After the success of my first nixie clock made out from a rosewood block, I decided to lose no time and to carry on with the next one.
As some of you guys already know, or imagine, lately I’m indeed a little bit addicted to nixie-mania.
I’ve bought many nixie tubes on eBay, and I experienced in electronics so to build my own high voltage power supply and then the ultimate nixie clock circuit.
Digits for this clock are nice rounded and fully transparent IN-4 tubes, the same I used in the first model, but as I previously announced, I aligned them vertically, so to read from top to bottom hours, minutes, and seconds. Indeed you will see the undeniable influence of Max Pierson’s vertical clock.
I guide you now through the full process to make your own unique nixie clock.
WARNING: this circuit raises the voltage to deadly 300V so you must avoid to touch contacts while working, I’m not kidding, please BE CAREFUL!
Step 1: The case and start point
Although I was looking for a nice wood case to use as clock case, when I found this ancient wood handrail piece I suddenly pictured the awesome nixie clock it would become.
I didn’t have the camera with me, and I drilled the handrail at once, so I can’t show you the intact piece. I used 30mm drill bits as for the previous clock, then I cured the wood with woodworm poison since there were some holes in it.
Step 2: Schematic
Since the first nixie clock was already equipped with a very user-adjustable circuit, with predisposition to add RTC module and other external sensors, I kept that same schematic.
If you want to design your own pcb, you can start from this schematic and develop the circuit in 123D circuits, as I explain in next steps. Notice that the 123D circuits is a bit simplified compared with the original one (I removed the 12-35V PSU part and left 9-12V),
Follow notes on pictures to understand better the way to proceed.
Step 3: Carry on with pcb designing
The schematic in 123D Circuits is now ready, and you can extract the b.o.m. to order all the components for your nixie clock.
Step 4: Placement and routing process
Depending on your case dimensions, you can arrange components in different ways, just try to keep short traces between high voltage components, and use wider traces for power supply current, you can reduce traces width for signals.
in 123D Circuits you have to route traces manually, but the same you have to do in some automatic software if you want to keep very small distances between components.
Since I lost my 123D project due to connection problems (not the entire project, but half circuit was gone…), and since however I already had a pcb ready to print and etch, I didn’t carry on with the routing process, but if you reached this step you are definitely able to complete the pcb and order it, you can probably start from my interrupted schematic.
Step 5: Pcb Ready to Order
Here is the completed circuit boards, the first one is the clock “brain”, and the second one only is the tube “shield” which connects the many tubes’ pins to the main pcb. This shield has to be personalized with right pads’ geometry and resistors values to match the tube type you choose for your clock. You can find more details about these calculations in my other step-to-step guides (hv circuit and nixie clock).
If you want to etch your copper boards at home you can use the toner-transfer method. Attached are both top silk and bottom layer (this last ready to be printed with laser printer and transferred to copper).
Read More: Vintage style nixie wall clock