Panaplex Projects

Having discovered Nixie Tubes I have now transitioned into a complete addit of all things Nixie.

This led to the discovery of  Panaplex displays (which are also neon filled – like Nixie tubes) and the subsequent creation of  a few projects that make use of Panaplex displays produced by the likes of Sperry, Babcock, and Beckman.

It all started with SP-101’s that I stumbled across and made a 6 digit device with. Then I found the much smaller and compact SP-151, a complete clock in a single display solution.

Subsequent research threw up an array of devices, some of which can still be obtained – and so I embarked on a mission to make clocks with them.

Multi – Segment Neon

Using similar technology to Nixie Tubes, Panaplex displays iluminate one or more segments (most commonly in a 7 segment configuration though larger 15 segment displays were produced) to display numerical information.
A series of projects based on a common (mostly) controller have been designed and are now driving vintage displays showing the time, date, temperature and pressure data.
The devices connect to WiFi from where the time is set. An external sensor measures the temperature and air pressure.

The Clocks

3 Digits

The smallest member of the familiy using a single SP-151 Panaplex display

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4 Digits

Four digits plain and simple using SP-352 or SP-356 Panaplex displays and variants.

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6 Digits

Using two SP-353 or
three SP-352 or six
SP-101 Panaplex displays 

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8 Digits

Like the six digit
version but using
SP-352 or SP-356 displays

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9 Digits

When you want to display more, using SP-353 displays for nine digits

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15 Digits

When nothing less will do, display 15 digits using SP-353 Panaplex Displays

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3 digit info

This is based on the SP-151 Panaplex display which was designed as a dedicated clock display.
It features three ‘full’ digits and a single ‘1’ digit which means it has to be used as a 12hr clock. Fear not – there are also indicators for AM and PM. 
A Wemos microcontroller drives a single HV5622 driver which in turn illumintes the required segments to show the time as well as date/temperature and pressure information.

SP-151 based 3.5 digit display clock – a 12 hour clock with AM/PM indicators

Controller board for the 3.5 and 4 digit displays featuring the NCH8200HV power supply module from Omnixie,

SP-151 driver board, not all 32 bits are needed for the SP-151 display – hence the gaps

Display board for 3.5 digits SP-151

4 digit info

This  was designed initially around a pair of SP-352 two digit displays but works equally well using a single SP-356 four digit display.
Featuring a full four digits  it works well as a 24 hour clock. A Wemos microcontroller drives a single HV5622 driver which in turn illumintes the required segments to show the time as well as date/temperature and pressure information.

A completed four digit device based on SP-352 two digit displays or a single SP-356 display.

Driver board for SP-352 x 2 devices (Note the Silk Screen Blunder!) – based on SP-151 driver but with all 32 bits utilised

Display board for four digit displays

Controller board for the 3.5 and  4 digit displays featuring the NCH8200HV power supply module from Omnixie,

6 Digit info

This time, either three  SP-352 two digit displays or two SP-353 three digit displays combine to make a 6 digit device. A larger version was designed to drive six SP-101 displays which are larger single digit devices.
Multiple PCB’s stacking behind the displays  makes the best use of the available space and keeps the view from the front as small as possible.
Featuring a full six digits it works well as a 24 hour clock. A Wemos microcontroller drives a pair of HV5622 drivers which in turn illumintes the required segments to show the time as well as date/temperature and pressure information.
The decimal point positions are used as flashing ‘colons’/ The SP-101 displays include dedicated ‘colon’ dots scharacters.

A pair of SP-101 6 digit display devices  –  sometimes, only two will do!

Controller board for SP-101 Displays featuring the NCH6300HV power supply module from Omnixie,

SP-101 display board – small turned pin/sockets are used to form the sockets for the SP-101’s.
The back of the display board is where all the SMD series resistors for the display segments are kept.

A completed 6 digit device based on SP-353 three digit displays. 
The SP-3XX clocks are made up of separate boards for the controller, drivers and displays.

Generic controller for the SP-352, SP-353 and SP-365 based devices featuring the NCH8200HV power supply from Omnixie

Driver board for SP-353 x 2 and SP-352 x 3 devices

Display board for SP-353 x 2 to make a 6 digit device

Display board for SP-352 x 3 to make a 6 digit device

8 Digit info

This one uses either four SP-352 two digit displays or two SP-356 four digit displays to make an 8 digit device. 
Featuring a full eight digits it works well as a 24 hour clock. A Wemos microcontroller drives a pair of HV5522 drivers which in turn illuminte the required segments to show the time as well as date/temperature and pressure information.
This variant displays the time as ‘HH-MM-SS’ utilising segments of the 7 segment characters as flashing ‘colons’.
Using a different board for the displays it can also drive MG-17G or MG-17F (and similar) single digit displays.

An 8 digit device seen here with two SP-356 displays but it can also be used with four SP-352 displays

Driver board for 8 digit displays

Display board for eight digit displays using SP-352 or SP-356 Panaplex

Display board for eight digit displays using individual Elfin/Rodan Panaplex tubes

Either MG-17F displays in action – these tubes have a top and bottom DP, select which one you want to drive at build time by fitting a resistor in one of two positions.

