Nixie suduku and on-die LEDs

The best booths at Maker Faire draw you in with something unbelievably cool or ridiculously absurd, and bring out a state-of-the-art technology just as your curiosity for the main feature starts to wane. [John Sarik]‘s booth for a class he’s TAing at Columbia – Modern Display Science and Technology - is one of these booths.

The main feature of the booth is a suduku board filled with 81 Nixie tubes. As shown in the video below, you control the cursor (the decimal point of the Nixies) with a pair of pots. After moving the cursor to the desired location, there’s a keypad to change the number at any one of the 81 locations on a suduku puzzle.

[John]‘s presentation then continued to what he’s working on up at Columbia: he’s working on a project to put arrays of LEDs onto silicon, just like any other integrated circuit. He demoed a small LED display built in to a DIP-40 package with a glass (or maybe quartz) window. Yes, it’s a really tiny LED matrix display with a pixel pitch probably much smaller than a traditional LCD display.

Video of the suduku machine after the break, as well as a gallery of the LED matrix on a chip. The matrix was very hard to photograph, so if [John] would be so kind as to send a few more pics in, we’ll be happy to put them up. There’s also a proper video from [John]‘s YouTube showing off the Nixie Suduku puzzle solving itself with a recursive algorithm.

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18 thoughts on “Nixie suduku and on-die LEDs

  1. The pictures are blury because of digital cameras pain in the a** auto focus function that are impossible to turn on. In the picture its easy to see its focusing on the plexiglass cover around the chip and not on the chip itself.

    I would love to get a manual focus camera with actual optics in the viewfinder (none of the mini lcd BS) but with a digital sensor for actual picture capture but they start around the $3k mark…

    On the topic of the post though the nixie suduko is a repost and the pictures are to big to fit the page contents div tag, they need to be opened outside the page content system.

      1. Thanks! (about the D40 with a good macro lens) I preferred a gallery, but it does not really matter.

        @uminded: I’m really curious about what kind of cameras you are talking about?

    1. @unminded: FYI, some DSLRs these days with manual focus, and actual optics in the viewfinter can be as cheap as $700 or so. They’re not exclusively $3k+ anymore.

      1. My Nikon D60 was $550 new when the camera was still new and relevant, and it was considered Nikon’s entry level. Manual focus is nothing more than a switch on or near the front of the camera that disengages the autofocus motors inside the lens, hardly anything that would warrant a $3k price tag.

    2. Most compact digital cameras have some sort of manual focus hidden in the settings somewhere, usually under programme mode. Most also have auto macro, which would probably do the trick too.

    3. Well my digital camera has a viewfinder that’s all optical. it was $300. However it’s not an SLR.

      My mom has a DSLR that was about $800, that has an all optical viewfinder as well (will the LED stuff overlayed, but it’s optical).

  2. A manual focus digital camera can be had for $50 or so. Get a used Canon camera and load the CHDK firmware onto it.
    Check the CHDK wiki for compatability. Lots of models are supported, but not every model.

  3. I actually have an SD1000 running CHDK for RAW captures. The modded firmware has kept that little camera relevant for quite a few years.

    I’n my option manual focus viewed via an LCD is totally useless as your eyes have 100x the pixel density (lol) and whats sharp on screen is not always the true.

  4. Any more info on these LED arrays? The only link in the article doesn’t seem to actually lead to any more significant information…

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