Wilhelm Zeuschner's All-in-One Programmable PSU Aims to Make Building Nixie Clocks a Lot Easier
Maker Wilhelm Zeuschner has designed a board that makes it easier to build your very own Nixie clock, packing everything you need to power a microcontroller and the high-voltage tubes themselves on a single device — programmable over I2C.
"Around Christmas 2019 I started to design my own Nixie Tube Clock," Zeuschner explains of the project's origins. "After many revisions and much trouble with the high voltage generation I finally had my very own 6-Tube Nixie Clock."
"Right after this was finished I spun off the design of the HV PSU into its own project — this one right here. I incorporated all knowledge I had gained from the previous design revisions and added other useful stuff like 3.3V and 5V on the same board. With the help of this module I made a smaller, 4-Tube Nixie Clock."
The compact power supply board accepts a 12V DC input and outputs 3.3V at up 500mA, 5V at up to 1.5A, and a programmable 85-175V at up to 20mA — enough to drive vintage Nixie vacuum tube displays. "You can freely dim the high voltage output from 85V up to 170V," Zeuschner writes of the board's programmable output feature.
"This is ideal for dimming tubes up or down dynamically, for example at night. The high voltage can be stitched off completely, while the 5V and 3.3V rail remain active."
The board is compatible with 3.3V and 5V logic levels, and comes with an open-source Arduino library for programmatic control — and if you're planning on using a microcontroller that isn't compatible with Arduino sketches, Zeuschner says the library would be easy to port.
"This module is capable of creating high voltages these can obviously be very dangerous," Zeuschner advises those interested in picking up a board of their own. "Mishandling of theses voltages can lead to major injuries. This is not a beginner-level module."
The board is available fully-assembled on Zeuschner's Tindie store now at $45, with more details available on his website. The Arduino library, meanwhile, has been published to GitHub under an unspecified open-source license.