May 19, 2014

Build an Arduino-powered Nixie Tube Clock

We never tire of clock projects, and another classic revision using IN-12 nixie tubes has been demonstrated by Tim at the Doayee website. In this example six tubes are driven using the original and classic USSR K155ИД1 equivalents of the 74141 high voltage shift register IC.

Timing is kept with an accurate DS3232 real-time clock IC and the whole system is run with an Arduino-compatible circuit. Finally Tom used an off-the-shelf DC-DC converted to generate the higher voltages for the nixie tubes. He runs through the clock in the following video:  

Overall it's a neat clock and thanks to Tom's enthusiast open-source mantra you can download the required design files and make your own, so visit his website to get started. And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

The most important part of any clock project is the inclusion of an accurate real-time clock IC. Here at Freetronics we have the Maxim DS3232 real-time clock IC module:

Apart from keeping accurate time for years due to the temperature-controlled oscillator and having a tiny coin-cell for backup, it is very simple to connect to your Arduino project. A driver library allows your program to easily set or read the time and date. Perfect for clock projects, dataloggers or anything that needs to know the date and time. Furthermore it contains a digital thermometer and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory to store user settings and other data. For more information, check out the module page here


Andy Clark said:

I’d be interested to see a side by side comparison of the different clock chips, I’ve been experimenting with a DS1307 and don’t know how that compairs to the DS3232 or if there are other factors than just the chip that affect how accurately it keeps time


John said:

Accuracy of the DS1307 depends on the tolerance of the external capacitor, quality of external crystal, effects of temperature on these external parts and capacitive load; DS3232 has internal oscillation circuit etc which gives a rated ±2ppm from 0°C to +40°C. See respective data sheets for more information.


Tom Cousins said:

Thanks for sharing this project! If anyone is interested in the nixie tubes we (over at Doayee) will be running a Kickstarter soon for our new Nixie Tube driver board, to make building things like this a breeze. Combined with the DS3232 board from freetronics you’ve got basically everything you need for a clock like this. See to register interest in the nixie driver! Cheers! (p.s. you wrote Tim in the first paragraph)

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