Open-Frame digital clock


Here’s an interesting project from several years ago. The clock design itself isn’t too noteworthy, but the construction is definitely inspired. You’ll notice that there is no breadboard or PCB, the frame actually is the circuit. The tubes he’s using are Numitron tubes,  which aren’t as high voltage as Nixies or even VFDs.  This means that there is only 12V maximum going through the exposed rails. He discusses some possible future upgrades such as LED or Nixie or VFD, but since this project is a few years old, who knows if he is still working with it.

[thanks Agent420]


  1. Agent420 says:

    i love weird clocks ;-)

    numitrons are also cool, you can drive them directly from 5V ttl or ucontroller io. you get the tube look without a lot of hassle, and there not as over-exposed as nixies.

    i remember when these were used in gas pumps, they might have been the first digital displays for that use.

  2. chango says:

    12V or no, that’s one cat away from a small fire.

  3. Pouncer says:

    Oooh, I like it!

  4. chicosoft says:

    very cool

  5. Don says:

    Smoken, … or will be :)

  6. farthead says:

    chango… dont know much about electricity do you…

    Unless the cat is soaked in gasoline and you can get the thing to spark there is zero chance of fire if tipped over or even beat with a hammer.

  7. Agent420 says:

    sometimes the safety mindedness of hackers surprises me ;-) i’m sure you unplug all your wallwarts before disconnecting them in case the end touches something metal.

    this thing is no danger. but perhaps that is part of it’s appeal.

    i really dig the structural circuit design.

  8. cantido says:


    You never know, maybe highly charged gasoline soaked felines are common at chango’s pad. Maybe it keeps the flees off?

  9. Agent420 says:

    while we’re on the funky display tube topic, a great resource for nixies, vfd’s, numitrons, crt’s etc is spehere research in canada. a lot of interesting stuff to be had there.

  10. VIPER! says:

    I thought you said Open FLAME clock. Now that would have been impressive. But this is cool too. I dig the Numitron tubes. It needs a protective Plexiglas case. I can just see some little kid grabbing the frame or some ones beer hitting this thing.

  11. WA5ZNU says:

    We did a similar project this past holiday season:

    It’s a wreath is made out of 101 LEDs and two pieces of wire, with no other components. It can run on a 9-volt battery.

  12. F. says:

    The only way to improve this would be to have a spider live in it.

  13. shortwave says:

    this looks like a fun project i may have to do this. its a good way of displaying how a clock works.for those of you that think this things a fire hazard you aught be shot!. its low voltage harmless! pussys.

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