A recommended list of Hickok tube testers,


The main reason why particular testers are on this page is that, it is easier to find tube test data for these models, and/or these models are easier to repair.  I am not saying that you should not purchase a Hickok like a 750 or 580 at the right price and condition, however in the absence of other considerations, these are good choices.

Model 533A. This is the best of the basic early testers. Data is available. Has sockets up to 9-pin mini. No 9 or 12 pin compactron. Has switch selected micromho ranges.  You are much better off with this machine than 532 or 534. 532's have limited data, and 534's have on-board volt-ohmmeter circuitry which complicates keeping it running. 532's are also much older and for the cost difference the 533A is just a way nicer tester.


Models 600/600A/800A 800K  . These models are compact bench top models that are basically laid out as this 600A above. These units have the same socket complement as 533A, except for 800A which has 9 and 12 pin compactron, and is more expensive for that reason. Data is widely available. The 605 is like a 600 and has the onboard volt-ohmmeter function, and is more complicated to service and maintain.



(Western Electric KS-15750 version in photo)

539 A, B, C. these are the Super Hickoks with a separate bias and line voltage adjust meter. This allows you to set bias to a measured voltage, and set the line during the gm test. This tester will give you the most repeatable tests. The "C" model is the premium model with 9 and 12 pin compactron sockets. Data is widely available for the B, C units. The A unit is older, and data is less available. The B and C units have a "VR" function to give a quantitative test on voltage regulator tubes like 0A2. The 539A does not have this.

Further notes on 539A--the 539A is a really outstanding Hickok value IF YOU FIND A NICE ONE. It is not nearly as pricey as the B and C models-- I have seen them for $200 to $300. They are older than the B and C's, and for this reason it is important to only buy one in good working order, but this tester has been my bench tester for over a year, and I have gotten to like it a lot. I test a lot of early octal tubes, and they are all on the chart!  

 Western Electric had a version of the 539B made for them, called a KS 15750 or RD1575. they usually come in a metal case, and are valuable because they had tube listings for 300b and other WE tube types.


752 and 752A. These are the famous FAA testers. The 752 is a beautiful machine . The "A" model has the 9 and 12 pin compactron sockets and is more money. The best feature of the 752's is the dual triode test buttons-you can test both halves of a twin triode without re-setting the selectors. This is a must, if you test a lot of 12AX7's!  The model 580 is somewhat similar to 752 but really demands a premium price, and can be touchy to keep running.


Models 6000 and 6000A. These were the successors to the 600 series. The 6000 has sockets up to 9-pin mini. The 6000A does not have 4,5,7 pin older sockets, but it does have the 9 and 12 pin compactrons. These are nice compact testers and data is widely available.


TV-10 and TV-7 Military tester. (TV-10 B/U shown here)

The TV-10 is a nice compact military version Hickok . Laid out something like a 600A, it has switch selected gm scales and a built in roll chart. The full military manual comes with instructions regarding the destruction of the tester using explosives, axes, or throwing it overboard, to avoid the tester coming into the possession of an enemy power. One can only imagine if our enemies got a hold of a TV-10!  The TV-7 is very similar to TV-10 but has flip-chart tube data in the upper lid of the unit. If you ever get to see inside of a TV-7, it is really built. All the switch decks and sockets are ceramic, and the capacitors are hermetically sealed. Top quality Government construction.  The TV-10 reads out in umhos where the TV-7 reads on a "0-120 quality" scale for gm. it is more difficult to compare the 0-120 results to other testers.  There is supplemental test data for TV-7 available online . Supplemental  tube data for TV-10 can  be found.


HICKOK TV-3 Military Tube Tester.

      The TV-3 is a very cool tester. It is basically a 600A on steroids. It is classic military construction with potted transformers, ceramic sockets on the minis and octal, and hermetically sealed caps. Has switch selected gm ranges like 533A. 

    AND has several Western Electric tubes types right on the chart! 300A/B, 101L, 102L, 396A, and 417A! Will also test most common audio tubes like 6CA7, 6L6, 6SN7, KT88, 7247, 12AX, AU, AT, 7247, 7199,7355, 7591 and 7868 (with adapter).  A super value compared with TV-10 and TV-7.  One unique feature is an auxilliary on/off switch that the lid controls--when you close the lid the tester turns off!      




(rare photo of even rarer AN/USM 302, one was last seen in Duluth, MN in 1971)

1) Buy a good working tester from a seller who is into tubes and electronics, and claims specifically that the tester works well in the here-and-now.  Don't buy a tester that is recommended by hearsay-like "it worked when my uncle had it" or "Ray the radio guy said it's fine, but I don't know how to run it". Fixer-Uppers will cost more to fix than buying a good one.

2) Check the sellers positive/negative rating on Ebay.

3) Ask about a good rolling chart-replacement charts are hard to get.

4) If you do buy a tester from a non electronic savvy seller-like an antique or estate seller-try to see in the photo if the front panel screws are there. If most of the screws are gone it means that somebody knowledgeable looked inside and decided the tester was SHOT and there was no point in bothering to put all the screws back in. Avoid like monkey plague. 

5) Get a guarantee of basic serviceability from your seller.

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