Author Topic: Nixie Tube Shift Counter  (Read 976 times)

Offline Grant

  • Motobrick Curious
  • Posts: 34
Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« on: July 17, 2018, 08:04:59 PM »
I thought I would start a new thread for this. I want to build a shift counter using a nixie tube on my custom dashboard. For those of you not familiar with nixie tubes, they are old technology whereby each numeral is lit up inside a vacuum tube individually.  They give a cool retro look and glow a wonderful amber color when lit.

I am seeking advice from the numerous electronics experts on the forum. My intention is to use a BEP 3.0 for the output for the shift counter. The BEP has separate outputs for each gear that go to ground and a dedicated power supply (CC).

First off my research has led me thus far; I know I need an up converter to take the 12v DC power supply, (CC on the BEP) to 170v and a 20 to 22k resistor between the up converter and the nixie tube to power it. After this I have concerns, when the circuit is connected to the nixie tube and grounded by the BEP to complete the circuit will the 170v current damage the BEP? Do I need to convert the current coming from the nixie tube down to 12v again with some kind of resistor?

  • Abbotsford BC Canada
  • 1984 K100 0005895

Offline rbm

  • ^ Quintessential Motobricker
  • Posts: 1942
Re: Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 09:03:51 PM »
I can't specifically answer your question as I've not designed with nixies.  These are EEVBlog videos on nixie tube counter design.
https://www.eevblog.com/2016/11/26/eevblog-948-nixie-tube-display-project-part-1/
https://www.eevblog.com/2016/11/30/eevblog-950-nixie-tube-display-project-part-2/
https://www.eevblog.com/2016/12/08/eevblog-952-nixie-tube-display-project-part-3/
https://www.eevblog.com/2017/05/01/eevblog-990-how-to-get-a-pcb-manufactured-nixie-part-5/

You'll have some isolation with the OC drivers in the BEP 3.0, but you'd be smart to provide further isolation on the inputs to your circuit - opto isolators for example.  You should also design for reverse polarity prevention on the 12V input as well as surge protection (fuse & TVS).  I don't think the CC output on the BEP can supply the current demand of a nixie though.  Best to find another source of switched power.
  • Regards, Robert
Toronto, Ontario

1987 K75 - Build Blog @http://k75retro.blogspot.ca/

Offline Grant

  • Motobrick Curious
  • Posts: 34
Re: Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2018, 04:31:33 PM »
Thanks for the help. I started ordering parts, probably won't be able to bench test the set-up for a few weeks until everything arrives. I don't use the heated grips, so maybe this would be good for a power source for the nixie? By the way, what is "TVS".
  • Abbotsford BC Canada
  • 1984 K100 0005895

Offline rbm

  • ^ Quintessential Motobricker
  • Posts: 1942
Re: Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2018, 05:07:06 PM »
TVS = Transient Voltage Suppression diode.  It acts as a shunt for spikes that appear on the power lines, shunting them to ground and absorbing the energy to convert it as heat.  Very important for automotive electronics as they experience lots of noise that can reach 60V - 100V.  That type of event can ruin your day (not to mention your nixie circuit).
  • Regards, Robert
Toronto, Ontario

1987 K75 - Build Blog @http://k75retro.blogspot.ca/

Offline Martini

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  • Posts: 7
Re: Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2018, 10:18:55 AM »
That's a great idea I've been investigating as well. Another one is a flip counter or a big "roller display", like the old style odometers but scaled way up.
  • In my head
  • Loaning an R1200S, hoping to build a K75 Café Racer next year

Offline Grant

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  • Posts: 34
Re: Nixie Tube Shift Counter
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2018, 10:39:54 AM »
I bench tested it and it is working fine. I bought a 170 volt power supply and an opti-isolater circuit, this will be set-up with a Marulabs BEP 3.0 to supply the signals. I need to build a case to enclose the nixie tube and mount it. I will post pictures once I start the work.

I picked up a Daytona tachometer and speedometer, along with a bunch of LED idiot lights. I am now brainstorming an instrument cluster that will accommodate all of the new gauges and lights.
  • Abbotsford BC Canada
  • 1984 K100 0005895

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