I came across this interesting video a while back, but didn't get around to writing anything about it at the time. It's from a chap called Mario Rigogliosi, who lives in the same town as I do, who has a real passion for restoring old equipment.
Have you ever asked yourself "what made Nixie clocks go before microcontrollers were invented"? If you did, I suppose you came to the conclusion that it was switches, levers, relays and stuff". Well, here's a look into that "stuff", and it's pretty interesting. What is written below is based on my best guesses, I'll reach out to Mario and get feedback from him.
First of all, the time source comes from the frequency of the mains supply voltage, which is a surprisingly good source of time: supply companies in all but the most dark and backward countries in the world actively manage the number of cycles delivered to the consumer very tightly, even regulated by law in some countries. For example, the supply in the UK can be seen here: http://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk/grid.htm, and on the dial you can see markers for the "Legal Limit" of deviation, over which the supplier is subject to sanctions.
The site is now running on new hardware, new software and in a completely different location.
I think I managed to preserve all data, but if you see anything missing or not working, please let me know.
The main driver for the upgrade was the persistent problems in the forum, which meant that the first post was not displayed. This led back to an old version of Kunena, which was no longer being patched. We couldn't update to the new version, because the PHP installed on the machine was too old. We couldn't update PHP because the machine's operating system was too old. We couldn't update the machine because of the services running on it.
Does it remind you of a song with Henry and Liza in it?
Anyway, we're up and running on a new machine, using Docker as an underlying software provider, so we should not have this issue again. As a bonus, we should also find that the new machine is faster. ;)
This is an IN-1 Nixie Clock that I made a while ago. It has some rather unusual features:
* A 3 x 2 layout of the IN-1 tubes
* Back lighting of the IN-1 tubes (they said it wasn't possible!)
* The case, which is an old presentation box for a bottle of Grappa or Port
* The WiFi time provider module, which means you never have to set the clock ever again
* The WiFi configuration
I guess not everyone will like the 3 x 2 format of the tubes, but the format was inspired directly by the shape of the case.
The video takes you through the way the tubes are mounted, using gallons of hot glue, a trick to make small neons look bigger and brighter, and the WiFi configuration of the clock.
Full Disclosure: I make the Nixie Clock Module and the WiFi time provider module!
You can get the modules here: http://www.nixieclock.biz/Store.html
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?