Nixie Plasma ball


This one came out over a year ago and we missed it. [Daqq] has made a plasma ball out of a nixie tube.  All that was required was the transformer from a cold cathode meant for computers and a nixie tube. He did have to do a tiny bit of modification to the power supply, which you can see on the project page. This isn’t the most useful project, since you can’t really see much of the plasma, but it is really cool nonetheless. We think this would make a really neat button. You can see a video of it in action after the break.

[thanks geekabit]


  1. sly says:

    don’t press the big glowy plasma red button

  2. conundrum says:

    hehe… wonder if this will generate a pretty blue/green glow with a gassy nixie tube? i have some here which are past their sell by date…

    interestingly, i found that flickering candle lamps behave the same.

  3. abbott says:

    hmm… this sounds fun… i just bought 18 IN-12A nixies to make a clock (yea, yea, its been done many times already)

    perhaps ill make a fun little desk toy

  4. googfan says:

    ive done this b4. if i knew hackaday had such low standards i would have sent it in years ago.

  5. abbott says:

    So I just made one… pretty awesome. I just hope it wont end up hurting the tube.

    I’m thinking about embedding it in a chunk of 4×4 as a small desk ornament

  6. Hirudinea says:

    Those would make really cool buttons for your mad scientist projects.

  7. aztraph says:

    hey goog, why don’t you go ahead and post some of your other stuff before someone does it and you have to complain again


    you have done some pretty cool stuff for as young as you are, don’t get yourself killed experimenting

  8. googfan says:


    well i just built a propane powered catelytic hand warmer… mabe ill post it on my blog. thanks for not being a dick like *some others* on this site.

  9. aztraph says:

    are you serious goog? I would definitely like to see something like that in action, use a test dummy first though, please.

  10. sly says:

    oooo… shiny red button…

  11. Agent420 says:

    This will probably shorten tube life due to sputtering, but it looks cool so what the heck ;-)

    Go even smaller and use a INS-1 or NE-2.

  12. ArtForz says:

    Talk about risky, that ‘useless’ capacitor on the inverter’s HV output is for current limiting.
    Without it the inverter can deliver over 50mA at a few 100V RMS for a short time, have fun touching that.

  13. Roly says:

    “a gassy nixie tube”

    Maybe I’m missing the joke, but you don’t seem to be aware that Nixie tubes are *neon* filled devices, not hard vacuume, and that they are already “gassy”.

    In service, neon devices such as Nixies and Decatrons have two main failure modes, the glass goes dark near the emitting cathode, and sometimes the cathodes can go spotty (reputedly due to contamination during manufacture, particularly in flat 7-seg displays) but they have a very long service life. In storage they seem to have almost infinite life with tubes manufactured several decades ago still working perfectly when applied.

    Since standard light globes are filled with low pressure argon these might also be worth giving a go if you want a more bluish discharge.

    Go for it!

  14. Erik says:

    @googfan yeah, seriously. I did this when I was a kid, too – I hooked up an inverter for a portable fluorescent lamp to a tube and other lamps (incandescent even) then watched the pretty colors

  15. Moggie100 says:

    -stare- O.o

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