Nixie Clock Project

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

Before Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) the electronic industry used cold-cathode tubes for displaying numbers, symbols and even characters. Even though they are called `tubes` they differ from `radio tubes` by having no heater wire to heat the cathode - and therefore run much colder. They do have a glass envelope bu

Nixie Clock Project
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t unlike to (most) tubes they are not empty: they are filled with a gas compound, mainly neon gas. If you apply a voltage between the anode (+ pole) and one of the cathodes (- poles) the character-shaped cathode is covered with a pink to orange discharge glow. "NIXIE" was a trademark from Burroughs Corp. for their numeric display tubes. It is rumoured that they invented this kind of tube - or at least they got patents for it. There were many different types of these tubes: viewed from the side, viewed from the top, small ones, big ones, giant sized, types where a neon glows through a character-shaped mask and arrays of multiple nixies with multiplexed wires. Even early "multi-segment" types were available, capable to display letters like the later LED 7-segment arrays. the voltage drops across the current-limiting resistor when one of the cathodes K0 - K9 is tied to GND. The corresponding number-shaped cathode is then covered with a pink to orange glow. The values for the minimum U Well. the professional approach is to have either a special transformer for the required voltages or at least an isolated 1:1 ratio separation transformer. If you live in the "low voltage" areas of the world where 110 VAC is the usual AC mains voltage you may survive a shock from the life wire. If you life in the "high voltage" areas like here in Germany the 230 VAC line voltage will surely kill you if you accidentially happen to be good...

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