I have a large number of the incandescent/projector type displays and would happily sell them cheaply. There are two catches. One is that they don't include the light bulbs. The other, perhaps bigger, catch is that the film with the legend is a customized display that does not included a full set of numbers, at least not on any that I have checked. I have several variations with various legends, but as I recall most are specific phrases. The film is easily removed and it might be possible to print a new legend film using clear (overhead projector) film in a laser printer without having to go through a photographic process.
The projector modules themselves are "new old stock" government surplus. I believe they were used on C130s. They are definitely an aircraft part. I would love to repurpose them. I've thought about doing something like this, but never came up with the time and ambition to actually do it.
Note that there's no reason the image can't be in color, if one had a way to print it. I suspect 35mm slide film would be the right size if one wanted to try doing it photographically. If anyone's interested in giving it a try, contact me at davids@SlateCreekEngineering.com.
I don't think an segmented display will look like a projector display because they are completely different schemes. The projector device is actually an array of miniature slide projectors, each with its own lamp, "film", and lens, but all projecting onto the back side of one screen. The "film" can be any image at all, which means that in the case of numbers, they can be formed complete in any font that one wants, rather than being approximated by means of segments. Of course one could use the appropriate images in a projector display to simulated a segmented display, but where's the fun in that?
Eons ago I had a device that used numeric projection displays. They were a PIA as the bulbs would burn out periodically, especially those lamps illuminating the most popular numbers such as zeros. :-) Good riddence.
I think the bulb life is a function of the bulb, and how bright (applied voltage) you run it. This clock has been running for a year with no issues so far. Last time I checked they were still availble for this display anyway, its a common indicator bulb. Some of the types have a 300,000 hour MTBF so I think I'm good with it for my clock.
I've been dragging these around in my junk bin for 30 years, since I was a student. When I was a student tech in a physics lab, we would scavenge old equipment for parts. These were deamed obsolete at the time, but too cool for the trash bin!
Unfortunately I didn't keep the big ones.
Search Ebay for "one plane readout", they are listed sometimes.
Long ago I worked with a counter or frequency generator with this type of display and it was called a "sphericular optic display" and a manufacturer was Burroughs. That term might help people search for them. (I also used a digital voltmeter with the type of display with the little flaps with numbers on them like many "digital" clocks of long ago. I think it was a Dana voltmeter. Of course, the wheels with the flaps had to spin around with every reading. Pretty entertaining.)
I remember these displays quite well. They were used on a specialized Xerox copier that I helped buld in the 60s called "System 3-2-1". They were made by IEE, Industrial Electronic Engineers of North Hollywood, CA. The company is still in business. See: http://www.ieeinc.com/about-us Also, there is a very nice descriptive page about the displays including a disassembled view at: http://www.decadecounter.com/vta/articleview.php?item=511
They were great. Much easier to deal with than Nixie Tubes. No special power supply needed.
I have a bunch of them, new old stock military surplus. $10 apiece if you just want a few for your own use and won't try to resell them for a profit. Will put them on ebay at some point for more money, but thought I'd give the guys here first crack at them. Films have various cryptic military-related legends on them so you'll need to make your own with numbers. Note that color is a definite option with these if you can make a color transparency or use colored LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs (not included, T1-3/4 size)
This is a really cool device and I too love the steam generator look. It triggered a couple thoughts. the time is fast approaching when I will have exhausted my stash of 100 watt incandescent bulbs and I will be forced to fork out the exhorbitant cost of inferior replacements. I am sorry I did not buy more, but I really thought the politicians would come to their senses. How dumb was that?
Then to see C-130 in print made my stomach do flip flops when I remembered the bumpy, jerky ride in those monsters. Guaranteed that at least one guy would heave and there were no barf bags to be had. But not all was bad since one of those things provided a part of my trip home.
Whether you're a designer, gamer, or just like to have a busy desktop, two monitors (or TVs) is always better than one. Gadget Freak shows you how to build an entertainment center that can hold two 70-inch TVs.
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