• Yeah, that’s pretty awesome! Is that rgb LEDs?

    Friend let me drive his 64 Vespa today. Always been a dream to own one. I think that may be where my money may go to next!

  • Yep. Now I know what they look like! These are fairly large SMT guys. They look sort of like a small divided dinner plate with areas that light up sequentially and in combinations to make colors.

    This kit is totally over-engineered really. He did a nice job and it was a pleasure to build. I like looking at it too.

    There are other chips or programs that do blanking and fading in from the side which is a cool effect. Like the signs at the ballpark. I don’t think this one does that particular trick but I intend to find out!

  • Schweet! Guess my wallet will hate me, but it’ll get over the chock… Deep down in Nixie.

  • looks great. good work!
    and @Olivier your photos are amazing. didn’t you publish a photography book? (which i forgot to get?)

  • @pichenettes Just looking through your photos on Flickr and thought I recognised some places…
    Lovely photos of London.


  • @Titus Raindrops Nice Nixie. I wish mine would keep time better….


  • Yeah, Olivier is gifted both in electronics and photography!

  • @Titus: is that the young Dave Mustaine you’re worshipping there?

  • @Rosch: No… Just some washed out wanna be rock star from the 1970s. Wish I still had that guitar though. It was my first electric… Actually I wish I still had that HAIR! WTF?

  • 93:65:28. Are those DeLorean coordinates?

  • Mayan calendar dude. Get ready.

    The clock goes into “slot machine” mode every n minutes to avoid the dreaded cathode poisoning (of your cat). I have it set to once a minute because I am addicted to derblinkenlights.

  • Next up: a magic-eye tube VU meter. The tubes came in last week… awesome.

    Now all I need is a giant tesla coil and my plans for galactic control will be complete!

  • You’ll need a monster too of course:


  • I've built 2 pedal from http://www.buildyourownclone.com/
    They are pretty awesome.

    I also built 5 preamps from http://www.seventhcircleaudio.com/
    Lots of gain.

    I hope after I build this 4 pole and maybe another 1 to build an 1176 clone!
    I still don't really understand electronics at all, just following instructions and taking my time.
    I realize the only way you actually learn is by making mistakes and I think I finally have:)
  • A Maxidecoder, worked ok, and a 3chip, which worked wery well indeed. Ah, those days of analog pay-tv. A two-way helmet phone for my wife and me when motorcycling. GSM-driven relay system. Various small projects.

  • Istran, where did you get DIY plans for the helmet phone? I was just starting to think about buying something like that.

  • @kingthythm, I often wonder how much awesomeness one would get from running synths through fancy preamps like the seventhcircle stuff. Do you find it’s worth it? Which one is your favorite for your Shruthi(s)?

  • @piscione: um, that was a long time ago, and I think the first one was some sort of kit. Not too good. The second one was two 1-2W Velleman mini amplifiers with improvised mics and small loudspeakers as earphones, driven with a 9V battery. It was loud enough to work in 100km/h, not much more – but we were using earplugs. It is not very quiet to drive fast with a mc.

    Today I would definitely use noise cancelling earphones with in-ear plugs. They work wery well indeed.

  • randy909, I think when you use a quality preamp you begin to realize how crappy most of the consumer stuff really is. Think about it, if you buy a mackie it has 16 pres in it and eqs and busses and sends etc… for the price of 1 quality pre. That should say everything right there. I’ve used mackies and similar for years so I have nothing against them but getting a quality stereo pair is essential in my opinion. I would say that using a consumer pre is actually degrading the signal. A good preamp can make an sm57 sound phenomenal.
    You can’t go wrong with their N72s, they are big and full.

  • I’m sure they make a world of difference with microphones, but I was wondering about your experiences with running synths through them. Are they the secret to that “big” sound, or do they just add a little top-end sweetness? Maybe the difference (compared to your mixer) is more obvious when you push them a little bit, or a lot. Or maybe line-level is line-level and there difference is very slight…

  • Personally, I’ve tried going through my preamp and my mixer and didn’t notice much difference with synths. I do notice with anything mic’d, but that’s it. Of course I don’t have a $1k preamp….yet.

  • I think there is a difference and when you push it and get the transformer goodness, that makes double goodnesses!

  • @Istran, thanks for the reply.


  • This is what I have been up to today. Managed to get the power straightened around. Nixies require high voltage (~ 170V) but the controllers need 5V so it’s a little tricky. Worked out the right resistance values to make the maintenance voltage correct. This is an IN-4 tube viewed from the end. Cool… ;-)

    Note: the C-shaped thing to the right of the numeral 3 is a reflection from my desklamp… :-\

  • How did you get the high-voltage? Boost converter clocked from a MCU?

  • Nope. Switch-mode board that works off 12VDC. Provides 5V, 12V, and 180V. It’s the size of a matchbox too…

    I was trying to get the Russian driver chip to work but couldn’t unravel the mystery today. I thought all I had to do was ground or supply a small amount of voltage to each of the four input pins on the IC. The combination of lo/hi on these pins determines which cathode of the Nixie is grounded, but it wasn’t working properly. All four inputs grounded is supposed to produce a zero and it produced all cathodes lit. :-\

    Eventually some sort of MCU will run it, or run the input to the drivers, but I wanted to see how it worked manually first. I’ll get it eventually.

    Moar reading to do…

  • Little too much voltage…

  • @ Olivier, here’s the usual step-up circuit used with nixie tubes (and it looks that titus’ step-up is using the same schematic) :

    The regulation is made using the CV control of the 555, which actually changes the clock frequency, but in this case that’s not a problem, and this regulation proves to be pretty stable and efficient. Of course it would be more appropriate to use a chip such as the MC34063 (stable clock frequency) or to use a µC, but this solution is already working well and is dirt cheap.

