Nixie Clock Gallery
A collection of nixie clocks, based both on my
design and many others.
Note : I get a lot of submissions for this page. Sometimes I'm too busy
to deal with them so they go in a pile for a while to be looked at later.
From David Saunders - uses neon ring counters, no ICs!
From Michael Barile
From Nick Romano : The basis for this was the Z570M-1-V1 nixie clock
kit designed by Frank Bemelman . I purchased the kit from Frank Techniek, substituted
1/2" glass beads for the tube standoffs. This looks better and greatly increased the
luminescence off the center blue LED.
From Laurence Wilkins
From David Teale (USA?)
From Rolf Dubbeld (The Netherlands)
From Dieter Laues (Germany) : Hello Mike, inspired from your famous
nixie clock gallery, I build a nixieclock for myself, called "RTC1", the
"Real Tube Clock No.1". The housing of the clock has the design of a very big
tube - maybe the biggest tube in the world. And the Nixies are tubes in the tube...
Inside the round "socket" there is the main-transformer. The tube-contacts are
fixed in a transparent acryl-plate. The electronic-parts are divided into 3 round pcbs: in
the bottom the microcontroller with voltage-regulator, in the middle the nixies with her
driver (74141), and on the top the high-voltage-generator.
From Dean Mansfield (UK)
From John Smout (UK) : I used some half silvered glass in front and a mirror on the back to give an infinity effect. This looks great when you move past the clock and see the parallax on the receding reflections. Better in real life - it's hard to photo. I put the tubes on clear pedestals and these each have a neon inside that flicks across each second.
From Steve Brown (UK) The basis for this was the Cyclox II
single-digit IN-18 clock designed by Laurence Wilkins. I bought a kit from Laurence with
the original mahogany base (pictures also attached) and designed a new aluminium base for
it, and added the spring-piston support rods. 99% of the credit must go to Laurence - his
original Cyclox is a beautifully conceived and designed piece of kit.
From Jouhn Carpenter (USA) : I built it to look like candles using Russian IN-14 tubes. I used Honda PCV valve grommets to hold tubes in place. It flashes Hours, then Minutes, and then pauses using chip by Ivan Siy.
From Joseph Strelchuk (USA) : The clock is made using Burroughs B-5092 tubes, the housing is made from solid red oak.
From Colin Arrowsmith Constructed in industrial Bakelite pulse clock cases, with 60 neon lamps around the periphery, displaying seconds. These are multiplexed, using 22 NPN and 6 PNP transistors, in groups of 6 x 10 seconds which are fed from the outputs of the seconds and 10s of seconds 4017 dividers.
From Morris Odell (Melbourne, Australia) : Here are some pics of my
electromechanical nixie clock. The timebase uses two vacuum tubes, a dekatron and a
thyratron to pulse a relay at 1 Hz, derived from the 50 hz mains frequency. This steps the
uniselectors which control six ZM1040 nixies. A blue LED flashes with each
"kerchunk" to remind us of what will happen if someone touches the high voltage
From Matt Cass (Australia) : I did not use any integrated circuits in the design. I designed it myself from shift registers, it has 171 transistors and 110 silicon diodes. It keeps good time on 50 cycles mains 24 hours clock and is easy to set.
Ronald Dekker, Henk, Jacco, Eugene (Holland)
From Jeff Thomas "I used part of your pcb as the heart of a
clock that I made six copies of as gifts to my relatives. I had a herd of NL-84X type
nixies, but they wouldn't mount directly to your pcb design. I sawed off the driver and
tube portions of the board, and fabbed a bunch of replacement driver pcb's that included
sockets for seconds output. That pcb is connected to your design via a simple header and
some ribbon cable to support the seconds output. The base is walnut, and the cover is made
of five leaded crystal panels glued together with a special UV curing glass adhesive."
The nixies used are Siemens ZM1040, from an old milling machine. The
clock is connected to the Frankfurt Radio Time Signal. Behind the round lens you can see
the "caesium source" lighting up bluish.. Because there was plenty memory
available we can show: hours and minutes. seconds, year, software version, software issue
date, time signal decoding And there was still memory left so we can also show pi up to
18000 decimals. You choose with the bakelite selector switches. Old voltmeter indicates kW
and shows seconds... The wood is cherry wood.
From Robin Oudhaarlem (Holland)
From Tim O'Brien (New Zealand)
From Katsushi Matsubayashi (Japan).
From Tom Struzik (USA)
From Steven Rougier (UK) I used STC GNP-7 nixie tubes. The case is made from hardwood moulding with mitred corners and a sheet of clear acrylic for the front panel and takes advantage of the low-profile transformerless design.
