Nixie Tube Clock Case

This is my first Instructable. I am Brazilian and English is not my mother language, so I hope you can understand my strange English.

I am electrical engineer and a compulsive maker. I love old tube valves, and when I saw on the web one Nixie clock…. I said “I need to build one”.

After a long search, I found here in the Instructables, one Nixie clock project very well detailed by Andrea Biffi.

As his post is amazing, I will not enter in details in how I construct the circuit and etc. I just followed his incredible post.

What I will show here is how I constructed the case for my Nixie Clock.

Step 1: Build One Nixie Clock

First, thank you Andrea Biffi for your patience answering all my questions!!!

You can start building your own nixie clock here:

Step 2: The Case

I decided to transform a remote control organizer in my nixie case. After a long search for a proper organizer, I found one in wood in the exact size I was looking for.

Step 3: Removing the Internals

The case was perfect. Natural wood without any finishing.

The first step was remove all the wood pieces inside the case. To do this part I used a simple hammer. Be careful to not apply more force than necessary.

To remove the nails I used a cut pliers.

Step 4: Template

I decided to not use any light dot between the valves. Even if I decided to use, I could not due the size the box I was using.

In this project I used nixie IN-4 tubes. I measured the diameter of the tube and with the correct value, I could calculate the correct space between the 6 tubes (hh-mm-ss).

When satisfied with the layout, just transfer it to the case.

Step 5: To Drill

This was the most critical phase in my project. I noticed that the wood used in the case was not solid. Is something like a agglomerated wood, covered with sheet of wood (not sure if plywood is the correct name).

I used a normal electric hand drill to open the holes. I used one flat wood bit (25 mm) to open the holes. I had a good luck, because the bit did not damage the surface of the wood.

I was planning to glue the tubes to hold it in the wood, but I had a great idea and I decided to test to see if it would work. To use one O ring rubber seal to hold the tubes.

Using my Dremel and a cutter bit (dremel bit #114) I dig a channel to install the O ring and hold it in place.

Patience is the most important tool in this process!

With the O ring installed, was necessary just to apply a little force to install the tube. It worked very well!!!

You will need to find the correct size to your tube. The tip here is to use one o ring that hold the tube without any clearance.

Note: in the pictures you can notice that I applied some finishing in the wood. I just applied shoe wax polish (brown) in the box and polished with a horsehair brush (or any kind of brush).

Step 6: The Soul of This Project

Before to install the electronics inside, I tested the tubes to see if everything was working perfectly.

In the original project Andrea fixed the tubes in a PCB. I had several problems with my tube's PCB, so I decided to wire the tubes one by one, eliminating one PCB (the tube PCB is a nightmare).

By doing it I saved time and had no more headaches 8 ) .

Step 7: More Holes

To make the adjustment easier, I didn't weld the on-off switch and the set buttons on the PCB. I installed them in the box and wired it in the PCB.

Step 8: Installing the Electronics

In this phase I just installed the main PCB inside the box, using a bolt to fix it in the wood.

After I installed the tubes in the correct position. Just pay attention to not change the order of the tubes (hh -mm -ss).

To protect the internals I cut a piece of plastic and I did some holes to help with the ventilation. I fixed it with some screws.

And Voilà!!!!

Step 9: The Clock

And this is the final result.

I hope you liked my project so far!

Thank You



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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This looks good! Nice work on the case, and congrats on sharing your first instructable! :)

    1 reply
    andrea biffi

    2 years ago

    oh my gosh that's so nice! I'm so happy you completed it!