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Yes, tube gear is rad-hard and there's plenty of old 30s-50s vintage all-tube rigs around if that's your thing. Yes, you do still want to disconnect the antenna but either way tubes are much more durable to abuse and are going to have a better chance of surviving.

Tube gear is often quite cheap because nowadays everyone wants fancy electronic gear. About 12 years ago I picked up a 70s-vintage Kenwood TS-820S hybrid rig (tube finals, the rest as solid state) for about $150, when a comparable electronic rig would have been about $1k. I abused the crap out of that rig and it took it quite well. I finally need to have it serviced one of these days, the output power was starting to tail off (probably a tube finally giving up its magic blue smoke).

Tube gear has a bit more of a learning curve than solid-state gear (eg tuning up before operating) but it's very durable and easily serviceable. Generally the most you will do is blow a tube whereas with a transistor-based radio you definitely will smoke the semiconductors and the radio will be a write-off. Unfortunately tubes are getting rare/expensive, but it's still better to track down a couple of $25 tubes than to replace the whole rig.

Tube rigs are particularly common in high-power gear (again, especially if you are trying to keep costs down). Solid-state amps in the 1KW range only became feasible relatively recently and are still much more expensive than a tube-based boatanchor. They especially dominate AM/FM broadcast equipment, which can range from tens of KW up to megawatts of power. You just can't push that much power through transistors very easily.




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