A binary clock that uses bulbs


Based on his username, [Horatius.Steam], it’s not a surprise that he calls this project a “SteamPunk” style binary clock. But we think using neon  glow lamps in this binary clock is more of mid-century modern proposition. Either way, the finished look is sure to make it a conversation piece for your home.

He doesn’t give all that much information on the bulbs themselves. They seem to be neon glow lamps along the lines of a Nixie tubes. It sounds like they just need mains power (based on the image annotations for the relay board). The high voltage is switched by that collection of solid state relays. The controller board includes a DCF radio whose antennae is seen just below the controller. This picks up an atomic clock signal from Frankfurt, Germany. We think it’s a nice touch that he included a mechanical relay to simulate a ticking sound. That and the bulbs themselves can be turned off using the two switches in the base of the clock.

This seems like a good time to direct your attention to an artistic take on a Nixie clock.



  1. Michael says:

    Is this a C-Control I see there?
    This board was my “entry drug” into microcontroller programming and was programmed using Basic. Did not know that people are still using it!

  2. Horatius Steam is such a great man .. I met him twice … Always nice to listen to his visions and hallucinations :P

    Nice build! Where does one get those tubes!?

    • Horatius says:

      Hi all!

      Sorry for the late reply.
      The bulbs where a gift from a member of the instructables community. They came from the US but have a standard E27 socket and will be operated by 220V – 230V. The bulbs are neon glow lamps. The CControl is very old and I bought it years ago and never did anything with it. So I recycled it in this project.
      @wieland answer this you question? :-)
      @Jan Krüger, hallucinations? :-) Muharharhar. See you ;-)

  3. nostalgic_bulb_lover says:

    I remember bulbs. All this was fields as far as the eye could see. *wistful*

  4. echodelta says:

    I only see one antenna, a loopstick. Brush up on your Latin. It goes well with steampunk.

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