is the last of its kind). The upper one looks similar, but it’s from a more modern series, about two decades younger. It’s seventies-eighties technology, but in the same old fifties-sixties shape. (My newer 2465B is the familiar flat and wide shape.)

  4. stroppy says

    I see what’s going on here. Trap the hapless nerds in a carefully woven web of mysterious ancient tech, then pounce on them with a spider…

    I did learn something, though. I was worried about the health of your spider because I didn’t know that they curl up like kittens.

  5. says

    The 564 is a used model I picked up in Philly. It is also massive — it weighs 2 or 3 times what the 5110 does. I don’t know if I could even find parts for the 564. Maybe somebody still sells the tubes, but yikes, tracking them down would not be worth it. On the other hand, repairing the 5110 is going to be a Theseus’ ship exercise, and I’d probably have to replace all of the components to make it work.

    The spider, on the other hand, will reproduce itself.

  6. unclefrogy says

    the way the spider is “setting” is interesting. it is possible to just barely see some of the threads she is holding on to. I would bet that she is holding a very precise amount of tension on each of her legs sensing the web’s state in the environment any movement will be closely monitored and evaluated.

    the older tube scope will be “easier” to restore most of the parts are not particularly unique, vacuum tubes, capacitors and resistors diodes. in fact some of the tubes are probably worth money on the used market, transformer and CRT are a well maybe. For the other one it will be harder harder to find some of the transistors because they are no longer made, capacitors and resistors most of the passives are findable.
    I have two “dead” 547 scopes which use some vacuum diodes that would be very hard to find they were kind of working when I turned them off they are really small room heaters, not so fun in a hot summer.
    uncle frogy

  7. whheydt says

    Tubes are still manufactured in Russia, last I heard. I know of an electronics shop in Berkeley that still carries tubes. Al Lasher’s Electronics (on University Ave) if anyone wants to go looking…

  8. Rich Woods says

    @birgerjohansson #2:

    If they can create something with eight legs instead of the current four, you could combine techno-porn with spider mechs.

    Surely the traditional thing to do here is merely to become Dr Octopus?

  9. Dunc says

    Yeah, there’s loads of valves (tubes) out there, they’re actually very easy to find, unless you’re looking for something really unusual. A valve scope like that is almost certainly built entirely from perfectly standard and easily replaced parts. (Except perhaps the main transformer.)

  10. DanDare says

    Long ago in the mists of time I wrote a Tektronix emulator in C for Australian Navy PCs. Those were the days.