Need To Source Nixie Tubes?

Nixie tubes make for fun projects but the fun can’t start until you get your hands on the hardware. Well, [Dieter’s] got you covered with his one-stop repository on Nixie tubes and where to get them. We know that Woz’s watch isn’t currently available because of a lack of tiny tubes an obsolete accelerometer. Ladyada’s Ice Tube Clock depends on a rare 8-digit VFD tube. But you can get around parts obsolescence by adapting these designs for an available replacement. So when you take on the Dekatron Timer or a Bottled Nixie Clock you’ll know where to turn for the goods.

Update: Our mistake about Woz’s watch.  It wasn’t a tube shortage that put it out of production.

[Thanks Aaron]

17 thoughts on “Need To Source Nixie Tubes?

  1. Actually, the only reason the watch went out of production is because the accelerometer it uses is obsolete. David Forbes is apparently working on an updated version that uses a different 3-axis accelerometer. Hopefully to be available some time early next year.

  2. Slight correction – the nixie watch isn’t stalled due to lack of tubes, but because other parts have gone obsolete since it was first designed in 2002. Cathode Corner has a big supply of the necessary tubes on hand to assure years of future production of nixie watches.

  3. Yeah, the blue on black is horrible.

    Its more complicated to make nixies than you think. The individual characters are probably photoetched. And the equipment to make them is not the run of the mill vacuum pumps. To make a tube that will last you will need much of the equipment used in neon sign making. Diffusion or turbo pumps, gas manifolds, bakeout equipment, sources for getter material, etc. It can be done, but demand will never justify the price it would cost to start production again.

  4. Wow.
    It’s as if they chose the colors of the website specifically to punish nixie enthusiasts.

    Really poor color choice, but very very cool info!
    (gotta take the bad with the good I guess.)

  5. @macona

    Yeah, I’ve looked into building nixie tubes, but three things have stopped me:
    1)Diffusion pump, it’s super expensive! and if you decide to make one yourself, the oil is super expensive!

    2)sources of neon, I’ve called many companies, but then they hang up after a demand for such a small amount of neon (a tiny miniature fire extinguisher size neon could fill thousands and thousands of nixie tube, in the container it’s very high pressure and in the nixie tube its very low pressure)

    3)Supplying power for the bakeout equipment:
    for a typical bakeout transformer you need 15kv or so at 200mA, this translates to 120v at 25 amps, or 240v at 12.5 amps. This alone is fairly hard to power for a hobbiest.

    But I would love someone to make huge modern nixie tubes

  6. OK so the colors on the lead page are not the best, but go beyond that and look at the wealth of information Dieter has pulled together and shared with the NIXIE community. This is by far the greatest single source of information available anywhere for this technology. Collecting all the datasheets, data books, brochures, catalogs, photos, drawings and any other piece of data that can be found and then putting it all together so people like us can simply download a complete PDF file with all the information on a particular tube be it NIXIE, Dekatron, Numitron, VFD and others. Whenever I need to know something about a tube my first stop (and usually the only stop needed) is to Dieter’s site. Check it out for yourself and you might want to cut the guy some slack about his color choices.

  7. You don’t need an oil diffusion pump.

    Flushing the tube with pure gases once or twice is sufficient in any case. A standard rotary vane pump does the job quite well.

    You can even use a cheap water jet pump.

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