Need help with the "All-In-One" Arduino Nixie Clock - Wifi kit

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2 months 1 week ago #10989 by PJ
I am a total newbie when it comes to the world of electronics, so please be patient with me.

After a few days of tinkering I managed to get to the stage seen in the picture, but there are a lot of questions that I don't know the answer to:

1. Is it correct to connect Vin to Com using a 1k resistor?

2. For C4 there was no second 220uf / 35V capacitor. Instead a 220uf / 10V was left over at the end, is it correct to think that the wrong part was delivered by accident?

3. The whole Wi-Fi section is different than shown in the manual, including components used, besides the resistors and the 2x4 connection. Is there an updated version that I have overlooked?

4. I was thinking of using 2 9V batteries in parallel as a power source, would that be enough or is a standard power supply the way to go?

5. I’m still a long way off, but how would I connect the Wi-Fi module to well "the Wi-Fi"?

Thanks for any help in advance!
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2 months 1 week ago #10990 by Ty_Eeberfest
This forum is moderated - posts may take some time to appear, so please don't double post. Thanks.

PJ wrote: 1. Is it correct to connect Vin to Com using a 1k resistor?

Certainly doesn't sound right. Give me some idea of what you are looking at that seems like it's saying to do that.

PJ wrote: 2. For C4 there was no second 220uf / 35V capacitor. Instead a 220uf / 10V was left over at the end, is it correct to think that the wrong part was delivered by accident?

C4 never sees anything over +5 volts so a 10V cap is fine. There's always a chance of some minor parts substitutions like this due to availability issues.

PJ wrote: 3. The whole Wi-Fi section is different than shown in the manual, including components used, besides the resistors and the 2x4 connection. Is there an updated version that I have overlooked?

The manual I'm looking at ( www.nixieclock.biz/Downloads/AllInOneNix...uctionManualRev3.pdf ) seems to match what's in your picture, though I can't tell for sure because the ESP-01 in the picture is covering the area in question.

PJ wrote: 4. I was thinking of using 2 9V batteries in parallel as a power source, would that be enough or is a standard power supply the way to go?

Batteries won't last very long at all. Best to use a standard power supply. I prefer to use 12VDC supply regardless of what the manuals say.

PJ wrote: 5. I’m still a long way off, but how would I connect the Wi-Fi module to well "the Wi-Fi"?

You can use the procedure in this manual www.nixieclock.biz/Downloads/WiFiTimepro...tructionManualV3.pdf Don't worry about the pictures showing a slightly different WiFi device. The procedure is the same for all devices that use an ESP-01.

Look into it later when the dust is clearing off the crater.
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2 months 1 week ago #10991 by Ty_Eeberfest
Just thinking about the 9V battery question a little more since "won't last very long" isn't much of an answer.

According to a chart on WIkipedia, your basic 9V alkaline holds 550mAh and a NiMH rechargeable holds 300mAh at best. Lithium ion rechargeable holds 620mAh. The highest capacity would be a lithium primary cell (can't recharge) at 1200mAh.

The clock draws about 300mA.

You said 2 batteries in parallel, so alkaline = 1100mAh, NiMH = 600mAh, LiIon = 1240mAh and primary lithium = 2400mAh. Doing the math for 2 batteries in parallel running the clock I get:

Alkaline - 3.67 operating hours

NiMH - 2.0 operating hours

Lithium Ion - 4.13 operating hours

Primary Lithium - 8.0 operating hours

Of course the clock will not always draw precisely 300mA, depending on brightness and other factors, so these numbers aren't exact. They are pretty close though, and you actual run time will probably be slightly longer.

Look into it later when the dust is clearing off the crater.
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2 months 1 week ago #10992 by PJ
Thanks for the quick and thorough reply Ty_Eeberfest.

As for the first question, you are right. I misread it. Ii just says that for P1 you need to connect VIN to COM. I take it should be done using a wire?

For question 3 there is a pic now with the ESP-01 removed and one of the boards in the manual with the area in question outlined.

After reading the breakdown of the clock run time with the different battery types, it is safe to say that a traditional power supply is the way to go.

I have one new question regarding the Front panel components. Could I solder the 3 wires straight to the pins or would cannibalising some of the female pin heads from other devices and splicing them to my wires be better?
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2 months 1 week ago #10993 by Ty_Eeberfest
Okay, now that you told me "P1" I understand what you meant about connecting COM to VIN. If you are using LEDs for your colons/separators then connect VIN to COM and put 1K resistors in the R38 & R39 positions. But if you want to use neon bulbs instead of LEDs you would connect 170V to COM and use 120K resistors instead of 1K. See manual page 21. Use a wire to make the connection.

Batteries - you made me curious about how bad battery performance would really be, thus the big comparison post. Nixie tubes draw very small current (typically 2mA per tube or so) but at a high voltage, so the wattage is significant (very roughly, 0.35W per tube). If you do the math for 6 tubes at 0.35W each, at 9 volts, the current draw is about 233mA and that doesn't include clock and WiFi circuitry demand. So a battery with 500 or 1000mAh isn't gonna last long!

For front panel connections you can do whatever you like - solder direct or make up some sort of mating connector. I like to use a connector myself "just because". If you have old computer parts laying around, the connector used to connect PSU to floppy drive is perfect for this.

As for Question 3... now I see. Clearly there has been a design change to the board that I don't know about and the docs haven't been updated. It looks like the intent was to get rid of surface mount components in favor of thru-hole, which is a good idea. Ian is going to need to address your questions about this part of the board.

Look into it later when the dust is clearing off the crater.

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2 months 1 week ago #10997 by PJ
I have finally powered the whole thing up and attached an led for testing.
The board runs noiselessly, the red LED lights up and the ESP-01 gives off periodically blue light.

The tube LED cycles through the 3 colours, but then just kind of dims before starting the cycle again. I hope using isopropanol to clean the flux should do the trick.

The only real problem is that the 7805 heatsink gets very hot very quickly.
Voltage across VCC and GND is as it should.
However, the Voltage across VIN and the cathode end of D1 is only 0.9V instead of ~11,3V.

C3, C4 are both facing the right direction.

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