Smartsockets are a device that makes controlling multi-segment displays significantly easier. They free up the inventor to focus on the functionality of the device they are building while leaving the interfacing with the tubes to up to the Smartsockets. Smartsockets are been developed for B7971 Nixie tubes but the advantage IV-17's have is that they are much cheaper and much easier to find. The project is still in development but it looks like Chris is making lots of progress. Check out the Yahoo! Groups to learn more.
Update 03/08/2010 from Chris:
Hello ! I am just providing a brief update here, the IV-17 Smartsocket will be a multifunctional device. As well as being able to interface with it to send serial data the microcontroller's on board RTC has been utilised so this means the device functions also as a clock and alarm, with date function.
The latest version has all the four letter words of the english language programmed in too and can easily be set to cycle between words, show the time as well as the date.
The next step is to finish making some interesting transition effects when in the four letter word mode, and add a rotary encoder which the user can use to set up all control parameters, if they do not wish to use the serial interface.
GPS timekeeping is also an option.
I'm getting some lumps of quality time now and again to work on this some more and hope to finish it soon.
Greetings from Scotland ! Chris
Update 03/08/2010 from Brian:
It also looks like he posted a few more videos in his YouTube channel. Go check them out.