Nixie-ify Me Necklace


[Armilar] wanted to cheer up his friend who was going through a rough spot at the time — she really likes Dieselpunk, so he decided to improvise a Dieselpunk themed photo shoot for her. We’re assuming they had other costumes and props, but [Armilar] had this idea to make a nixie tube pendant for a while, he’d just have to expedite the build process to have it ready!

What he managed to whip up the day of the shoot looks amazing considering the time involved, if not just a little bit ill-advised. There may or may not be 200VAC running around his friend’s neck.

He’s using an electroluminescent driver rated for 5VDC to 100VAC, over-powered to 12VDC, resulting in about 200VAC, which is just enough to make the nixie glow a nice warm orange. In an effort to minimize the size of the pendant, he had to keep the battery and driver hanging off the back of the necklace.

It was a bit unsafe, but the shoot went off without a hitch thankfully. Fast forward a few months and [Armilar] decided to try redesigning it so it could actually be worn on a regular basis, without fear of electrocution.

He discovered that you can use a flash bulb transformer at about a 50% duty cycle to reduce the audible whine it gives off. The one he found was smaller than his fingernail, meaning he could also design it right into the pendant. His new pendant (while not completely finished yet) now only has 3.5V running around his neck.

200VAC wouldn’t hurt that much… would it?


  1. tekkieneet says:

    There is no need to overvoltage the driver as you can use a voltage
    doubler to rectify the AC output with diodes and caps.

  2. mh says:

    220VAC being the standard here in DK, and having occasioanlly done stupid things like opening up a powerdistribution strip and then leaned on the exposed metal – it does smart a little, and i wouldnt recommend doing it. Though the neck area might be a bit more touchy (and closer to the heart) than the wrist.

  3. nixieguy says:

    I accept all your arguments about safety, yes, it is not recommendable, but I didn’t had at hand those steel insulated cables that are used nowadays in jewelry (that would have been my first option really). Also, since it is only a single nixie, there is not much current in the circuit to begin with, so you could really touch both leads with your bare hands (I did) and didn’t feel anything. (BUT remember, it is UNWISE).
    Final version will have insulated wires wich will carry only 3,4V and current limited to 100mA, so it will be absolutely safe to wear. (and awesome! )

  4. RexJaguarius says:

    I sure hope you got the girl. Cause this is the kind of gesture that makes a lifelong friend or a torrid love affair, depending on your preference. Great project.

  5. Haku says:

    Very nice.

    If you don’t have the necessary parts/skills to work with a nixie tube, I bet an edge-lit nixie tube lit with an orange LED is a much simpler build:

  6. tekkieneet says:

    Instead of a boring static display, you can actual make the nixie count
    by making a ring counter out of the nixie and a few passives. No Arduino
    nor logic chips required.

    Hint: Think of the nixie as 10 Neon tubes that has a common connection.

    • Megol says:

      I think you should read that page yourself to see that that isn’t practically possible. Small differences between strike and maintain voltages, strong “crosstalk” between digits and more makes it very hard.

  7. qwerty says:

    Hey! you could have used instead an Arduino networked to a Raspberry PI to….

    (ducks and runs)

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