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Playing with Nixies and Dekatrons

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schmitt trigger

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I'm not talking about playing with these kits available on the web.
But actually having had in your hands a commercial product which uses either Nixies or Dekatrons.

For me, the only time was back in 1979. I repaired vacuum tube amplifiers at the time, so someone contacted me about repairing a digital frequency meter. It had large Nixies on its display.
I can't recall the meter's brand or model, only that it had a "Made in Israel" sticker which was kind of odd.

Anyways, the large PWB board was full of weird logic chips. They were definitively not 74xx-series TTL chips. In those pre-WWW days, if you could not locate the databook, there was nothing you could do.

But what amazed me was the Nixies. I had never seen one before, but because of its beautiful orange glow and the fact that the DC supply was about 85 volts, I assumed there were some sort of neon glow tubes. After marveling at them for a while, I closed the unit back, unable to repair it.

The owner, in those pre-recycling days, simply threw it in the trash. Just like that. He would have given it to me for free if I had asked.
In hindsight, and with the huge price Nixies command these days, I should have kept it.

So....do you have a similar story?
 

d123

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Hi,

I was a child at that time, and nowadays I sometimes like seeing those pictures of early circuits, or the adverts for the nixies and their circuits used in, for example, mass-produced stock exchange signs, or early computers and trying to see who made the "exotic-looking" ICs and transistors (especially the transistors that look like messy iced doughnuts covered in gelatine...), and wondering how things that look so rudimentary were able to work with any precision at all, despite the sharp minds that made them and used them; but sometimes - in a sense - I wish I'd been born earlier and got to play with things like the Regency TR-1, as you did :) ...I read an article about them the other day and assume one of the comments about that radio is yours, lucky guy.
 

betwixt

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Sadly (for me) I worked extensively on digital readouts, including Nixie and early fluorescent 7-segment displays well before 1979 so it dates me doesn't it!

I still have some Nixie tubes somewhere and also some 7-segment filament displays. If my memory serves me well, the prime manufacturer of high voltage driver ICs was Hitachi and they all had HDxxxx part numbers although an Israeli one may have used an alternative. There were even 'pocket' calculators in those days with Nixie displays, you needed big pockets and the battery life was about 2 hours if you were lucky!

Brian.
 

schmitt trigger

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Brian;
The "Made in Israel" was for the whole equipment itself. Unusual, because back in those days test equipment giants like HP, Tektronix, Keithley, General Radio, RCA and others were "Made in USA".
There were some cheap "Made in Japan" stuff.

I don't recall that the logic ICs themselves were made there.
However....... I do know many tech companies have, or have had, Israeli operations.
 

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I remember dealing with Scitex, Elbit and Tadiran equipment (NOT the millitary stuff!), mostly repairing it, but not the component makers themselves. I have vivid recollections of the nightmare Elbit terminals which had hundreds of TTL ICs in them, hundreds of PCB trace cuts and miles of wires criss-crossing the board linking pads together. Sometimes I wondered why they used a PCB at all as there were more wires than traces. I remember having to change a RAM chip on one and it took all day to mark the start and end points of all the wires crossing it, cutting through the wires to get to the solder pads then replacing all the wires afterwards. Of course, to complicate matters further, they dabbed glue every inch along the wires to keep them in place. Those were the days....

Brian.
 

schmitt trigger

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Anyway
I have ordered some Dekatrons on Ebay to play with.
0G4 type, as they seem to be lots of info on the web.

I'll post my findings once that I receive them from Ukraine. Some 3 weeks.
 

schmitt trigger

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I have received my dekatrons.....yeeei!

Unfortunately I am leaving on a business trip and it will be until next week before I will be able to play with them
 

schmitt trigger

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I have received my dekatrons.....yeeei!

Unfortunately I am leaving on a business trip and it will be until next week before I will be able to play with them
 

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