In this project, I would like to share with you my build of a Nixie Tube Clock that is driven by an Arduino UNO. To make the time as accurate as possible I have used a GPS module by Adafruit to receive the atomic time off satellites whizzing around above.
See images and videos attached......more details to follow, including parts and code!
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Step 1: Nixie Tubes and Modules
These modules were purchased on Ebay and are listed as follows: QS30-1 Nixie tube Module - Limited (Arduino Compatible); the seller is nixietubeclock. They are not cheap at around AU$50 but as described are Arduino compatible. The tubes come with the modules, but spares can be sourced online as well. They are known as QS30-1 tubes but are also known under other names. Note that each module is powered by 5V - 6V at most; don't make the same mistake I did by powering them up with 9V. An additional module can be purchased to power up each and every module with sufficient power and slots at the end (see picture). If you are only using 4 of them then the additional module may not be necessary.
Step 2: GPS Module by Adafruit
I originally used an RTC module to send the time to the Arduino UNO but thought it best to use a GPS module for greater accuracy. It can be purchased from Adafruit as follows: Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout - 66 channel w/10 Hz updates - Version 3 PRODUCT ID: 746. At US$40 it doesn't come cheap but suitable code can be found on their website to get it up and running in no time at all.
Step 3: Video of Clock
Each nixie tube has an LED underneath which can be used to add suitable atmosphere to the clock. A selection of colours can be chosen and there are also ":" globes to help seperate the hours, minutes and seconds. I have chosen to add animation each minute to reduce burn-out of the globes with some cycle effects. I decided to use 6 tubes as I enjoy watching the seconds tick by as well.
Step 4: Wiring
There are lots of wires at the moment but I plan to neaten up the project by using shorter ones. The GPS module is fixed onto a UNO compatible shield and a switch to enable day-light-savings at an instant. There is a power source to the UNO board and a power source to the tubes as well.
A Fritzing diagram will come shortly!
Step 5: The Code
The code used to get the GPS module working comes thanks to the Adafruit website, however, I really had to use trial and error when driving the tubes. There are not too many samples of code online, so this part of the project was very time consuming.
Step 6: Wiring Design
To view the wiring, please download the Fritzing Software and open the attached file.
Step 7: Partly List
x1 Adafruit GPS Module (Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout - PRODUCT ID: 746)
x6 Nixie Tubes (www.nixieclock.org) or Ebay
x1 Nixie Tube Adapter for QS30-1 Nixie tube Module - Limited (Arduino Compatible)
x1 Arduino Uno
x1 Uno shield
x1 420R resistor
x12 wires approx