For busy people, keeping track of all the tasks on your to-do list can be a daunting task in itself. Luckily there’s software to help you keep organized, but it’s always nice to have a physical artifact as well. Inspired by some beautiful nixie clock designs, [Bertrand Fan] decided to build a nixie indicator that tells him how many open items are on his to-do list, giving a shot of instant gratification as it counts down with each finished task.
The task-management part of this project is a on-line tool called Todoist. This program comes with a useful Web API that allows you to connect it your own software projects and exchange data. [Bert] wrote some code to extract the number of outstanding tasks from his to-do list and send it to an ESP8266 D1 Mini that drives the nixie tube. Mindful of the security implications of letting such a device connect directly to the internet, he set up a Mac Mini to act as a gateway, connecting to the ESP8266 through WiFi and to the Todoist servers through a VPN.
The little ESP board is sitting in a 3D-printed case, together with the nixie driver circuits and a socket to hold the tube. A ceramic tile glued to the front gives it a bit more of a sturdy, luxury feel to match the shiny glass and metal display device. The limitations of the nixie tube restrict the number of tasks indicated to nine, but we imagine this might actually be useful to help prevent [Bert] from overloading himself with too many tasks. After all, what’s the point of having this device if you can’t reach that satisfying “zero” at the end of the day?
Although nowadays nixie tubes are mostly associated with fancy clocks, we’ve seen them used in a variety of other uses, such as keeping track of 3D-printer filament, adding a display to a 1940s radio, or simply displaying nothing useful at all.
Continue reading “Nixie Tube Indicator Tells You How Many Tasks You’ve Got Left To Do” →
When it comes to Nixie clocks, we all pretty much know what to expect: a bunch of Nixies with some RGB LEDs underneath, a wooden case of some sort, and maybe some brass gears or fittings for that authentic steampunk look. It’s not that we don’t appreciate these builds, but the convergent designs can be a little much sometimes. Thankfully, this 60-tube Nixie clock bears that mold, and in a big way.
The key to [limpkin]’s design is the IN-9 Nixie, which is the long, skinny tube that used to show up as linear indicators; think bar graph displays on bench multimeters or the VU meters on mixing boards. [limpkin] realized that 60 on the tubes could be arranged radially to represent hours or minutes, and potentially so much more. The length of the segment that lights up in the IN-9 is controlled by the current through the tube, so [limpkin] designed a simple driver for each segment that takes a PWM signal as its input. The job of a 60-channel, 14-bit PWM controller fell to an FPGA. An ESP8266 — all the rage five years ago when he started the project — took care of timekeeping and control, as well as driving a more traditional clock display of four 7-segment LEDs in the center of the clock face.
The custom PCB lives in a CNC-machined MDF wood face; the IN-9s shine through slots in the face, while the seven-segment display shows through a thinned area. It looks pretty cool, and there are a lot of display options, like the audio spectrograph shown in the video below. We’re glad [limpkin] decided to share this one after all this time.
Continue reading “Not Your Average Nixie Tube Clock” →
We’re not here to talk about another clock. Okay, we are, but the focus isn’t about whether or not it can tell time, it’s about taking a simple idea to an elegant conclusion. In all those ways, [Marcin Saj] produced a beautiful project. Most of the nixie clocks we see are base-ten, but this uses base-two for lots of warm glow from more than a dozen replaceable units.
There are three rows for hours, minutes, and seconds. The top and bottom rows are labeled with an “H” and “S” respectively displayed on IN-15B tubes, while the middle row shows an “M” from an IN-15A tube. The pluses and minuses light up on IN-12 models so you’ll need eighteen of them for the full light show, but you could skimp and use sixteen in twelve-hour mode since you don’t need to count to twenty-four. We won’t explain how to read time in binary, since you know, you’re here and all. The laser-cut acrylic is gorgeous with clear plastic next to those shiny nixies, but you have to recreate the files or buy the cut parts as we couldn’t find vector files amongst the code and schematics.
Silly rabbit, nixies aren’t just for clocks. You can roll your own, but they’re not child’s play.
Continue reading “Binary Clock Lets The Nixies Glow” →
When [Tavis] and his father were inspired to lend their talents to building a robot sculpture, they split the duties. [Tavis]’ father built a robot head, and [Tavis] utilized designs old and new to breathe life into their creation.
Many a hardware hacker has been inspired by robotic art over the years. Whether it’s the vivid descriptions by the likes of Asimov and Clarke, the magnificent visuals from the formative 1927 film Metropolis, or the frantic arm-waving Robot from Lost In Space, the robots of Science Fiction have impelled many to bring their own creations to life.
For [Travis]’s creation, Two rare Russian Nixie Tubes in the forehead convey what’s on the robot’s mind, while dual 8×8 LED matrices from Adafruit give the imagination a window to the binary soul. A sound board also from Adafruit gives voice to the automaton, speaking wistful words in a language known only to himself.
