Title:
APPARATUS FOR OPERATING MULTIPLE POSITION DISPLAY TUBES
United States Patent 3790850


Abstract:
The apparatus of the invention is adapted for operating multiple position display devices having a plurality of groups of display cathode segments or elements, with corresponding elements electrically interconnected, an anode electrode associated with each group of display segments, and an auxiliary electrode common to all of the groups of electrodes for preventing spurious glow between them. The simplified circuit biases the OFF cathodes from a voltage divider common to them and the auxiliary electrode, thus eliminating separate biasing for the OFF cathodes. The signals applied to the display tube or panel are also blanked during an interval in advance of signal transitions in the device, for inhibiting spurious glow under varying conditions of operation. Voltage divider apparatus also is provided for biasing the OFF anodes in a nonconductive state at a potential proportional to the tube bias potentials.



Inventors:
Doane, John C. (Somerset, NJ)
Holz, George E. (North Plainfield, NJ)
Ogle, James A. (Neshanic Station, NJ)
Samlyody, Arpod (Somerville, NJ)
Application Number:
05/328761
Publication Date:
02/05/1974
Filing Date:
02/01/1973
Assignee:
BURROUGHS CORP,US
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
313/517, 315/334
International Classes:
G09G3/10; H01J17/49; (IPC1-7): H05B41/00; H01J17/48
Field of Search:
315/167,168,169,169TV,334,336 313
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:



Primary Examiner:
Lawrence, James W.
Assistant Examiner:
Nussbaum, Marvin
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Green, Robert Fiorito Edward Fish Paul A. G. W.
Parent Case Data:


CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 126,826, filed Mar. 22, 1971, and now abandoned.
Claims:
1. A character display circuit comprising

2. A character display device as in claim 1 wherein the auxiliary electrode is connected electrically in common with at least one of said first

3. A character display device as in claim 2 wherein all of said first

4. A character display circuit as in claim 1 wherein said current in the auxiliary electrode passes to it from the anode through the ionizable gas, and at least a portion of said current passes through said impedance device and tends to increase the voltage on the auxiliary electrode as the number of glowing cathodes increases, and

5. A character display circuit as in claim 1 further including

6. A circuit to compensate for voltage changes on an auxiliary electrode located in a gaseous atmosphere of a glow discharge indicator tube which has an anode and a plurality of cathodes in operative relative to it in the gaseous atmosphere, each of the cathodes being in the shape of a segment of a character to be displayed and being capable of exhibiting cathode glow when energized, comprising

7. A voltage compensation circuit as in claim 6 wherein the plurality of impedance elements of the second bias circuit are connected to the

8. A voltage compensation circuit as in claim 6 wherein all of said impedance elements are resistors and the cathode drivers are transistors, and the plurality of resistor-transistor series circuits thus formed are connected from a junction of the voltage divider to one of said reference

9. A character display circuit for displaying any one of a plurality of different characters in each of a plurality of side-by-side character positions, comprising

10. A character display circuit as in claim 9 wherein the plurality of anodes and the plurality of groups of cathodes are all located within a common gas-tight envelope,

11. A character display device as in claim 9 wherein the impedance device comprises a voltage divider having a junction connected to the auxiliary electrode, a predetermined impedance connected from said junction to a first reference potential terminal, and a second predetermined impedance connected from said junction to a second reference potential terminal.

12. Apparatus for operating multiple-position display devices having a plurality of electrically interconnected groups of cathode elements, an anode associated with each of the cathode groups, and an auxiliary electrode that electrically shields the groups from each other in an ionizable medium, comprising

13. The apparatus for operating multiple-position display devices of claim 12 wherein the voltage dividing means comprises series-connected resistances and the cathode driver output circuits include resistance means coupled to the voltage divider junction between the series

14. The apparatus defined in claim 20 wherein the means for energizing the anodes includes voltage switching means for each of the anodes coupled for shifting the voltage on them responsive to the second set of input signals in synchronism with the first set of input signals applied to the cathode

15. The apparatus characterized by claim 12 further comprising means for blanking the application of the first set of input signals to the cathode drivers for a predetermined interval in advance of signal transition in

16. The apparatus defined in claim 12 further comprising an anode pre-biasing circuit having second voltage dividing means coupled between said pair of reference potential terminals and having a divider junction

17. The apparatus defined in claim 16 wherein the second voltage dividing means comprises a voltage reference device coupled in series with a resistor and the anodes are coupled to the junction thereof by resistance

