The maker community is no stranger to Nixie tubes — especially Nixie tube clocks. There are countless DIY designs on Hackaday, for example, and plenty of kits on the market from small and large makers looking to bestow the masses with their own glowing gadget. Nixie tubes are such a simple yet somehow awesome technology that we can’t help but stare at when we see them among today’s world of LCD screens.
Not quite sold by the aesthetics and flexibility of the off-the-shelf kits on Etsy and eBay, I set off looking for lower level, preferably modular, maker designs that I could incorporate into my own housing. I wanted something minimal that could be built from-scratch using currently available components and that offered flexibility for expansion down the road. I came across
- The Naked Nixie project on Hackaday.
- Another Modular Nixie Display project on Hackaday.
- Single Nixie tube driver modules posted on Reddit.
- An Arduino-powered clock design posted on Reddit.
All four of these, plus the hundreds or thousands of other designs that come up from a Google search, helped me focus inspiration on a basic design architecture; however, none of them quite accomplished what I wanted on their own, or they were not sufficiently documented for me to hit the ground running without re-engineering a lot of their solution. Therefore, I decided to treat these other projects as inspirational research and design my own version from the ground up.
In the next post, we’ll look at the architecture, main components, and why they were selected.