Panaplex In A Jar

Check out this home made panaplex display. Panaplex displays are closely related to nixie tubes, but instead of layering individual numbers and lighting them separately, it uses pieces to build the numbers like a digital display. [Lindsay] managed to make one at home, using a jam jar as the vacuum tube.  Argon as the gas in the tube gives it a pleasant purple color. We really think the end result is fantastic, you can see some build pictures and a run through of the numbers on the site. Unfortunately there aren’t any videos of the display in action.

[via Makezine]

12 thoughts on “Panaplex In A Jar

  1. Really cool project, I always wanted to make my own vacuum tubes.

    A word about safety… Charging a vacuum tube with more than a few kV will produce x-rays. At 30kV the x-rays will easily penetrate the bell jar and pose a hazard to the operator.

  2. This is good work – I see he’s already tried test tubes and discovered that [ah, the joys of chinese manufacturing…] you basically cannot trust labels.

    I wish to point out the reason the guy couldn’t find a lot of references to these techniques is because most tube manufacturers started using glass envelope crimping – which more or less only requires a bit of thin wire and was much more suitable for mass production. Then the tube was placed in a holder. Later, this became direct pin insertion. However, the technique is available to mere mortals.

    May I suggest the work of this gentleman?

    Now, back to chinese counterfeits, the bane of anyone doing high tech mechanical work! I applaud the chinese economy – where else can you find a usable sheet metal brake in a kit for $20? However, as you move up the food chain, counterfeits – and usually really weak counterfeits at that – are the rule rather than the exception.

    This is even more true in metals – if you think finding a specific type of glass is hard, try obtaining any part or blank made of expensive metal alloy with specific properties.

    7 out of 10 times, we will receive something that looks and weighs the same, but when you try to use/machine/melt it, you will discover that it was made from recycled bicycle rims and a bit of rusty magnesium. Finding rusty magnesium is like finding 2% dog’s milk, but chinese factory reps are very clever.

    From electrolytic caps filled with tomato soup base to aircraft engine crankshafts made of fairly good pot metal, we’ll be paying the price for some decades into the future. Caveat Emptor.

    PS – I don’t hate the chinese; It’s like having a school teacher turned stripper from marseilles for a sister in-law – as long as you know what’s in the fine print, it livens up the holidays.

  3. I love plasma projects… anything that glows turn me on really… :P Just a word of warning, anyone attempting to do vacuum experiments with conventional jars, beware. They are prone to implode if you happen to pick out wrong one.

    To produce x-rays with sufficient power, electrons will actually have to strike an anode target at the said voltage. You won’t get that kind of acceleration in a poor vacuum, such as the one featured here.

  4. @Caleb

    I appreciate your generosity, and your work here; Please “destroy after reading”.

    I haven’t done a new media venture, but it’s on my bucket list. However, it would be like asking HST* to write for fox news. I suspect that within a few weeks I would start trying to modify HAD into a technical publishing empire and spending all my time working on monetizing the place. You think one or two stories or articles would be a harmless experiment, but I am always a catalyst.

    I think it would be in the best interests of all involved if I remained part of the complimentary package of nuts, so to speak.

    Any compensation would be close enough to zero that it would be donated work anyway. :)

    So let’s stick with the free commentary for now.

    *If he hadn’t fried his brain long ago and then chosen to have it extracted in honor of GWB. RIP, HST.

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