Sick Nixie Print E-mail
Sunday, 12 March 2006 10:01

Yesterday I noticed that the 2nd from right Nixie Tube in my clock wasn't looking like the others, I couldn't put my finger on it, but today it definately looks much pinker and some of the digits aren't fully formed. The clock was built using four NOS Russian IN-14 Nixie Tubes


My Nixie clock recently took a roadtrip.  It didn't travel far, but I suspect that the travel may have caused a very slight leak in this tube, allowing some oxygen in and some of the neon out.  I would guess that the drop-outs on the numbers, as well as the pinkish colour, are caused by oxidation of the cathodes. Any ideas?


Email me your thoughts. I can replace this tube, but it's only been running for a month.  I would like to know what happened, so I can stop it happening again! 

I received this email in response to my Sick Nixie question:

Hi Sascha,

No idea when you posted your note but I build the nixie tube clocks for Before I build a clock, I test each element, if one tube is brighter than the others it's likely to fail quickly so it isn't used. It's probably nothing you yourself that caused the failure.

Your analysis of the failing tube is correct. There has been, and it may continue, a gas leakage. Once enough gas is gone the tube will fail completely. There is no way to reduce gas leakage once it begins. Nixie tubes (even old new stock) have varied life. I have had tubes fail within 2 weeks and some still going fine after years of daily usage. Careful handling is about all you can do to reduce the odds of another tube failure in the future.

Regardless of how well you take of the clock. At some point, the tubes will fail. If you want to play it safe, buy a few tubes as replacements and just fix it when they die.

So enjoy it while you can.


Thanks Larry! Ok - The time between question and answer is about 4 years and I replaced the tube with another. The clock went on to work happily for over a year until it was superceeded by Nixie Clock #2 which has been ticking away, warmly providing it's time-keeping service :)

And I did buy some spare tubes... Oh yes! Did I buy tubes! I think I have 50 or so of the IN-14 tubes, enough for about 12 clocks ;)
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