I want to make a small clock using Nixie tubes (for the cool/retro/steampunk look of them), I have some basic knowledge of electronics, but I have never done anything with more than 12V DC and ~10A. I saw that Nixie tubes are usually using 3mA at 180V in order to make the Neon glow and I am concerned with the safety concerns.

Because I do not want to hurt myself with a shock of 180V caused by a mistake due to my poor experience with high voltage, I wonder if some indicator tubes that look like Nixie ones are functioning in low voltage/current ?

I know no Nixie tubes at low voltage can not exist because the gas needs to be excited to produce light, thus, the "look like" is very important.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps you can make some out of LED filament. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_filament \$\endgroup\$
    – Dampmaskin
    May 29, 2017 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ This looks cool. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2017 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Use a HD LCD with a picture of a nixie tube display. Nobody will notice the difference! \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    May 29, 2017 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Large Nixies are quite difficult to get today and expensive. I'm already having LED filaments shipped to me from China (without having to break a bulb to get them.) These are 28 LEDs of two types within a phosphor/silicon sleeve and are flexible (to an extent) and cost about 25 cents per filament. They require about 70 V and 10 mA (each filament) to operate. Lower voltage than Nixie but the overall power for a display will be higher, regardless, but also brighter, too. (LED filaments may soon be used as analog clock hands for night use, too.) \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    May 29, 2017 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ One trick I've seen is multiple layers of clear Acrylic with a digit engraved in each layer and each is separately edge illuminated with LEDs. While it doesn't really look like a Nixie, it has the same 3D look. Unfortunately, you'll probably need to find someone with a laser engraver to make the panels and make the LED assembly yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – DoxyLover
    May 29, 2017 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


No, low voltage nixie tubes do not exist. But if you're after that nixie tube "look" you can buy Numitrons that work at 4.5v.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT5W2IU7Ft0 for an example of what a Numitron looks like.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please provide a picture, youtube links go down and people are unlikely to watch the video. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Nov 21, 2017 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ha! Russian Numitrons are on Amazon. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2019 at 3:36

To answer your question succinctly, no they do not exist.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A 2nd sentence explaining why might be useful... \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    May 29, 2017 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ The OP already stated why. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glenn W9IQ
    May 29, 2017 at 17:28

Yes they do look for a tube number GE Y1938 , i own 4 , datasheet is on google

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    \$\begingroup\$ That a vacuum fluorescent display (VFD), not a Nixie tube (neon gas discharge). Completely different technology. Also, it's 7-segment, not fully-formed digits like a Nixie has. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Jun 12, 2019 at 23:07

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