Is it possible to damage a vacuum tube or gas-filled tube while soldering to it (thermal shock?), and if so, are there any special precautions that should be taken while soldering tubes to avoid damage?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ More often than not, they're socketed. No heat required. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Young
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Almost universally "no", but what specific tubes or family of tubes do you have in mind? \$\endgroup\$
    – EM Fields
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 22:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ What got me wondering about this was Adafruit's now-discontinued vacuum fluorescent display clock - the instructions require the IV-18 VFD to be soldered directly to a PCB which then has a connector that plugs into a socket. I am now trying to build my own VFD clock using a salvaged VFD. The only issue I have is that the pins are unusually shaped and will not fit into any standard socket. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3871968
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


Thermal Paste and a slow heating process with a reflow gun would probably work well. The various glass parts should heat up slowly compared to a soldering iron, and the temperatures can be kept lower. I would suggest soldering either extension wires or some other heat resistant thing, so that the salvaged parts are easier to work with during prototyping.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How about, whenever possible, holding the leg with a pair of needle-nose pliers between the device and the place being soldered? That won't always be practical, but I think it should pretty reliably keep the device from getting too hot. \$\endgroup\$
    – supercat
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 15:07

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