Nixie Clock

While perhaps not the most original of applications for nixies, I needed a project that would be nice to have in the living room; and the lovely glow of six IN-14 nixies telling me the time seemed just the ticket.

Glowy nixie loveliness

Glowy nixie loveliness

On a mission to make sure that for once things didn’t look shoddy, design was the starting point. Inspired by a 50′s Bakelite TV I had recently bought, I used my limited CAD skills to draw up the body form in Solidworks based on an off cut of beautiful wood offered to me by a colleague who makes beautiful guitars (small plug for Organic Guitars…)

Natural oiled padauk, CNC machined and hand finished

Natural oiled padauk, CNC machined and hand finished

The body of the clock is made from padauk (a beautiful red wood that also has great tone making it popular for xylophones) and is left its natural colour. My colleague CNCed my design and very kindly spent far too long finishing the wood including oiling and polishing. Probably lucky as the little sanding I did demonstrated I am among those allergic to the dust from padauk.

Complete board with the ribbon to nixies disconnected

Complete board with the ribbon to nixies disconnected

Hay wire breadboard version worked well, pre-soldering anything.

Hay-wire 1 tube breadboard version worked well, before soldering anything.


One of the tubes has the Soviet equivalent of the kitemark complete with CCCP

The 80′s Soviet IN-14 nixies (still cheap on ebay) are multiplexed from one 74141 chip by an arduino nano with a heap of high voltage transistors. The nano gets the time from a sparkfun DeadOn RTC. My experience with their cheaper RTC board on the peggy clock showed me that it is totally unusable for a clock as it needs adjusting every two weeks. The high voltage supply is a Taylor Electronics nixie supply board, highly recommended if you’re looking for a nixie supply. The colons are standard sub-miniature mains neons packed into mini test tubes and ballasted to match brightness with the nixies.  Finally 9V in through a barrel jack and a bit of code to auto hour change and we have ourselves a clock. Prettiest thing I’ve made in a while…. Simon


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