18. The apparatus defined in claim 16 wherein the second voltage dividing means comprises series-connected resistances and the anodes are coupled to the divider junction thereof by resistance means between the series

19. The apparatus characterized by claim 18 wherein reverse biased unidirectionally conductive means are connected in parallel with the resistance means coupling the anodes to the divider junction of the second voltage dividing means to clamp negative voltage excursions on them.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The subject invention relates to apparatus for operating multiple position display panels having a plurality of groups of cathode electrode elements or segments for displaying characters side-by-side. Each group of segments has its own anode electrode and corresponding cathode segments in the several groups are connected together to a common terminal. More particularly, the invention relates to improved and simplified apparatus for operating gas discharge display devices having a plurality of groups of interconnected cathode electrode segments positioned in a row.

A multiple is oriented display device of the type described above that is available commercially is known as the PANAPLEX numeric panel display. This display panel includes a plurality of groups of cathode elements which are in the form of elongated bars or segments. Each group of cathodes has its own anode electrode and is oriented in a figure 8 pattern or the like. The various cathodes can be selectively energized, together with a selected anode, to display one or more desired characters on the groups of segments by electrical discharges with the energized anode(s). The electrical discharges in the device ionize the gas and result in cathode glow on the selectively energized segments for displaying the characters.

One type of PANAPLEX panel display includes an auxiliary electrode common to all of the electrode groups which is biased at a potential intermediate the cathode and anode potentials for preventing spurious glow in the device as described and claimed in Harvey, et al., Ser. No. 78,045, filed on Oct. 5, 1970. Under some circumstances, however, spurious glow sometimes develops in an adjacent group of electrodes or between adjacent electrode groups when a particular anode is energized.

These problems are solved satisfactorily in G. E. Holz, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,694,693, in G. E. Holz, Ser. No. 87,048, filed Nov. 5, 1970, and in E. L. Harvey, Ser. No. 324,023, filed Jan. 16, 1973. However, under some circumstances or in some modes of operation, such spurious glow still occurs. Extraneous discharges sometimes occur between adjacent positions at the time of signal transition, for example, which result in spurious cathode glow and positive column glow in the device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, an object of this invention is to improve and simplify spurious glow suppression in multiple position display devices having interconnected cathode elements or segments.

A further object of the invention is to increase the reliability of apparatus for operating such devices by eliminating uncritical and unreliable components therefrom.

In accordance with these objects, apparatus for operating multiple position display devices is provided including a plurality of individual anode drivers, each coupled to a first reference terminal and voltage dividing means coupled between that potential terminal and a second potential terminal and having a junction point to which the auxiliary electrode is coupled for initial biasing. Also included is a plurality of individual cathode element drivers, the outputs of which are coupled both to the cathode electrodes and to the junction point of the voltage dividing means through suitable impedance means. The value of the impedance means is pre-adjusted for initially biasing the OFF cathodes at an appropriate potential as well as for drawing sufficient current, when energized, to adjust the glow suppression potential on the auxiliary electrode responsive to the number of cathode elements being energized.

Also provided is means for blanking the signals applied to the cathode electrodes during an interval in advance of signal transitions on the anode and cathode electrodes in the device. Voltage dividing means coupled between the two reference potential terminals is also provided for biasing the OFF anode at a nonoperative level when not energized.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages and features of the invention will be made clear in the following description wherein:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a segmented cathode display tube having individual anodes and an auxiliary electrode adapted to be operated by the present apparatus;

FIG. 2 is an elevational view of a longitudinal section of the display tube or panel of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an electrical schematic diagram of apparatus suitable to implement the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a timing diagram illustrating the desired timing and blanking intervals in the device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The principles of the invention are particularly applicable to operation of the type of display device described and claimed in the above-mentioned Harvey, et al patent application. Reference is made to that application for a detailed description of the device. Only portions of such a device are illustrated in the present drawings. Display device 10 includes a gas-filled envelope having a base plate 16 and a face plate 14 (FIG. 2). The envelope contains a plurality of groups of cathode segments 20 (A,B,C,D,E,F,G) and an anode electrode 30 for each group. In this type of device, the cathodes are segments or bars arrayed in the form of a figure 8, as is well known in the art. Additional segments could also be included, together with decimal points and commas or the like, if desired. Cathode elements shaped in the form of symbols might also be incorporated.

