Nixie tube clock

From my alter-ego – the other half of my degree is in electronics – I usually blog this stuff on my separate electronics blog but this is so cool I wanted to share with the wider audience…

A couple of weeks ago I built a Nixie tube clock kit that I got from Peter Jensen at Initially it didn't work properly when I powered it up but this morning I debugged it and found a short between two legs of one of the surface-mount high-voltage driver chips. Fixed that and it works perfectly!

Click below for a 1024×768 image.


The clock uses six IN-14 Russian Nixie tubes running at 180V DC and tells 24-hour time. Nixie tubes were introduced in the early 1950s and provided the display for things like multimeters, calculators and the Apollo guidance computer before LCDs and LEDs were invented.

I uploaded a short video showing the seconds and minute digits changing – I love the soft glow of the digits. Check out the video here.

Next project is building a Theremin

I like it when people send me electronics

Part of being a Microsoft Regional Director is getting early access to information and private releases to play with. They also hand out free stuff occasionally. Yesterday Kimberly and I reach received a Windows 7 Sensor development board kit (and as Kimberly doesn’t tinker with electronics, I effectively got two!) – these are the same ones that were being given out at PDC apparently.

The board looks pretty neat:

It has an ambient light sensor, a 3D accelerometer, and two touch-sensitive strips on. If you’re interested you can buy these from FreeScale for $50 – see here (I have no affiliation with them at all). There’s a slide deck from WinHEC that Gavin Gear presented that explains the new Sensor and Location Platform in Win7 – see here.

I’m looking forward to playing with mine and I’ll blog about what I do with it.

PS You can get the latest Windows API Code Pack here.