Looking for replacement of 4 tube IN-14 Millclock

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1 year 2 months ago #10153 by McGarvey
I recently bought a 4 tube IN-14 Millclock encased in plastic. Two tubes burnt out within 2 months and they do not appear to provide very good support. I have this installed in a case I made and although I have returned the clock for repair, my hopes of ever seeing it again are low. I would like to find another supplier of a similar function, size, and cost clock. Preferably someone in the US that might be able to provide closer support if something goes wrong. Also, it would be good if it were open, not incased so that it would lend itself to repair, or even better to have plug in tubes. I am not an electronics hobbyist so building my own sounds a bit intimidating. I’m just looking for a clock that works and fits into my case. Any thoughts?

One last question; any guesses on how common it is that two of these tubes burnt out so quick? I am worried I made a mistake investing so much time into the case altogether.
Thanks,
Jim

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1 year 2 months ago #10157 by Ty_Eeberfest
Well... having not seen your case I'm not sure of some of the parameters the replacement would need to match. Spacing between tubes, for one. There are many makers of Nixie clocks out there these days, for some reason almost exclusively located in Europe. As a matter of fact, this forum is owned by a Swiss maker of Nixie clock kits. Since you said you don't want a kit his products probably won't suit your needs, and I'm not real sure where to direct you. I suppose you could try PV Electronics (England), Nocrotec (Germany), Mr. Nixie (also Germany). I can tell you 4 digit clocks are uncommon and things like tube spacing aren't usually part of published specs.

For front-reading tubes (like your IN-14s) with plug-in pins instead of wires you will need to get away from Russian tubes and look to American (Burroughs, for one) or western European (Valvo, Mullard, etc.) tubes. They are not as common as Russian tubes these days but they do exist. You might find this page (maintained by Dieter of Nocrotec) useful:
www.tube-tester.com/sites/nixie/trade01-nixie-tubes.htm

I find it very surprising that you have had multiple premature tube failures and I'm wondering if you know for sure that the tubes, and not the underlying drive circuitry, are at fault. I've been working with Nixie tubes (hobbyist not pro) for many years and my experience is that they last for tens of thousands of hours. Failures are rare. though more common with Russian tubes that others. Failures I've seen tend to happen right away because of manufacturing defects or rough handling. Tubes have been known to lose their fill gas because of either a defective seal around a pin from the factory or rough handling when trying to straighten a bent pin or force a tube with bent pins into a socket. Something we've been seeing in NOS Russian tubes is internal shorts from the factory, which result in multiple digits lighting at once. Also, a poorly designed clock circuit can cause "cathode poisoning" which looks like the digits are "rotting".

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

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1 year 2 months ago #10158 by Ty_Eeberfest
Also, if you happen to want a clock custom designed and built with the exact specs and features you need, I would consider producing it for you. Understand, though, that one-offs are costly because there is no "economy of scale" when making a single unit.

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

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1 year 2 months ago #10159 by jonboy
I was also not a electronics hobbyist a few years ago, but I must say that the kit I brought from nixieclock.biz was one of the most supported build I have ever done.
Any questions I had or problem I came across, were answered on here within a day or two.
So take the chance, build a kit, rely on the support you WILL get, and give it a go.
Just my thoughts.

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1 year 2 months ago #10160 by Ian
There are a couple of important points in your post:

IN-14 tubes are usually pretty bullet-proof, It's pretty unusual that they should burn out. There are tubes have have short lives, but IN-14 are usually known for exactly the opposite: they tend to last pretty much forever.

Also if you sent the clock back for repair, I would expect you to get it back again: either repaired or replaced. Millclock seem to be positioning themselves as a "premium" manufacturer, and I would keep banging the drum about it until you hear something back. I don't think they are a fly-by-night operation and I would fully expect you to receive the unit back, or a replacement unit, or your money back.

Hang in there. People in this small world of Nixie things can't afford to get a bad reputation.

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1 year 2 months ago #10161 by McGarvey
I really appreciate the feedback and I’m encouraged. I intend to give Millclock some time and then attempting a kit if necessary.
Thanks!

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