Nixie Clock Without a PCB

Looking for an artistic way to build circuits? Don’t want to design a PCB? The Lethal Nixie Tube Clock is a free form circuit that gives you the time one digit at a time. It uses a IN-1 Nixie tube to display the digits. This is driven by ten MPSA42 high voltage transistors. A IRF520 N-FET, inductor, and a diode are used as a switching power supply that generates the high voltage needed to drive the Nixie tube. It’s probably not lethal, but there are exposed high voltages in the cube. You’d definitely regret touching it.

An ATMega8 is used to control the clock. It drives the various digits of the Nixie tube, and generates a PWM output to switch the high voltage supply. Unfortunately, the schematic has been lost. If you’re interested in the switching supply, it’s likely similar to the one explained here.

Check out a video of the clock after the break.

Via Dangerous Prototypes

23 thoughts on “Nixie Clock Without a PCB

  1. really cool, takes art to a new level…..kinda makes me want to wet my finger and blindly poke at it…don’t know why..

    1. It’s a pretty nice hack, and a very unique clock, so I’m not surprised that people are impressed. That LittleWire project looks pretty nifty too.

      I hope I guessed right about the switching supply. I saw that you didn’t have the schematics, so I did some guessing.

    2. I liked the LittleWire project for sure, saw that the other day. But this is just totally beautiful. And like all good things beautiful, if you touch it, it may kill you.

      1. its not pretty-happy-joyjoy
        its not garden beauty pampering
        and
        its not flowers and daisys

        its DEAD BUG!

        i dont care how “icy” or “gross” it sounds, its still beautiful!

  2. Fantastic, really nicely put together! I’m currently sketching out an airwired VFD-based clock, being a wuss, but glad to see someone went the whole hog & did a nixie version. :-)

  3. It really is a gorgeous little project. It almost looks like it’s half way to being a stained glass box, too. That would be a very pretty combination, AND reduce the risk of electro shock therapy for the curious.

  4. Really fantastic!! But I don’t like the 5 or 6 seconds you have to wait to see the time. That is also making me sick, when I’m sitting in the bus starring at the damn LED display to get the time while it’s showing me for 10 seconds a 5 letter word before it switches back to time. Should be faster, I think, but nevertheless a beautiful piece of art and electronics!

    1. Yea, I agree. The delay between the sequences are far too long, but I’ve since long lost both the schematics and the firmware source code so I can’t do anything about it…

      1. considering the life span of a nixie tube clock, it’s prolly best left at 5-6 second delay. This would ensure maximum brightness over many decades.

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