Introduction: Raspberry Pi OSMC Retropie Nixie Clock, Within a Bluetooth Stereo System

Ok, so this is my first instructable and I found out about this contest kinda late. I will do my best to summarize. Because there are many styles that can be made I won't go into specific details about the speakers or enclosure. As visible in the photos I am using 3 different speakers each requiring there unique enclosure size.

Ok the purposes of me starting this project was building a more functional nixie clock. I had previously built a few nixie clocks, mostly purchased off of eBay. I loved them so much I actually ended up having about six different Nixie Clocks on bare circuit boards but needed to dress them up.

I intially built them in wine boxes and just wood crates but desire more functionality. As an Audio engineer the only logical step was to turn them into Nixie Clock bluetooth stereos.

It took about a year to get the design right and multiple prototype failures (not a wood worker at all, and finding one in NYC is a very expensive endeavor). So I kept building until my skills got good enough to make something beautiful.

Step 1: Tools You'll Need

Tools for the enclosure

- Wood of choice (I used common board from Home depot mostly because I can make on complete unit from one board.

-Circular Saw (table saw or sliding miter saw)

-Carpenters Square

-Tape Measure

-Wood Glue

-Masking Tape


Stereo supplies

ok to make things easy I suggest Wondom AA-AC11161 2x30W 4-8 Ohm Class D Audio Amplifier Board BT4.0 with Functional Cables

I have used this company's amplifiers for years they are great. Funny thing is years ago I asked their parent Company, Sure Electronics, to design and build a battery operated bluetooth amplifier with tone control but I could make their minimum order requirement (I didn't know about Kickstarter back then). About two years later Sure emailed be about ordering prototypes for the Juke Box lines. Anyway, It's a great "Get'er done Kit"

ok Tangent over.

Nixie Clocks

So for nixie clock kits there are many that you can find on and

For this intractable I will be using;

-Raspberry Pi (I use the 3 because of built in wifi and bluetooth functions)

-Nixie Tubes (i like top view Nixies, IN-12's, IN-4's)

-Nixie Neon bulb (INS-1)

-Custom PCB

-Soldering iron and solder


A Plan.

The speakers you choose to use determines the amount of material you will need and the size of the enclosure that will be needed to achieve the desired sound.

Also how many digits you want in your display will determine the amount of components you will need but we'll get into that in the when we discuss the Nixie clock circuit. In this instructables you will see pictures of both 4 digit and 6 digit displays.

Step 2: Speaker Enclosure

The speaker enclosure I choose was table top design. My original design was built into a Johnny Walker Blue Label box. A nixie clock with 3" speakers.

So from there I just refined the style.

The speakers you choose and the number of digits determine the overall size of the enclosure.

I've built both 4 and 6 digit clocks with 2.5, 3 and 4" speakers. This intractable will briefly cover a 6 digit clock with a seal enclosure for 2.5" speakers.

When I built this particular enclosure it was only the second one I built so to make things easy, I designed the enclosure for one speaker then doubled the enclosure size to include left and right speakers then add the total length of the Nixie clock Circuit board plus two inches.

That formula determines the total length of the clock, the required dimensions for the sound requirements determine height and depth. I have posted some screen shots of the desired enclosure size for two of the speakers I have used. The program i used was Linear Team WinISD.

For a better instructable on building speaker enclosure visit my online acquaintance Kirby Meets Audio, or visit his you tube channel here

Step 3: Nixie Clock Kit and the Raspberry Pi.

So as I mentioned earlier, This Nixie Clock will be powered by a raspberry Pi 3. If you choose to use a Nixie clock kit skip to the next step.

The circuit for the clock came from the online blog of Dr. SM Baker's Raspberry Pi Nixie Clock Prototype.

The high voltage power supply that powers the nixie clock is also from Dr. Baker's earlier blog. The high voltage power supply uses the popular TL494 chip. The circuit was very easy to put together test and implement.

This clock uses shift registers and direct drive IC's per tube to use the least amount of GPIO pens necessary.

Using Eagle I designed my circuit boards to be as small as possible, however, they were still to large to fit into my fabrication budget at OSHPark where I had my previous boards made.

PCBway fit my budget and time. I was able to get Five Boards per designs at OSHPark specs in the silkscreen I wanted and they had great customer service. The boards I had printed were excellent will be using them again.

Make sure you update your Pi.

a few Pi software options OSMC/Kodi with RetorPi (

I have this in all the clocks I have built because, why not?

Once you have your circuit laid out, Dr. baker even includes some sample code to get you started. I pasted the code below.

Step 4: Putting It All Together.

Depending on how you built you speaker enclosure everything should be ready to go and now it's just mounting the electronics.

The way my clocks are built (and it took me a while to figure out) the face has four 2 inch 4-62 Rods. each rod has three nuts secured to them. The first nut is actually to secure the face to the rest of the enclosure. the 2nd and 3rd nuts are plastic and are used to keep the Nixie circuit board from moving back and forward.

Another variant of this (depending on the face you use), is using "offsets" and screwing the boards directly to the face, (this especially applies if you build and enclosure like my friend's aforementioned "Elder Speaker").

Amps and Speakers Contest 2016

Participated in the
Amps and Speakers Contest 2016