For purposes of illustration, the anode electrode 30 for each group of cathodes is shown as a metal ring surrounding each cathode group; but it may take any other desired or useful shape. The anodes have leads 34. In addition, the display device 10 includes an auxiliary electrode 40 in the form of a screen which covers all of the groups of cathodes and anodes and includes walls 50 which extend downwardly between each group of electrodes. The screen 40 has a lead 44.

In actual construction, a common cathode connector 60 (A,B,C,D,E,F,G) is provided for the corresponding cathodes in each group of segments so that connector 60A is coupled to all cathodes 20A, connector 60B is coupled to all cathodes 20B, etc. The cathodes are secured to their connectors by means of short tabs 64, and the connectors are suitably supported on base plate 16. An insulating mica plate 66 or the like (FIG. 2) is positioned between display segments 20 and their connectors 60 both to prevent ionization about the connectors and to shield them from view in case such ionization does occur and cathode glow develops along them.

Briefly, in operation of the tube shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, drive signals are applied to the cathodes via conductors 60A-60G in accordance with the input information. Simultaneously, the anodes are energized in turn from left to right, or in any other desired order or sequence via lead 34, to cause the display segments in the selected groups to exhibit cathode glow. A suitable bias potential intermediate the cathode and anode bias potentials is applied to lead 44 of screen electrode 40 for preventing spurious glow about the cathode segments and between adjacent display positions.

Referring to FIG. 3, display device 10 and its electrodes are shown schematically in order to simplify the drawing and the description of the apparatus. In addition, only three cathodes 20(A, B, G) and their corresponding connectors 60(A, B, G) are shown. The operating circuit includes a separate driver 240, 250, . . . 290 adapted to apply a suitable positive potential to the anodes 30 in turn, responsive to control signals received from a suitable sequencing circuit or device 210 through anode blanking control unit 220 and conductors 224-229.

The emitters of anode drive transistors 240, 250, . . . 290 are connected to reference terminal 12 and their base-emitter junctions are biased off by resistors 241, 251, . . . 291 connected between the base electrodes and that terminal. The control signals for the anode drivers are coupled through capacitors 243, 253, . . . 293 to their base electrodes. The collectors of the anode drivers are connected directly to the anode leads 34.

A resistive voltage divider comprising resistors 213 and 219 is connected between reference terminal 12 and cathode bias terminal 120. The OFF anodes are initially biased in a non-conductive state by the potential on voltage divider junction 216 coupled to the anode leads 34 by resistors 246, 256, . . . 296. The anodes 30 are clamped in the negative direction by diodes 247, 257, . . . 297 having their cathodes connected to anode leads 34 and their anodes connected to the voltage divider junction. These resistors pull the associated anode down rapidly to is OFF voltage to prevent spurious glow when the cathodes signal change to display the next digit. The diodes clamp the anodes to prevent negative overshoot of their potential when they turn OFF, which can otherwise extinguish residual current to the OFF anode too abruptly and result in positive column discharge to the next energized anode. Alternatively, either diodes 247-297 or resistors 246, 256, . . . 296 connected between the anode leads 34 and voltage divider junction 216 may be eliminated if negative overshoot of the OFF anodes does not result in positive column glow or if rapid pull down of the OFF anodes is not required.

The difference in potential between the OFF anodes and the ON cathodes must be kept below the ionization breakdown potential in the panel. In this invention the potential at voltage divider junction 216, and hence the OFF anode potential, varies or fluctuates proportional to the tube bias potential between terminals 12 and 120 for preventing spurious discharge with the OFF anodes under varying conditions of operation. Resistor 213 of the voltage divider may be replaced by a Zener diode having its cathode connected to reference terminal 12 and its anode connected to junction 216, if desired, and still maintain an adequate variation of the bias on the OFF anode electrodes as a direct function of the bias potential between terminals 12 and 120 it has been found.

A separate driver is also provided for each cathode including an NPN transistor 121, 122, . . . 127 having its base or input electrode coupled by resistors 71-77 to a suitable data source 100 of electrical information signals synchronized to the anode control signals by sequencer 210 through cathode blanking control unit 110 having terminal 105 for adjustment of cathode blanking. Such a data source might include a computer and its associated system elements.

The base electrodes of cathode drivers 121-125 are clamped in the negative direction to the cathode bias potential on terminal 120 by diodes 81, 82, . . . 87. The emitters of the cathode drive transistors are coupled to cathode bias terminal 120 through current-limiting resistors 91, 92, . . . 97 for adjusting the level of the cathode currents in the display panel. The collector of each cathode driver 121-125 is connected to the corresponding segment connector 60.

