Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nixie tube clock miscellany

Honestly, one of the reasons behind my latest infatuation with Nixie tube clocks is trying to understand why so many people got so fascinated so quickly and so suddenly with them, although they are not cheap, and although they simply show the time with 4, sometimes 6, digits.

In any case, I'm in the bandwagon now. I designed an Arduinix(TM) variant, based on my previous observations. One of the main differences is that the components sit low on the board, so that a "tube shield" can be plugged on top, similar to akafugu's VFD modular clock. The top "tube shield" can host (at least in theory) up to six IN-2 or four IN-17 (four IN-12 would not fit).

For the "IN-2 tube shield", I downloaded and used the eagle library called "russian-nixies.lbr". Guess what? For the digits to be shown vertically, the IN-2 part needs to be rotated about 45 degrees clockwise. I did not know that until I got my IN-2 tubes. Essentially, the IN-2 tube shield I have is kind-of useless now, unless one uses it for an "artist project" (to quote Pete of PV Electronics, seller of Nixie kits on ebay). That means that the tubes are connected to the PCB with wires, so that they can be placed at artist's fancy. I know Nick is an artist :)

Lesson learned: don't design the PCB until you have all parts in hand.

PS Getting the high voltage (180V) on the new board was just a matter of adjusting the trim pot. No surprises this time.

PS2 Although I did not try it yet, the "Open source Nixie tube shield" sketch should work, with minor modifications, with Arduinix, I reckon.

PS3 Please contact me if you have a need for this PCB or want to buy one.


  1. Ha ha…the clock would certainly be artistic with all the digits rotated by 45 degrees..;-) Heck, some of the IN-2's have their digits off by more than 10 degrees anyway!

    1. The idea is that any tube should work, not only the IN-2s.
      I am re-designing the IN-2 board. At least there will be enough space for the protruding glass.

  2. It's a multiplexed design yes? As long as the anode resistor is appropriate then should be able to drive most tubes up to IN-18's (except perhaps some Rodan CD47's at full brightness..;-). What's the maximum current rating?

    1. Yes, multiplexed. I thinks it's 25mA, as per datasheet of the driver.