Large Nixie Clock
the success with the first clock, I wanted to make something bigger. I have of
course seen these large tubes with 30 mm or bigger digits and wanted to build
something using tubes like that. My first idea was to use tubes like Z5680 (50
mm digit height), but the price and availability ruled them out. Instead, I found
IN-18, a russian tube with 40 mm digit height that was easy to obtain and had
a reasonable price.
This project is more than large tubes - I wanted to use a microcontroller to be
able to have more functions and make the clock easier to use. The heart of the
clock is a AT90S8515 and a realtime clock chip, DS1302. To avoid the problems
with multiplexing the tubes but in the same time save at the uC ports, I construncted
some discrete logics that buffers the display. A set of decoders and latches allows
me to write the tubes in pairs with decimal numbers. The latches are connected
to the drivers of the tubes.
The design got rather complicated so handwireing this was not an option. Instead
real PCB's was ordered. Double-sided with solder mask and component layout.
All to create a professional look and a reliable construction.
Schematics: download as pdf
Design images from the clock build:
Sources: code for the MCU and Gerbers for the PCB
The IN-18 tubes
Test firing one of the tubes
The PCB's fresh from the factory
Assembling the board
First dry run to test the drivers
All parts in place (first version without COM-port)
The clock is running
Clock complete with PSU
Wood (oak) case to match the tubes
Pictures of the final design