ETA Nixie tube clock

ETA Nixie Tube Clock-600

Mark Smith over at surfncircuits has a nice write-up about building an ETA Nixie Tube Clock:

This DIY project will combine the estimated time of arrival function with a Nixie tube display to create an estimated time of arrival (ETA) Nixie tube clock. It is all easily controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero W that is connected to the internet through WiFi to provide the latest time and gets the ETA for any number of destinations. The travel time is provided by the free Google Directions API interface that includes traffic to give the best estimates on any particular day.   The goal is that with an ETA Nixie tube clock, no math is needed to add a rough, often optimistic travel time, to the actual time to determine if we are running late.   The clock does that for you and with the power of IOT, is much more accurate!    A motion sensor is also added to the clock to turn off the Nixie Tube Display when no one is around, saving power and increasing the Nixie tube lifetime.

Build log at www.surfncircuits.com. Project files are located at Github.

Light Pipes and LEDs Team Up for a Modern Take on the Nixie Tube

There’s no doubting the popularity of Nixie tubes these days. They lend a retro flair to modern builds and pop up in everything from clocks to weather stations. But they’re not without their problems — the high voltage, the limited tube life, and the fact that you can have them in any color you want as long as it’s orange. Seems like it might be time for a modern spin on the Nixie that uses LEDs and light pipes. Meet Nixie Pipes.

Inspired by an incandescent light-pipe alphanumeric display from a 1970s telephone exchange, [John Whittington]’s design captures the depth and look of a Nixie by using laminated acrylic sheets. Each layer is laser etched with dots in the shape of a character or icon, and when lit from below by a WS2812B LED, the dots pick up the light and display the character in any color. [John]’s modular design allows one master and an arbitrary number of slaves, so large displays can simply be plugged together. [John] is selling a limited run of the Nixie Pipes online, but he’s also open-sourced the project so you can build your own modules.

We really like the modularity and flexibility of Nixie Pipes, and the look is pretty nice too. Chances are good that it won’t appeal to the hardcore Nixie aficionado, though, in which case building your own Nixies might be a good project to tackle.


Filed under: led hacks, misc hacks

NixieBot Films Your Tweets

[Robin Bussell]’s NixieBot is a mash up of new age electronics and retro vintage components and he’s got a bunch of hacks crammed in there. It’s a Nixie tube clock which displays tweets, takes pictures of the display when it encounters tweets with a #NixieBotShowMe hash tag, and then posts requested pictures back to twitter. If a word is eight characters, it takes a snapshot. If it’s a longer message, NixieBot takes a series of pictures of each word, converts it to an animated GIF, and then posts the tweet. In between, it displays random tweets every twenty seconds. You can see the camera setup in the image below and you should check out the @nixiebot twitter feed to see some of the action.

nixiebot_05For the display, he’s using eight big vintage Burroughs B7971 Nixie Tubes. These aren’t easy to source, and current prices hover around $100 each if you can find them. The 170V DC needed to run each tube comes from a set of six 12V to 170V converter boards specifically designed to drive these tubes. Each board can drive at least a couple of nixies, so [Robin]’s able to use just four boards for the eight tubes. Each nixie is driven by its own “B7971 SmartSocket“, a dedicated PIC16F690 micro-controller board custom designed for the purpose. A serial protocol makes it easy to daisy-chain the SmartSockets to build multi character displays.

nixiebot_01The rest of the build is pretty straight forward. A Raspberry-Pi running Twython for Twitter communications, GrafixMagick for GIF creation, Picamera for taking pictures and GPIO libraries for controlling the display. The software to run all of this is hosted on his GitHub repository with some basic instructions on how to put it together.

A more detailed reference is available on the NixieBot blog. He’s designed a Pi shield board to house the high voltage modules, a 5V DC-DC converter and the Pi GPIO header. He’s probably got a few more to spare, so with a bit of luck in finding the elusive Nixie tubes, and some deep pockets, it ought to be relatively easy to build your version of the NixieBot.

And if the NixieBot has got your interest piqued, check out “The Art of making a Nixie Tube” featuring the work of [Dalibor Farnby].


