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Electronics Nixie Tubes

Discussion in 'Modding' started by dullonien, 20 Sep 2012.

  1. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    Many may know that I'm currently at uni doing a masters degree in architecture. Many awesome members here helped with my project last year by donating old hard drives towards a couple of conceptual models which I used to influence my project.

    A new year of uni brings new opportunities to design something interesting. I'm starting this years project by exploring 'time'. I'm starting this by again making a conceptual model, and I decided that I'd do this by buying an old pendulum clock which I plan to rip to pieces and re-assemble in a different way that highlights the internal workings.

    This reminded me of steampunk, and this is the direction I'm hoping to take my project. Nixie tubes fit into this theme really well, and I've decided that I want to incorporate a nixie tube clock into this initial conceptual model. The initial idea is to add a couple of cogs to the mechanical pendulum clock which I can engage and disengage to speed up and slow down the movement of the hands. In contrast I want to use the nixie clock to show the accurate passing of time.

    Onto the questions I have. Has anyone had any experience buying nixie tubes from the Ukraine sellers on ebay? I'm looking at IN-14, IN-8 or IN-8-2 tubes like these. Or is there any other source for a similar price. I've come across PV Electronics, but it'd cost me close to £60 for 6 IN-14 tubes, and that's a little more than I was hoping to spend, especially when I've also got to fork out for a circuit board to drive them. Does anyone know of a cheaper place to purchase a clock kit? I don't want any fancy features, other than the ability to show the current time, although I realize these features are probably easy to implement and cost no more. Finally, I've not come across anywhere that sells the dots (or double dot : colon) which is used to separate the hours, minutes and seconds in a clock, anyone have any links?

    Thanks in advance for any input.
     
  2. sakzzz

    sakzzz Member

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    http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=1649&pictureid=28209

    This is mine. Got the kit from a german website. Not your usual soviet tubes, they are burrows "made in england". I know sm1 who had ordered the tubes from ukrain-ebay, there were no issues. My suggestion, start off with a cheaper smaller tube than going all in with the larger ones. PV in general is a bit expensive. Like I said, google up..some EU sellers might end up being cheaper even with shipping.
     
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  3. sakzzz

    sakzzz Member

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  4. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    Thanks for the info sakzzz. Loving your nixie clock :thumb:.

    I'd like to start out with smaller tubes, but for the kind of model I'm planning I think the larger IN-14 style is best, and I don't have the money to spend experimenting with smaller tubes. In an ideal world I'd probably go bigger again, something like IN-18 tubes, but they're way out of my budget.

    Thanks for the link. I've come across that website, and I'll look to see if they sell the remote tubes kit which will be useful for my needs, as I want the circuit board hidden, and the tubes might be placed in irregular positions.

    I think I've decided to purchase some used IN-14 tubes from ebay, 16 in total for just £34, as well as a box of 100 IN-3 bulbs for £12; again from a Ukraine seller. Just waiting on a combined postage quote. As this is a temporary uni model, used tubes shouldn't be an issue, even if a couple don't work for any reason. I think having more could be useful, maybe to use in other models, or show more information on this model I'm currently planning.
     
  5. sakzzz

    sakzzz Member

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    Good call. Just an FYI, I hope you are fairly adept at soldering cause its gonna be a challenge. I dont see any reason why you cannot solder extension wires from the board to the tube & make a standard kit into a remote kit, its the same thing. Also, make sure you wait for the tubes to heat up upon finally switching on the clock. I soldered everything on,double checked but the tubes were flickering/not glowing... Mindfu%&ed I left the room, made a cup of coffee only to see them glowing in glory after they warmed up. :thumb: best of luck
     
  6. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    Yeh, would be the same, but having terminals instead would be easier for me, especially if I decide to change something, or need to take things apart. My soldering skills aren't awesome, but I usually just about get by. I've borrowed a couple of good soldering irons which will help, because the tip of my cheapo one from Maplin doesn't get that hot. I've also got some better lead solder which will help.

    Thanks on the tip about waiting for the tubes to heat up, might save me some cursing down the road.

    Excited to get this started, but delivery from the Ukraine is meant to take roughly 20 days.

