Edge Lit Displays

Well, my vane display post got some Adafruit love and many of my other posts on old display technology have gotten some traffic so here is one more.

I love finding antique display technology on eBay and a few days ago I came across a dozen old edge lit displays, also known as lightguide displays.  Basically, a piece of plastic is bent to allow light to enter at the rear of the device.  This plastic guides the light to the front where small holes are dilled to form numbers of symbols.  Each digit or symbol has a corresponding lightguide and incandescent bulb.  If one were so inclined, you could also swap these bulbs out with a nice LED and come up with a display that offered more colors and was easier to drive using contemporary circuitry.

I created a quick video showing how the device works – enjoy!

Video and photos after the break:

6 Responses to “Edge Lit Displays”

  1. Per Jensen says:

    Oh, those are just beautiful.

    Can you disassemble one of these digits and make a contact copy of the individual layers (scan the numerals in a flatbed scanner ?

    I want to make my own, and make them look as authentic as possible.

    I am planning on cutting and engraving the lucite plastic on a Laser cutter…

    • I thought about how best to do this. The plastic is bent so I can’t really put it through a scanner. Taking photographs of each digit in focus is a bit of a challenge because of the dept and the need for the macro lens.

      I’m guessing your best bet would be to find the closest font possible and make templates on ponoko.com or something like that.

  2. [...] build was inspired by an antique edge-lit display that performed the same function as the ever-popular Nixie tube with 10 miniature light bulbs and [...]

  3. [...] build was inspired by an antique edge-lit display that performed the same function as the ever-popular Nixie tube with 10 miniature light bulbs and [...]

  4. [...] build was inspired by an antique edge-lit display that performed the same function as the ever-popular Nixie tube with 10 miniature light bulbs and [...]

  5. [...] build was inspired by an antique edge-lit display that performed the same function as the ever-popular Nixie tube with 10 miniature light bulbs and [...]

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