Here is Cyclops... all metal, shiny, very industrial. I can picture it sitting on baron Harkonens mantel....
I have been wanting to build a single digit Nixie clock for a while now, I looked around the workshop and found a bunch of bits and pieces that I would start the design with, little is sketched its more of putting pieces together and seeing what they look like. after I started I saw the Shop Bot Challenge and worked hard late nights to complete this in time....
Just A starting note, I tend to communicate better through an image so please read the tags, they will sometimes hold a lot more info then the body of text...
here are my parts list, remember not finding the identical pieces is not a problem , just explore what you get your hands on and something is bound to climb out of that mass of parts....
here we go.....
- Found 13 pieces of an aluminum bottom plate, 1/8”thick and looks like it has a 4” hole cut for a speaker.
- Had some misc brass parts from a previous project.
- will need access to the following tools
- A milling machine (preferably with X Y Z readouts)
- Band saw, need a pretty robust one for this project
- soldering skills
- Buffing wheel with compounds.
- sand blasting booth (not necessary can substitute sandpaper for a similar effect)
- Basic electronics and machining skills
- All kinds of hardware
- loc-tite retaining compond (green).
- loc-tite 430 metal cyano-acrylate.
- 20AWG wire, red /black, and some 28AWG ribbon wire 12 conductor.
- an assortment of clear acrylic tubing
- Blink M programmable RGB LED. here is the info... http://thingm.com/products/blinkm and this is where i got mine http://www.sparkfun.com/search/results?term=blinkm&what=products
- you will need to buy the BlinkM interface too, Looks like a USB flash drive with a 4 pin input..
- Single digit Nixie kit.... I got mine here....
Pete has to my knowledge the only Nixie prototype board out there that gives the experimenter options of screw terminals, solder pads and designated Nixie patterned mounts for leads,this isn't the kit I used in this instructable but will aid you on any 6 digit clock you wish to build.....
Pete always answers and is there to help you out.
If this kit is not on the site right now, be patient .
9vdc- 15vdc power supply
3 momentary buttons + caps (got mine off an old record player)
delrin and nylon washers and stand offs
soft rubber tubing
a multimeter with a continuity function (prefer an audible function).
24 blue 3mm LED's
(1) aqua 5mm LED, (1)orange 5mm LED, (1)amber 3mm LED
led sequencer kit (Ebay)
- 4 tactile momentary buttons
- an old black and decker smoke detector
- keep track of the wires, number everything
- imagination and keeping track of plate sequences and directions
- An understanding spouse because this takes time....
Step 1: Gathering the pieces
Step 2: The Cut
I decided to go with a radius instead of a straight line, used a spindle sander to sand and even out the edges, be cautious aluminum is a great heat conductor and these parts when sanded or cut get very HOT, DO NOT USE gloves to protect you from the heat, its very dangerous when a saw blade is being used. just be patient, quench in water, dry then continue....
Remember that the stack had the top and bottom plates reversed, so in the picture bellow the 4"speaker holes in the plates are on the right (opening), the left is solid... i decided to go with a vertical standing clock so i needed more plates with the 4" hole, so using the holes in the reversed top/bottom plates as a guide, I proceeded to cut the hole out.
using the new cut holes to frame the "window" for the tube, then splitting the other set cap the top and bottom of the chamber....
Step 3: Stacking
I combined the cut pieces, front and rear after cutting out NIxie window in the previous step.
the design is still fluid, plates can be pushed so the offset is in the back, parts can be flipped and if not numbered correctly can be placed out of order, this can be a problem if the registration holes are not mounted and drilled precisely in a mill, I used a drill press and when plates were flipped there was a slight mis-alignment of the registration holes...
Step 4: The Guts
Step 5: The Reactor Core
the user could turn on this light show that would make the clock come to life but wanted it to be controlled, my clocks light up rooms and they are tame compared to how this one ended up.
..so the first few pictures will show the original way I was planning to mount the Nixie, which was to have rods bent out of the reactor, formed to let the Nixie "hover in its pocket within the clock.
after spending a few hours I scrapped the idea, didn't look as nice as i was hoping, the Nixie was not fixed and at some point might work its way loose, I did not want to risk this so I changed up to a more solid mount...
Step 6: The Brass
I also decided that the clock had to stand taller and that with spacers light can travel through the clock.
