Coffee Can Amplifier

Barco Library Equipment Archives


Coffee can amplifiers did exist. It's a combination broadband linear amplifier and one or more taps built into a modified coffee can. Each amplifier was assembled by hand, with components soldered directly to the can.

Steve Allen donated the amplifier that is on display here at the Cable Center in Denver. The amp he donated was 100% discrete connectors with transistor cans and all the usual stuff.

These amplifiers were supposedly built by a small operator in Kyburz, California using schematics from some existing equipment.

The basic components were a 5-lb coffee can. Folgers seems to be his preferred brand. The tinned interior of the can facilitated soldering. The builder made components such as fuse clips and power directing jumpers out of pieces of the same can. The amplifier was "tuned" by crimping the edges of the amplifier portion, and then placing it back into the remaining portion of the can until it stopped oscillating.

The coffee can amplifiers were all painted white to reflect heat were just run on top of the ground so the white color made it easier to find them in the dirt and brush.

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