Homemade Nixie Tubes

home-made nixie tubes

Do you love Nixie Tubes? Upset that they aren’t really manufactured anymore, and the cost of old ones is rising? Why not make your own? That’s exactly what [Dalibor] of the Czech Republic is up to, including blowing the glass tubes himself!

He’s chosen the Z568 nixie tubes to copy, as they are his favorite style of nixie. To create the display he has etched the digits and housing out of 0.3mm stainless steel sheet — which potentially means if he gets the hang of making the tubes, he could actually produce them to sell! To perform the glass blowing, he scored a Heathway glassblowing lathe off eBay — but unfortunately he hasn’t documented much of anything on making the glass tubes, which is too bad because we think that would be equally fascinating as the nixie displays themselves. On his first attempt with a properly sealed tube, the nixie worked and he even recorded striking voltage values very similar to industry tubes — not bad for something made in a backyard shed!

He has since then continued refining this art and is entering a glass-art contest called “When Prague Meets Shanghai” with a beautiful entry dubbed the ShanghaiTime Nixie Clock.

If this post seems vaguely familiar, it’s because this isn’t the first time we’ve posted an article about homemade nixie tubes, but we think [Dalibor's] is by far the most elegant! Stick around after the break to see one of his first test videos — You might even think he’s cheating, the tubes look so professional!

Comments

  1. zaprodk says:

    HAD, Please do your homework before writing some Gibberish! – The metal parts are not lasercut! – They are etched out by a company that specialises in that kind of process.

  2. Matthias P. Braendli says:

    If you want to see a nice video about building tubes, have a look at the website from french amateur radio operator F2FO here: http://paillard.claude.free.fr/ (in french only)

    He builds his own triodes.

  3. medix says:

    Before the glass lathe, it looks like he made his own glass-lathe chuck to fit on his standard metal lathe:

    http://dalibor.farny.cz/first-chuck-finally-complete/

  4. Darren says:

    Is there anywhere that still makes them commercially ?

  5. ebaylurker says:

    Last year, i found an ebay auction for a complete nixie tube assembly line , with material for 10.000 unit or something. Was around 30K, straight from ukraine :)

  6. RX says:

    “…but unfortunately he hasn’t documented much of anything on making the glass tubes…”

    That’s because you don’t make precision glass tubes, you buy them.

    For example:
    http://www.greatglas.com/PyrexCylinders.htm?gclid=CM_Mr4rz0roCFYpxQgodq3MAWg

  7. djdesign says:

    Beautiful. He’s an artisan and an engineer.

  8. Thanks for nice article!

    I definitely plan a “how it’s made” style video soon, I just havent time to document the manufacture enough.. there is plenty interesting steps, I believe You will like it!

    Dalibor

  9. JimBob says:

    Bravo!

    I keep thinking there has to be an old tube factory somewhere that could be had at a reasonable price…or maybe even rented.

    • macona says:

      Tubes are still being made in Russia but the demand for nixies is just for it’s novelty. Not something cheap to make. I wonder how much a nixie would cost new in today’s dollars…

  10. caleb kraft says:

    absolutely love this!

  11. Petter says:

    all you need now is a time machine to send a D-Mail, an IBN 5100. And hack the gate so you can come to the beta world line.

  12. This would also be great for making DIY symbolitron tubes.

    One with high voltage, radiation warning etc would be hilarious.

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