You May Have a Nixie Tube Clock, but Can Yours Levitate?

Nixie tubes, electromagnets, levitation, and microcontrollers — this project has “Hackaday” written all over it!

Time Flies: Levitating Nixie Clock comes from [Tony Adams], and uses a lot of technology we’ve seen before, but in a new and interesting way. A nixie tube clock is nothing new, but using electromagnets to levitate it above a base certainly paired with inductive coupling to transmit power using no wires make this floating nixie build a real treat.

In order to achieve this feat, [Tony] used coils to wireless transmit power from the base to the floating platform that the tubes are mounted to. That alone is a pretty cool idea that would have drawn our attention, but he goes one step further and transmits the time and settings signal wirelessly from the base to the levitating clock as well. That is accomplished with an IR transmitter on the base sending a signal to an IR receiver on the clock.

It’s a pretty ingenious solution, and it’s no surprise that we’ve seen [Tony’s] work before. Back in 2012, we featured another of his projects that uses a lot of the same techniques: a nixie tube chess set. With top-notch craftsmanship and clever ideas like this, we’re definitely looking forward to seeing what else he can come up with!

The project is has about three weeks left in it’s campaign and is still a bit more than half-way from the goal.

19 thoughts on “You May Have a Nixie Tube Clock, but Can Yours Levitate?

  1. I’m a software guy…so electricity is confusing. Don’t nixies need high voltage? Is high voltage ok in inductive coupling with an air gap, or is there a risk of arcing and ozone generation?

    1. I’m sure the power is transferred to the floating platform, and the floating platform then generates multiple voltages from that, including the high voltage needed by the nixies.

      1. that’s what i thought, but in the article it is said to be rectified and used directly :

        Power is coupled from a coil in the levitation base to another wrapped around the base of the floating case in exactly the same way as the original 2012 chess pieces. It’s rectified and used to power the tubes directly

    2. “high voltage” is very relative. It needs about 170V. For semiconductors this is already higher than average. But it is not much more than half the peak voltage of our mains supply (230V*1,41) And mains sockets normally do not arc or generate ozone.
      BTW: in the airgap of a transformer inductive coupling you have a high magnetic field but not necessary a high electric field.

  2. Amazing looking clock. I love it!
    His other clocks look absolutely amazing as well; very high quality looking art pieces.

    What happens if the Kickstarter goal isn’t reached? I’m seriously considering a finished clock.
    [Tony Adams] needs over $25,000 in about 18 days. What happens if the goal is not reached? I get the impression that nobody is charged and he would have to restart the pledging process from the beginning.

    1. That is correct. If the goal is not reached than no one is charged and the project is cancelled. If that happens, there is still the option of either relaunching the project or selling on another platform.

      I hope this project is successful. I’ve wanted a nixie clock for years, and these are absolutely gorgeous. I’m in for one.

  3. I have a clock using the same tubes and love it. Mine doesn’t float though.

    Hope this gets funded and would like to have one but cannot afford it. Maybe if it gets funded the second batch will be cheaper.

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