Thursday, June 21, 2012
I was originally going to use most of those dekatron tubes I ordered to create some sort of clock with the tubes as the display, but I think I am first going to use two of them to create a CPU and RAM usage meter to go into one of the 5.25" bays on the front panel of my PC. The only thing I was unsure of was how to power the tube's supply and communicate with the controller without endangering my computer's sensitive electronics with any sort of high voltage or noise in the event that something goes wrong. I knew I could use opto-isolators on the output of an FTDI usb to UART serial converter to communicate safely, but the best solution I could figure out for power was a separate ac converter. That's when I found these nifty DC-DC isolated supplies at jameco, I can use them to supply power to the dekatron tubes without any direct electrical connection, so that even if something goes wrong my PC will remain safe. And the whole device can be a self contained unit the size of a standard optical drive, without any extra clunky wall warts.