Numitron Clock Is A Tidy ’70s Throwback

As far as hacker clock builds go, the more obscure the parts involved, the better. By this yardstick, [sjm4306] has a great piece on his hands with this Numitron-based build.

The Numitron was a type of display popular in the 1970s, and often used in aircraft avionics and other high-end hardware. The display is a 7-segment type, but using filaments instead of LEDs. [sjm4306] was able to lay his hands on four of these devices, along with some bulbs to act as the digit seperator and AM/PM indicator. Due to being incandescent in nature, multiplexing wasn’t a practical option, with lower duty cycles drastically dimming the display. Instead, a 32-bit cascaded shift register was used to enable all the segments to be driven at the same time.

It’s a great build that uses some genuine original display hardware to create a clock with a compelling vintage aesthetic. This would make a great gift to a pilot from the era, or any hacker that likes the unusual display technologies of yesteryear. You can even build a Numitron watch, if you’re so inclined. Video after the break.

13 thoughts on “Numitron Clock Is A Tidy ’70s Throwback

  1. I’m pretty sure the 1971 Cessna 172 I got my pilot certification in, back in 2000, was still using these for its Bendix/King radios. They sure looked good and they were clearly visible in broad daylight or in the middle of the night.

  2. I wonder if it would be possible to make a similar looking display using some of those newer “Edison” style LED bulbs. Buy the bulbs, rip out the LED strips and mount them in a 3D printed case that holds 7 strips.

  3. Editors –

    Spelling – it’s unnecessarily atrocious.

    I’m aware you can’t enforce spell check during publish in WP (at least, not practically.. especially on a tech site.

    There isn’t any web browser in widespread use that won’t put a red inchworm under “seperate”.
    For an author to ignore that visual means that a “good faith effort” isn’t even attempted.

    Sorry if this is considered petty these days.

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