Bluetooth Nixie driver lets you go almost-wireless

[Bob Coggeshall] has a nice Nixie tube driver board coming down the pipes. It’s not quite ready yet but you can see by the image above, it offers something that isn’t always easy to find; control for B7971 tubes which can display the full spectrum of alpha-numeric characters. This board is not limited to just one type of tube and it can be chained together with other boards to create longer displays. But perhaps the best development is the addition of a Bluetooth module. [Bob] has incorporated a Roving Networks RN-41 Bluetooth module which takes care of all aspects of the wireless protocol. This way the display is not tethered to a computer, or limited to data stored on a chip. We can’t really say that it’s wireless though, as we’d assume a set of these big tubes would rip through batteries pretty quickly. Keep an eye on this project, it will be open source once the bugs are worked out and [Bob] will also sell fully assembled and tested boards for those who choose not to roll their own.

We wonder if it would be easy to pair this with your phone and use it to display incoming call information?


  1. Macpod says:

    Wow, those are some expensive tubes.

  2. Brian says:

    Re – cell phone display – well, according to Bob, it is a serial terminal over BT so if you had the proper software on the cell phone, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible.

  3. medix says:

    This reminds me that I’ve got three B7971’s and I should buy a fourth before they’re all gone!

  4. newkid says:

    Are there even any nixie tubes in production today?

  5. @Macpod: Yes, those large tubes are becoming increasingly rare and pricey, but allot of people have them stashed. I received allot of requests to support B7971s. Can it talk directly to a smartphone ? Yes if your phone can discover “SPP” Bluetooth clients, which is pretty common. @newkid: they stopped making nixies in the late 80s.

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