A DC to DC converter raises the LiPo supplied 3.7v to the necessary 170v for the Nixies, and a hidden USB-C port charges the battery once its two-hour life span has expired. Two custom Nixie driver boards are each host to an Arduino Pro Micro, and [Tavis] has made the PCB design available for those wishing to build their own Nixie projects.
As you can see in the video below the break, the results are nothing short of mesmerizing!
Of course, we’re no strangers to robots here at Hackaday. Perhaps we can interest you in a drink created by the industrial-grade Robotic Bartender while you consider the best way to Stop the Robot Uprising. And remember, if you spot any awesome hacks, let us know via the Tip Line!
Continue reading “Artful Nixie Bot Sculpture Sees, Thinks, And Talks” →
There are a few words in the electrical engineering lexicon that will perk any hardware hacker’s ears. The first of course is “Nixie tubes” with their warm cold war era ambiance and nostalgia inducing aura. A close second is “relay logic”. Between their place in computing and telecom history and the way a symphony of click and clatter can make a geek’s heart go pitter patter, most of us just love a good relay hack. And then there’s the classic hacker project: A unique timepiece to adorn our lair and remind us when we’ve been working on our project just a little too long, if such a thing even exists.
With those things in mind, you can forgive us if we swooned ever so slightly when [Jon Stanley]’s Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock came to us via the Tip Line. Adorned with its plethora of clicking relays and set aglow by four Nixie tubes, the Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock checks all our boxes.
[Jon] started the build with relay modules that mimic CD4000 series CMOS logic chips. When the prototype stage was complete, the circuit was recreated on a new board that mounts all 55 Omron relays on the same PCB. The result? A glorious Nixie tube clock that will strike envy into even the purest hacker’s heart. Make sure to watch the video after the break!
[Jon] has graciously documented the entire build and even makes various relay logic boards available for purchase if you’d like to embark on your own relay logic exploits . His site overflows with unique clock projects as well, so you can be sure we’ll be checking those out.
If you feel inspired to build your own relay logic project, make sure you source genuine Omron relays, especially if your Relay Computer Masterpiece takes six years to build.
Thanks to [Daniel] for sending this our way. Got a cool project you’d like to share? Be sure to send it in via the Tip Line.
Continue reading “Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock Checks All The Boxes” →
Join us on Wednesday, August 11 at noon Pacific for the Vintage Displays Hack Chat with Fran Blanche!
In terms of ease of integration and density of the information that can be shown, it’s hard to argue with the fact that modern displays like LCD panels are anything but superior to the character-based displays of yore. Throw one into a project, add a little code from a few off-the-shelf libraries to drive it, and you’re on to the next job.
Efficient, yes, but what does this approach do for the engineer’s soul? What design itch does it scratch; what aesthetic does it celebrate? Nostalgic questions, true, and not every project lends itself to exploring old display technologies. But some still do, thankfully, and when the occasion calls for it, we’re glad that there are those out there who are still actively involved in the retro display community, making sure that what was once state-of-the-art technology is still able to be added to modern projects.
There’s no doubt that Fran Blanche is one of those passing the torch of vintage displays down to the next generation. You’ll certainly know Fran from her popular Fran Lab channel on YouTube, where in addition to about a million other interests, she has explored some really cool vintage displays: the Nimo cathode-ray tube, super-bright incandescent seven-segment displays, the delightfully strange “Bina-View”, and many, many more. Fran will stop by the Hack Chat to talk about all these retro displays, what she’s learned from collecting them, and how they shaped the displays we take so much for granted these days. Oh, and perhaps we’ll also talk about her upcoming ride on “G-Force 1” as well.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, August 11 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
Talk about your mixed timekeeping metaphors: there are clocks, and pendulum clocks, and there are Nixie clocks, and persistence of vision clocks. But this is a Nixie pendulum POV clock, and we think it’s pretty cool.
We first spied this on Twitter and were subsequently pleased to learn that [Jayzon Oeve] has posted a more detailed build log over on Hackaday.io. Rather than a moving array of dots to create the characters to display, this uses a single IN-12b Nixie tube at the end of a pendulum. The pendulum is kept moving by a small nudge created by a pulse through a fixed hard drive voice coil acting on a magnet affixed to the bottom of the pendulum — we’ve seen a similar approach used before.
Pretty much all of the electronics are mounted on the pendulum arm, including a Nano, an RTC, and an accelerometer to figure out where in the swing the bob is and when to flash a number on the display. There’s a video below that shows it at work both at full speed and in slow-motion; as always with POV clocks, these things probably look better in person than on video. And while swinging Nixies around like that seems a little dicey, we like the way this turned out.
Continue reading “This POV Clock Combines A Nixie With A Pendulum” →