Customs break my tubes (4CX800 / GU74b)

A friend of mine recently was very generous and sent me four used 4CX800 / GU74b which he didn’t need anymore. The tubes where traveling a while and through several non-EU countries. Today the parcel finally arrived. I have already heard wild stories about customs, but I didn’t expect this: Customs drilled holes in two tubes and later opened them with a saw. Checkout the pictures.

Can you believe how mad I am?

Above, both damaged tubes

Customs drilled a hole in the heat sink and thereby also damaged severely the inners

This is the other tube. Here they tried to open the tube with some kind of screwdriver or plumber

The anodes of the broken 4CX800 tubes; note: you see the damages from drilling on the left anode

A look on the ceramic insulator and the anode heatsink

And finally another look into the heatsink

Did I already mention how angry I am about these incompetent customs officers????

About Tobias (DH1TW)

Self-confessed Starbucks addict. Loves to travel around the globe. Enjoys the technical preparations of Amateur-Radio contests as much as the contests themselves. Engineer by nature. Entrepreneur. For more, follow him @DH1TW


  1. Who was the freight company? Will their insurance pay for this damage?
    73, Jim KQ6EA

    • Hey Jim. The tubes where shipped with TNT. The tubes are used and therefore they were declared with a low value. I could of course now open a claim against the freight company, but I guess its not worth the effort.

    • w3dcb Daniel says:

      You expect anything better from this incompetent administration. These idiots can’t even decide if blowing up an embassy is a terrorist attack or not? Expect them to know what an amplifier tube looks like? That is only their job, silly man!

  2. Small step for customs, great leap for hamradio! Now we know how ceramic tetrodes are constructed πŸ™‚ Al Kaida won forcing West in ridiculous security measures costing huge amount of money.

  3. Dietmar, DL3DXX says:

    Life is too long for QRO….
    take it as challenge to try QRP Toby

  4. KC7NOA says:

    Low value = destroy it
    High value = it got tax money

  5. So, what happens now?
    A government entity, as an extension to your paranoid federal government, has taken it upon themselves to thoroughly F*&^%$# up your electronic components.

    Is there any recourse? Surely you can take them to task, citing that your are a participant in a government-sanctioned pursuit that actually enjoys protection against persecution from the likes of whining members of the public etc…as well as the public service you can potentially perform in times of dire emergency?

    It beggars belief that they can take to your purchases with a screwdriver/drill/plumbing wrench etc, hand it over to you and say, effectively, “here you go sir; we found that there is nothing threatening national security in your parcel. Have a nice day”.

    Has the USA gone so thoroughly nuts that a private citizen cannot be assured of protection from commercial terrorism from their own government?

    If that is the case, then I’m moving to Australia. Oh hold one: I’m already here!! HIHI

    My condolences to you, my fellow hobbyist. I hope you find some way of being recompensed after this episode.


  6. Zoli Pitman says:

    Sorry Toby, against a freight forwarder you have no chance. Some f%^^&&*ng jerk had fun because he know U can not do anything.

  7. Gary says:

    Drilling a hole is the standard way of getting inside a package that customs has reason to believe may contain drugs. ‘Reason to believe’ generally means evidence of something untoward inside on X-rays, especially organic materials if they have the fancy X-ray machines, or traces of drugs on a drug swab, along with other suspicions due to the source/destination, declaration, paperwork etc. Even the nature and condition of the item comes into it: if it looks like it might have been fabricated for concealment, or modified/tampered with to conceal something, they are more likley to be suspicious.

    References to ‘economic terrorism’ and customs people doing this ‘for fun’ are outrageous: customs people are over-worked hunting for real smugglers without taking on extra work for themselves. They must have been suspicious to take the time to probe into your package. It’s just bad luck for you I’m afraid. But since they were used and of low value, apparently, you haven’t lost much ….

  8. Hmmmm. First I thought about April 1st but a quick look at my watch told me we still have March πŸ˜‰
    Taking a look at your pictures, Tobi, it seems it’s the bitter truth πŸ™ Sooooo sad!

    73 Oliver

  9. Sanjay says:

    Hi! I found your page while searching for the internal construction of power tetrodes. Could you use this opportunity to take your broken tube apart and post individual pictures of each part ? (cathode, grid, anode construction etc)

    Sorry about your loss! I hate customs people too.

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