You get what you pay for!
That's the lasting impression when working with this clock. It's not very cheap, but there seems to be no corner cut, or compromise made. It's worth every penny you paid, and you'll end up thinking it's probably worth more than you paid.
From the moment of receiving the box (you have to sign for it, it is sent via tracked post), the impression is good. "That's a big box" for a clock kit, but when you open it up, all the surprise of receiving such a big box dissolves. The box is big because it contains lots, and it's beautifully packed, well padded and full of electronic and retro goodies. One thing to note is that the IV-13 Numitron tubes are not included in the kit I received, and you'll have to shop around for them.
A power supply is provided, with the appropriate plug for the county the package is sent to. That's a nice touch, and shows that care and attention has gone into every aspect of the clock presentation. The power supply is not some cheap no name brand. It's heavy, chunky and clearly a quality unit, with certifications on the rear side. The difference between this supply and some other supplies is that the certifications are real.
The impression of quality remains when you open up the box. There is a case included in the kit, and it looks nicely made, and includes all of the hardware needed, right down to the rubber feet. All the ICs are provided with sockets, as well as ceramic sockets for the tubes.
The number of components is not particularly high, and while the instructions say that this is a kit build for the experienced electronics enthusiast, the level of skill needed does not seem all that high. Nearly all of the components are "through hole" (which means they are easier to handle and mount for the average hobbyist, because they don't need special tools. There are two large format surface mount devices, but neither these are a problem to mount without special tools. Tweezers help, but are by no means an absolute necessity.
The instruction manual is available online and this is an area that could do with a little more explanation for clock constructors without much experience. To be fair, Jürgen does aim this kit at people with a fair level of experience, but addition of a few more words in the manual would lower the experience bar a good deal. The assembly instructions are correct, but a little short in places. If you have plenty of experience, you will sail through the assembly, but if you are quite new to constructing clocks, you might find it a little confusing or vague in places. If you can read the schematic, you'll be just fine.
After a confusing start, (entirely self inflicted complications caused by not just simply doing what the instructions said) the Scope Clock is nearing completion. The final steps went really fast, in fact much easier than expected, and after only a few minutes, it was clear that we are on the right path.
The poor DAC chip looks like it had a tough journey. It was squashed completely flat in the package, and the first task was to straighten the pins, solder the socket onto the board and put the DAC into the socket. There were no other components needed. The two turret pins also needed to be soldered. In total this only took two or three minutes.
At this point, the temptation was simply too great. Even though I only have one lead made up and could only look at a single channel, I just had to have a look what the scope was doing. In the video you can see what it looked like. It was of course totally unreadable, but staring at the pattern for a few seconds, it became clear that something good was going on.
There is no need for the RS232 interface at the moment, but I know I'll just lose the parts if I don't put them on the board right now. One of the cool features of the Dutchtronix Scope clock is that you can link it up to another computer and use it as a terminal (with only very few characters per line, and only few lines.
To complete the build, the RS232 chip (a HIN232ACP, a new one to me) was added and the chunky D-Type socket.
After all that, plugging the board into the scope with both channels immediately gave a picture that was recognizable. It was turned on it's side and back to front, but it was clearly a clock face. Switching the X and Y axis and turning off a channel invert made the clock face appear correctly.
How cool is that?
Recently a Dutchtronix Oscilloscope clock module arrived by post, and it seems a really nice kit. Oscilloscope (or just "Scope") clocks have a fairly limited appeal, but the people they appeal to really, really like them. They are, in all seriousness, the pinnacle of geekness.
Q1: Who has a scope?
A1: A geek.
Q2: Who has a scope clock?
A2: A cool geek.
This article takes us through the first part of the build of the clock.
I really struggled when I was writing this, and even after thinking about it some more, I'm still not convinced I got the right answer. Perhaps I'll never know, and will always have to live with that nagging feeling that things might have been different, if only I had made a different decision...
I was poking around on http://hackaday.com/ and found this: http://hackaday.com/2015/07/14/unusual-nixie-tubes-lead-to-unique-clock/. It's a clock. That's what the title says.
My issue was that it was hard to decide what category to put it into, and in the end, only a process of elimination gave me an answer. The title says that it's a tube clock. Those are clearly tubes in there, but is it a clock? It's not based around Numitrons or VFDs, so clearly it doesn't belong there. It wasn't found on eBay, and no one submitted it, so those categories don't fit, either. But I can't quite bring myself to put it in the "Nixie Tube Clock" category, because I'm not sure it's really a clock.
So, apparently, according to the Merriam Webster definition, it is a clock, because you can tell the time with it. Only I can't. I guess it is my lack of imagination, or just that I'm neither fluent in octal time nor do the symbols mean very much to me. (Meaning they do, individually, in different contexts, but not here).
Octal? Yes, well, the tubes only have 8 cathodes in them, so as well as not understanding the digits, it's not even a number system you can use. Even the guy who made it has a chart next to it to decode the time it tells you. For example, the decimal time"12:34:55" becomes "14:42:67" in octal, or in the language of this clock "FV:VHz:HA". Or something. In any case, you're going to be late for that meeting.
Maybe I need to have a new category "Nixie Tube Stuff, but not a clock".
I do understand the idea. If you have a box of tubes with symbols on them, and don't make equipment to measure Frequency, Resistance or Volts, what are you going to do with them? I have a box of IN-15s, and I have no idea what to do with them.
So, in the end, I put it into the "Non-Clocks" category. Perhaps I'm wrong.
Here's a full video of the madness:
Let me know what you think in the comments. Am I a small-minded bourgeois square with no imagination, or should we all have one of these?