Neon Driver


    Television during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s was mechanically based using a motor driven disk or drum with a number of small holes arranged in a spiral, and was illuminated from behind using a Neon Plate or Crater lamp. There were also a few mirror-screw type televisions that used a series of mirrors arranged in a helix and illuminated from the front. The neon lamp was used as it was the only cost effective type of lamp at the time that had a response time fast enough for television use. These lamps were made by several different manufacturers like RCA, Deforest, Daven and Raytheon, the Raytheon Kino Lamp being the most popular one. This lamp has a plate that is approximately 1.5” by 1.5” and emits a soft orange glow when excited. These lamps typically run at 200-250 volts at about 50ma. They were typically driven by a parallel pair of high power triodes like UX-210’s or  45’s from a high voltage power supply.

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Typical Neon Plate Lamp from the 1920’s

    By utilizing a modern, high efficiency, switching power supply design, the NE-1 can develop up to 350V open circuit, and up to 66ma @ 250V, all at an efficiency greater than 88%. A high power, high voltage MOSFET driver supplies the varying current to the neon lamp through a unique foldback circuit that keeps power dissipation to a minimum. The maximum current delivered to the lamp is adjustable in four steps from 25ma to 66ma through an internal dip switch. For safety, the Mini-DIN output connector has a built-in switch that completely disables the high voltage until the correct connector is inserted. Front panel LED’s give information of the status of the high voltage supply, temperature of the unit, and the efficiency of the current output MOSFET.

CAUTION! Because this unit develops up to 350V and 66ma it can be dangerous if not used properly. The user should have a thorough understanding of working with high voltages, and take the appropriate precautions.

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