    I've taken my clock mechanism apart today (after carefully recording each cog's position), so I can measure these and design the first part of the model. I know the sizes of all the nixie tubes etc. so I can also have a think about how the final model will look. I'll probably introduce some laser-cut card or wood pieces as well.
     
  7. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Because most nixies are surplus Russian stock, it's almost inevitable that you have to buy them from sellers in that region. Generally the sellers are reputable and trustworthy, transactions smooth and trouble free, and there are no problems with the tubes. Many of them are unused and as new.

    Some nixies are easier to get your hands on than others. The large IN-18's are popular and hence like gold dust. The IN-14 is common and has the added bonus of having a decimal dot and being able to match with its symbol siblings IN-19a, b and v.


    Ogi Lumen
    does a nice kit around IN-12a tubes, which can be hooked to an Arduino (which would function as a clock). Arduinix is another cheapish Arduino-driven alternative.
     
    Last edited: 21 Sep 2012
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  8. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    Nice to know that those ebay sellers are probably ok. They've had got feedback, so I'm happy to order off them, although not so keen on the delay in postage.

    The IN-14 tubes make sense to me. They also don't require a socket, which I believe can be quite rare and expensive (again for the likes of the IN-18's).

    I'm not as big a fan of the top down nixie tubes, which is a pity as they are generally cheaper. Being able to hook it up to an Ardino would be pretty cool, and would open up a world of possibilities in terms of what info the nixies showed.

    Might be worth looking into getting one of the Ogi Lumen driver boards and seeing if different nixie tubes can be wired up. From what I can see after a quick search though, they require a rather expensive power supply to power the tubes ($60) on top of the board ($25) and arduino ($12.50). The kit from PV Electronics costs £34.95 + the price of a cheap 12V DC power supply (might even have one that's compatible).

    Thanks for the info Nexxo, much appreciated.
     
  9. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    Quick update. The IN-14 tubes I ordered from ebay arrived after about 20 days which isn't too bad from the Ukraine I suppose. They were extremely well packaged which meant they arrived completely unscathed. They were soldered to an old circuit board, so spent a few hours desoldering them all.

    [​IMG]

    I also ordered the driver board from PV Electronics. I obviously hadn't read very well, because the board arrived as a bare board and a bag of components. First real time soldering, but found it quite easy with the good quality solder a friend gave me (not the lead free stuff in Maplins), and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, great sense of achievement at the end. Here's the completed board:

    [​IMG]

    Finally, here's a quick preview of what a few of them are being used for:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. KayinBlack

    KayinBlack Currently Rebuilding

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    Reminds me, I have some nixies to clean up and sell. Lots of tubes, too... FIL ruined so much electronics, I'm salvaging what can be.
     
  11. siliconfanatic

    siliconfanatic Johny-come-Lately

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    :cooldude:looks like itll be friggen fantastic!
     
  12. Editor22

    Editor22 E22 | Hex-Gear

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    Looks awesome! subbed :)
     
  13. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    I'm looking for a little more help with this project. I'm looking to add a further 20 In-3 neon bulbs to be powered by the same driver board that is powering the 6 IN-14 nixies.

    Does anyone know if the board is actually capable of powering it all, and how I'd go about wiring it up?

    Here's the board instructions with schematics on the last two pages: http://www.pvelectronics.co.uk/kits/dink/dink_v7.pdf

    The operating voltages for the IN-14 nixies can be found here, but basically they require a firing voltage of 170V @ 2.5mA.

    I believe the IN-3 neon bulbs need a firing voltage of 65V @ 0.5mA.

    So in total the board would need to supply ((170 x 0.0025) x 6) + ((65 x 0.0005) x 20) = 3.2W. I think my calculations are correct there at least. How do I find out if the board is capable of that?

    I've tried to rack my brains about how this could work, but I'm not getting far. It's been a while since I studied circuits in school.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2013
  14. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    If you have some surplus IN-14 Nixies that you need to offload, please let me know. I'm in the market for three. :D
     
  15. dullonien

    dullonien Master of the unfinished.

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    How quickly do you need them? I'm willing to send you over 3, as I have 9 spare, leaving me with 6 for a future clock project.

    Need any IN-3 neon bulbs as well, I've got another 80 of them?
     

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