Putting Lixie to Use!

A project log for "Lixie", an LED alternative to the Nixie Tube

Always jealous of people who could afford big Nixie Tubes, I rolled my own alternative with WS2812Bs and laser cutting!

Connor NishijimaConnor Nishijima 12/28/2016 at 15:170 Comments

Hello again, makers!

This week, I've got an update on Lixie manufacturing, a new accessory in the works, and a bunch of cool code examples!

Manufacturing Update

I've ordered the final revision of the Lixie PCB for testing from DirtyPCBs, and as soon as it arrives and passes, I'm committing to a 200-unit run from Elecrow! I've already ordered 50-units-worth of every electrical part, and waiting until my next check to order all the laser cuts, so we're still on schedule for mid-January.


A new development for Lixie is a daughter board, simply named "Lixie USB". This will bolt on underneath the first Lixie in your chain, and solder through to the input pads. As of writing this, it has an ATMEGA16u2 on board, which can be programmed with the Arduino IDE right over the USB port! You can also power your Lixies with micro-USB with this board. This allows for two types of setups:

Also in the works in an ESP8266 daughter board w/ microUSB for standalone WiFi Lixies!

Lixie Project Examples!

Because we're nearing the Lixie launch, I've gone ahead and begun programming a bunch of projects you can use right out of the box!

NTP Clock

The most obvious use for Lixies is a clock! By driving these with an ESP8266, you can flash this for a self-setting NTP Clock!

Live Wordpress/PHP Visitor Counter

This is a live Google Analytics-style counter of active users on your Wordpress/PHP site!

OpenWeatherMap Display

Another good use for an ESP8266 connected Lixie is a live weather display! The temp/humidity/pressure is shown in the numbers, and the weather status (clear/rain/extreme/etc) is shown in the color!

Ping Speedometer

Using an ESP8266, you can have a live network latency monitor! This code pings Google often, and shows you the response time in milliseconds. The Lixies are also colored a range from green to red based on latency good/bad thresholds you set! Streamer

I'll be adding more logging services soon, but for now you can stream a field of your choice from any log! Lixie will show the latest entry of a numeric field, such as temperature, wind speed, CPU load, or any number you can push!

Nest Thermostat Display

This one is a bit different, as it requires the Serial JSON Parser mentioned above, and a Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, the only way to do more complex internet tasks like OAuth2 is by using a computer like a Raspberry Pi. Pretty soon I'll be porting the Lixie Library to Python so that you can drive a Lixie chain directly from an embedded computer, but for now you'll need the USB-Serial setup.

Pi > USB > Arduino > Lixie

This is a script that connects to your Nest Thermostat over their cloud API, and returns the current measured temperature, coloured by the system status: orange = heat, cyan = cool, white = off.


All of the above projects - and there's more every day - are on the Lixie Projects Github Repo. Once again, thank you all for the support, pull requests, and a big thanks to the 83 people on the Tindie waiting list eagerly awaiting the arrival of their Lixie displays!

- Connor