Electroluminescent Nixie Tube

Nixie tube made out of El wire inside a plastic tube that four small tubes of ca glue came in.

The numbers are based off of the ones taken out of a NL-918 style tube by Lenore Edman over at EvilMadScientist. I printed the picture of all the numbers side by side at 100% scale. I then removed the outer protective layer from some white EL wire and bent the numbers to match the ones in the picture from EvilMadScientist.


I then had to decide on an order to stack the numbers since they had not documented the order during teardown and they no longer remembered the order when someone asked in the comments. I spent some time looking at pictures of my favorite Nixie tubes to find their orders. I found that each tube model had a different order. This is what I believe was the order of the tubes I looked at.

All go from front to back:
8 2 6 0 7 4 9 5 3 1 = Possible order of IN-4
5 4 9 3 6 0 8 2 7 1 = Possible order of IN-17
6 5 2 4 8 0 3 7 9 1 = Possible order of IN-16
6 7 5 8 4 3 9 2 0 1 = Order from Wikipedia front to back

I went with the order from the IN-17 tube. If I do it again I would most likely make the order based on the height of the number from the picture having the tallest at the back and shortest at the front so they would all appear to be the same height.


I placed a thin layer of clear acrylic sheet between each number as I encased the legs in hot glue. I let each one harden in place before proceeding to the next number. Once they were all hardened I removed the acrylic sheets which did bend the top of the 3 and 7 but they were easy to straighten out with a pair of tweezers.


I then cut a slot in the lid of the ca glue container for the leads and proceeded to glue the assembly into the lid. After testing it in the clear tube it was a little disappointing so I added a layer of black construction  paper to the back half which did help a lot by taking the stuff in the back ground out of the confusion. To further make it like a true Nixie tube I added a layer of automotive tint to the tube which makes the numbers not being illuminated less visible which in a real Nixie tube is a side effect of the front Anode grid blocking the unlit numbers.

The result is quite impressive and visible in day light.

I did not have any triac or optocouplers when I made this so I was not able to control it via a microcontroller so the following video is just me manually connecting the wires one after another.


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