little electronic campfires
September 17, 2003 8:33 AM   Subscribe

"They're like little electronic campfires." Nixie tubes were the face of atomic age electronics. Now, even though they are obsolete, there are enough left to have found new life as art with hobbyists. There is something aesthetically pleasing about typeset digital indicators that glow and move fore and aft as the digits change. What better way to watch the hours of your life slip by than on your very own nixie clock?
posted by jester69 (14 comments total)
Imagine my surprise when I found an instrument with a nixie tube display while poking around in my university's lab for a spectrum analyzer. Trying to discern what the strange box was, we fired it up, only to be greeted by odd, glowing orange numbers. I had never seen them before, but the concept immediately struck me as... well, pleasing, aesthetically and otherwise.

Unfortunately, the search had to press on, so we just left it there. I *sort of* doubt they still use it, though. I should ask for it and make something interesting out of it...

The fact that the only spectrum analyzer I found that day was about one step above that technologically was not pleasing.
posted by whatnotever at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2003

Wow, I love the Nixie wristwatch! (Scroll about a quarter of the way down the page)
posted by chrid at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2003

very cool... great links!
posted by Foosnark at 9:22 AM on September 17, 2003

awesome. thank you, jester69.
posted by sklero at 10:02 AM on September 17, 2003

*faith in metafilter restored*
posted by namespan at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2003

Nixie clocks... I'm in love! Thanks :)
posted by starscream at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2003

This listserv (registration required) is really busy these days. I have about two dozen nixies I've picked up on eBay for around four bucks a pop - the power supplies can be tricky, and a lot of people end up winding their own transformers.

So far I've managed to light two at a time. Back to the lab one of these days.
posted by ChuqD at 12:44 PM on September 17, 2003

I first learned some of the basics of programming on an Olivetti desktop programmable calculator in about 1976. It had a nixie display, 8 registers, and allowed programs up to 128 instructions. I haven't see a nixie since, and didn't even know what they were called, but I never forgot how much I liked the way they looked. Thanks!
posted by fuzz at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2003

Nixie tube clocks used to be in every electronic magazine in the 70's. But of course I had to build one of those new-fangled LED clocks. Tubes (of all sorts) Rock!
posted by tommasz at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2003

from electricstuff
No responsibility is accepted for any damage, injury or death (however serious)

posted by carfilhiot at 2:25 PM on September 17, 2003

[this is good]
posted by dg at 4:49 PM on September 17, 2003

Among the many nice things in Pixar's Monsters Inc. were the ubiquitous nixie lamps. Look for 'em next time you watch it.
posted by Scoo at 6:14 PM on September 17, 2003

jester69, thank you so much for this post! now I want to make a clock and give it to my dad for Christmas! this has made my week..
posted by j at 7:32 PM on September 17, 2003

Monsters Inc. Nixie Lamps - I noticed and got a strange sense of glee from them. Of course it just confirmed my wife's feeling that I'm not completely sane.

They were very well done. And helped to give the feeling that the Physical plant had been there forever.
posted by Mitheral at 1:28 PM on September 18, 2003

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