Sylvania SS-501 Strobe Tube (SS501)  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2017-11-29  


The SS-501 is a large, argon-filled gas discharge tube, originally intended for use as a flash tube in offshore marine buoys. Much like the xenon flash tubes used in modern consumer equipment, this device was intended to be triggered with an external loop of wire. This tube is much larger than a modern xenon flash tube however, and requires approximately 1500 volts for operation. According to the reference guide Tube Lore, the SS501 is a "control tube", a rather vague description that leads credence to the rumor that these devices also saw use as a noise source for sonar jammers.


Sylvania Type SS-501 Tube
Sylvania SS-501 flash tube, normal operation.

SS501 Tube
The SS-501 is a very large device, and easily dwarfs the small xenon flash tubes used in modern consumer equipment.

Sylvania SS-501 Flash Tube
The SS-501 was manufactured in several different variants. This example has a metal disk and tube surrounding one of the internal electrodes.

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