Introduction: IV-11 VFD Tube Clock Assembly Guide

Picture of IV-11 VFD Tube Clock Assembly Guide

Here is a functional retro clock made with 6 IV-11 VFD tube DIY Kit, it has alarm and temp display, with a remote controller to edit clock and change led mode.

Printable instructions

~Need soldering skill~

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***Do not download this instruction, just click next step is ok.***

Step 1: The Parts and Soldering

Picture of The Parts and Soldering

You can see the marking/label on the PCB actually tells which parts goes where, and which direction should be. if you need more reference on the way to put the parts, here is the original photo

There are 3 smd parts, which soldered before shipping, else you have to solder it with iron and some solder flux for the leds, because the led pins is too close to each other, you better have some flux

1. Solder the leds before the VFD tube, the longest led pin get into the rectangle through hole.

2. The "power" connector with two through hole need to connect/shorted

3. The MCU (U17) has program in it, it will work when power on.

4. U9 and 5B16 parts are removed and no need to solder as show on the pictures.

5. Cut 1-10mm uneven length of the VFD tube pin will help easy insert to the pin hole.

6. The parts 1N5819 and 1N4007 look the same but solder in different place.

7. The longest pin of the led goes into the rectangle hole.

8. The 4 pin header are not included and no need to solder, they are not in use.

Step 2: Before Power Up... Checking

Picture of Before Power Up... Checking

-You need a 5V1A power source, 5V0.5A doesn't work. 5V2A is maxium.

-Check with the photo show above may be help easier.

-The "power" mark on the PCB I made it connected as the last photo show.

-The parts 1N5819 and 1N4007 look the same but solder in different place.

-RP1 to RP6 has a white dot, need align to the square solder hole

Step 3: The Remote

Picture of The Remote

All button function

Battery may not included because of air shipping




6 change Celsius/Fahrenheit

7 change 12/24 Hour


On the alarm setting mode, by clicking the 200+ button, turn on/off the alarm

- A alarm off

CA alarm on


Step 4: The Functions

Something may help to know better of the clock

--The ds39b20 or ds18b20 is a temperature sensor, you may solder it with a cable connect out of the clock to avoid PCB and led light heat.

- The leds can’t solder with iron temp over 350`C or 662`F

Step 5: No Case?

Picture of No Case?

I manage to put the clock near a white background, the led light shine on the wall create a dramatic visual effect, so it's not necessary for a case if you have put it on a white background.

Step 6: Trouble Shoot Q&A

The led work, the remote work, but the tube no light or no text displayed.

Check the big capacitor on the left bottom corner, it should have 24-28 Voltage of power, or it is the problem of the U11 and L1, U11 transform 5volt to 2x volt. Need to double check the diode if they are in correct direction, or see any parts has too much heat.

If ever thing above is good, try to remove the MCU and power on the clock, the tube should display a letter 8.

One of the VFD tube not working, or partly working

Try to replace ULN2803APG and SN74HC00N behind it, by exchange with other tube's

Also see if any broken connector inside the tubes


eszentric made it! (author)2017-09-24

Just a tip for any beginners who are planning to build this kit... Keep a multi-meter (or ohm-meter) by your side so that you can perform continuity checks along the way. It is especially helpful after soldering in the LEDs, to check for solder bridging, being the pads are so close together.

Its also a good idea to do a continuity check on each of the ICs to make sure all the legs made it into the IC carrier okay.

eszentric made it! (author)2017-09-24

Got the clock together and really enjoyed the build. Everything seems to be working as it should... I think.

1) There's a remote button that turns the LEDs (under the tubes) to non-blinking mode, but only in red.

Is there a way to change the LEDs color from red while in non-blinking mode?

2) I've only seen the AM/PM LED in red, white, or off.

Is there a way to change those colors?

3) I find all the LEDs to be a little too bright, and the brightness adjustment on the remote doesn't make much if any difference. I know they can be turned off, but I don't like that either.

I would like to cut the brightness by maybe half intensity so they accent the tubes rather than steal the show.

