Introduction: VFD Clock/Nixie Indoor/outdoor Thermometer Retro Fit Linden Mantle Clock

About: I love all things nature. I've hiked from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail and Durango to Denver via the Colorado Trail. This life is where the name Lone Ginger comes from. I also summit 14ers and …

I decided to do something I hadnt seen yet and combined (2) seperate electronics using (2) different types vacuum tube displays to make this unique display. Nixie tubes for the thermometer and VFD (vacuum flouresent display) for the clock.

Step 1: Supplies

-(4) digit VFD clock. I bought mine on Ebay unassembled but for just a few bucks more you can get yours assmbled.

-(5) digit Nixie indoor/outdoor thermometer. Another Ebay find, came mostly assembled. I asked to not have the tubes installed. This kit was intended for IN-14 (0-9)but I strongly dislike the inverted "2" used in place of a traditional "5" so I used Z5700m tubes in combination with the intended IN-19 tubes (+,-/F) Seen here with IN-14

- (3) Z5700M nixies. The pin out is slightly different than that of IN-14 but close enough to work with out altering the PCB just a delicate angle of a few leads.

-appropriate power supply for the two units to function properly. In this case I am using a *12Vdc 1.5A wall wart, 1A required by the therm and 500mAh for the clock.

-"Y" cable to split power between two units-Linden mantle clock case

-Linden mantle clock

-rework station (I make mistakes sometimes and a rework station is easier for cleaning them up) or just soldering iron (if you are confident in your work)

-Dupont connectors

-dip sockets for pin receptacles on clock


-Drill press

-18mm forstner bit

-brass allthread

-hollow allthread

-acorn nuts

-brass lamp connectors

-brass tube





-adjustable hole cutter or hole saw large enough to cut a viewing window in the face of the case

* decided to use an on board 12Vdc 2A output ac adapter today that was planned for another project.

Step 2: Prep the Case

Start by removing the bezel and back door. Remove the movement and chime that currently sits in place. Measure hole size to be cut. Clamp the case in place and set the hole cutter to proper size. Next cut the hole. Next measure the 18mm holes to be drilled in the top. I let the two outer tube be a slight bit further than the original design of the PCB. This is to help offset the size difference of the Z5700M and IN-19 tubes along with the arc of the top of the case. The angled outer tubbes also serve to hold the entire unit in place. I wanted to have as little influence on the exterior of the clock case as possible and didnt want mounting holes and hardware on the top of the display.

Step 3: Prep the Electronics

I am at best a hobbyist when it comes to electronics, so just about any one who can solder can do this project.

I aquired the clock from a Russian engineer on Ebay, look and you will find him, for about $65 with shipping if I remember correctly. The thermometer is from a Ukrainian gentleman also on Ebay, some where around $65 with shipping. He sometimes has a bunch of different things to offer (clocks, nixie VU meter, power supplies, thermometers that now include a hygrometer function as well) other times not so much. He is a weekender that builds and designs in his spare time. Add pins for Dupont connectors for on board power supply.

IV-11/IV-15 clock Rewired 4 lower leds to be housed in the brass accent lights. (2) LEDs to help display the clock electronics and (2) to help show off the violet mercury glow in the nixies. Installed Dupont connectors for easier connections. Installed dip socket pins to allow for tube replacement in case of tube failure. Add pins for Dupont connectors for on board power supply.

Z5700M/IN-19 B,V thermometer Installed all tubes. Place tubes in tube shield PCB and insert in place in the case. You may need a second set of hands or unique fixturing to do this part. Tack solder a few each of the wire leads and remove from case to complete soldering. Also install "F" jumper for farenhiet since this kit was originally deigned for a "C" and celcius readings. He offers both, the only difference is the IN-19 tube for the letter and a jumper on the underside of the PCB. This thermometer also does not use leds for under lighting so that is part of the reason for the accent light feature. I love the glow of the mercury vapor in some tubes, the Z57xM tubes in particular. Also added Dupont connectors and dip sockets to provide remote location of the sensor in order to show an ambient temperature of the romm not the case.

12V 2A ac adapter needs two splitter made and needs mounts to be mounted out of view or in view if you so choose.

Step 4: Prep the Mounts and Light Fixtures

I found some brass lamp parts at a local independently owned hardware store here in Boulder and used these for all my brass work.

Start by determining how high you would like the tubes to sit above the PCB. I used a couple of pin seperators from some IN-14 tube stacked together to get a uniform length on my leads. From there you can determine hoe high your mounts need to be. I had to drill out the original PCB mount hole to a slightly larger size to accomidate the al thread I used, 6/32 btw. I made the mounts to be able to be aadjustable to make sure everything is exactly where I wanted.

I then took more measurements and began to assemble som light fixtures. The LEDs can be controlled by a potentiometer on the PCB, allowing you to dim/brighten or even turn off and just let the tubes do the work. :)

Step 5: Final Prep/mock Up

Final prep/mock up includes all polishing and setting the final heights of clock PCB and accent lights. Making sure everything sits properly and is aligned.

Step 6: Final Assembly

This can be tricky. I have found cableing can be an art form and I am still learning. I like to keep some hidden and some exposed depending on the project. On this piece I still needed to connect all the LEDs permanently while doing the final assembly and the soldering wasnt too easy but I got it done.

Sorry for the lack of pictures for this project, I am really bad at keeping up with pictures as I work. I will get some pics of the supplies I used soon.

Side note: make sure to try and build with the ability to not only assemble but disassemble as well. I took this into consideration in my initial design idea and it allowed for me to add the onboard power supply as an after thought. I like this look much more than the wall wart and "Y" splitter but would not have been able to get the electronic in with out the ability to safely disassamble.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my instructable. I hope you are inspired to create your own unique displays for Nixies and VFDs. If you have questions please feel free to ask. I am no expert but I will answer to the best of my abilities.

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