Nixie-based tube clocks

Jürgen Grau just sent me this video of his two newest clocks in action.

The display effects are the same as the ones that Pete Viricas uses in his QTC clocks. The PIC microcontroller software was designed by him and modified Jürgen for these clocks. See more at NixieKits.eu

 

 

 

Here is a new clock coming soon from NixieKits.eu - this is Laura:

Laura Nixie Clock

An IN-2 clock, based on the features from Sven - incl. Alarm, but with some more improvements:

  • High quality socket pins for the socketed IN-2
  • 2 x 3 multiplex for higher brightness / less tube noise
  • High Efficiency HV voltage converter "ultra cool design", therefore the clock can be easily powered from a single USB connector (power consumption less than 2 VA incl. turned on LEDs) and all electrical parts (incl. MosFet and inductor remains cool - not even warm).
  • As an option: Build in ASK receiver module for "wireless GPS reception"
  • External connector (1/8" TRS jack) for DCF/MSF/WWVB or wired GPS receiver (BR-355)
  • Easy enabling or disabling Day Saving Time by a single button's push
  • RGB controller for tube backlight with selectable LED fixed colour / brightness for every hour and / or auto changing colours with variable speed
  • Extra master blanking time for disabling the complete display during weekdays / weekends etc.
  • 1F Super Cap power backup for keeping the time for more than 24 hrs without power supply
  • New extra optical Nixie effects: fading digit with "scroll back", date scrolling in and out

Laura Nixie Clock

Laura Nixie Clock

 

LEDs on rear for: Alarm, DST active, Time Sync, Time Data input

The PCBs are made with a lot of tiny SMT parts, but they are all pre-assembled and soldered. So building the clock within 2 hrs. is not a problem at all.

Links

 

Here is a great clock from Michael B. This si the RackMountable Nixie clock. The enclosure was purchased off of eBay, polished up, and brought back to life with the electronics from a NixiChron. Take a look:

Rack Mount Nixie Clock Rack Mount Nixie Clock Rack Mount Nixie Clock

Rack Mount Nixie Clock

Links:

It’s been a while since I’ve done a review so let’s jump right in. This, is the IN-18 Blue Dream from Nocrotec.com and NixieKitWorld.com.  This device is only sold as a kit so keep that in mind when ordering the device.

The Display

This device uses 6x IN-18 tubes to show the time. I particularly like IN-18’s because they are large and they are still relatively easy to find on eBay. They also seem to have a relatively good life as well; I have a set on IN-18s that have been on continuously for almost 5 years and show no signs of dimming.

Below the tubes are 2x SMD blue LEDs per tube. If you are looking at the clock face on, the LEDs are on the left and right sides of each tube.

Between the HH MM and SS are two sets of neon tube colon indicators. They are stacked vertically in small glass envelopes. The entire enclosure looks like a miniature test tube and is about the width of a felt tip pen. Since these are neon tubes as well, they emit the same color light that the nixie tubes do so they are a near perfect match. Some clocks use orange LEDs which are an okay substitute but the neon tubes on this device look very nice.

Display Effects

The first thing that jumped out at me when I first turned on this clock was how vibrant the blue LEDs are. They actually pulse with the time and throw off a significant amount of light when they are set to their brightest. There are 10 brightness levels that are user adjustable.

  • 0 – off
  • 1-3 – dim glow
  • 4-10 – pulsing

The colon indicators have a similar setting to the LED under lighting. They can be set to:

  • Always Off
  • Always On
  • Fast Flashing
  • Slow Pulsing

The IN-18s also have a set of transition effects as well. The digits can be set to simply switch between values, to fade smoothly, or to do a modified roulette effect. The roulette effect is interesting because normally you would expect it to count sequentially 1.2.3.4..etc. Instead, it illuminates the digits based in the order that they are stacked. This effect emphasizes the depth of a nixie tube and adds a feeling of randomness to the effect. I particularly like this effect and it is the default one that I use.

Time Reference

This device has a built in real-time clock. It can be set through the menu and the drift can be adjusted as well to ensure long-term accuracy of the device. However, this device supports several other options.

DCF – if you live in Germany, you can purchase a DCF receiver. The receiver is a little black box that plugs in to the back of the device and sets the time automatically.

GPS – You can buy a commercial GPS receiver and connect it to the back of the device. This option is great because it works worldwide and all you need to do is adjust the UTC offset in the menu.

Other Features

The power supply uses an efficient push-pull method that is absolutely silent. Some switch mode power supplies generate a high frequency hiss but that is eliminated in this design.

The display is directly driven and this has a few advantages over multiplexed displays. Each tube is run at it’s rated current (6 mA) to ensure full brightness and a long tube life. This also means that no “blue spots” appear in the tube.

Build Quality / Enclosure

Of course this is a kit and it’s up to you to do a good job assembling it ☺ However, the finished product looks very professional. The stainless steel base and bottom give a nice weight to the clock. For comparison, my NixiChron is slightly larger but this device weighs more.

On the rear of the device, there are three buttons, a power connector, and a connector for the DCF

The tubes are not soldered to the board. They are socketed which makes replacing the tubes easier and also ensures that you can straighten any crooked tubes.

There are no surface mount parts for you to assemble. All of the SMD work has been done leaving you with only through hole components.

Overall

There are few clocks that I keep on my desk and this is one of them. I really like this clock and the feature that I like the best is the modified roulette transition. The IN-18 Blue Dream is a solid design.

Photos

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

IN 18 Nixie Clock

Links

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