I decided to go with an 1/8" space between the plates, I first tried a few plates using delrin standoffs that I found and then proceeded to make and polish brass spacer's . I changed out the all-threads for longer ones to allow me to expand and test the brass between different levels of the plates.
little brass holders were made and modified to hold the Nixie from 3 points, rubber bumpers are the only thing in contact with the glass tube, there is another not seen here on the top of the tube. The Nixie is seated very tight
Step 7: Mounting the Reactor and more Brass
Step 8: Button and Power Input Assemblies
basically the components have a threaded neck with a smaller diameter than the body, components usually come with a lock washer and nut.
on the button assembly.... the top plate has to have clearance holes drilled to accommodate the button caps, the plate bellow has to allow for the threaded neck, this is where the buttons are mounted, the remaining plates have to have the largest openings where the body of the buttons and wires will be housed...
same process for the barrel power jack.
both assemblies wires feed to the electronics bay where they will eventually connect to the main board.
Step 9: Polishing - Assembly - Wiring
scribe in a place not visible when assembled, I had 3 polishing compounds, I stuck with the soft rouge compound, there are lots of sharp corners on all the plates and it doesn't take much for the spinning buffing wheel to catch one and fling the piece from your hands, so slow and steady is the way to go. its not my first time on the wheel and i had a few piece shoot across the room
After polishing the stack was flipped, plates are removed cleaned polished and re-stacked,here is where your number and the side you scribed it on becomes your reference....plates vary slightly and its easy to flip or screw up the order, around picture 4 bellow I started sliding the brass between the aluminum, having the stack split allowed me easy access to the shaft collars that hold the Nixie in place, it also allowed me to connect the wires without great difficulty.
So the order of components are.... bottom set of alum, insert brass with the nixie holders and lock down the holders shaft collars, while structure is still open wire the nixie tube leaving the other end accessible, continue the assembly until you reach the center of the machined ellipse behind the reactor, install reactor trapping it between plates.
continue the assembly stacking.
Step 10: More LED's
2" and 4" acrylic tubes were cut into 3/8" and 1/2" thick slices on the band saw with a set fence, I cut more than i needed because it is a delicate material and I knew some would be broken during the process.
using a 24 position index plate I drilled both sized rings skipping a step in the index to finish with 12 holes per ring. wired up 24 x 3mm blue LED's, wired into the sequencer ciruit board with the positive being common wire from the LED's , again number the wires coming from the leds so you can put them in order when connecting to the circuit board.
bottom and top alluminium plates were removed and the LED discs were placed in their positions, top and bottom plates are re-mounted and tightened against the led discs, the neoprene protectors evenly apply the pressure sandwiching the LED discs tightly.
Step 11: Legs for the Beast
found some nice curved pieces from another project and I had left and right pieces
Step 12: Installing the Heart
the whole thing is conductive so you will have to have insulation planned, the insulation was already decided on when I milled the electronics bay. insulation size had to be added to the boards dimensions for the final size of the bay.
Step 13: Sound and Lights
with that all said as you will see in the images bellow I started with pulled parts from an old smoke detector and finished with a cool industrial looking sound and lighting feedback device thingy , read the captions in the images.....
Step 14: Almost There, The Top Plate
From the beginning i wanted this clock to look advanced, alien in nature.... at one point I was planning on making an area 51 type crate and illustrate a burned piece of parchment with and alien being handing the piece to a humanoid figure, who then would live out the time left on the piece and end it with the built in blade when time ran out, the worn parchment was to be covered with alien diagrams and text ....
The instructable competition put a deadline into the picture and I barely finished.....
In this step I needed to create some finishing pieces to complete the look of the top of the piece, the most visible part.
I started with a card board template to test out the look and how the shape would work with the rest of the clock, the templates also allow me to plan the cuts with out wasting the metal plates and I went through about 3 variations before i came up with a good configuration..
Step 15: Wrapping it all up
the clock lights and pulses the time like a beating heart.....
the last 4 photos of this step show the other Ideas I attempted prior to coming up with the sounder and LED markers, the process is anything but straight forward, you just have to keep trying and it will all work out....I recorded lots of time lapse during the assembly but had trouble uploading all but one video.
Hope you enjoyed this Instructable, The clock and the write up were both challenging, I tend to get into my zone and just work through so it took some discipline to stop and take pictures, I sometimes would have to dismantle something because I forgot to take pictures for the instructable, i hope this inspires you to collect, drill, machine wire and be proud of something you created...
And Please vote for me if you think it worthy....