Spare parts pulled together into a Nixie clock

We’d like to dig around in [Small Scale Research's] parts bin. Apparently there’s good stuff in there because he managed to build this Nixie tube clock using mostly leftovers.

The chip driving the device is an ATtiny1634. We weren’t familiar with it so here’s a datasheet (pdf) if you’re curios as well. The microcontroller communicates with an old GPS module in order to keep perfect time. There is an external antenna for it which connects through the hole next to the red switch seen above. The high voltage driver is a repurposed backlight inverter which is fed 12V power from an old laptop supply.

The album linked above shows the build quite well and even includes full schematics. There are some fireworks when he encountered an issue with a pretty large cap shorting to a resistor leg. If this isn’t enough juicy detail for you there are a few more nuggets shared in the Reddit comments.

Comments

  1. macona says:

    I just picked up a handful of NOS Burroughs B-5092 nixies this weekend from a local surplus store. I really need to do something with them. I also have about 26 of the standard type nixies similar to what is used in this clock. Anybody got any ideas outside the normal clocks?

    For anyone that is looking for a simple clock, here is one that uses mostly 74 series TTL chips to do everything. It counts the pulses from incoming line power for timing. It should be adaptable to take the 1PPS pulse from one of those cheap rubidium oscillators on ebay. The schematic came out of a TI app note from what I remember from the site that posted it:

    ticlock

    • you could make a pulse counter, or a frequency meter.
      You can use daisy chained 74xx counters, and use nixies instead of 7-seg digits.

      For a wall clock a Rubudium is a “hammer to knock a mosquito” , a gps module can do that for 1/10 of the price, not to mention that rubidium oscillators on ebay are second hand modules that wear out after a few months. And they are not made for continuous operation.

      A rubudium clock is so accurate that it would be a waste of precision for such an application. They are reference clocks.

    • more details

      -a rubidium would be useful for a frequency meter, since you need an accurate reference to count pulses during a precise period.

      -a gpsdo (see trimble thunderbold) is also very accurate and is much more durable.

      -a rubidium device is more useful for the 10 MHz signal it is capable of generating than for the 1pps pulse, because it’s easier to lock a higher frequency signal on it using a PLL.

      -Almost all GPS modules can generate a nanosecond-precision PPS signal.

      • macona says:

        I already have a nixie freq/pulse counter and a nixie DMM.

        Didnt know the GPS units has a PPS out though.

        • NewCommentor1283 says:

          might be an *_internal_*-out

          … but then it isnt really an “out” now is it?
          more like a test-point?

          PS: what _SHOULD_ we be calling an “out” that normally does not go out???

          • macona says:

            I know what you mean, a module level output. I have a gps module on a board someplace in all my amassed goodies. I looked at other modules and they do have the 1 PPS output.

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