Using nixie tubes as robot eyes

[radmeck] on the forums came up with a great use for Nixie tubes. Instead of using Nixies for clocks, or indicating values, he used them as robot eyes.

He used the arduNIX Arduino-powered Nixie tube driver to power the tubes. [radmeck] was very impressed with the arduNIX kit. The kit is able to drive eight Nixies or eighty neon bulbs, but there’s no word from [radmeck] on additional Nixies or neons in his build. The eventual goal of the project is to rebuild the Omnibot while adding more servos and motors. The EZ-B robot controller will be used to control the robot, something we’ve seen before.

[radmeck]‘s Omnibot looks a lot better after the retr0bright bath, and with Nixie eyes its even more adorable. While the Omnibot didn’t live up to the original promise of impressing your girlfriend, Nixie tube eyes will give you some blog cred.

Check out the video of the much-improved Omnibot after the break.

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Nixie Sudoku: a look at the hardware

We’re always happy to receive a tour of the guts that make things work. [John Sarik] posted several pictures and descriptions of the hardware that makes up his Nixie Sudoku build. The modular design uses professionally made circuit boards which greatly improve the durability of a large set of circuits such as this.

The design draws on good ideas from similar hardware. The Nixie Duo kit from Ogi Lumen allows tubes to be mounted on top of driver boards with cascading shift registers for control of up to 8 tubes. The ArduiNIX shield makes the high voltages needed for Nixies easy to control with an Arduino. No, [John] didn’t just order these kits and plug them into each other. He designed his own boards to suit his needs. Each driver board can control 9 tubes in a 3×3 grid, all on one PCB. His high voltage board can supply enough juice for the whole system which is tied together with a single Arduino board.

His writeup is quite interesting so do take a look. He also filmed a walk through video which we’ve embedded after the break. It clears up some questions, such as showing the use of a blinking decimal point to indicate the current cursor position.

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ArduiNIX: Nixie shield for Arduino


Flock of Butterflies has just published their third post in a series about the ArduiNIX, an Arduino shield that drives Nixie tubes.We’ve featured Nixie tube projects such as a single tube clock, free-formed Nixie circuits, and tubes in a bottle. Now the hurdle of handling high voltage tubes while protecting low voltage logic circuitry has been taken care of for you. The shield can be purchased as a kit but the Eagle CAD files are also available, allowing you to etch your own circuit board.

Although this is meant for the Arduino there is nothing to keep you from using it as a driver with any microcontroller. The board listens for 5V logic levels to switch the multiplexed display of up to eight tubes. Get your hands on some Nixies and give this a try yourself.

Related: ArduiNIX Part 1, ArduiNIX Part 2