Displaying the Temperature and Humidity on Vintage VFD Tubes

Redditor Commanderkull built a temperature and humidity meter that takes advantage of VFD tubes.

Cameron Coward
a month agoDisplays / Sensors

Nixies tubes get all of the glory, but they aren’t your only option if you want a cool vintage display with cyberpunk aesthetics. VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) tubes are much more affordable, are easier to drive, and still have a great retro vibe. Redditor Commanderkull built a temperature and humidity meter that takes advantage of those VFD tubes.

This project utilizes popular IV-11 VFD tubes. Those are easy to find and cost just a fraction of what most Nixie tubes do. These do have a bluish-green color, but you can use filters if you want to get an orange glow like Nixie tubes. Commanderkull stuck to the normal color, which looks great here. A total of six IV-11 VFD tubes are used to display the current temperature and humidity in the room. This could have been done with just four tubes, but the additional cost to use all six was minimal.

The VFD tubes are all driven through daisy-chained shift registers. 24V power is passed through to each tube, and then 1.5V is used for the filaments. The temperature and humidity sensor is a DHT22, which is monitored by an Arduino-compatible Microchip ATmega328P microcontroller. All of the components are mounted on a custom PCB designed in KiCAD. Commanderkull has left the board uncovered and mounted on the wall, but it would be easy enough to 3D-print an enclosure. The finished product looks very cool, and it’s a unique way to keep track of the local weather.

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