I was inspired by other home made nixie clocks I had seen online and thought I'd have a go myself. I used an old ammo tin, vintage moving coil gauges from the 1940s and a switch from a 1960s airliner to give this clock a military feel. These parts were all sourced cheap from eBay, there is a wealth of interesting kit out there!
This project requires a lot of soldering to complete. There are also dangerously high voltages involved so some previous electronic experience would be advantageous. I used the Dink board from PV electronics to power the lights, a great all in one kit that I'd recommend. This instructable is more of a rough guide and wont go into minute details as a lot will have to be figured out by the builder :)
The basic components used for this build are:
- 30 cal ammo tin
- Dink PV Electronics Board
- 6 nixie bulbs (i used IN-12A tubes)
- 6 nixie bulb holders
- neon lights
- wire mesh
- push to make buttons
- M3 bolts nuts and washers
- M3 Nylon Standoffs
- 12V DC power supply
- Tesa Tape
- shrink tube
- dremel with plenty of cutting disks or Jigsaw
- grinding disks
- soldering Iron
- Tin Snips/Metal cutters
Step 1: Design
Sketch your design ideas for your clock. If you know the dimensions of your components you can make a 3D model to check the fit and look of your final clock. I used Sketchup to mock up my designs.
Step 2: Electronics
- Follow the dink board instructions and solder the board together.
- Once this is complete begin on the lights.
- First solder one row together, joining the same pins in a line like this. I used shrink tube to prevent short circuits.
- Leave a longer lead (about 20cm) on one end. This will be connected to the dink board. The PV instruction manual details this process nicely.
- Once the harness is complete insert the tubes into the holders and connect to the board to test.
- I used tesa tape to tidy up the wiring and give the lights a more vintage look.
- I made a holder for the lights by bending the wire mesh into a U shape and using 3mm nuts and bolts to hold the lights in place.
Gauges and Switches
- I used the 5V supply from my arduino and a breadboard to test the vintage electronics.
A resistor is required for the moving coil gauges to read a value. It needs to be mounted in series. I found by trial and error that a 150 ohm resistor worked for my Voltmeter gauge.
- Once tested the moving coil gauges measuring current and amps were connected to the 5v supply point on the dink board.
- Push to make switches were wired up and connected to the switch points on the dink board.
- The large power switch is used to turn the clock on and off. It is mounted on the 12V power cord line.
Step 3: Cut Out Windows in the Ammo Tin
- I used a dremel to cut out the windows in the ammo tin. Make sure you have plenty of disks as they quickly disintegrate. A jigsaw would probably work better.
- Sand the edges to get rid of burrs.
- I used a drill and counter sink to create the holes for the red switches.
- Cut the wire face plate mesh to size using tin snips or a dremel.
- Test fit everything and check for sharp edges before moving on.
Step 4: Final Assembly
The final assembly is fiddly but fun.
- I used 3mm nuts and bolts to hold the light assembly in place.
- 3mm Nylon standoffs are a neat solution to hold the dink board away from the metal case.