From Bill Richards (USA) I designed this clock to bring together the wonderful old nixies and today's surface mount components. The cathodes of the four Philips ZM1040 nixie tubes are driven by MPSA42 transistors each connected to an output of a PIC16F871. Power is provided by a 12 volt dc wall transformer. The tube high voltage is derived from the 12 volts using the MAX1771 circuit by Chris Barron (thanks Chris !). The base, machined from aluminum, is 3" x 7" x 0.67" and has a clear plastic cover over the pc board.
Electromechanical time/date nixie clock from Geoff Tomlin (UK), built in 1969. The only semiconductors used are diodes!
Time is counted by a synchronous motor and series of gears, operating rotary switches. Day is counted by a uniselector driving a diode matrix decoder for the day nixies. Month is counted by a uniselector driving the month wheel, and another uniselector is used to determine the number of days in the month. A modified impulse counter is used for the year. 12/24 hour display selectable via rotary switch top-left.
Left picture - Top view. Time gears on left, diode matrix deciders on
brown tagboards centre. Days-in-month decoding uniselector bottom centre.
From Jeff Thomas
I had an idea to build a nixie project as small as I possibly could;
using standardized components. The final design was so small, I was able to enclose it in
an injection-molded transparent case; complete with a wrist band!
From Gerhard Scholz (Germany) : The housing is nickel plated steel (originally designed for transformers for light systems). The Nixies are ZM 1210. The electronic part was derived from the suggestions at your web site. It was a little bit tricky to get the complete electronic into the vaulted housing. It ended up in 5 PCB´s (power supply, switches for setting, nixies, driver stage and the clock itself). Three of the PCB´s are stacked to use the limited space and to bring the Nixies in place. The stacked PCB´s are connected with inline connectors, so every module can be easily changed for future improvements.
From Roel Klijzing (Holland)
From Guido Mennen (Holland) : I came across some plexiglass tube and
I just had to build a nixieclock in it. The first idea was to use topview nixie tubes and
build the whole clock inside the tube but I couldn't get it to fit. So I used ZM1000 E
nixies from Telefunken. I think it's a replacement tube for ZM1000 nixies, the tube is
placed on a piece of printed circuit board which has pins soldered onto it which match the
pinout of the ZM1000. The digits are larger then the ZM1000. the original markings are
removed but there are some left on the nixie ( in blue ink ) but not enough to identify
the original tube.
From Darren Coe (UK)
I used your circuit a a base but used a plug top 9v transformer and a small 3va for step up. I also used a 32khz xtal for a timebase. A wet cap keeps it running for 10 mins without mains. The nixies came out of a fluke DVM got from work. The neon BC bulb used for seconds came out of an electric fence machine many years ago.
From Jürgen (Germany)
From Guido Mennen (Holland)
From Chris Barron (UK)
New version using different coloured LEDs behind each tube,which are
From Gerald Talmage (USA) : Nixie clock built into empty ordinary household light bulbs If you look at the unit hours bulb the number that is displayed is a '8' it's hard to see due to the color of the bulb which was a dark green party bulb, this has since been corrected by using a lighter blue bulb.
From Bob Tavener, the case is Ferrero Rocher chocolate box sprayed on
From Tatsuya Takimoto (Japan)
Robert G. Schaffrath (N2JTX)
B-7971 Nixie clock that I built back in 1979 when I was a senior in High School. The circuit is based on a schematic that had been provided by the surplus parts vendor along with the three stock exchange ticker display cards that the tubes and sockets came from. The ticker card also had some high voltage switching transistors that were used in the construction of the clock. The clock uses a National Semiconductor MM5311 clock chip and uses the 60Hz line frequency as its time base. Unfortunately, the original circuit was a very poor transformerless design and blew several capacitors, resistors and Zener diodes during its initial test run (it was spectacular!). I wound up making my own design changes, including adding a transformer, and it has worked fine ever since. Over the years, I have replaced some parts with newer smaller components but it still uses the original clock chip and high voltage transistors that came from the stock exchange display card. Back in 1979, I was a cash strapped student and did not have the money to purchase the best parts except for a rather hard to find 160V/10W Zener diode that I obtained surplus. I designed the PC board and wooden stand myself. I currently have eight spare brand new B-7971 tubes that I purchased 15 years ago. However, after almost 20 years of continuous operation (the clock took a break when I was away at college), the original tubes are still working fine.
