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An expandable board that will give anyone the ability to output any number via Nixie Tubes from a Raspberry Pi.
121 backers pledged $11,600 to help bring this project to life.
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About

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$11,600

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How it all started

One day, I had an idea to try and spruce up a project that I was working on. I was creating a text-to-speech box with a Raspberry Pi that would intake 911 call details for our Fire Department and speak out the unique call number and address. This gives the Firefighters an early alert that a call is coming through and gives them a chance to plan how they were going to get to the scene - all before actually being dispatched. It occurred to me that the call numbers were 6 digits and that displaying them on nixie tubes would add a serious cool factor - and finally gave me an excuse to build something nixie-related.

I've since designed the board and have found a lot of support from other nixie enthusiasts in making this available to the public as it's not just a nixie clock like the other kits out there - It's a fully customizable nixie display!

Specs

The specs of this project are simple: the board mates with the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins for easy implementation; the board cascades with other boards in a way that allows for not just 6 digits, but 12, 18, or more; and I would like the board to have an integrated power supply that will also power the Raspberry Pi. The reason for the last spec is so that anyone can build a case for their nixie project and need only one power line coming out of it.

Project Upgrades

As it stands, I have the prototype made and tested (as shown in the video), and all of the specs have been met except for the on-board Raspberry Pi power supply. I have a circuit designed that I'm integrating onto the next version of the driver board that will provide enough power to a USB port on the board that you can use to power the Raspberry Pi.

As well, throughout this campaign I will be redesigning the power supply for the nixie tubes. The current one is fairly inefficient and barely has the power to run all 6 tubes. I plan on utilizing an extremely efficient power supply designed by Nick de Smith (used with permission and credit GLADLY given to him for this great design) and integrating it onto the nixie driver board.

Funding Goals

The funding goals for this project are to hit the bulk purchase price breaks for all materials involved. I've always had a dream to start my own small electronics business, the biggest hurdle being the start-up funds. The kit isn't terribly expensive as-is, but to make it more marketable and expandable, purchasing the parts in bulk will bring the price down by nearly 50%! As well, it would make good business sense to offer the nixie tubes for sale rather than pointing customers to eBay to purchase from Russia. Again, bulk purchasing is the only way that would make sense; I'm also confident that people that want to get started with nixie tubes will find it much more preferable ordering from a closer source that can have them delivered in a few as 2 days (obviously there are geographical considerations). Please, help me reach my goal and you'll have a fun device to play with and make your own, and know that you've helped another person reach a long-time goal. Thanks for checking out my project!

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge is to make a kit that is cheaper than the nixie clocks, but able to do more! Coming from a background in electronics all my life, the design isn't terribly complicated, however combining this with the high voltage involved in running nixie tubes presents a personal risk to myself and others. As always, use extreme caution when dealing with these high voltages.
Another challenge that may arise is tied to the fact that building these kits involves sourcing parts that are not only made, but are currently held in war-torn countries like Ukraine. While getting test parts, I haven't had any issues so far. My biggest worry is the ability to get discontinued parts from the former USSR nations, however if that problem comes to head, there are replacement parts that will work as well (I'm just a big fan of the vintage parts).
Lastly, fulfillment won't be a huge challenge, but definitely a number one priority. I have the ability and time to build and ship all orders that come through, but if there is an overwhelming demand, I have help in the form of a very supportive wife and friends.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A personal thank you for helping me reach my goal! I'll also keep you up to date on all developments as the project unfolds.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The completed, tested, and printed PCB! A Bill of Materials for the components as well as documentation and a sample Python driver as well as a testing and clock app for the board will also be included.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    $50 gets you the board and all non-nixie components, including the 6 vintage USSR-sourced K155ID1 (74141) chips. You'll just need to source IN-8-2 nixie tubes.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Same as the $50, but you get 2 kits! Don't forget these are cascading boards to now you can display a 12-digit number with Nixies!

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    15 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Complete board kit INCLUDING IN-8-2 Nixie tubes!

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    68 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    For the Nixie enthusiast who just wants to plug an play. For $175, I'll provide a kit that's been completely assembled and tested! This will have everything you need, minus the Raspberry Pi.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Not a fan of the IN-8-2? I chose them because they are a great compromise of size, cost, and availability. However, if you pay $250, you get to choose the nixie tube you want to use and I'll design a board for it, including board layout changes and power supply modifications. You will be shipped a board and all components needed to drive the tubes you chose.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The big kahuna! This will be a complete kit including 6 IN-18 nixies (the largest ones), a specially designed board for these tubes, and all components. Heck I'll even throw in the Raspberry Pi with SD card!

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Funding period

- (30 days)