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!]