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daveslot
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby daveslot » Fri Jun 24, 2005 10:36 pm

Yep, it works a treat, how does it get its power from the plasma ball. It's an ITT GN-4 by-the-way.

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whoop-john
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby whoop-john » Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:52 am

Dave, there is enough radiated energy at a high enough voltage to light the tube. Scary isn't it? Nixies need high voltage but low current, just a few milliamps. Once they fire, they need even less to maintain the glow.

Nixies will often not light in total pitch darkness, they seem to need some photon excitation before they kick in.

A plasma ball will also test the orange gas discharge pinball displays from 1978 onwards. You will get nonsense displayed as you run your fingers over the back, but at least you know the gas seal is still good on the tube. Problems with these are often a hairline break where the flat wires meet the glass. Some silver conductive paint can often fix these.

A portable nixie tube tester can be made using the circuit out of a disposable flash gun.

I saw on your fruit picture that the centre tube seems to have been replaced with a smaller tube at some point. A shame, as I could have found the right one. Presumably the one you still have is also a smaller one as if it had been the correct size it would have been used in the machine!

Value of a tube? New, boxed, maybe £4. More if it is a rare one, which these aren't, they were made by Mullard as well as ITT. As a used tube anywhere from nothing to £1.

Metal gets evaporated off the cathodes onto other lesser-used cathodes and the glass, so old tubes get a mottled effect on the numbers and black silvering on the glass itself. Sometimes really burning them for a while at higher current will renovate an old one.

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pennymachines
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Osglim lamp

Postby pennymachines » Sat Jun 25, 2005 10:04 pm

Here's an even earlier Osglim Beehive Neon Lighting Lamp on a Green Ray Fortune Teller (and still working). There were also versions with enclosed single letter shapes. Anyone know where I can get another of these lamps?

I'll post a picture of the Star Soccer and Green Ray machines in the Museum shortly.
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whoop-john
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby whoop-john » Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:37 am

I shall put the word out for you about the Osglim. I know quite a few neon tube collectors. I will see what I can dig out for you.

I just bought some tubes from Russia. They are neon linear bargraph indicators with a length of glow proportionate to the current going through them. The west never made an equivalent of these. I want to make some sort of amusement machine using a few. Maybe a Frankenstein scene or a Fritz Lang Metropolis type thing.

This particular make of tube is always a violet colour, but my batch are orange for some curious reason. Maybe they got the gas fill wrong? They look very nice lit up. Must try one on the plasma ball!
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whoop-john
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby whoop-john » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:13 am

You won't believe this, a spiral Osglim lamp was sold on UK eBay yesterday. Put item 4388914372 into the search box. You will see it sold for £21!

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pennymachines
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby pennymachines » Sun Jun 26, 2005 8:50 am

Actually I was watching that eBay sale just before I posted the Osglim picture. I was hoping to buy, but I didn't anticipate paying over £20 for one. Maybe they're rarer than I thought.

I emailed the vendor to ask if he had any more. He didn't, but said
I shouldn't worry if I were you. What usually happens is that there will be dozens of them on Ebay now. People will list them on the back of the high price that mine fetched.


We'll see. If your contacts come up with anything I'd be very grateful John. I may just have to bite the bullet and pay the price if another comes my way.

The machine doesn't really need one - it's just that it would look more symmetrical and interesting. At present it has one Osglim and two pygmy bulbs. Any period bulb that fits into a standard bayonet holder and looks a bit "techy" would do.

I like your Russian lamps - I hope your '30s period sci-fi machine gets off the drawing board.

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whoop-john
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby whoop-john » Sun Jun 26, 2005 11:16 am

Alan Franzman, a keen US collector of all nixie and neon-related tubes replied to me:

<snip>

Those are rather hard to find, I think £21 was a bargain for someone. I think your best shot will be to continue to monitor eBay, and perhaps
check some of the light bulb collectors' websites.
www.bulbcollector.com
is as good a place to start as any.

</snip>

Back to me: I know one or two collectors with the financial means to outbid anyone they fancy, which is unfortunate for us normal people.

Dieter Waechter in Germany probably has the largest collection in the world.
http://tube-tester.com/sites/nixie/nixie-tubes.htm

Nick deSmith is a keen collector and personal friend, he probably has the UK's largest collection of nixies and neon bulbs, last count around 5000. He will respond to me if he has one of these for you.

Some nixie tubes have been changing hands for upwards of 300 dollars each. But you won't find one for sale anywhere at any price.

There is a UK guy goes by the name of 'Spudgun2' who has been consistently bidding on just about every neon bulb/nixie auction on eBay for the last year or so, sometimes paying silly prices. I was lucky with my Russian tubes, Spudgun2 was bidding as usual but somehow I managed to pip him, it was a late evening close. He's won 312 auctions, all for tubes and bulbs and related items.

To give you some idea of the level of interest, the neonixie group on Yahoo has 1144 members worldwide, so you are up against competition.

I'd be kicking myself for not getting that Osglim on Saturday. 50 year old glassware like that is getting hard to find. I think a spare for your machine would be a wise investment.

Let's hope some people do turn a tube or two up for you.

John.

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pennymachines
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby pennymachines » Sun Jun 26, 2005 1:20 pm

Thanks, John for the advice. I'm wise after the event - if I'd known how hard it might be to find another, I'd have pulled out all the stops.
I know one or two collectors with the financial means to outbid anyone they fancy, which is unfortunate for us normal people.
in slot machine collecting too.

But a friend has helpfully advised me that if I got out a little more, I wouldn't be worrying about old neon lamps.

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daveslot
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby daveslot » Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:11 pm

I have probably got one of these somewhere. I had a few put away to put on Green Rays. I thought I was the only collector of those strange bulbs, the ones with glowing letters when you plug them in. I had one with a 2 foot long advert in, plugged it in, worked for a few seconds then went off with an alarming noise! Is there a way of testing them, as I have a triple bulb advert I would like to test.

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whoop-john
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Nixie tubes in slot machines

Postby whoop-john » Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:26 am

Your 2' advert sounds similar to one seen on eBay a couple of years ago which advertised cigars,. It sold for close to $1000.

I hope you kept it, because it is repairable, rare, and desirable to a small group of collectors.

You can try your lamps for usable neon content using the plasma globe trick. This should work and shouldn't harm the bulb.

Checking the wiring for a short circuit before applying power is about all you can do otherwise.

The bulbs have a current dropping resistor inside, but you cannot get at it to test it. All you can do is assume that the internal resistor has shorted and use an external resistor is series with one of the connections. About 10k - 12k should be about right. If the built-in bulb resistance is good then the lamp would light with approximately half coverage. If it lights with full or near-full glow coverage, this would indicate either no, or shorted, built-in resistance, so keep your external resistor in place.

The alarming noise you heard might have been dodgy wiring shorting out or worse, was the failure of the hermetic seal on the bulb due to overheating. Old age may have made the seal brittle and the tube warming up was enough to pop it, letting the magic smoke escape. Not much you can do about this, but don't throw them away, a collector will still want duds and might even get them refilled somehow. :)


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