A resistive voltage divider comprising resistors 13 and 19 is connected between reference terminal 12 and cathode bias terminal 120. The lead 44 of auxiliary electrode 40 is connected directly to the junction 16 of voltage divider resistors 13 and 19 and the cathode connectors 60 are each coupled to junction 16 by resistors 111-117, respectively. The potential on voltage divider junction 16 applies a bias potential to both the auxiliary electrode 40 and the OFF cathodes 20.

The values of the voltage divider resistors 13 and 19 are preselected to provide a suitable initial biasing potential to the auxiliary electrode 40 between the anode and cathode bias potentials for most effective suppression of spurious glow about the OFF electrodes in the panel.

The values of resistors 111-117 are preselected to satisfy the different requirements of suitably biasing the OFF cathodes and of sufficiently dropping the potential on the auxiliary electrode as more cathodes are energized to maintain effective spurious glow suppression potential on the auxxiliary electrode. The values of resistors 111-117 should be relatively high for biasing the OFF cathodes without excessively shunting cathode driver current of 121-127 away from the display segments 20 when they are activated. The values of resistors 111-117, conversely, should be relatively lower and closer to the value of voltage divider resistor 19 which they shunt or parallel when cathode drivers 121-127 are operated, for best automatic negative adjustment in the auxiliary electrode potential for most effective spurious glow suppression.

It has been found that the value of the resistors 111-117 can be selected or pre-adjusted to a compromise range between these opposing criteria and still achieve suitable operation of the device without spurious glow. Enough current can be conducted to the cathode segments 20 and still achieve the desired automatic inverse adjustment of the auxiliary electrode potential as more cathodes are energized.

The tube 10 is operated in the multiplexing mode. In this mode of operation, information signals are applied to each of the cathode input terminals 60 from a suitable data source, and, at the same time, each of the anodes 30 has operating potential applied to it, in turn. As each anode is energized, the appropriate information signals are applied to the cathodes so that, at each position, the proper information is displayed. This mode of operation is well known to those skilled in the art. In the circuit of the invention, as each anode is energized current is conducted by the corresponding cathode driver transistors 121-127 to the cathode connectors 60, resulting in glow discharge by the cathodes 20.

In a multiplexed display, it is desirable to use a short blanking interval each time a subsequent digit position is to be energized. This is necessary to prevent the wrong information from being displayed at the next position. The rise and fall times of the cathode and anode waveforms and a possible small skew in the cathode and anode information timing may all be contributing factors to the blanking requirement. This effect can be eliminated by turning off the drivers for a few microseconds during the signal transition period. Besides preventing errors in the information displayed, this blanking interval also increases the effective isolation between adjacent digit positions. This isolation is enhanced by the nature of the gas discharge phenomena itself.

In any gas discharge device the sustaining ionization potential is considerably less than the initial ionization potential. It follows, therefore, that if the anode strobe is immediately transferred from one anode to the next without a blanking interval, the presence of the initial ionization potential at the adjacent anode may tend to sustain the ionization already present in the preceding digit position. Utilization of the blanking interval insures a decay below the sustaining ionization potential at the first digit position before energizing the subsequent digit position.

To achieve this isolation effect the cathode drivers 121-127 are turned OFF prior to anode switching by cathode blanking control unit 110 through data source 100, subject to a control signal or level applied to terminal 105. This cathode blanking interval occurs at the beginning of the digit duration. Since drive transistor storage time and stray circuit capacity will delay anode turn off, cathode blanking should be maintained at least for several microseconds after anode switching. This is necessary to prevent extraneous glow on cathode segments, which are energized to form the next digit scanned. Anode blanking control unit 220 having terminal 205 for receiving adjustment control signals is provided if blanking of the anode control signals is desired.

Typical signal waveforms for three representative anodes and for three typical cathodes are illustrated in FIG. 4. Waveforms 245, 255 and 265 may be applied to leads 34-36 of the first three anodes 30, for example, and waveforms 160A, 160B, and 160G may be applied to cathode connectors 60A, 60B, and 60C, respectively. The digit duration or period is designated td and the cathode blanking interval is designated tkb.

Although the preferred embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it should be understood that the present disclosure has been made by way of example only. Many modifications and variations of the invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically disclosed.