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Nixie Tube Angle Gauge

Nixie Tube Angle Gauge


Nixie tubes, while largely a display method of the past, are fabulous pieces of retro technology capable of showing off characters as brilliantly glowing shaped conductors. Today, you’ll mostly see these tubes implemented as stylish clocks, but why not other household devices?

As seen here, and in the video below, SomeOnetyone created a three-digit Nixie tube angle gauge. The unit is fairly accurate, even working upside-down at 1:55, and matching up to a protractor at around the 2:10 mark.

This device responds to angular displacement by counting up the digits shown on its three tubes. These are situated on an upper perfboard level, along with supporting electronics including Siemens 74141 binary to decimal converter chips made in 1972. Additional components consist of an Arduino Nano on the bottom perfboard level as well as what appears to be a boost voltage converter to supply the tubes, plus an accelerometer.

The bottom and top levels are affixed together using a header arrangement, which would facilitate easy troubleshooting and expansion. The gauge's firmware uses a moving average to smooth out the output which likely accounts for the ever-so-slight response time delay. In the future, SomeOnetyone may integrate speed and acceleration over time functions into the firmware, and a more robust housing is also planned. On the other hand, raw perfboard look does have a certain appeal!

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