A Clock Made Out Of Some Very Weird Tubes

If you’re like [Richard], you’ve got a few really rare components lying around. Maybe it’s a very weird micro or a really tiny CRT, but eventually you’ve got to build something with these parts. When [Richard] decided to put some ITS1A neon display tubes to use, he fell back to the old standby – a really awesome clock.

Unlike the lowly Nixie tube, the ITS1A tube is weird. It’s a neon seven-segment display that can be controlled directly from the pins of a microcontroller. It does this with the help of seven tiny thyratrons in each segment. Even though this tube has neon, the display isn’t the familiar neon orange-red. The tube emits a lovely green with the help of a phosphor coating.

With a single digit already incorporated into [Richard]’s clock, he needed four indicators for the hours and minutes. After a failed experiment with a crazy 4-color, 16-pixel Melz ITM2-M display, he moved on to a simpler MTX90 thyratron indicator.

Using the same control scheme as his earlier numitron clock, Richard had a PCB made and wired everything up. The seven-segment tube indicates the value, and the indicator tubes indicates the position of the digit in the XX:XX standard. A very cool  build with parts you don’t see coming around often.

20 thoughts on “A Clock Made Out Of Some Very Weird Tubes

  1. Sigh, either hosting at home or a really crappy web host. C’mon guys, $5/month for a decent unlimited host, no reason to host from home anymore.

    Yup, it’s a Time Warner Cable ISP in Virginia. Hosting from home. I’ll have to come back later to check it out if I remember.

  2. Am I the only one who finds it amusing that so many photographers think that some sort of coin is a good size reference?

    Come on, this is the 21st century, everyone around the world can see your pictures but not everyone uses the same coins (yet?).

    Oh yes, and don’t assume that your 1 mbit (or whatever) uplink is going to be enough for a Hackaday audience.

  3. Lesson to folks:
    If you’re going to host your website on your home computer (as this site does), you should host all of your image content on a third party site. A home DSL or cable modem can host plenty of hits, for text HTML…

    Or he could sign up for CloudFlare (there’s a free account), which puts a CDN up in front of your home website. (Not shilling for CF… just recently discovered them, and it works pretty good… there’s a free plan available).

  4. considering the configuration and colors of the lights, that has to be a pixel for a “jumbotron” screen. just get a couple million of them and you can finally watch those 1080p movies from down the street. ;)

  5. I managed to get it into the coralCDN:


    coralCDN is a neat project, though one which looks like it might at this point have been largely abandoned (the repository for the source in CVS failed and they haven’t put any info about it ever coming back up). If you just want to get a cloudFlare-style effect without actually having to set up an account or anything, just add .nyud.net after the url


    1. Lucky you! I did order 200 of them. The seller did take the money but the tubes never arrived. Now the money is gone, I do not have any of these tubes.

      What is even worse: With ebay’s 45 days timeout in combination with such long shipping times I was not even able to leave a feedback for warning others :-((

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.