I thought about adding another resistor to each group of 470 ohm resistors leading to each LED, or maybe wire a potentiometer into the circuit. I'm up for wiring to a different leg on the IC if you think that would work.


keepsake-10 made it! (author)2017-08-24

I was wondering where from such mistake could come. If we look to ULN2803 and 74HC595 we understand this is a simple circuit driving the tubes. As an example of how these two IC work together we can see in first picture atached here. Now we clearly see that if we take out from the socket the transistor array IC (ULN2803) none of the VFD tubes should lit.

I did a short movie (second atachment) with these IC taken out of the sockets - and the VFD tube are all lit. There is no short and there is no way the tubes might lit - excep in case there is one mistake on your PCB. If I take out of the sockets all shift register IC's (74HC595) and all transistor array IC's (ULN2803) the tubes are still lit. See the third atachment. What I don't understand is the function of resistor network - measured at 47Kohm...

The only logical explanation of this malfunction would be a production mistake with your PCB's. Looking further at the pictures of other customers I see slightly differences (like missing place of the temperature sensor). What I received is a different item. Please reply.

WongH (author)keepsake-102017-08-25

Yes, when remove the ICs or even the main control unit, the tube will all goes lit.

So now the only problem is on the speaker right?

keepsake-10 (author)WongH2017-08-27

This clock is not working, the VFD display stay permanently on - even with IC's taken of the board and you propose me to change the speaker ?

The VFD pin 1 and 11 are the heaters and cathode of the VFD. PIN 2 is the grid and pin 3 to 10 are the anodes. The ULN2803 (Transistor array) will supply each anode (the anodes are the lighting segments). If this IC would be taken off from the board there is no way the anodes get any tension so it should not lit at all.

Well, if the speaker is the problem in your opinion, I am wondering if there is enough technical knowledge.

keepsake-10 (author)WongH2017-08-27

No matter what kind of schematic or concept would be used for this clock, the ULN2803 is the one to supply the anodes of the VFD tubes. Without it on the board the VFD must be off.

WongH (author)WongH2017-08-25

And that is what it was designed, not any mistake -.-

keepsake-10 (author)2017-08-24

All segments of VDF stay on. LED under the tubes lit permanently with all 3 colours. The LED between tubes are off - except the one on the outer right side - this one light just a bit red - not at full power. I check all the board for shorts - there is none. Removing the 74HTC595(shift register) dose not change anything. Removing the ULN2803(transistor array) dose not change anything. Removing both (shift register and transistor array) dose not change anything. Removing SKDIP28 (microcontroller) dose not change anything.

Removing MC34063 (DC/DC) converter will stop all tubes.

All resistors, capacitors, diodes and LED where measured before mounting - everything ok.

The transistor 8550 get a little warmer than I like - but I suppose is because wirl all tubes on is more or less normal - same for the dc/dc converter.

The dots of the VFD tubes dose not lit at all.

Please reply

WongH (author)keepsake-102017-08-25

You need to try with your remote, to turn on/off the leds, and change the led color

keepsake-10 (author)2017-08-24

Here a few pictures

Science Envisions made it! (author)2017-05-31

Works and looks great, now to build a case

KellyL120 (author)2017-04-03

What size is the battery?

DimitrisT33 made it! (author)2017-02-08

Works Great! Found this instruction page after I finished...

yogidog made it! (author)2017-01-17

I received this kit for Christmas and put it together this weekend. It looks and works great, and I had a lot of fun assembling it. I really needed the soldering practice.

A few questions:

1. The temp reading is about 10 deg. F higher than ambient temperature. Is the temp at that part of the board really that much higher than ambient, or is there some other problem at play? I saw the option in the instructions to bound the sensor below the board. Is there any other fix?

2. The tubes all illuminate the period (dot) for all digits except when displaying "2". Is this a bug in the MCU's binary to 7-segment conversion table? Is there a fix other than cutting the tube lead?

3. I had so much fun assembling this that I'd like to try another kit. Any suggestions? I'd also like to find a version of this clock that uses orange nixie tubes.

WongH (author)yogidog2017-01-17

Yes, we have IN-14 nixie clock in store, but shipping time is very long.

The PCB temp affect the temp sensor, may need to place it out side the clock with cables.

