Andrew's Blog

Nixie Tube Necklace

Necklace hanging from a wine bottleQuick post for today. This is my take on the Nixie Tube necklace, inspired by the original that turned up on the Makezine and documented a little on flickr. I haven’t seen any remakes of this lovely idea, so I wondered how well I could emulate the aesthetic (as always, feedback welcome). Visually I was aiming for something like a light bulb, pointing slightly upwards to illuminate the wearer’s neck and jaw. This is a front looking tube and as such is ill suited to a front facing design as it would protrude strangely away from the body, another reason why an upward/forward facing design was selected. The two wires really do carry the power (1.5 volts) and the two contact bolts carry the power inside the enclosure. The boost converter is contained within the aluminium housing.

This type of tube has a number of interesting symbols such as ~, +, -, %, A, V and omega. There is no audible whine that can sometimes be heard with this type of boost converter – the low load probably has something to do with this. On a single AA battery this design should stay illuminated for several days (I will test this when I find a single AA battery housing that I like).

Main Components

  • Boost converter (salvaged parts from camera flash) £1
  • Aluminium tube (salvaged from a solar garden lamp) £1
  • Nixie Tube (a Mullard ZM1021 from ebay) £5
  • Audio cable offcuts – free (scrounged)
  • Cork from a wine bottle (free)
  • Hard drive platter spacer ring (salvaged)

Time to Make

This design took about 3 working day evenings from reverse engineering the camera flash circuit, dismounting the components, creating a new compact board, shaping some corks, cutting the tube and mounting it all together. I’d imagine that if you knew exactly what you were doing you could have one done in three hours or so assuming no hiccups.


7 responses to “Nixie Tube Necklace

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  6. tekarain April 6, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Will you be breaking out a schematic or circuit?

    • thouton April 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I would recommend the way I did it; remove the capacitor and connect the nixie tube in it’s place then remove all the components that seem to be irrelevant (making sure it still works). Take a couple of pictures of the board for reference, work out the circuit diagram and desolder the components, then solder them back together on a smaller board. Your looking at 4/5 components normally.

      The problem is that different products will have different circuits, and the best way to go about it is to use the original components as they were on the board.

      As an interesting side note I have used a Royer oscillator to generate the 100 or so Volts needed to run a Nixie tube – however the voltage put out by this model (although averaging about 180v on my multimeter) was peaking in Kv, as judged by the arks of several millimeters length that began to form across the windings. After a while it broke my multi-voltage wall wart too, despite it being connected to the low voltage side.


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