Disposable Camera Nixie Tube Driver


Disposable cameras are quite cheap, and include circuitry that produces very high voltages. Because of this, they have been harvested for many projects. We’ve seen them used for coil guns and large high voltage power supplies, even for fixing rechargeable batteries that won’t charge. The latest in the long list of uses is to create nixie tube drivers. [the_don125] shows us how to use a single disposable camera to power 2 to 3 medium sized Nixie tubes. Be careful, as we said before, this project deals with high voltage.

10 thoughts on “Disposable Camera Nixie Tube Driver

  1. 2 wires. Looks like a great way to test out nixie tubes when sorting through a pile for duds, but I wouldn’t want to use it to drive them on a long term basis. I have no idea what voltage and current it’s pumping out, and how long it will survive under continuous use. Plus you need to buy a PSU to power the cameras (or eat through a bunch of batteries), so you may as well buy a HV nixie PSU anyway. They’re not particularly expensive.

  2. @fyre007: My guess is there are actually two wires, but you can’t see the other in the photo. Nixies have one electrode shaped like each digit, so it would only take two wires to light a single digit.

    Trivia: In advertisements of the day, Nixies were usually shown with the number “3” lit. This was because 3 was at the top of the electrode stack and looked best. Some of the other numbers, like 0, have a forest of thin support wires in front of them that cast shadows.

  3. This is brilliant — the HV is the usual problem with Nixie projects, as you either have to line power them (dangerous) or find an isolation transformer (not too common nowadays). It should be straightforward to look at the Nixie specs or just measure the current draw and put a resistor in to drop the voltage to 150V, and the flash stepup is designed to be shorted across a huge electrolytic capacitor so it won’t have any problem with a Nixie’s modest draw.

  4. i don’t know anything about nixie tubes, so why was 3 on top, was it just a standard thing?

    i remember ripping a camera apart, and getting shocked even though there were no batteries. then i get it open and see the massive capacitor taking up the side of the camera. i proceeded to rip it out, lick my hand, slap my friend, then press the capacitor onto the wet area. fun times….

  5. @rivetgeek

    depending on where he was zapped, and how much the capacitor was charged, its very possible he zapped his friend. human skin can have resistance anywhere between roughly 300kohm, to 10Mohm (ballpark figures)

    long story short, the capacitor wont be instantly discharged from a quick load measuring in at around 300kohm being put accross it

    the shock would just be less intense unless he did what he did and moistened things

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