Six-digit VFD alarm clock

[Haris Andrianakis] just finished building this very clean-looking vacuum fluorescent display clock. It shows six digits using IV-11 tubes, and also has a half-dozen RGB LEDs to spice things up (check out the video after the break for an example). An ATmega168 drives the device, controlling the display and serving as a battery-backed real-time clock.

As with any tube-based clock there’s a fair amount of work that goes into driving the display. Each tube has a filament which requires 1.2V, and the segments themselves need 60 volts to light up. The microcontroller is not hard to protect; this is done with a series of transistor-based circuits used for switching. But the need for three voltages (to power microcontroller, filament, and segments) means a more complex PSU design. [Haris] chose to use a MAX6921 to simplify the process.

If you’re considering building something like this, we’d recommend looking for some 12-segment tubes. As we’ve seen before, they can display letters as well as numbers in case you wish to repurpose the device in the future.

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VFD clock (ends the world)

We honestly thought [Jason’s] VFD clock was some form of new terrorist attack when we came across the RSS. Thank goodness our relations with Russia aren’t as MAD as they used to be.

The main components are an IV-18 VFD with a MAX6921 driver, which to an untrained ear do sound surprisingly threatening. However an Arduino settles our hearts down and assures us this only has as much potential as blinking a VFD. While the main code, schematics, and CAD aren’t available (open source coming to a theater near you soon) at the moment – you can check out [Jason’s] inspiration, the Ice Tube Clock, which runs many of the same components.

Enjoy a video of it in action after the break. We love the ‘countdown’ feature the most.

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