nixie tube project discussion


I have always liked nixie tube stuff.. I like the industrial/vintage (steampunk) look of them..

I also know these are HV (high voltage) projects and can potentially be dangerous.. so Id like to talk, discuss and get feedback from people who have been down this road before. :)

from what I gather the difficult part(s) of this project are the high voltage requirements..


is there a 'small' step-up/booster board/circuit out there? cheap retail? looking for something on the smaller side so it can be embedded into the base of the project..etc..etc.. ebay perhaps?

in the end either using a wall wart or plugging it into the wall are ok solutions.... or a battery/pack of some kind if not too big. (if any of these are applicable of course)

also.. one thing I was looking at seems to be VFD?

and it only has these specs: Brightness: 400 kd/m2 Glow Current: 85 mA Grid Current: 11 mA Total segment Current (for one digit): 8 mA

but the other 'nixie' tube stuff was this: & &

I have seen 'power supplies' like these:

and these:

Control: The second obstacle is 'controlling them'.. seems to be way too many wires for an Arduino to handle by itself.. (unless you were only using 1 nixie tube or something..LOL)

so some sort of 'driver' chip.... I am familiar with the MAX72XX chips.. and how they work to 'multiplex'.. and more importantly.. how a MATRIX set-up works and how individual leds (dig & segs) are targeted..etc..

but I see a MAX chip would not be able to be used here.. and it only runs off v5+...and you set the Iset resistor to set the mA each pin gives. while the mA is enough to drive the nixie tube.. the voltage falls 'way' short.

Is there another chip that supports up to 64 'leds' that is high voltage to handle a nixie tube set-up? or how does the Arduino then turn on/off each pin to control the number displayed on the tube?

any links or advice on starting to put things in order for this project is appreciated.


thanks.. Ive seen that before (I actually 'know' one of the guys who helped create/develop that)..

however I am 'not' looking for a shield.

Im simple looking for 'discussion' on finding a power supply (HV booster?)..

and talk of what chips could be used to drive all the wires needed for nixie displays.

unless there is a power supply board & a board with driver chips on it (separate?) that are small somewhere? Im looking to hide everything in a flat base (as small/flat as I can get it of course)..

Something like this maybe?

hmm.. are the boards/power supplies in my above links no good?

also.. thanks for the link!.. although maybe a bit more involved than I had planned on going.. looks to be a GREAT read.. (gonna read the page at lunch!) and should help shed some light. =)

In my mind.. (could be wrong of course)..

I'll need:

  • 1 x HV power supply (not sure how many actual nixie tubes or VFD tubes this can power?) at a min. it would have to do 2 tubes.. max I would think is 6 (if I did a date project or something versus a temp project)..etc

  • need to find a 'driver' chip that has multiple pins for controlling all the wires that come from a nixie (11 wires per nixie? that correct?)

*I'll need to make/etch a PCB to hold this driver chip(s)..with pads along the board/edge to solder the leads/wires form each nixie too..

and then some sort of wall wart/plug.. which Im missing the 'connection' here.. as I dont see any of those HV power supplies have any barrel jacks on them?