Driving Nixie tubes

In the second article about his Nixie tube clock Luca shows how to drive Nixie tubes with a microcontroller. The first article covered the power supply, we covered it here.

Nixie tubes are started with a high initial voltage Vigh, around 150-180volts. Once ignited they work at a maintaining voltage Vm, and consume a average current Ik. To drive them you need a current limiting resistor and a high voltage power source that is equal to their Vigh.

The resistor is calculated by the formula R = (Vign -Vm) / Ik, and the power dissipated by the resistor is calculated by P =  (Vign – Vm) * Ik.

Once a resistor is selected the rest of the circuit surmises down to controlling the ground of the tube with a NPN transistor, or a open collector output IC. You can check out his circuit in action in the video below.

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