First Nixie Tube project.. components needed feedback?

hi everyone-

I am wanting to try my hand at making my first NIXIE TUBE type project.

I do not want to buy a clock kit or anything... I have a few ideas for a project.. but want to get/understand the essentials..

Im thinking for my first project..

I'll use 2 nixie tubes... not sure the specific model, as there are many on Ebay.. but some smaller sized tubes x 2.

these will be attached atop a wooden based.. where the arduino standalone circuit will be housed.

Id like to attach a simple temperature sensor.. and give the arduino the sensor output... and have it power/change the display of the nixie tubes to reflect the temp. (rounded to nearest whole number is fine)

I have never used a Nixie Tube before.. nor have I messed with such high voltage project (a bit scary..but non-the-less Im moving forward with it)

Form what I gather.. I'll need

tubes x 2 driver chip(s) power supply Arduino public software library (I guess this is based on the driver chip of choice?) enclosure/housing..etc

So to try and research things a bit.. here are the components I have found & plan on using.. (based on feedback form here of course) :)

1.) The NIXIE TUBES: (or similar)

2.) POWER SUPPLY: (not sure what one is best..or how many nixie tubes I can drive with each one? just one? multiple? what decides that.. the output pads available?..or can multiple tubes share an output if enough current is there to support more tubes being used?) a.) ---this one looks ot have 2 180v+ outputs.. (as well as 12v and 5v...can run Aruidno off it too then?) not sure WHY the two outputs.. means only 2 tubes can be used then? Also has a barrel jack.. which Im sure will be used with walwart..but really not a big concern... can solder on my own for correct placement in the wooden base..etc

b.) --- this is small.. love the size... not sure how many tubes I can run off it though? (min input V is 2v?? can I run this one off the Arduino then? no wall-wart.. using the same 7.4Li-Ion pack as Arduino?)

c.) same as above I think..but breadboard friendly??

d.) --- just another version I found while surfing around..

3.) DRIVER CHIPS: (not sure what ones to pick..or if it makes a difference.. but since I'll be replying on a public library..unless its a simple as turning on/off a digital pin or something..never used a BCD to Decimal driver before....... I'll need to make sure whatever library people use,.. matches the chip(s) I get/use.. is it 1 chip per nixie tube?)


these seem to be original/authentic Russian 74141 chips? not sure if these are better?

b.) these are the 'replacement' 74141 chips.. the K155ID1 chips...

4.) Arduino.. I'll be using an Arduino Duemilanove 2009 board for testing/prototyping my circuit/project.. then move to some other tiny, DIY, minimal/standalone Arduino circuit to fit the footprint of the base the tubes will sit on.


-- not sure if a BCD to Decimal driver chip is easy to use?.. Or if there is some sort of public library available for use, specific to Nixie Tube projects.. or just a library that one uses to talk/communicate to BCD to Decimal driver type chips?

Id like to hear you feedback, experiences.. and if my potential stuff above Im planning on buying is what is needed?


For bonus points or fun discussion/learning...

What are the differences in driving/running a VFD type of tube vs. a nixie type tube?


(was wanting to make a calendar/date stamp out of this one)

Second bonus question:

dig it.. looks nice.. but how does it 'work'? How many leads come otu of it? how do you determine the size/length/height of the bar graph? more voltage to it? analog? (doubtful)

(would be nice to have this as a standalone or coupled with the temp project I want to do above.. just for more of a visual)

Do you have an English translation of the nixie tube spec? I see 115-170 B which is probably the voltage and <=2 mA which could be the anode current (min? max?). If that is the case, then the second and third power supply would be fine if you can reduce the output voltage; It says 64 mA at 180V. The first supply doesn’t spec a current, but since it is intended to drive a clock (at least 4 nixie’s) it should be fine also.

BCD to decimal shouldn’t really need a library. Connect 4 output pins to the A, B, C and D inputs of the chip. Connect the chip pin ‘1’ to ‘cathode 1’ or ‘k1’ of the nixie, pin ‘2’ to ‘k2’ etc. When you want to display ‘0’ set all 4 output pins low (0 0 0 0). To display ‘1’ set all low except set A = high (0 0 0 1) etc. Use the table in the datasheet for each digit 0 - 9

thanks for the reply…

I have these specs… for the potential Nixie Tubes Id be interested in using:

*rated voltage- 170-180VDC
*33k series resistor
*rated current- 2.5m-3.0mA
*tube height: 50mm / 1.9685 inches
*tube width: 17mm / 0.6692 inches

*rated voltage- 170-180VDC
*33k series resistor
*rated current- 2.5-3.0mA for digits, 0.3-0.4mA for the decimal point.
*tube height: 50mm / 1.9685 inches?? ← DOUBLE CHECK HEIGHT
*tube width: 19mm / 0.7480 inches

NIXIE IN-14: (2 & 5 share same electrode?)
*rated voltage- 170-180VDC
*33k series resistor
*rated current- 2.5mA
*tube height: 54.5mm / 2.1456 inches
*tube width: 19mm / 0.7480 inches

NIXIE IN-16: (smaller sized)
*rated voltage- 170-180VDC
*47k series resistor
*rated current- 1.5mA
*tube height: 45mm / 1.7716 inches
*tube width: 13mm / 0.5118 inches

found here:

they also mention the series resistor? (whats difference from a regular resistor?)

Im assuming that data is also published using their power booster/supplies they sell.

which is the same as this one:

it also says that its adjustable…(just not clear on how exactly)…

Im going to try and use a barrel jack…so the end project can just have a ‘port’ so someone can use a 12v wallwart…etc…

(which is sorta why the first power supply looked good to me)
which has 180v output pads:

but then also goes on to mention this in the description:

I believe any of the power supplies will work. The term 'series' just refers to how the resistor is connected to the part. Series means the resistor is between the power supply and the pin. The resistor limits the current flowing into the pin. You will want a resistor rated for 1 Watt or more

R = 33K Ohms I = 3mA = 0.003 A P = R * I^2 = 0.297 Watts

For general room temperature circuits use a safety margin of 2 or more. A 1 W resistor it will get warm, but should work just fine. If the resistor is in a confined space (no airflow for cooling) or operating at high ambient temperatures then you will need a higher power rating.