No matter what you think about Nixie tubes, you’ve got to admit that having a Nixie custom made for you would be pretty cool. The cost of such a vanity project is probably prohibitive, but our friends at Keysight managed to convince none other than [Dalibor Farný] to immortalize their logo in glass, metal, and neon, and the results are beautiful.
Nixie aficionados and lovers of fine craftsmanship will no doubt be familiar with [Dalibor]’s high-end, hand-built Nixie tubes, the creation of which we’ve covered before. He’s carved out a niche in this limited market by turning the quality far above what you can find on the surplus Nixie market, and his custom tubes grace sleek, distinctive clocks that really make a statement. Bespoke tubes are not a normal offering, but he decided to tackle the build because it gave him a chance to experiment with new methods and materials. Chief among these are the mesh cathodes seen in the video below. Most Nixies have thin cathodes for each character cut from solid sheet metal. The elements of the Keysight logo were skeletonized, with a solid border and a hexagonal mesh infill. We’d have loved to see the process used to create those pieces — laser cutting, perhaps?
The bulk of the video is watching the painstaking assembly process, which centers around the glassblower’s lathe. It’s fascinating to watch, and the finished, somewhat out-sized tube is a work of art, although part of the display seems a little dark. Even though, [Dalibor] needs to be careful — plenty of outfits would love to see their logo Nixie-fied. Wouldn’t a Jolly Wrencher tube look amazing?
Thanks to [Sebastian] for the tip.
22 thoughts on “Custom Logo Display Pushes Nixie Tube Technology”
I’m guessing they’re photoresist-etched, i.e., chem-milled.
Best company in terms of clever people that i ever worked for. It was called Agilent at the time.
I would agree with that statement. Never figured out why they chose a name that was an anagram of “genital” though.
That is what HP used on them…
Being too successful for their own good. That inevitably brings at helm opportunists who don’t care about the (original) mission. If you like doing what you do, never aim for the riches. Perhaps the contemporary popularity of open source is a reaction to rampant predatory investment. Passive defense.
My dad worked for agilent before it went off to Marvell. Now an engineer myself it’s funny to realize what an incredible company it was. All I remember is the cool devices he would bring home and the pinball machine in one of the labs with all the oscopes.
Frustrating that the beauty shots are all extreme close-ups and don’t show the full thing while it’s switching between the two words, but this is really awesome. But seriously, move the camera back at least just once.
They were trying really hard to not show that the T was broken, you can just make it out in one of the blurred out shots at the beginning
In the video he said it wasn’t broken, but it just wasn’t all the way done curing before he took the picture.
Since it’s a commissioned build for a customer, it’s almost certainly just being considerate and letting the customer do the full reveal on their channel.
Oh good point, hadn’t thought of that. Very understandable. Thanks!
It looks like the “T” from “Keysight” was damaged – you don’t see it in the finale.
I saw that too.
There’s a burn-in process that fixes that, and it hadn’t been completed when the video was shot.
Hey Dan, can you make a note in the article about turning on Closed Captioning on the video? There were some details about what they were doing in it.
Pushes technology because some corporate chest-beating exercise, using 1960s tech worked?
As an article, it was interesting enough to complain about, but it’s not why I read Hackaday.
There’s literally no expectation anywhere that articles here should push the frontiers of technology. If they only published articles about amateur projects that tread truly unprecedented ground, then there would be no articles.
The value in the project was that he was using cathodes that weren’t simple solid cutouts, and covered a large amount of area. This was a significant challenge, and I would even say, a contribution to the state of the art, such as it is. Keep in mind that vacuum tube (and low-pressure gas tube) technology was NEVER in the domain of individual craftsmen, so it is a contribution just in the fact that it pushes what can be built in a home shop. And I don’t recall EVER seeing gas tubes that used this type of cathodes, so it could be a contribution to the art, without qualification. But also, the fact that the technology was stagnant for several decades just means that industry abandoned it before it got easy enough for individuals to do.
Would you begrudge someone who’s making integrated circuits in their shop, because it isn’t on a 20 nanometer scale? “State of the art” means different things on an industrial vs. a craft scale.
Why is it that every nagging commenter believes that their idea of what is a good or a bad article is the golden standard and everyone else must conform to what they believe? Have you ever considered that your opinion is just that, an opinion and neither fact nor law? If you don’t like an article then fine don’t read it, but commenting about how it’s below you somehow or doesn’t meet your standards doesn’t add any value.
Because .. the Internet?
I could watch this guy all day, his work is simply outstanding.
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