Introduction: The Stephanotis Steampunk Nixie Tube Bedside Companion.
I wanted to give my daughter something totally different for her birthday in April 2015 and eventually decided on making something in a Steampunk theme. It started out as just the lamp unit but looked a little bare in the middle so I added a Nixie Tube clock to it and this was the end result.
Step 1: The Beginning.
After an extensive session on Ebay, deliveries started to appear. Edison light bulbs with E27 bases, E27 antiqued lamp holders, a 4 inch vintage pressure gauge, IN-12A Nixie tubes and a PV Electronics FunKlock kit.
Next was the purchase of a load of copper solder fittings, copper pipe, a brass gate valve, a thermostat tube, relays, a cooker hood fan speed control, power supplies and several sundries.
At the time of building I had no idea about the Instructables site so the only photographs I took were for my own amusement but there are enough to use for this instructable.
Working with solderable parts is quite easy as long as you have a flameproof area to work on, mine consists of a couple of pieces of vermiculite fire board screwed together that I got FOC from a fireplace showroom. Flux is a necessity as is steel wool. Prepare any joints and pipes by rubbing them with the steel wool and then giving them a light coating of a paste flux, this makes the solder in the fittings flow easily and evenly. When heating the parts use a moderate flame on a gas torch and move it back and forth over the join and the first inch of pipe sticking out. This allows both parts to heat evenly and join quicker.
The first photograph is all of the parts laid out ready for joining and they can be dry fitted to check for correct assembly. I made the connectors to the lamp bases with reducers on the 15mm pipe beforehand,
The second photograph shows the inner core of a bicycle brake cable inserted before assembling, this I used to pull the flex through the bends as when assembled it is almost impossible to do this. Keep the parts level by packing up to height where there is a difference in diameter.
The parts hanging up ar those for the Nixie clock support arms and power supply after they had been aged with Liver of Sulphur solution, I used this on the lamp pipework too. All of the pipework was rubbed down with the steel wool and cleaned with Isopropyl Alcohol to remove any residues.Be careful when using this solution as it is harmful and gives of a pong too. Wear rubber gloves and have plenty of ventilation when you do.
The coil you see connected to the lamp base is the tubing that was fitted to the thermostat bulb and I just wound around a broom handle before fitting it to the pipe and lamp base.
No self-respecting Steampunk lamp would not be seen in public without having a whopping great big pressure gauge on it somewhere and this one is no exception! I got it on Ebay for under a tenner and a bargain indeed. The same goes for having valves on it, you just simply must have a valve and better still is if that valve actually does something! This one switches on the power to the two outside lamps as I modified it internally to take a miniature microswitch which operates a 12VDC relay to switch the 240VAC.
Step 2: Wiring It Up.
As I had prepared the pipework for drawing in the flexes for the lamps that was an easy step to complete and the lamp bases were wired up and the other end inside the casing ready to connect to the supply.
A few words about the base.
This was made from 20mm MDF with the base bottom cover from 8mm. The finish I wanted was a stone effect and I did this with Valspar grey stone effect spray paint which made it look like a block of granite.
I sprayed it before I fitted all of the electrics which included the control relays, a voltmeter, the valve switch, a Frankenstein switch for the relay power, a voltage controller which dims and brightens the two outside lamps and the supply for the Nixie tube clock. I used a double socket internally and the supply flex fits into a kettle type socket on the back of the base.
When dealing with mains voltage it is essential that all metal parts have an earth connection and where possible all controls of the mains voltage should be isolated from direct switching. I did this by the use 12VDC relays on a small circuit board with an independent supply. The 240VAC is isolated from everything and when the Frankenstein switch is operated this switches on a relay for the middle lamp, the power for the relay for the outside lamps is switched by the valve switch. The brightness of the outer lamps is controlled by the fan speed control and its operating arm looks like something from an old Hammer film.
You cannot be too careful when dealing with electricity so here is a warning.
This project utilises mains electrical power at 240VAC and a level of competence is required when working on it.
If you wish to build a similar project then all risks are yours.
Step 3: The Nixie Clock Is Added.
This was my first experience with Nixie tubes and using the PV Electronics FunKlock kit along with IN-12A Nixie tubes was relatively simple. The assembly instructions are available from Pete's website and are in PDF form. They are very easy to follow and you can construct the clock in a couple of hours.
I housed the clock in its own 'granite' block and tarted it up with some brass plate and nuts to 'punk' it. It is supported on two arms made from copper pipe and a few fittings along with brass munsen rings to fit it to the cross pipe of the lamp and the hanger arms.
I made screw terminals from aluminium as I had no brass and took the power from the clock supply to the ones on the base top and then through copper coils made from the earth core of some 6mm twin and earth cable to matching terminals on the top of the clock. I also made buttons to operate the Set and Adjust for the clock.
So that is basically how I made the Stephanotis Steampunk Nixie Tube Bedside Companion.
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