The dot inside the tube can only turn off by removing the pin connect to that dot, we don't have a solution to control that dot, tried controlling with different program and circuit but not work.

yogidog (author)WongH2017-01-17

Does the IN-14 clock have much through-hole soldering, or is it mostly pre-soldered surface mount? How does it compare to the IV-11 kit? It is hard to tell from the photos.

input_de made it! (author)2017-01-11

Sehr einfacher Aufbau und funktioniert auf Anhieb! It's easy to build the kit an it work well instantly! But the LED's alittle bit too bright and no color set of a longer time...rolling and rolling and so on. And now another question: can you send me a wiring plan of dis clock, so as PDF? Thanks, Steffen

WongH (author)input_de2017-01-12

Hi, the schematic is not allowed to share by the developer. We will try to produce the clock as assembled.

GeoffN10 made it! (author)2016-11-23

This kit was easy and straight forward to solder together, board was well marked as to component orientation and placement. I was hoping to run it on a 2 amp usb computer port or cheap 2 amp usb phone charger but they couldn't supply enough juice to fire it up, I had to go and buy a $25 3A power supply from Jaycar to run it, I measured a draw of .65 amps at 5 volt. Since I was left with some surplus 5v power I installed an amplifier and speakers so it is now a clock radio.

The case is made from a gourd if anybody was wondering.

My clock is in 24 hour Fahrenheit mode which is very annoying as in Australia we are Celsius and 12 hour mode is the norm. I too found the full stop after every digit and the LEDs between the tubes annoying and unnecessary so disabled them and removed the end LED that was particularly annoying. The software needs some work, too many functions and the remote control buttons are unmarked and its just another thing to loose, some buttons on the clock would be great instead and maybe a casino roll of the numbers now and then. In fact I would love to be able to program this clock myself!, is that possible using an Arduino?

Hopefully when the new software comes out you will send an update so I can have 12 hour time and deg C..........

WongH (author)GeoffN102016-11-23

HI, it is not open source project, but a hardware kit for DIY, seems impossible to work with Arduino.

WongH (author)WongH2016-12-11

Hi, can you contact me again in ebay? I lost your message, can't follow up you ID to resend the parts

carlough made it! (author)2016-12-05

I just finished building the kit, and the first three tubes don't light up at all, the fourth is only partially illuminated in the bottom right corner, but the last two numbers work perfectly, displaying the seconds. Any idea why this would be like that? And yes, the far left LED is out, I haven't soldered it in yet.

WongH (author)carlough2016-12-06

You need to do a solder check, if any solder shorted, than check if any IC behind the VFD tube reversed or not plug in correctly. else we will give you guide on checking the power circuit.

carlough made it! (author)WongH2016-12-06

I don't see any short under the partially lit tube or its IC's (I added a photo, maybe I didn't see it it), and the cathode has a slight orange red glow, could the short be inside the tube? I put the IC from the working tubes into the partially lit one, but nothing changed, so I'm not sure where the problem is.

WongH (author)carlough2016-12-06

That can be the tube problem, remove one slight orange cathode tube, and there should have 4 working tube, and 2 not working, because each 2 tube are linked. If the leds are working and remote control are working you only need to replace that tube or 2 tubes.

carlough (author)WongH2016-12-06

I removed the one with the orange cathode, but now none of the tubes turn on, but it does respond to the remote by beeping, I'm afraid its getting worse

WongH (author)carlough2016-12-06

Hi, there are there 4007 diode in the PCB, can you double check if the direction and value mark are correct.

WongH (author)WongH2016-12-06

most important is D1 in the middle of the PCB, D1 is a 4007 diode also

carlough made it! (author)WongH2016-12-06

It is a 4007, and matches the direction in your photos, so I don't think the diode is the problem, but I could be wrong, so here's a photo:

WongH (author)carlough2016-12-07

Hi, please take a multimeter to check the 2 pins of that tubes not light up, check their voltage.

And if you remove try either one 595 or the 2803 IC, the VFD tube should all light up, than the tubes are good working.

carlough (author)WongH2016-12-07

I was able to get 27.5 Volts across tubes 1,2, 3, and 5 (4 was removed, as you thought it might be bad). 6 gets zero (but was working before removing 4. Could there be a short?

