I'm a product engineer taking on a new project.
With current manufacturing methods, I'm able to manufacture In-18/Z568M inspired nixie tubes, at a fraction of their market costs (sub 25 USD/pc). I don't compromise on quality. It will be built with parts mostly sourced from the US, and have the quality management system ISO-certified.
However, due to overhead costs, such a price is only available if the minimum demand for said tubes is reached. Hence I can only commence with the project when I know that there is enough interest.
What are your thoughts? Would it interest you if such tubes exist? show your support, and large, affordable nixie tubes may finally be within our grasp!
I must have missed this topic earlier. I see you have decided not to pursue your project after all. Just in case you change your mind, my opinion is this...
Definitely would be interested in newly manufactured tubes, especially if you could provide some assurance of longevity, e.g. accelerated aging test results.
As for design, I like my tubes the way I like my women: tall, slender and pretty. By tall and slender I mean the "stretched" shapes of the digits in e.g. IN-18 or ZM-1042 (or of course CD47!) much better than the "squatty" digits in e,g, ZM-1032 or B5925. The taller the better. And I think "pretty" is self explanatory.
Look into it later when the dust is clearing off the crater.
I'm sorry to hear that you got dissuaded by the negative vibe over at Neonixie.
Let me just add a couple of thoughts:
- For sure Dalibor is doing great work, but he approached it from a different direction. My impression is that he started with a passion to know, and then grew a business out of it when he realised that there was the possibility to make a living out of it. A lot of the things he found out (the "secret knowledge" of tube manufacture) he could have found out through a process other than trial an error, and he could have short circuited all that, but he didn't want to, because he wanted to know.
There are still greyhairs out there who were involved in the manufacture of tubes on an industrial scale, and still have all that in their heads, no need to perform research. No need to spend 5 years re-inventing the wheel.
- I think your price point is too low in any case. If I could find a reliable source of long life tubes even at $75-$100 each, I would use them. The IN-18 are hit and miss and hard to source, and let's not even talk about the CD-47 at $1000 each.
- I think there is a market for greatly simplifying the manufacture, using modern technology. For example, one of the weaknesses of the tube is the large number of connections through the glass case. These are fragile and difficult to manufacture and the most common source of failure. How about a three/four wire design using digital control integrated into the tube? How about a "no wire" circuit using inductive coupling? We only need 5mA on the other side and the control could be modulated onto the carrier... Just ideas, I didn't run any numbers.... It's crazy talk, I know, but what's crazy now could well be doable in a year from now.
- There are always new products coming out of China, and what costs $100 in the US can be sourced for $2 in China. With a mix of old world and new world you might find a sweet spot.
- At the end of it all, it comes down to how many you can sell. I think people understimate the passion of the Nixie tube dudes and the amount of money they have burning holes in their pockets. Dalibor is shifting tubes at $145 a piece, and he can't keep up with demand.
I think the Neonixie group is a bit rough, I avoid posting there because I don't think they are that friendly. It seems to me that the group thought over there is.. I don't know that they want lots of people having Nixie clocks, and are sort of against anyone selling nixie clock kits, sort of a do it your self or your not good enough to join their club sort of thing.
I know I would probably by a 20-30 mm side view set, but the problem is how many clocks do I want to build/own? I'm almost full of clocks, and I'm already making most of my clocks for friends these days.
I would think that you would need to get with some one on some sort of kickstart Clock deal. (not just the tubes, but the whole clock). maybe think geek, who can sell hundreds if not thousands of clocks a year... that might get you off the groun with something like 6,000 (assuming 1,000 6 digit clocks) tubes sells right there...
but thats asking for a LOT of clock sells.. one person to look to is the floating clock people, they seems to like doing nixie clock kick starters and are very successful at them.
Hear hear! I really don't get the vibe there... They should be overjoyed that someone is thinking about this, and pile in with "I know this guy that knows that..." and "I have this supplier for that..." and "If you do it like this you can improve the yield and cut the cost..." but exactly the opposite happened.
I am a great believer in what you can achieve if people think together and you can use that massive Borg mind to divide and conquer problems.