I've built a photomultiplier tube supply; it takes +100VDC from a boost converter, which then goes through an inverting (in the sense of postive->negative rather than DC->AC) charge pump to give me negative voltages in increments of (-)100VDC all the way up to -1kV. Given that I have these high (in magnitude, at least) voltages, I thought it might be cool to use nixie tubes as numerical indicators (for reference, assume these need a perfect 200V). Trouble is, these normally take positive high voltage. Is there a way I can use these voltages to power the tubes? My instinct is that I could ground the anode, and connect my negative high voltage to the cathodes - but I don't think that would let me use logic driver chips like 74141s. Worst case, I can add a non-inverting voltage doubler to the +100VDC, but obviously I don't want to use extra circuitry if it is totally unnecessary.

edit: High voltage, of course, in a relative sense not the absolute technical kV+ sense - relative to, say, 5V.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the current draw of your photomultiplier circuit, and what is the current draw of your nixie tube display? If you have to beef up your supply just for the nixie tubes, that may justify a separate +200V supply. \$\endgroup\$
    – TimWescott
    Mar 13, 2022 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could use your 74141 driver chips - you just have to use the -200V as the "ground" for your logic circuit. However, this may cause problems interfacing the logic circuit to the outside world... \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2022 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


The Nixie drivers could be at -200V relative to some ground reference and they would work.

I’m not saying it’s a good idea or that it might not cause other problems, depending on where the data to drive the indicators has to come from, but it’s a possibility.


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