Oct 152011
 

EL wire nixie prototype

Catarina helped me build a prototype of a “Nixie” tube illuminated with electroluminescent wire. Unfortunately the wires are too dense and too dim to work well with the ten layers of thickness, so the prototype is a beautiful failure. The number frames are based on Futura and cut on our Epilog laser using my opensource epilog driver. Side view and SVGs follow.

EL Nixie, side view

EL nixie frames

 Posted by at 8:34 pm
  • http://profiles.google.com/phooky Adam Mayer

    If you grab some of that stuff Bill had, maybe you could just edge-light with leds.

    • http://twitter.com/tensory Ari Lacenski

      I gave that a try. It doesn’t work as well as you’d hope. :( It works a lot better if you frost them with sandpaper, of course.

    • http://twitter.com/tensory Ari Lacenski

      I gave that a try. It doesn’t work as well as you’d hope. :( It works a lot better if you frost them with sandpaper, of course.

  • Johnathan_weisner

    I like the idea.

  • philleb

    I have to order elwires :). Great idea. ty .

  • http://twitter.com/hnrkisbn hnrk isbn

    Really nice prototype.

  • Michael Audette

    Very cool concept.  Why not just make a side driven LED version that would lite up the clear lexan digits from the side/bottom where they mount.   I was thinking of trying the EL wire approach myself but unlike the thin wires of the tubes stacked very close together the EL obstructs the digits behind too much.

    I took a Neon bending class and wanted to make a GIANT neon nixie tube with clear glass tube digits – but ran out of time.  There is also some really small diameter tube you can use to make a scotch bottle sized one…but the big glass is hard enough to bend.

  • http://www.paperbagcowboy.com Charles Johnson

    It looks like there’s some sort of plastic coating on the wires… Can they be stripped?

    • EL fan

      no- that’s PVC coating protecting the phosphors that surround the copper wire core. 

  • Mike

    Found this through the makezine link- Soem EL wire is brighter than others- IIRC the greens are nearly twice as bright as some of the others. I wonder if it would be worth trying to change the colour.
    Mike

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  • Jack

    Great idea.
    Do you think this would work on a larger scale, ie making the  letters perhaps a meter high?

  • Jack

    Of course alternatively, an LED segment display would work, perhaps with the segments as outlines.  But I think you could do better with the ability to overlap elements.  I’m sure there’s a set of segments, that would allow the beautiful rounded fonts, but without having 10 different figures.  parts of 8 could be shared with 7, 2, perhaps 5, and so on.

  • Jack

    um, that shoudl be 6, not 7

  • Anonymous

    You could tweak the font so there is less overlap, and you need a dark enclosure with a tinted window (even with real nixies). 

  • Rick Winscot

    You should give side-emitting fiber optic a try.

    http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/Sideglow.htm