Nixie Tubes!

4:11 pm Cleverness

Recently I purchased a number of nixie tubes from the local electronics flea market:

Nixie Tubes

A few of them caught my eye. This Burroughs B-5448 one was most likely used in a calculator or possibly a meter to indicate plus and minus as well as the overload condition.

Burroughs B-5448 Nixie

And this National NL-989 was used for indicating the unit or mode of a multimeter. There are two “partitions” in this nixie tube: one contains the symbols “A”, “M”, and “K”, while the other contains “C”, “V”, and “Ω”. The multimeter would have used this to indicate “AC”, “MV”, “KV”, “MΩ”, “KΩ”, and so on.

National NL-989 Nixie

Notice how the glow is a different color in each tube? My camera did an excellent job of reproducing the correct color, so what you see is very close to what the ionized gas actually looks like. The National tube appears to contain mostly neon, while the Burroughs shows light blue “fringing”, indicating the presence of mercury, which was used to increase the lifespan of the tube.

One Response
  1. Rowan Bulpit :

    Date: June 2, 2009 @ 10:02 am

    Well, this is almost Nixie porn! I wish there were electronic flea markets around here, but alas. Thank you for the info about the filament, I did not know that!

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