Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey still stands up pretty well. But there’s a telling anachronism in the scene where scientists visit a monolith that’s been uncovered on the moon. On their lunar shuttle’s control panel, there are numerical indicator lights clearly made with cold-cathode displays, also known as Nixie tubes. This technology was in vogue during the mid-1950s but fell out of favor in the 1970s.
Nixie tubes still enjoy a following among enthusiasts of retro technology. I’ve sometimes been tempted to build a Nixie-tube clock, but the difficulties and expense always put me off. It’s hard even to purchase Nixie tubes at this point—especially larger ones—and they require high-voltage driver circuits, which are inherently dangerous. So I was delighted when I stumbled on something designed to mimic the appearance of Nixie tubes without the complications—something its designer calls a “Lixie display.”
Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.