Make Your Own Retro Nixie Clock With an RTC!

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Introduction: Make Your Own Retro Nixie Clock With an RTC!

About: Awesome Electronics Tutorials, Projects and How To´s

In this project I will show you how to create a retro nixie clock. That means I will show you how you can control nixie tubes with a high voltage DC power supply and then I will combine 4 nixie tubes with an Arduino, a Real Time Clock (RTC) and a custom 3D printed enclosure in order to create the nixie clock. Let's get started!

Step 1: Watch the Video!

The video gives you all the information you need to create your own retro nixie clock. During the next steps though I will present you some additional information.

Step 2: Get Your Components!

Here you can find a parts list with example seller (affiliate links):

Aliexpress:

4x IN-14 Nixie tube: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dYxadSB

4x K155ID1 Nixie tube driver: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dZ02DLv

1x LM7805 5V regulator: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dTT11Yx

1x Arduino Pro Mini: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dWjf2yn

1x DS1307 RTC: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_d6iyPCF

SMD Capacitors (1206 10uF, 100nF): https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dSt10Z1

Male+Female Header: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_d8CsUsJ

4x 10kΩ Resistor: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dVrRxir

1x 170V DC Supply: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dTNNUVZ

1x DC Input Jack: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_Bf7oDayn

Ebay:

4x IN-14 Nixie tube: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

4x K155ID1 Nixie tube driver: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

1x LM7805 5V regulator: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

1x Arduino Pro Mini: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

1x DS1307 RTC: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

SMD Capacitors (1206 10uF, 100nF): http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

Male+Female Header: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

4x 10kΩ Resistor: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

1x 170V DC Supply: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

1x DC Input Jack: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

Amazon.de:

4x IN-14 Nixie tube: https://amzn.to/342RTrt

4x K155ID1 Nixie tube driver: -

1x LM7805 5V regulator: https://amzn.to/2qB7iBL

1x Arduino Pro Mini: https://amzn.to/2LBpBy3

1x DS1307 RTC: https://amzn.to/2YAUrMy

SMD Capacitors (1206 10uF, 100nF): https://amzn.to/356UnGy

Male+Female Header: https://amzn.to/38nmZ0v

4x 10kΩ Resistor: https://amzn.to/33ZDpbS

1x 170V DC Supply: https://amzn.to/36l52NY

1x DC Input Jack: https://amzn.to/2qAbVvL

Step 3: Order Your PCBs!

Here you can download the Gerber files for the PCB that I created. Upload them through https://jlcpcb.com/quote#/ to order them.

Step 4: Solder the Components in Place!

Here you can find the schematic of the circuit along with reference pictures of my own assembled PCB. Feel free to use them in order to finish your own PCB.

Step 5: Upload the Code!

Here you can find the code for the clock. Upload it to the Arduino with the help of an FTDI breakout board.

Also you will need to download and include the following DS1307 library: https://github.com/MajicDesigns/MD_DS1307

Step 6: 3D Print the Enclosure and Assemble the Clock!

Here you can find the files for 3D Printing the enclosure along with reference pictures of the assembly of my clock.

Step 7: Success!

You did it! You just created your own retro nixie clock!

Feel free to check out my YouTube channel for more awesome projects: http://www.youtube.com/user/greatscottlab

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for news about upcoming projects and behind the scenes information:

https://twitter.com/GreatScottLab

https://www.facebook.com/greatscottlab

10 People Made This Project!

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45 Comments

0
Martin T
Martin T

8 hours ago

Hi All, i am a bit late to the party, but i am here... i have built it, it runs the test sketch code just fine but when i upload the clock code i get nothing.
I uploaded Frogger's code with the sweep and it just counts to 9 and stops, please if someone could point me in the right direction it would be fantastic.
Thank you in advance.

Martin.

0
axel.ericson
axel.ericson

4 weeks ago

Can anyone send the code. Please

0
ariemon11
ariemon11

Question 6 months ago

Hey I want to ask for which pin I need to put the 2.7 k ohm ?

0
James Barnett
James Barnett

Question 9 months ago on Step 7

Hi, would I be able to use a shift register for the outputs of the arduino to the controller ICs. Also can I use IN-12A nixie tubes instead, I don't know if I will have to modify the PCB or not, but I do know that it has the same datasheet as the IN-14.

0
DrHWO
DrHWO

Tip 1 year ago

Support the "free" edge of the RTC with a strip of header pins glued to the underside of the PCB. The Swiss cheese effect is more to do with hiding the defects in the reclaimed walnut mirror surround than cooling. My soldering skills aren't up to much, so that apparent lean on the tubes isn't that you have had a mid brain stroke!

Nixie Clock 1.jpgNixie Clock 2.jpgNixie Clock 3.jpgNixie Clock 4.jpgNixie Clock 5.jpgNixie Clock 6.jpgNixie Clock 7.jpgNixie Clock 8.jpgNixie Clock 10.jpgNixie Clock 11.jpgNixie Clock 12.jpgNixie Clock 13.jpg
0
prodirz
prodirz

Reply 1 year ago

Hi, What parameteres for power supply did you use for this project? 12v, 1A will be enough?

0
frogger7
frogger7

1 year ago

Hi,

Great project! I've just finished my clock. I added some interesting features like sweeping through all the digits once the third digit is changed. It should increase the lifetime of the tubes and help to preserve their intensity, especially for the first digit which is getting changed in periods of 10 or 4 hours.