Filed under: Raspberry Pi

Hackaday Links: November 20, 2016

The Raspberry Pi 2 is getting an upgrade. No, this news isn’t as big as you would imagine. The Raspberry Pi 2 is powered by the BCM2836 SoC, an ARM Cortex-A7 that has served us well over the years. The ‘2836 is going out of production, and now the Raspberry Pi foundation is making the Pi 2 with the chip found in the Raspberry Pi 3, the BCM2837. Effectively, the Pi 2 is now a wireless-less (?) version of the Pi 3. It still costs $35, the same as the Pi 3, making it a rather dumb purchase for the home hacker. There are a lot of Pi 2s in industry, though, and they don’t need WiFi and Bluetooth throwing a wrench in the works.

So you’re using a Raspberry Pi as a media server, but you have far too many videos for a measly SD card. What’s the solution? A real server, first off, but there is another option. WDLabs released their third iteration of the PiDrive this week. It’s a (spinning) hard disk, SD card for the software, and a USB Y-cable for powering the whole thing. Also offered is a USB thumb drive providing 64 GB of storage, shipped with an SD card with the relevant software.

Mr. Trash Wheel is the greatest Baltimore resident since Edgar Allan Poe, John Waters, and Frank Zappa. Mr. Trash Wheel eats trash, ducks, kegs, and has kept Inner Harbor relatively free of gonoherpasyphilaids for the past few years. Now there’s a new trash wheel. Professor Trash Wheel will be unveiled on December 4th.

YOU MUST VOICE CONTROL ADDITIONAL PYLONS. With an ‘official’ StarCraft Protoss pylon and a Geeetech voice recognition module, [Scott] built a voice controlled lamp.

Everyone loves gigantic Nixie tubes, so here’s a Kickstarter for a gigantic Nixie clock. There are no rewards for just the tube, but here’s a manufacturer of 125mm tall Nixies.

Here’s an interesting think piece from AdvancedManufacturing.org. The STL file format is ancient and holding us all back. This much we have known since the first Makerbot, and it doesn’t help that Thingiverse is still a thing, and people don’t upload their source files. What’s the solution? 3MF and AMF file formats, apparently. OpenSCAD was not mentioned in this think piece.


Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

Nixie thermometer

nixie-61

Luca Dentella has developed a Nixie thermometer to measure the temperature of the liquid cooling system, that is available on Github.

 I decided to log the design and the development of the project in ten blog posts. They show my “divide et impera” approach: I divided the whole project in small tasks (drive a nixie with Arduino, read the temperature from a thermistor, use an rgb led module, prepare the first prototype on a perfboard, design the pcb, assembly the final product), all described on my blog with examples and videos.

Project info at Lucadentella.it

Check out the video after the break.

Nixie thermometer

nixie-61

Luca Dentella has developed a Nixie thermometer to measure the temperature of the liquid cooling system, that is available on Github.

 I decided to log the design and the development of the project in ten blog posts. They show my “divide et impera” approach: I divided the whole project in small tasks (drive a nixie with Arduino, read the temperature from a thermistor, use an rgb led module, prepare the first prototype on a perfboard, design the pcb, assembly the final product), all described on my blog with examples and videos.

Project info at Lucadentella.it

Check out the video after the break.

Nixie thermometer – Completed!

The design and development of this project is described in ten blog posts: for the chronological list follow this link

Today I received from Elecrow the PCB for my Nixie thermometer:

nixie-39

Here are two photos of the top and bottom sides:

nixie-40 nixie-41

First, I soldered the female connectors for the Arduino and the power supply module on the bottom side; then I soldered the sockets, the resistors and the 5V voltage regulator on the top side:

nixie-42 nixie-43

Before going further, I performed a smoke test: it’s indeed very important to check that the power supply is correct measuring with a multimeter the voltage that is present in different points (sockets, leds…) of your circuit. The test was ok, so I put in place the nixie with the symbol °C and verified that it lighted up (that nixie is directly connected to the power supply):

nixie-44 nixie-45

At least, I soldered the led modules, inserted the drivers in their sockets and put the other nixie tubes in pace: the project was completed!

nixie-46 nixie-47

nixie-48 nixie-49

nixie-50 nixie-51

Gallery

Here are some shots of the nixies with different led colors and a short video about the project:

nixie-60 nixie-61

nixie-62 nixie-63

nixie-64 nixie-65

Mistakes

When I was assembling the first PCB, I noticed two mistakes:

  • the silk screen of the power connector is wrong: the + mark is near the negative pin
  • the distance between the nixie tubes is not enough: the PCBs overlap

nixie-52 nixie-53

I’ve already updated the Eagle files in my Github repository

Nixie thermometer – Completed!