WongH (author)carlough2016-12-08

pls contact me again on ebay, I will get it solved quickly.

barrow4491 made it! (author)2016-11-28


I am unsure if you understood my issue. The fourth tube from the left displays a capital P at all times which makes the display impossible to read and set.(I have attached a photo of a sketch to better explain the issue).

I did not understand what you meant by "could be a problem from the IC connect dock"

Could you let me know it you will send the chip with the latest software and a replacement tube if that is the issue.

As i said I am impressed with the kit if only i can resolve these issues.

Kind regards

WongH (author)barrow44912016-11-28

Hi, every IV-11 tubes has connected to the resistors and ICs just behind them, not sure if the ICs plug in correctly, should we resend the ICs or Tubes, that need your help to check or reinstall that part, and we got the right solution. If you are in a hurry, contact us in ebay and will resend both the ICs and tubes for replacement. We really need to know the cause so we can help other customer too.

barrow4491 made it! (author)2016-11-24

The clock kit was easy to construct with a quality pcb and all components. I have however an issue with one of the tubes (the fourth from the left displays a capital "P" when turned on and therefore the only time it is correct is when an 8 is needed.I have swapped the IC's to no avail, and I suspect the tube is faulty or a program problem.

Also the chip supplied was programmed with the original data and does not have the ability to change the date, temperature or hour modes.

a couple of questions;

Can the full stops be disabled except in the temperature mode

What do the "PP" letters represent in the temperature mode and the two "-" in the alarm mode.

If this can be resolved I will order another kit for a friend



WongH (author)barrow44912016-11-27

Hi, he fourth tube can show a number 8 can be problem from the IC connect dock, if not we will resend a new tube to you.

The full stops can only disable by removing the pin on the tube.

PP and -- stand for nothing, just let you determine which is alarm and temp mode.

ve3vxy (author)2016-11-19

OK sound good to me, should I mail you through eBay message or here?

rampart888 (author)2016-11-01

12/24 hr are shipping now?

WongH (author)rampart8882016-11-19

It will be ship on 25/11/2016, if you order now it will be ship on 25/11/2016 also.

Daedelos made it! (author)2016-11-19

No problems here. However I didn't like:

1. the LEDs after the hours, minutes & seconds so I did not fit them

2. the buzzer was too tinny for me so I removed that from the board (I am not going to use the alarm)

3. the full stops (periods to the US readers) after each digit (other than 2 for some reason) I removed by snipping lead 4 of each vfd :)

ve3vxy made it! (author)2016-11-16

Works great, just the temp keeps showing 100 C in 21.5 C room, also let me know if I could get the new (MCU) micro chip with the new program on it, when it comes out in Dec. that would be great. Thanks Ralph


rampart888 (author)2016-11-01

Would you be able to send 12 hr mode MCU with each clock I purchase? Please understand I really like your clock. Thanks Wong.

WongH (author)rampart8882016-11-02

HI, there will be YYMMDD DDMMYY MMDDYY 12/24hr Celsius/Fahrenheit in early December, currently only have YYMMDD MMDDYY Celsius/Fahrenheit option in the clock.

rampart888 (author)2016-11-01

I will be buying many of these clocks if I have 12 Hr mode available to me. These will make great gifts but only if it is able to display 12 hr mode because I am in the US.

rampart888 (author)2016-10-31

Will kits shipping after November 1st have firmware for 12/24 hr? Can you give a link to updated firmware? Thank you!

WongH (author)rampart8882016-11-01

They will be shipped now, firmware arn't able to update, the developer don't want to share the firmware because of copy risk. And there are only 24hr ddmmyy degree C'。If big problem need to update the firmware, we will try just send the MCU to you.

JimS282 made it! (author)2016-10-12

I built the kit. There were no big surprises, just don't forget to jump the two through holes near the power jack. User manual/instructions would be a nice addition.

Does anyone know if the date and/or the temperature can be switched to US standard? i.e temperature in Fahrenheit and the date display in MM:DD:YY

WongH (author)JimS2822016-10-12

Hi, it was fixed in the firmware code can't change it yet, only if new firmware can change it, but you will need a USB to TTL usb programmer to send the firmware.

rossak (author)2016-10-03

Nice project but I thought is for diy instructables not advertising.

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