Nixies, was Re: Octal

Jules Richardson julesrichardsonuk at
Wed Sep 6 13:23:59 CDT 2006

Hijacking the thread for a second, but does anyone have any interesting ideas 
as to what to do with a few Nixies, other than building the obvious (but 
none-the-less cool) clock?

I scored my first ever Nixies today, nine of them, from some scrap equipment 
[1] - now it's a case of figuring out what to do with them!

There's six NL840s, plus three NL842s (which have a decimal point). They all 
seem to work, except for one tube where one quarter of the '8' character seems 
to have given up.

[1] They came in "digital moisture computers", where the digital bit just 
means it has a digital readout and the computer bit just means it has a bit of 
analogue gubbins in there to calculate moisture from samples - there's nothing 
too exciting about the electronics! :-) I kept one of the three units purely 
for the PSU (just in case it has enough guts to drive all 9 Nixies) and then 
just pulled the tubes + driver boards from the other two. Chip dates suggest 
1980, which seems quite late to me - when did LCD displays become widespread 
in equipment? Must have been about that time?

Damn, but they look nice when working - bright orange along the centres of the 
digits with a faint blue glow around the edges. Far nicer than the Nixie 
counter that we have at the museum (now someone's going to tell me that's a 
sign that all the tubes are about to die ;)



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