Another improvement which can be easily introduced into this project is using the RTC DS3231 (instead of the proposed DS1307) which is compatible 1:1 with the Arduino platform and shows much better stability (accuracy). According to the datasheet the time once programmed should not differ more than ±2ppm for the ambient temperature between 0°C to +40°C (equivalent ±63 second per year!). Regarding the cost of such an upgrade - negligible ~2 EUR.

Please find a video attached to this post which presents the functionality of the feature described above.

Cheers!
Frogger7

0
schlumpfhdmaker
schlumpfhdmaker

Reply 1 year ago

Hey! I wanted to add the same features ( already bought an ds3231 instead of the 1307 one) but I cant get it to work. Could you maybe send me your code? Since I`m good in electronic but horrible in codeing.. Would be cool!
Also your Video link doesent work. :(

0
frogger7
frogger7

Reply 1 year ago

Hello! The changes in the code to obtain the functionality as described in my previous post are minor. Please find a file attached. As far as I remember to set the DS3231 you can use the same library as for DS1307. I uploaded the video again and added a couple of photos. Cheers!

Nixie_Clock_Photo (2).jpegNixie_Clock_Photo (3).jpegNixie_Clock_Photo (4).jpegNixie_Clock_Photo (1).jpeg
0
schlumpfhdmaker
schlumpfhdmaker

Reply 1 year ago

Thats so aweosme! Thanks al lot for your help!! :)

0
Benno22
Benno22

1 year ago

Hi I have just completed the clock. Awesome project and great result. Only issue is that there is a high pitch squeal that is being emmitted by what I believe to be the nixie tube power supply. Has anyone come across this issue or do I just have a dud power supply. I have used the same one that is in the description. Others that that every thing is as it should be

16016263404403874935826300784498.jpg
0
jumpup_dnb_dj
jumpup_dnb_dj

1 year ago

Can you use any other Nixie tube model with this?

0
andrisberzajs77
andrisberzajs77

Reply 1 year ago

No. Becose every nixie tube has diftrent pinouts

0
Visiskas
Visiskas

1 year ago

I tried making this clock but it has quite a few problems i didnt see anyone ealse have.
1. On my clock tube 4 (the most right one) behaves realy wierd. At first when i was testing the cirquit (without rtc) i noticed that the tube displays numbers that are +4 to what other tubes are displaying. The pattern was like this: dispaly numbers 1-2 properly then +4 every number (3=7; 4=8; 5=9; 6=0) and then reset and display digits 7-0 properly again. Even with the RTC it still does that. At first i thought it was the driver IC that was bad so i ordered new ones (plus i blew another chip on tube 2 and it was internaly shorted). Then i got a new arduino because the previous one wasnt happy about 150V going through it from that shorded IC. This fixed tube 2 and even 3 but that wierd behaviour on 4 is still present.
2. I tried setting the time but it doesnt work properly (probably because im just bad at programming lol)
Anybody have any ideas how to fix this?
Thanks in advance

Screenshot_20200629-140440[1].jpg
0
Bokaj14
Bokaj14

1 year ago

Did anyone fixed the problems on PCB? And also would the Arduino pro micro work?

0
alert251c
alert251c

1 year ago

Nice! But you have to disassembe it to change the time time twice a year...? Do I got it right?

0
StefKøn
StefKøn

1 year ago

I should probably try to successfully build this version before expanding the concept, but I'd love a Nixie clock with six tubes: two more for the seconds. It's beyond my know-how to modify this project to accommodate that. The Arduino that was used, for instance, doesn't seem to have enough inputs.

0
R0tn3k
R0tn3k

Reply 1 year ago

In theory you "only" have to switch the arduino used. I'm currently looking into making a 6 digit version and will probably use an arduino mega, as that one has more than enough pins - problem with that is, that you'd need some programming knowledge to expand/rewrite the code to work, also you'd have to change the layout obviously since the mega is bigger due to more pins than the used arduino

0
carlsandra2005
carlsandra2005

1 year ago

Added Bluetooth Serial Adapter (HC-05)for Pro Mini to set time and program the Nixie Clock by GreatScott!
Also running aviateur17 NixieClock firmware
https://youtu.be/b4QSryVyDtM
Wire your cable like this instructable by Nathan Ramanathan, so it will reset the ardunio pro mini so it can program the HC-05 without you needing to push a button
https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Multitasking-Final-Countdown-Timer-With-Wirele/
Also Nathan Ramanathan has this excellent video showing you how to find the HC-05 com port.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWMJGZ0nVv8
BUT program the HC-05 to baud rate 57600
Arduino Pro or Pro Mini (5V, 16 MHz) w/ ATmega328P 57600
Program the Bluetooth HC-05 module like this instructable for the Pro mini.
https://www.instructables.com/id/Bluetooth-Serial-Adapter-for-Pro-Mini/
More reading if you need it!
https://sites.google.com/site/wayneholder/inexpensively-program-your-arduino-via-bluetooth
NixieClock firmware I used in the video NOTE: you need to connect the A7 pin to A3 for this firmware. (Not pin 1 (TXT) as in original firmware by GreatScott!
You will also need Eventually Lib files
https://github.com/johnnyb/Eventually

aviateur17/NixieClock
https://github.com/aviateur17/NixieClock


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