Has anyone ever tried to make 1960s-type incandescent digital displays?

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at usap.gov
Thu Aug 28 22:29:24 CDT 2008

Hi, All,

I was recently watching "Goldfinger" and oggling the countdown timer
on the bomb.  I don't think I've ever seen that type of display
technology up close, but in principle, it shouldn't be hard to


I was thinking that some sort of modern CNC would make short work of
the digit faces - just CAD up some outlines and bang out a few sheets.
Alternately, a pantographic sign engraver might do the trick, with
suitable templates whipped up either by hand on on a CNC.

The compact design for the type marked "KGM M4" looks intriguing as
well - a few slits cut in an aluminum back, and a simple PCB layout
for the bulbs (though I must confess I was contemplating white LEDs
rather than bulbs for a variety of reasons, including longer life
and simpler drive circuits).

As for driving it, I was thinking about something like a '145 O.C.
decimal decoder (as found in Commodore PET keyboard circuits and KIM-1
memory decoder and LED decoder circuits) per display.  They aren't
particulalty expensive, and all you'd have to do is pipe in 4 bits and
let the '145 do all the work.

Nixies and other contemporary (and now faded) display technologies
are cool, but any of the glass-envelope types aren't exactly feasible
to reproduce in a home workshop.


Ethan Dicks, A-333-S     Current South Pole Weather at 29-Aug-2008 at 02:50 Z
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Ethan.Dicks at usap.gov            http://penguincentral.com/penguincentral.html

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