Driver Board Makes Nixie Projects Easier Than Ever

We know, we know — yet another Nixie clock. But really, this one has a neat trick: an easy to use, feature packed driver for Nixies that makes good-looking projects a snap.

As cool as Nixies are — we’ll admit that to a certain degree, familiarity breeds contempt — they can be tricky to integrate. [dekuNukem] notes that aside from the high voltages, laying hands on vintage driver chips like the 7441 can be challenging and expensive. The problem was solved with about $3 worth of parts, including an STM32 microcontroller and some high-voltage transistors. The PCBs come in two flavors, one for the IN-12 and one for the IN-14, and connections for the SPI interface and both high- and low-voltage supplies are brought out to header pins. That makes the module easy to plug into a motherboard or riser card. The driver supports overdriving to accommodate poisoned cathodes, 127 brightness levels for smooth dimming, and a fully adjustable RBG backlight under the tube. See the boards in action in the video below, which features a nicely styled, high-accuracy clock.

From Nixie tachs to Nixie IoT clocks, [dekuNukem]’s boards should make creative Nixie projects even easier. But if you’re trying to drive a Nixie Darth Vader, you’re probably on your own.

13 thoughts on “Driver Board Makes Nixie Projects Easier Than Ever

      1. Those aren’t the only types. I love to build, learn, and try, but I don’t always like to do that for absolutely every part of a project. I understand how to drive Nixie tubes and I could make a driver myself, but if there’s a good ready-made solution to do it, why should I waste my time on NIH syndrome?

        That said, KAN is right, the high voltage traces on these boards run very close to ground planes and stuff, so at least a revision of these boards might be a good idea.

  1. Interesting implementation, one thing i don’t like is that the SPI implementation is not daisy chain-able, each module will need its own CS line, but i guess since you already have access to the code you can rewrite it to basically make ‘595 on steroids :)

    Also the math for the “cathode” resistor seems to be wrong and the power rating for the 0805 resistor used for current limiting is a bit too close to the limit.

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