VFD-based tube clocks

By Etsy user Koolatron

Price $125



I like this device.  Not only is it a cool use of a great use of cyan VFD displays, but it is small and at $125, it is worth every cent.

First and foremost, it is a 4-letter-word device.  Normally, these are made with tubes such as the B7971 or similar Panaplex displays (think of a flat version of a nixie tube).  Instead, the inventor opted to go with a VFD.  I’ve never seen a FLW this small and I’ve never seen one with display type.  Basically, it is a device that spells out words, usually in English, that are exactly four letters long.   Nice work! Second, this device acts as a clock.  It might not be as polished as say, the Nocrotec VFD clocks, but this device does have a charm to it. I really hope the seller decides to make more of these.  At $125, it is a great deal.

From the Seller:

The Super Electrofluorescent Profanity Machine, or Four Letter Word (for short), is a bit of electronics cobbled together out of vintage Cold War-era Soviet vacuum fluorescent tubes and custom driver circuitry. It was designed and built by me. The device does two things: the first (mundane but utilitarian) thing that it does is tell you the time. It’s an accurate clock whose numbers glow brightly enough to dimly illuminate a dark room, serving as an effective night-light. It probably won’t wake you up, unless you can’t sleep in the presence of dim green lights. The second (less mundane and utilitarian) thing that it does is generate random four letter words, which it displays for you at a rate of one per second. Every English word consisting of exactly four letters is possible, and the device is programmed to predispose the generation of words that you can pronounce, as opposed to incomprehensible trash. As the name of the device implies, even the more profane of English words is possible (though not necessarily probable). The effect is strangely hypnotic - the short length of time that this device spent on my desk at work was deliriously unproductive. The main board has three buttons, one for switching the device between word-mode and time-mode, and two for setting the time. Included is a header to break the buttons out, in case you want to enclose its bare sexy boards inside a case that frustrates attempts to set the clock.





By Dieter Wächter / Nocrotec

Price $299


This clock is based on Vacuum Fluorescent Display tubes.  They are a seven-segment based display like most led clocks but these are quite a bit different.  For starters, this clock costs nearly 100x as much as your normal department store clock.  The digits have a beautiful cyan color and the design of the tube allows you to see the inner workings.  Image and brief description are from Nocrotec




- Digit height: 0.6″ (15mm)
- 12/24h mode
- Date in configuration DD.MM.YY or MM.DD.YY
- Leading zero suppression: The leading zero can be blanked or shown
- Cross fading: different modes to fade the digits from one number to the next
- Alarm clock
- Power down mode: tubes and supply can be totally switched off for a user programmed period in order to save energy and increase life expectancy of the tubes
- 12VDC input voltage
- Time is battery buffered when no line power is available; battery will last for more than 10 years
- User settings are always stored
- Case made of massive cherry wood and shiny black anodized aluminum as used for high-end audio equipment.

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