Arduino Nixie Shield


Reader [Bradley] sent in his ArduiNIX project, an Arduino shield designed for driving nixie tubes. The shield allows the Arduino to drive and multiplex nixie tubes without any additional hardware. These antique-looking displays are commonly hacked into clocks. It takes 9 volts from a wall wart and steps it up to over 200V in order to drive the displays. The shield is capable of multiplexing up to 80 individual elements. He has example code for driving a 6-digit display and a clock on his site. He is selling kits and completed shields too.

Related: Victorian nixie tube clock

[thanks Bradley!]

8 thoughts on “Arduino Nixie Shield

  1. What a disapointment; they call it “Open-Source”, but no schmatic, no design files, just example code if you buy their product. Hardly what I would consider a hack, or something worthy of Hack-A-Day…

  2. Nixie tubes are filled with awesome sauce.

    One thing, though. The designers used the EAGLE autorouter. I don’t hold it against them, we all do that when first learning, and it looks like these guys were pretty new to designing something for manufacture. Nothing wrong with that :)

    I just wanna point out to everyone who may be designing their own boards, please practice and route your boards by hand! It produces a much cleaner looking board that is easier to manufacture and debug. This project is really neat and I’m not knocking these guys, *everybody* uses the autorouter when they’re first designing boards, including myself. Just my two cents. Neat stuff!

    As mentioned before on HaD, check out sparkfun’s Design for Manufacture guide, found here:

  3. if this has the potential to output 400 volts i would be interested in developing one to drive coilgun projects …

    of course there aren’t any schematics at all… or and proper specs…

  4. @eric there’s nothing wrong with a good autorouter, just not eagle’s. I’ve been using Altium Designer’s autorouter, and it’s amazing. Great results, and I’m very happy with it. Though I got the student version for $133 vs the $14,000 retail price. After using it for some weeks, I have to say that it’s worth $14k (not that I have that much to spend on software).

    As far as the design is concerned, it looks like they’re not using a dedicated IC to produce their voltage, rather using a clock from the 555 to drive the LC circuit to get the voltage. I would like to see how that part of it works. I’ve been meaning to work on some VFD that I got, but it’s low on the queue.


  5. @reza Ah, I forgot about Altium. I’ve heard good things about that, but as you pointed out it’s very expensive (though that student price seems reasonable). Good to know someone finally took care of that problem!

  6. @the moogle – $45 includes shipping, we do that to cover the orders out of state as well as in the us.

    @disapointed – We are discussing releasing the schematics, probably will. We’re just getting started, so we’re ironing things like that out.

    @eric – Yeah, we used eagle, but it was because this was the first circuit I have ever laid out. I enjoyed it a great deal, tho. Using eagle’s autorouter to start with, I went back and hand traced them in eagle one at a time to make it look better. Me being the artist in the team, I had to make the board layout look just “so.”
    Thanks for the kind words, tho. I appreciate the comments.

    @paul – I know that depending on the timing capacitors, we’ve gotten her up over 200 volts, but we were only shooting for 180. I reckon she might do 400. We’ll be probably posting schematics soon once I art them up.

    @reza – check back in a few days, I’ll have time to post more on the site and the forums about the schematics.

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