16 thoughts on “Fake Nixie clock

  1. I wouldn’t call them nixies, even with the mockup vacuum tube enclosures. Nixies have individually formed digits (although sometimes they use a flipped ‘2’ for a ‘5’, but that’s a different matter). These are more like Numitrons. And, oh wonder, numitrons don’t require high voltages; they’re filaments arranged in the shape of a 7-segment display, and usually encased in a vacuum tube although you can also find them in a flat package like LED displays have. Working voltage is about 6V, and the common 7-segment decoders can about handle the segment current (some 10mA, iirc).

  2. This is clever, but not so much fake Nixie as fake Numatron. Numatrons were 7-segment displays with each segment being an incandescent filament that glowed dull red. Being incandescent they didn’t use the high voltages Nixies used, but they did use a lot of power.

    For a better retro look, you could do an edge-illuminated slide display. For this each digit has ten acrylic panels each with a number etched into it, just as inside a Nixie you have ten anodes in the shape of numbers. To display a number you turn on a light bulb (nowadays you’d use an LED of course) directed at the edge of the proper acrylic panel; this would cause that number but not the other 9 to be illuminated from within. Back when I was a kid my father had a rackmount precision voltmeter that worked like that — and used mechanical relays and voltage dividers to seek the correct display point.

  3. @sneakypoo: I think you can get low voltage el wire now. I saw a place that was selling 3ft lengths of the stuff with a power unit that just took 2 AA batteries

  4. @HaD
    “didn’t want to deal with the voltages involved in using a Nixie display”

    Oh fer cryin’ out loud, MAN UP! 150 volts from a totally pissant 5mA supply?!? Pretty soon we’ll have ‘alt.pyrotechnics’ where the only allowable energetic material is soggy cardboard. Talk about the “3 volt” generation. {rolleyes} Let’s hear it for home building seriously *brutal*, truly *lethal*, power supplies e.g. 500mA @350V, 350mA @475V, 250mA @750V out of junk;


    “For a better retro look, you could do an edge-illuminated slide display.”

    It’s a brash fake, and I think it carries it off with the Numatron redux, albeit accidental. Sure it doesn’t have that key Nixie element – formed characters – along with so way cool edge displays and similar back-projection displays (and should be easily re-creatable).

    Whatever the format, I particularly like the way he has got the display “see-through” and the numerals to “float in space”. +1

  5. OK, it doesn’t look that much like a Nixie clock, but it’s undeniably cool looking. It would be interesting to try smoking the inside of the jars to give a little more contrast.

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