The design and development of this project is described in ten blog posts: for the chronological list follow this link

Today I received from Elecrow the PCB for my Nixie thermometer:

nixie-39

Here are two photos of the top and bottom sides:

nixie-40 nixie-41

First, I soldered the female connectors for the Arduino and the power supply module on the bottom side; then I soldered the sockets, the resistors and the 5V voltage regulator on the top side:

nixie-42 nixie-43

Before going further, I performed a smoke test: it’s indeed very important to check that the power supply is correct measuring with a multimeter the voltage that is present in different points (sockets, leds…) of your circuit. The test was ok, so I put in place the nixie with the symbol °C and verified that it lighted up (that nixie is directly connected to the power supply):

nixie-44 nixie-45

At least, I soldered the led modules, inserted the drivers in their sockets and put the other nixie tubes in pace: the project was completed!

nixie-46 nixie-47

nixie-48 nixie-49

nixie-50 nixie-51

Gallery

Here are some shots of the nixies with different led colors and a short video about the project:

nixie-60 nixie-61

nixie-62 nixie-63

nixie-64 nixie-65

Mistakes

When I was assembling the first PCB, I noticed two mistakes:

  • the silk screen of the power connector is wrong: the + mark is near the negative pin
  • the distance between the nixie tubes is not enough: the PCBs overlap

nixie-52 nixie-53

I’ve already updated the Eagle files in my Github repository

Nixie thermometer – PCB

The design and development of this project is described in ten blog posts: for the chronological list follow this link

After having verified that everthing is ok (electronic prototype and sketch) it’s now time to develop the PCB for my Nixie thermometer.

I opened Eagle and drew the schematics:

nixie-36

I then started to design the PCB. The request was that it should have been round and as small as possible. Therefore I decided to place the components on both sides, with the biggest modules (the power supply and the Arduino pro Micro) on the bottom one.

The result is as follows:

nixie-top nixie-routed

It’s very important during this phase to verify that everything is properly connected: it’s indeed better to spend a couple of minutes now, than receive a wrong PCB from the service two-three weeks later. For this reason, I printed the drawings (top and bottom layers) at double size and I checked – with the help of a marking pen – all the connections comparing them with my perfboard prototype:

nixie-37 nixie-38

Once verified that everything was ok, I prepared the Gerber files and sent them to my service (for this project I chose Elecrow).

In my repository on Github you can download the Eagle files and also a ZIP archive that includes all the required Gerber files, ready to be uploaded on the service’s website.

 

Nixie thermometer – PCB

After having verified that everthing is ok (electronic prototype and sketch) it’s now time to develop the PCB for my Nixie thermometer.

I opened Eagle and drew the schematics:

nixie-36

I then started to design the PCB. The request was that it should have been round and as small as possible. Therefore I decided to place the components on both sides, with the biggest modules (the power supply and the Arduino pro Micro) on the bottom one.

The result is as follows:

nixie-top nixie-routed

It’s very important during this phase to verify that everything is properly connected: it’s indeed better to spend a couple of minutes now, than receive a wrong PCB from the service two-three weeks later. For this reason, I printed the drawings (top and bottom layers) at double size and I checked – with the help of a marking pen – all the connections comparing them with my perfboard prototype:

nixie-37 nixie-38

Once verified that everything was ok, I prepared the Gerber files and sent them to my service (for this project I chose Elecrow).

In my repository on Github you can download the Eagle files and also a ZIP archive that includes all the required Gerber files, ready to be uploaded on the service’s website.