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?