I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.

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IN-19 Nixie Thing | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

IN-19 Nixie Thing

While waiting for the paint to dry on my IN-14 Nixie Clock, I decided to tinker around with a small board idea to do something with this lonely IN-19B that I have. When I bought the IN-14s for my clock, the eBay seller threw one in as a way to make up for a delay in shipping. It's a cool little tube. But what would I ever use it for?

IN-19Btube_0001

I just want to throw together a little board that I can plug this tube into and watch it cycle through all the symbols. Nothing fancy.

I threw together a schematic using piece-parts from my nixie clock.

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 4.25.47 PM

I then laid the parts out to make the board as small as possible.

in-19b_nixie_thing_0023

That's pretty small!

in-19b_nixie_thing_0025

The high voltage power supply and the 5V regulator will go on the back. The PCB will be no bigger than it has to be.

in-19b_nixie_thing_0026

Being happy with the layout, I then routed the traces.

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 4.25.44 PM

Here's the OSH Park render. Only $13.80 for three.

Nixie Thing v1.0 front

Nixie Thing v1.0 back

This is just a little thing to kill some time, and use up a useless tube. I did think about designing it so that it could also be used as a single-tube clock, but adding an ATmega328, a DS3231, and a backup battery seems like overkill for what it is. If I was ever to design a single-tube clock, I'd probably wait until I had a really big tube like a Z566 or a Z568. Then maybe it would be worth adding all the extra hardware.

While I wait for the boards to arrive, I can play around with an idea for a case. For that, I put together a 3D model.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 2.18.31 PM

Making a case for it should be pretty easy.

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.14.00 PM

About two weeks later, my PCBs arrived.

IN19_nixie_thing_assembly_0001

I then soldered in all my components. Soldering in that IN-19 with such short leads was very difficult. Some of the leads wouldn't even reach the holes. I had to the bridge the gab between the pins and the board with a solder blob.

IN19_nixie_thing_assembly_0004

I soldered in a blue LED on the bottom and bent it up so that it would illuminate the nixie. Just in case this turns out to be a disaster, I soldered in a female header so that I could socket the power supply. If I even need it in the future for another project, I won't have to unsolder it.

IN19_nixie_thing_assembly_0003

I then connected the DC input jack.

in19_nixie_thing_assembly_0006

I flashed my ATtiny85 with some code. It's a pretty simple sketch. All it does is feed the 74141 nixie driver chip with BCD, using the 4 digital pins available on the ATtiny85.

IN19_nixie_thing_assembly_0008

And there is it. It's a silly little thing, but what else am I going to do with an IN-19?

in19_nixie_thing_assembly_0009

It's just too bad that it's only displaying six out of the eight characters. The whole point of this project was to make a little widget that cycles through the characters, and it doesn't really do a good job of that.

I was just messing around when I threw this board together. I made the rookie mistake of assuming that the IN-19 was the same as the IN-14 when it came to the pinouts. I don't know why I never bothered to double check them. As it turns out, the anode on the IN-19 is on the opposite side as the IN-14. As a result, I had to solder in the nixie backwards. Since the pinouts don't match up, it resulted in two characters that I can't light up.

Here it is in action…

Nixie Thing
Anyway, not bad overall. Like I said, it's just a silly little thing. At least it "works". If anything, it was a good practice run for a single-digit nixie clock.

Might as well wrap things up with a little 3D-printing...

nixiething_620