The White Rabbit Nixie Clock

Instructables user [hellboy] — a recent convert to the ways of the laser cutter — is a longtime admirer of Nixie tubes. In melding these two joys, he has been able to design and build this gorgeous work of art: The White Rabbit Nixie Clock.

Going into this build, [hellboy] was concerned over the lifespan of the tubes, and so needed to be able to turn them off when not needed. Discarding their original idea of having the clock open with servos, [hellboy]’s clock opens by pressing down on a bar and is closed by snapping the lid shut — albeit slightly more complicated than your average timepiece. Given the intricacy of the mechanism, he had to run through numerous prototypes — testing, tweaking and scrapping parts along the way.

With the power of steam-bending, [hellboy] lovingly moulded walnut planks and a sundry list of other types of wood to define the ‘rabbit’ appearance of the mechanism, and the other parts of the clock’s case. Once again, designing the clock around a row of six pivoting Nixie tubes was no mean feat — especially, as [hellboy] points out, when twenty or so wires need to rotate with them! After a few attempts, the Nixie tubes, their 3mm blue LEDs and associated wires were properly seated.

[hellboy] urges strong caution when working with the power supply for these Nixie tubes, doubly so since he needed to modify the circuit to handle turning off while still keeping the time. A little trial and error was needed for proper positioning of the electronics, but he has designed the backplate  to be easily removable should the need to access the internals arise.

Careful assembly of the opening mechanism and repeated testing to make sure everything fit might seem tedious, but he is operating under some stringent tolerances. Once finally assembled, [hellboy] found he needed to add a pair of brass knobs to assist in actuating the clock, as it doesn’t have enough mass to counteract the force on the lever. The addition simply means there is more of this clock to admire. Excuse us while we watch the time pass.

[Thanks for the tip, Irish!]

20 thoughts on “The White Rabbit Nixie Clock

          1. the LED’s should be switched, perhaps? since most of the world does not like LED’s mixed with nixie things.. anyone considering building a project with the LED’s included, should also consider including a switch to disable them. (and then not photograph their awesome project with the LED’s lit.)

    1. He could just not turn then on if he felt so strongly as to match _your_ aesthetic taste. Some models of nixies actually naturally give off a blue tint due to being Mercury doped; a trade off for longer lifespan. LEDs can give some more consistency to an otherwise ‘meh’ sort of blue side effect

    2. Agreed. This build tried so hard to be beautiful, but the blue light looks so out of place. Instead it looks like a confused pencil case from the props department of the Wild Wild West movie.

      1. You’re not the only one. I love the juxtaposition of the blue and the red/orange. I also like the mix of the old lighting tech / new lighting tech. It’s quite pleasing to my eyes.

        1. I agree as I like to run them with the leds on, you can however turn them off, the reason I liked the leds on is when you close the case, the Nixie’s shut off and the blue light radiates out of the slots… I liked the way it looked. You guys would have a field day with my cyclops nixie clock.

    1. Nowhere on the instructables article does it say that he plans to selll kits for the clock, honestly seems like a highly custom one off piece of work which is common around these parts as you read more Hackaday. Also this article isn’t written by the original designer/maker of the clock perhaps you should post this on his Instructables page.

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