IV-6 VFD vacuum fluorescent tube email counter

Posted on 17 Oct 2010 23:58

The star of the show is the Soviet IV-6 vacuum fluorescent display tube, brand new from old stock. I picked it up on ebay for $1 delivered unit cost.

Digit segment switching is via 7 2N3904/3906 NPN/PNP transistor pairs. I didn't want to use a VFD driver chip because a) they are scarce/obsolescent b) they are expensive c) they are overkill for a single 7-segment tube and d) most don't have a thruhole package option anyway.

The section to the right of the tube is a boost converter circuit to generate the ~25V to drive the grid and segments. Since it is a single digit tube, it is a direct DC drive. The IRF730 power MOSFET is modulated by the PWM output of the Atmega8 on the left side of the board.

Power and communication is via an FTDI FT232R USB-serial cable, which I will replace with a cheap PL2303 cable (when it arrives from Hong Kong). I'm also gonna move this to one of those fancy new transparent breadboards, because I think that look will really complement the vacuum tube. I might rethink the layout to see if I can cut down on the tangle of wires.

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Blog tags: iv-6 vfd

Finished IN-16 nixie tube email counter

Posted on 17 Oct 2010 23:26


This nixie tube counter displays the count of my gmail inbox. For a sense of scale, the counter is mounted on top of a 22 inch computer monitor, attached by a velcro strip.


The top of the case is a little scratched from the build process, so I'll make another one soon (I have about ~100 such cases).


The module on the left is a $2 PL2303 USB serial adapter from ebay, which supplies both 5V power and instructions from the computer. The module on the right is the high-voltage anode driver for the nixie. The chip in front is an Atmel AVR attiny2313. The nixie tube is a Soviet IN-16, brand new from old stock. The cathode driver for the nixie is a Soviet K155ID1 (74141 clone) and is mounted underneath the tube.

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Blog tags: in-16 nixie tube

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