Claude Paillard, Virtuosic YouTube Maker OG

Before there was Jimmy DiResta, Becky Stern, Izzy Swan, April Wilkerson, John Edgar Park, and countless other popular and industrious YouTube project makers, there was Claude Paillard. When we first came across this amateur French radio engineer’s sole video, 11 years ago, we were seriously charmed. And deeply inspired.

In this 17-minute, unnarrated how-to, Claude shows you all of the steps in fabricating a vacuum tube radio triode. With peppy piano music and confident, practiced handicraft so impressive it almost appears as close-up magic slight-of-hand, Claude fashions his radio tubes.

When this video first hit the web, it seemed a revelation, a unique, artful, and surprisingly entertaining way of showing the steps in realizing a complex project. Today, this style is so common, the video now seems formulaic and quaint. But Claude was one of the first.

Claude has an ebook documenting his work in hobby radio and vacuum tube fabrication (the same one that was posted with in the video in 2007). You can access a Google translation of that book here.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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