    I used the same circuitry (or barely tweaked) to design a 0.35W guitar amplifier using russian submini tubes, and I don’t have any clock-noise issue. This amplifier is actually becoming my main home-studio guitar amplifier.. The 555 is pretty handy after all!

    Edit : in my application, the step-up provides roughly 2W at 150v, so the mosfet can become pretty hot. You have to be careful on that one.

    Oh, and i found an old fluke voltmeter using nixie tubes as a display in the thrash of my working place. I might give a try to Nixie too, they look damn fun to play with :D

  • Getting high voltages isn’t too hard, it is getting high voltage with a decent amount of current available that is hard :)

    Look at 12v to mains inverters or Megger insulation testers. Although they’re producing AC in some cases.

  • Titus, maybe i can help you with parts or documentation? I have cople of working soviet calculators which are quite useless today =)

  • This reminds me that I need to build something with Nixies. Not sure what yet, probably just a clock. They look so cool that I have to use them in something!

    I am also thinking about building a valve amp with magic eye tubes as VU meters.

  • @Schrab! What kind of parts do you have access to? All of the nixies seem to be coming from former Soviet countries and they are getting expensive! Especially the large tubes like the IN-18s.

    @gslug: I’ve got a couple of EM-80 magic eye tubes here waiting for a VU meter kit to arrive ;-) Should be fun. It’s going to be a stereo unit with one tube for each of the L/R channels.

    I admit it. I could have built the power circuit from scratch, but since we are dealing with high voltages here and I’m not exactly the most experienced electrician, I figured I had better leave this for a future project and just buy something that works. Getting it all fitted out and working with the breadboard was a lot of fun… all new stuff for me.

    Incidentally, my original nixie tube clock had a cold solder joint on the lead tube. I noticed it when I first put it together… a couple of the cathodes were ghosting, but then it immediately went away and I decided to finish the assembly. This morning all cathodes went full power meltodown mode so I had to open it up again. Fixing the cold solder joint on that one tube leg not only corrected the problems with that tube, it also straightened out or cleaned up the current to all of the tubes. Instead of having a vaguely pink glow (which I thought was just a part of the gas mixture in the tubes), all of the tubes are crystal clear now with a nice bright crisp numeral displayed.

    So for any future nixie builders, the expectation should be clear tubes. If you get fuzziness or that faint pink phosgene vapor cloud, check your soldering work!

  • @Titus Raindrops: They look great. I was thinking of using EM-84 tubes as I can get them locally, but the EM-80s look much cooler! On the subject of two tubes for stereo, I’m sure I have seen a video of a single stereo tube somewhere.

  • @gslug: It’s called an EM83 (stereo) and it looks like this:

    Personally, I like the looks of the two tubes doing their thing. I like some of the other styles too… Check out nixiekits.eu. Juergen is a great guy and exactly the type of person you want designing your circuits/kits. Totally over-engineered. Thinks of every detail. Very careful about protecting the builder from high voltage until absolutely unavoidable and everything else works. He didn’t have to design it that way… it’s just better that way!

    Which incidentally confirms my theory that nothing is made here anymore and that the highest quality of coolness is coming out of the EU. Indisputable.

  • @Titus Raindrops: Thanks for the link. He has some fabulous kits. I have got to get a Sven clock…

  • Yeah and he’s a really cool guy. Reminds me of Frank and Olivier. Email him. Please tell him I sent you!

    That’s the first clock kit I bought too, btw, with IN-8-2 tubes because I like the separate 5 cathode rather than an upside down 2…

  • Will do, though it will have to wait a month or so as I just suffered a “financially damaging incident” involving gear acquisition syndrome.

  • Gasp! Care to share what you acquired?

  • Well it was going to be a Sequential Six Track, but then a pristine JP-6 came along…..

    I collect it next week. Pics to follow.

  • Oooh, you dog! Don’t tell me it was Europa-ified as well! It would be too yummy. Almost like that Andy A6 I nearly bought on a whim…

  • No Europa alas. And it was very much on a whim – it was in the window of a secondhand shop!

  • @Titus Raindrops
    i have this with IV-6 tubes and K264UM2 amplifiers.

    and second one with single tube, like used in your clock.
    And i’ll search for IN-18, there’s a pile of soviet tube equipment at my parents country house.

  • Schrab, I have never seen anything like that! Amazing! Beuatiful too… Does it still work? Look at the PCB traces and those ICs! I thought I read somewhere that IV tubes fire a little differently. I will research a bit.

    If you can find IN-18s… That’s the holy grail of Soviet tubedom. 40mm character height. Huge… But there are a lot of other nice Soviet tubes and nixies, like the ones in that calculator… Very cool!

  • @gslug: Nice score! I bet that baby is going to sound nice next to your Shruthi…

  • @Scarab. That is a work of art. I have never seen anything like that semi-naked IC at bottom left. Stunning!

    @Tinus Raindrops: Thanks. I can’t wait to play with it. Now I need to find somewhere to put it.

  • It’s from 1974 Elektronika B3.02 , i found it on the street. Right one is newer, Elektronika mk-44 . Also from street ;)

    Both was working, but now left one shows only one dot, right has one non-working digit.

    Thinking of putting MidiboxSwinSid into MK-44 case. 20x2 VFD display + original keyboard.

  • I had a calculator like the one on the right back in the early 1980s. Same coloring and everything. I don’t remember whether it was a nixie or not, but I don’t think so. I think it was already an LED.

    The B3.02 doesn’t look like much with the cover on, but it is a work of art beneath the rough exterior….

    I wonder if the power supply has gone on it?

    I love these anatomical shots:

  • >I wonder if the power supply has gone on it?
    It will outlive us all =)

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion