Nixie, Panaplex and other plasma displays

See also: my neon collection
Burroughs Self Scan displays

Everything old is new again.
I've always adored the glow of neon, from the tiniest NE-2 to the mightiest neon sign.
I have a small collection of strange and unique ones I bought from New York's Canal Street in the 70s and 80s, as well as mail order (even Jerryco sold some).
It does my heart good to see the renewed interest in neon displays, particularly Nixies for retro clocks.

I have many many more that are not yet photographed, which is terribly time-consuming because I have to get them from storage and find ways to photograph them with sufficient contrast without glare.

IN-2 nixies with sockets
IN-2 Nixie indicator in very rugged 11 pin sockets with spring caps!
I bought them after seeing a Nixie wristwatch using them but I now have buyer's remorse since the IN-17 is much better
dual 14 segment Nixie card from an Ultronic Lectrascan Ticker Display
I now regret buying only ONE of these cards now that the sockets are unobtainable.
It was from a mail order surplus catalogue (probably Poly Paks, John Meshna, Marlin P Jones, Herbach & Rademan, Delta Electronics or any of the other Massachusetts places from the 80s).
It drives 2: Burroughs B-7971 Nixies (one upside down).
It's from a Ultronic Systems Lectrascan Stock Market Ticker Display

More Nixie 7971 links:
I can't find the board's spec sheet. Does anyone have the schematic?

Xerox photocopier counter
2 board assembly
The side view 5853 Nixies detach and were sold on the surplus market (specs below)

Some tech info for the board

Telegenix TDS2000 display assembly (Panaplex)

2 big glass panels each with 2 lines of 8: inch tall 16 segment characters!

Before large screen flat panels, this was considered a mighty big monolithic display
(competing with the ticker displays using dozens of B-7971 tubes).
It's 2 glass panels side by side, forming 2 lines of 16 characters,
each 16-segment character one inch high.
Unlike Burroughs Nixie displays which required a shaped cathode per symbol,
Burroughs Panaplex displays are thin flat glass panels with 7 to 16 segments viewed thru a clear anode inside the glass
(instead of a metal screen as in Nixies). Later models were dot matrix characters or completely matrix for graphics.
As you see, they suffer "burn in" when displaying the same thing for a long time.

Small versions were popular in calculators (single piece is easy to assemble).
Medium sized displays were used in gas pumps because they work in cold or hot weather with high visibility.

Do NOT confuse them them VFD: fluorescent displays (still popular with VCRs, DVD players and clocks).
Panaplex neon displays look similar to VFD (you can see all the segments if you look right) but:

IBM Panaplex display


I salvaged this display assembly from an IBM banking terminal.
It's hard to tell from the photo but it's a graphics display that's clear on both sides, so it could be placed over something else similar to the original Plato terminals
I remember seeing a keep-alive pixel in the lower corner when I had the terminal running (which doubles as a pilot-light).
The driver board uses IBM chips, so there's little chance I'll ever find the pinout or specs to re-use the boards.
The orange "hinge" is the flexible ribbon cable connecting the Panaplex neon display to the PC board.

TI 150 Panaplex calculator

The TI 150 calculator uses a Panaplex style neon display


Beckman SP-356 4 digit 7 segment Panaplex display
with decimal points and keepalive.
Kudos to the neonixie-l folks who are keeping this technology alive with great web sites of tech and projects!
They're edge stackable for longer displays
The fill-nipple LOOKS broken but that's the way it was cut. It's sealed inside, and tested okay.
It looks new and unused.
Here are the specs from: http://www.babcockinc.com/babcock/documents/doc_3249.html Testing it with a RF generator.

Sanyo SMI-02 neon eightron indicators



See, they pull apart easily, held in only by the grommet and leads.
The label shows it's a geniune Sanyo SMI-02 EIGHTRON
The right side uses 3 neon bulbs for negative, error, overflow.
Calculator board with 8: Sanyo SMI-02 eightron neon nixie-type displays
(not to be confused with the anime series Eightron).
It powers up but I don't have the pinout to add the keys.

The eightron is a 7 segment neon display with an 8th segment for the '4' to cross for easier reading.
They're nearly identical to the VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) used in the Panasonic 850 calculator.
The calculator board contains: For the photo, I applied 12 volts: - to the top, + to the bottom connectors with the thick trace.
And more eightron-style displays on the web: John Wolff's Web Museum The Sanyo ICC-1122 Electronic Calculator

Monroe 1272 Nixie financial calculator

The 6 is the frontmost cathode, best showing the display clarity.
14 Nixie digits

spec sheets

MANY Burroughs brochures & tech articles in PDF format

The Nimble Neon
Teeny 5853 side-view nixie (and 2 page spec sheet in PDF)
2 digit 5853 Nixie counter module from a Xerox copier
pinout for 12 digit 7 segment calculator Panaplex II BR 13251

The Burroughs Nixie Indicator Tube characteristics and circuit design data, mirrored from cathodecorner

Other Nixie resources: