Saturday, 04 March 2006 17:44
What's Glass, Made in Russia during the 50's, runs at 400+ volts and has a warm neon glow? A Dekatron tube!
The Dekatron tube was designed for numerical display and counting during the 1940's and 50's. By applying a series of pulses to the appropriate pins on the base of the tube, the 'glow' could be made to advance from electrode to electrode, visible at the top.
The Dekatron tube would typically require 400+ volts to operate. The dekatron spinner, as displayed below, is running from a circuit as found on Mike's Electric Stuff homepage . Mike has some great information about Dekatrons on his site.
In 1948, the University of Wolverhampton built a computer from vintage telephone components and dekatron tubes. Calculations would take between 2 and 15 seconds to perform and results could be read by looking along a row of dekatrons.
Only one electrode is lit at a time. Multiple lit electrodes, as in the photos here, are due to longer exposure times.
The tube is a Russian made A101 Dekatron Tube. The circuit presented below is a slight modification of Mike's original design.