9 Digit info

This is almost identical to the eight digit version but uses three SP-353 displays to present a total of 9 digits.
It works well as a 24 hour clock. A Wemos microcontroller drives three HV5522 drivers which in turn illuminte the required segments to show the time as well as date/temperature and pressure information.
This variant displays the time as ‘HH-MM-SS’ utilising segments of the 7 segment characters as flashing ‘colons’ and leaving one digit un-used in the time display.

SP-353 based nine digit display device

Driver board for nine digit displays

Display board for nine digit displays

15 Digit info

Well, 15 digits, what on earth shall we display on this?
This one was a special request and features five SP-353 three digit displays to present a total of 15 digits which could be used to display all sorts of information such as – dual time zone or time + Date. Who knows – all ideas gleefully accepted.
A total of four HV5522 shift registers take their instruction from  a Wemos microcontroller and illuminate the required segments in order to display the chosen data.
This is still in the proptotype phase – we shall see!

Fifteen digit display using five SP-353’s

Driver board for fifteen digit displays

Display board for fifteen digit displays

It has been said ….

Here are a few comments from people who have built these projects already

“Delivery was very fast. Everything was well packed and complete.
For the setup – everything is described very well in the manual. You should also strictly adhere to the described order. The various construction steps are well described and illustrated. This kit should have the appropriate knowledge, skills and tools for soldering SMD. Especially U4 and U15 have to be soldered accordingly with caution and thoroughness.
If all the indications are taken into account, the setup succeeds very well. In case of problems, Richard helps quickly and competently.
The construction of the printed circuit boards is well thought out, making it very space-saving. Richard has found and implemented good solutions. The SP353 indicators are connected to the printed circuit board via plug-in contacts. This makes it possible to easily replace the display if the display is defective.
All in all a very good kit, which leads quickly to success with appropriate skills in construction and thoroughness.
Thank you Richard for your good work !

Wolfgang T.
GERMANY

“I’d like to take this opportunity to offer both my compliments and thanks in regards to your new SP352 wifi clock kit. Well done, sir.
The build took me several evenings, working at my own pace. I found the quality of the boards and component selection to be top notch, and the assembly guide very comprehensive. Well above what I expected.
I was a bit apprehensive when it came to mounting the SMT components, as I don’t typically work with them, but patience and a good set of watchmaker tweezers won the day. And good flux. Good flux was a must.
At this point I have the clock up and running. I’ve made a few minor code changes for timezone, and converted data from the bmp280 sensor to imperial units, but I’ve otherwise left it as found.
I haven’t decided on a case. I’ll send you a few pictures once I’ve worked that out. I had intended to repurpose a case from a broken Heathkit GC-1107, but as luck would have it I was recently able to fix that clock.
Thank you again for your assistance and words of encouragement while I was finalizing the build. Very much appreciated.”

Paul W
USA

“Lieferung erfolgte sehr schnell. Alles war gut verpackt und vollständig.
Zum Aufbau – in der Anleitung ist alles sehr gut beschrieben. Man sollte sich auch strikt an die beschriebene Reihenfolge halten. Die verschiedenen Aufbauschritte sind gut beschrieben und bebildert. Man sollte bei diesem Bausatz entsprechende Kenntnisse, Fertigkeiten und Werkzeuge zum Löten von SMD besitzen. Besonders U4 und U15 sind dort entsprechend mit Vorsicht und Gründlichkeit zu löten.
Bei Beachtung aller Hinweise gelingt der Aufbau sehr gut. Bei Problemen hilft Richard schnell und kompetent.
Die Konstruktion der Leiterplatten ist gut durchdacht , damit sehr platzsparend. Richard hat gute Lösungen gefunden und verwirklicht. Die Anzeigen SP353 werden über Steckkontakte mit der Leiterplatte verbunden. Damit ist ein leichter Austausch bei defekter Anzeige möglich.
Alles in allem ein sehr guter Bausatz , der bei entsprechenden Fähigkeiten im Aufbau und Gründlichkeit schnell zum Erfolg führt.
Danke Richard für deine gute Arbeit!”

Wolfgang T.
GERMANY

“My SP-353 (MG-17G) clock 

Soon after I got my hands on some beautiful MG-17G tubes, I began contemplating how I would get them up and running.

Alas!- Richard had exactly what I needed!
He originally designed the clock to run SP-353s, but he developed a display board compatible with MG-17F (being similar pin out to the MG-17G).

Richard aided me greatly by taking care of the SMD components, and even was happy to change the Wemos coding to my liking.

The clock is running United States’ commonly used units- Fahrenheit for Temp, Inches Hg for pressure, etc..
Overall, this experience was a real treat, and Richard is a happy soldier for working out any kinks necessary.

This clock is wonderful.
Thanks Richard for all the help!”


Stephen M.
U.S.A.

Say Hello

Do you have some Panaplex displays that you would like to use?