Coachella Lamp

This little art piece might be just the thing to add that mad scientist look to your room. It’s called the Coachella lamp and it makes use of several throwback display devices. At the top an Argon discharge lamp puts out ultraviolet light. Protruding from each of the four sides you can see a set of decatrons. There’s also four Nixie tube bar graphs standing tall from each corner of the base. The final touch is the colored glow in the center which is provided by LEDs. We’ve embedded some video of the device after the break.

The lamp is powered by a wall outlet and controlled with an Arduino. We’ve seen deactrons used as timing devices and would love to see some clock functionality added to the lamp. Trying to decipher the time from the different Nixie displays would put this up there with some of those other hard to read timepieces.


[Thanks Brian]

25 thoughts on “Coachella Lamp

  1. Is that UV bulb at the top safe for prolonged exposure? (i.e. is it just a “black light” or some kind of tanning lamp?)

    It looks kinda cool, but all those parts could probably be arranged in a more interesting way, perhaps as a whole set of matching “mad scientist” doodads.

    It does have the Arduino, though, so his blog cred is intact :P

  2. this lamp was a constant topic of conversation at coachella, even in the context of a 150 solar powered oragami crane with lighting. I was really impressed that josiah was able to put it together within the 4 day deadline i gave him after noticing a similar lamp at his house. great job josiah!

  3. The UV in the bulb comes from a coating on the top plate, not from the argon inside them. These bulbs only have a lifespan of about 50 hours before the coating burns up; they will still light up purple after 50 hours because of the argon fill gas, but will not emit UV anymore. If you are worried about the UV output from an AR-1 bulb, just buy a used one off of Ebay that has already been run past it’s 50 hour lifespan.

  4. After watching the video, it looks like an artistic representation of a stationary steam engine with dual flywheel for a large plant that I would see at the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association in Kinsers Pennsylvania.

    I think you should have a seperate website for art a day.

  5. Dekatrons are gas filled counting tubes, which display their own count as a glowing dot in the top of the tube.

    You can buy Soviet dekatrons in various ludicrous quantities on Ebay for about $10 dollars each, just do a search for “dekatron”. Be warned, the purple ones (Soviet OG-3’s) have a very high failure rate from the factory, you will want to buy a few extra if you are going to use them in a project.

  6. I would love to see this design with non-vintage parts. I saw a discussion somewhere (perhaps here on HaD?) of making a dekatron look-alike out of LEDs with a spinning armature. Perhaps build a few of those and make some IN-9 clones (surface mount LEDs with shift-registers for each module?) and this would be just as awesome, more accessible, and less toxic/fragile :P Either way this is one amazing design.

  7. @Michael L. – There is nothing toxic involved, and as far as fragility goes, these tubes are stronger than incandescent light bulbs. If you are worried about working with high voltages, then LEDs may be the answer for you.

    To the builder – Nice work! A beautiful combination of technologies and style.

  8. It’s not the high voltage that makes this a worrisome build it’s the apparent rarity of parts. I was simply saying using more readily-available parts such as LEDs to get the same overall appearance would make this more accessible to others who can’t get the parts used in this build. If it looks the same why not do it with new parts?

  9. @ Michael L.

    “If it looks the same why not do it with new parts?” Try saying that to the owner of an original Shelby Cobra auto or Patek Phillipe watch. Sure you can make a replica, but the real thing will blow it away.

    The IN-9 tubes would be very difficult to accurately replicate with LEDs, and anyone familiar with dekatrons would spot the fakes quite easily. All of the parts are available (in quantity) on ebay so unless you are mass manufacturing them, why not use the real deal?

    Of course you are free to make an LED version and that is your choice. My point is simply that you *could* build one just like this easily enough. True craftsmanship will show through regardless of if you use gas filled bulbs or light emitting didodes!

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