Thursday, April 21, 2016

Weird Neon Tricks

Last week we saw the goofball circuit that uses AC current to light individual neon electrodes. This week, as promised: a similar circuit used to drive a Nixie tube with both forward and reverse current. I really like the "flame" effect that happens when the mesh anode is used as a cathode.

Here's another piece: Corona Box, that uses multiple NE-2 neon bulbs in the classic Pearson-Anson oscillator configuration to give a random flicker. Sadly these NE-2s have aged poorly: the electrodes have sputtered on the glass envelope dimming them substantially. I blame a bad batch of surplus bulbs (rather than insufficient current limiting or the oscillator circuit) as other things I have made with this batch have also aged poorly. (Perhaps this is why they were surplus in the first place?)

And finally, my 1999 piece Standard Candle, where I used a cold-cathode inverter to drive a flicker bulb. In my defense, this was one of the first artistic things I ever made and my influences are probably pretty obvious. The astrophotograph is globular cluster Messier M10 in a 1995 photograph by Till Credner, who granted me permission to use it.

This has some serendipitous similarity to the recent work of @scanlime -- see her video about making art from neon bulbs. Seeing her well-made videos inspired me to document my own work even if I can't approach her level of craft.

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