Warm Tube Clock, take 2


[Mure] wrote in to let us know he has put the finishing touches on the second iteration of his Warm Tube Nixie clock. We featured his original creation here last year, and while many things remain the same, he has still found a few things that he was able to improve on.

The first notable feature is the new real time clock. Instead of using a discrete crystal to keep time and a temperature sensor for compensation, he has opted to use a DS3231 RTC IC. It is far more accurate than the crystal, and it features a built-in temperature sensor as well. The alarm functionality has been simplified too, moving the controls into firmware rather than having to use a sliding switch to do so.

With the mainboard redesign, it would have been easy to leave behind the nixie “shields” he created for his first clock, but with a focus on interoperability, he chose to make this clock fully compatible with version one’s shields and vice versa.

While the changes aren’t groundbreaking, it’s nice to see a project like this undergo continued refinements. If you want to build a clone of this clock, [Mure] has made sure that all of the schematics and source code are available on his site.

Continue reading to see a brief video demo of the clock in action.


  1. addidis says:

    Ok I have a stupid question. I dont futz much with high voltage things. . .

    Can some one explain the blue hue at the bottom of the nixie tubes. Its perplexing me.

  2. addidis says:

    Just led below it or what?

  3. zulu says:


  4. vmspionage says:

    I’m 100% sure it’s a blue LED. IMO the project would be better off without them, but whatever, it’s cool nevertheless.

  5. vmspionage says:

    His site explains that they are indeed SMD RGB LEDs

  6. Jake H says:

    WHY do people keep adding LEDs to nixie tubes?! I don’t understand this. They already light up, and what makes them cool is that they are vintagey and warm in their glow. So why add cold, modern, dare I say boring LEDs? It’s a fine build and all, I just don’t understand why people do this.

  7. marki says:

    “7. configurable color of bottom RGB LEDs that blink at 1/2 Hz rate (or even turned off)”

    so turn them off if you hate them :)

  8. addidis says:

    Im with ya jake. I didnt even consider they were leds at first because of that point.

  9. the leds can be turned off entirely in the MENU, it depends on your preference :)
    glad you like it btw…

  10. fartface says:

    It’s to get in on the steampunky craze…

  11. Trav says:

    I would leave the LED’s for indicators to show what is on the display, alarm, date, mode, etc. but not for general seconds. I think the neon colons do that just fine.

    BTW what is the life expectancy of Nixie tubes, and are they dimmable to a soft glow for a bedroom clock? My dad had a blue vacuum tube clock, and even on dim it was blinding to see in the dark.

  12. K!P says:

    my nixie clock lit up in blueish hue when i first powerd it up, a turns out they dont like multiple signs on at once :)

  13. moldboy says:

    I’m with Jake. LEDs ruin the effect, just my two cents.

  14. Tomasito says:

    I like the two neon lamps for the “:”.

  15. am_i_evil says:

    I saw the earlier iteration of this on HAD… nice progression.

    I love HAD, but so many of the questions/comments on this post could have been made redundant… had the question poster actually read the very short article. :-)

  16. Hirudinea says:

    Ah, why did they ever stop making nixie tubes? Oh yea right, LEDs.

  17. smithincanton says:

    Anyone know if there is a place where I can buy a kit or at least the PCB? I have a laser printer so I could make the boards but they are dual sided boards I think and that might not be the best for “My first etching” or even capable of being etched at home.

  18. CRJEEA says:

    @smithincanton, personally what I used to do(ok still do sone times) for double sided pcb’s just make both sides as single sided pcb’s and stick them together(I actualy use the through hole components to do that some times if it’s practical) ok so the board is a few millimetres thicker thank normal but if space isn’t too big an issue it’s a good work around. (as long as you get them the correct scales and line them up right)
    Looks like I’m off to the carboot sale Sunday if a see some tubes a may well give this a go my self. One can never have enough clocks… (my house may become BTTF-esc one day haha)

  19. Spyrus says:

    Where would one go about finding some of these Nixie tubes if they wanted to try and make a clock? I love the look and glow these give off and would love to put one on my desk at work.

    Thanks in advance

  20. Rob R. says:

    Hey Spyrus I found a couple on ebay just by googling it, and http://www.allspectrum.com/ has both the tubes and kits, as well as controllers if you need them

    Hope this helps!

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