09 June 2015

DIY socket idea for Burroughs Nixie B5092 (13 pin) - part 1

I am gathering parts for my Nixies at a rather constant pace. Unfortunately proper sockets are not easy to source these days (at a decent price). The person that sold me my Nixies had no sockets for them. So I looked up online pictures for DIY Nixie sockets and a new idea sprang up.

Several sources point out that the old serial and parallel DB9/DB25 female connectors can donate sockets whose inner diameter matches the one on B5092 pins. Glad that I kept them aside for you-never-know-when! Taking these apart in a clean way is an art itself, but I got there too.

Now I needed a way to mount all those pins (11 for each Nixie).

First idea was to get a socket 3D printed or laser cut, and insert pins in there. I have not found online a model to use, so I would have to design my own and perhaps do few reprints: more expensive than the rare surplus sockets.

On a second thought I opted for etching my own socket. Here's how.

Basically I used the way I built adapters to solder inside MiniDIN8 plugs and my Solder Paddle morse key. Take a piece of unetched copper clad board: that is our conductive sheet on which we will draw insulation segments. Sit the Nixie on the copper and mark the position of each pin with a permanent marker. Burroughs B5092 have 13 + 1 missing = 14 equidistant pin locations.

Now draw lines that join couples of opposite pins inside the rectangle that will be the Nixie base.

Time to etch. Use a heavy cutter and a helping ruler to cut along previously drawn lines. Remember PCB material releases volatile dust: use skin, eyes and breath safety tools! Also take precautions not to get hurt or damage anything around you in the process (like your workshop table).

With an ohmmeter check all 14 slices are insulated. If they are not just pass the cutter few more times.

There you are a 14-slices base for your socket.

To be continued.

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