Soviet IEL-0-VI Electroluminescent Display  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2012-03-18  


The IEL-0-VI represents a not-often-seen class of display that was used almost exclusively within the former Soviet Union; a segmented electroluminescent display. Segmented EL displays use phosphor, but are fundamentally different from VFDs in that they are not vacuum tubes and do not have a hot cathode filament. Instead, an organic resin with a crystalline phosphor suspension is sandwiched between a conductive bottom layer and a tin oxide glass window to form a capacitor, similar to the way in which modern EL wire works. When rapidly charged and discharged by a high voltage source, the phosphor emits light which can be seen through the glass front of the display. The IEL-0-VI requires an AC voltage of approximately 200 volts at 400hz to function properly; approximately 8 times the voltage required to light a similar size VFD. The strange looking high-efficiency segment pattern serves a special purpose; it can generate nearly every Cyrillic and Roman character (except the letter T) using only eight segments.

The IEL-0-VI and other displays of its family are ruggedly constructed out of a glassivated material, which can withstand extreme punishment that would destroy a conventional VFD. Electronics lore has that these displays were originally intended for use in the cockpits of Soviet tanks.


IEL-0-VI electroluminescent display
Soviet IEL-0-VI electroluminescent display, normal operation.

IEL-0-VI EL display
Two IEL-0-VI displays, one still packed as shipped. The Cyrillic writing on the paper reads 'Wheat Ear Candy'

IEL-0-VI readout
The unusual segment pattern of the IEL-0-VI can generate nearly any Cyrillic or Roman character using only eight segments.

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