6502 driven nixie tube clock

nixie clock

I love Cold War chic like [ryan brooks]‘s great looking nixie tube clock. There have been other microcontroller based nixie tube clocks so Ryan decided to base his on the venerable MOS Technology 6502. The 6502 is the same 8-bit processor used in the Apple II and Commodore 64. He’s got a couple interesting notes from the construction:


Be very organized with your digit wiring; use lots of cable ties or something. 6 digits is 120 solder joints on 60 wires.

Don’t be afraid to make your own Nixie sockets. I stood my tubes up on my flatbed scanner, arranged them with a ruler and then scanned. Imported to Photoshop, did a levels to make the pins contrasty and printed the output 1:1. Glued the paper onto my plexi, drilled all the holes, dropped in pin-sockets w/CA glue and bam! Instant Nixie Tube Clock Socket!

Comments

  1. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. That’s sorta cool. Very retro. Makes me want to pull my 1970’s EE Desk reference and build something out of it. If only they would have built a giant retro bell(I’m thinking Liberty Bell sized) to wake up by. I know I need something like that!

  2. Dick says:

    The C64 didn’t use a 6502. It used a the 6502’s first cousin, the 6510. IIRC it had some I/O feature that the 6502 didn’t.

    Is anal-retentive spelled with or without a hyphen?

  3. PK says:

    That is correct. It was a 6510. Clock and IO pin additions.

    Patrick

  4. Whoops, you’re right, I didn’t pay close enough attention to my reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_home_computers_by_category

  5. tiuk says:

    “Don

  6. IMWeasel says:

    This reminded me of the Futurama episode where Farnsworth makes the F-Ray flashlight thing that lets you see inside things. Someone pointed it at Bender’s head and it showed a chip inside marked 6502. A good portion of Hackaday readers probably got the joke, but I wonder how much of the general audience got it. :-)

  7. Need a life? That’s a fine way to do things. There’re many parts I’ve needed to make, particularly ones that only need modeling in 2 dimensions, where I’ve simply printed up my CAD drawing 1:1, taped it onto the piece of flat stock, and started milling. As long as you don’t need really accurate parts (think 0.005″) it’s an easy way to save time.

  8. brian says:

    What era are the nixie tubes from? Would it be possible to do this project completely with parts from that era? The size would probably be enormous, but isnt that part of the art?

  9. Wim L says:

    #6: doing the counting/timing logic with tubes would be a real pain, but on the other hand you could use things like dekatrons, which are neat in and of themselves.

  10. geeker says:

    So now all you need to do is somehow attach it to your wrist ;-)

  11. John Bokma says:

    Very cool hack. I have some tubes somewhere, propbably not 6 though. (But who needs seconds)

  12. Linkincable says:

    wow, how i wish i could make one.

  13. collin says:

    Re geeker’s comment

    Nixie watch
    http://www.amug.org/~jthomas/watch.html

  14. madd_matt says:

    Does anybody know where i could get nixie tubes? I’ve been looking for a way to display current CPU load on my server, and this would be a really sweet way.

  15. Forrest says:

    Nixie’s for sale here http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/nixies.html

    Google nixie for more sources and info

  16. Jim Watters says:

    What about making our own Nixie like display wiht El Wire http://www.elwirecheap.com/index.html

  17. Fly Swat says:

    I’ve got an old motherboard, some ram, and an old 60 gig hd. Could you show me something really cool that I could do with it… Besides the obvious…. Home made magnetic card readers, rocket bikes that run on vegetable oil, Useful things would be cool. The cooking with processors and other things have been getting a little dry. You guys have got to be more creative… A real lifesaver… I challenge you folks to assemble a real lifesaver like in star wars… You have the brains, C’mon rise to the challenge……..

  18. alex says:

    what the hell? if you want to be a real hacker, you’ve gotta do it yourself. Get off your ass, get out your soldering iron and your multimeter, and hack that motherboard until it’s an anti-gravity unit or something badass like that. jeez.

  19. Dom salvador says:

    re: comment 17

    A lifesaver? a “real lifesaver like in star wars” huh? is that anything like a “lightsabre”?

    Or did Star Wars contain some Titanic-esque water rescue scene I’m unaware of?

  20. PK says:

    I would just like to clarify something. Actually the C-64 did use a 6502… in its 1541 floppy drive. So, I think the original post is in fact correct. Go eliot. :-)

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