From: Simon Kainz
From Konrad Metzger (Germany)
HV is generated by a step-up-generator, - ultra stable clock
generator (temperature compensated), Nixie Z566M (30mm character height), PIC
micro-controller, measures: H:90mm W:188mm D:141mm
From Antti Panula (Finland):
From Bert van Rijn (Holland), using large Z586M tubes
From Hannes Nordmann (Germany)
From Julio Vilarrubi (Spain)
From Russell Lait
This has six National NL6422/5991 tubes. It is built into a modified
cherry wood picture frame from Habitat.
From Jeff Kowalski
The clock circuitry is a simple hard-wired design deriving the time base from line power, fed through TTL counters. Burroughs top-reading Nixies are driven using 7441's. Power circuitry is point-to-point; the logic board is wire-wrapped. The enclosure is pear wood with brushed and mirrored aluminum plate. The 12-hour clock operates in two modes: "run" and "set", with an accompanying clock-rate-adjustment useful for rapidly advancing the counters to the correct time.
From Hans Summers, using large Z856 nixies.
I built a base for the clock from pine wood glued together. The seconds, minutes and hours digit pairs are built in separate sections each screwed to wood supports. I put red felt on the feet (similar to snooker table material). I obtained glass sheets for the cabinet from a local glass shop and glued them with silicone glass adhesive (this is VERY messy). The front panel is bezelled. I didn't use a PCB, I built in my customary construction style on plain matrix board. Like you, to set the time I used reed switches mounted in front of the digit pairs for fast forward, slow forward and seconds freeze. In the wooden base are two flat-headed screws which a small bar magnet sticks to ready for use when needed.
Fron Chris Barron
From Notker Christoffel (Germany)
From Marco Hirter (Switzerland)
From Stefan Westermann (Germany)
From Gary Bleads (UK)
(above) After some time considering various nixie clock designs, I decided it would be fun to experiment with my own. I decided I wanted 6-digits (the nixies look more interesting if they are moving forwards and back every second), and I needed an alarm so I could use it as my bedroom clock. To reduce the number of components, I decided to use a PIC16F84 microcontroler for all the timing and alarm. The power supply uses a 3VA 2x18v mini-torroid transformer, with one winding for the 5 volt logic power supply, and both windings in series, feeding a capacitor/diode voltage tripler to give 190V DC at 10mA. The timing is by the PIC counting cycles of the 50Hz mains. It has a serial output to 6 x CD4094B 8-bit shift registers, which drive the segments of the Nixies tubes via 45 MPSA42 high-voltage transistors. The microprocessor also provides the "bells and whistles" - in this case a gentle tick sound, quarter-hourly chimes (automatically disabled at night), and a daily alarm (I'm still experimenting with different alarm sounds - at the moment it sends my ham-radio callsign in Morse code)
From Phil Downen (USA)
I used an Intel 8751 microcontroller with assembly language internal workings. I was lucky enough to find old Signetics BCD decoder/driver chips (N8T01B) to drive the Nixie Tubes; 1 for each digit. The Nixie Tubes themselves are "National Electronics Inc. NL840s" which I found at a garage sale in middle Missouri. The grid on each tube is driven to +170 volts DC, which is conveniently derived from our North American line voltage (120 VAC - 170 peak) via a full-wave rectifier circuit and filter cap. Each N8T01B (six total) decodes a 4-bit number from the 8751 parallel port and converts it into a 0~9 digit selection. This selection takes place via a grounded open collector output (1 of 10) which are wired to the 10 wire numerals within a tube. This is a non-multiplexed design. The time base is derived from our 60Hz line frequency and serves a 1 Hz interrupt to the microcontroller which increments the time count. This is very reliable over the long haul since many of the clocks in the US use synchronous 60 Hz motors and rely upon the power companies maintaining proper count of the cycles, again over the long haul.
From Peter H. Wendt (Germany)
From Bill Wagner (USA)
These pics are of a clock that still works that I built in early 1970!. That was when the TTL IC's were about $10 ea.! I used a NASA surplus 2.048000 Mhz oscillator and it's precision power supply and divided it to 1 hz (with taps at 10khz, 100hz and 4 hz and a hold switch to set it. I calibrated it with an old Beckman counter, whose time base I beat to WWV and it was off about 2 sec/month. I tweaked it and over the next 10 months got it to less than 1 sec per month error with WWV time. I used Nicads to back up the PS. It was a very fun project! I recently checked the osc. with my HP5328A high stability counter and they agreed to more than 9 places!
From Berend van den Berg (Holland)
Limited edition Karlsson nixie clock. Dimensions: 190 mm x 70 mm x 38 mm
(+ 25 mm tubes, * 18 mm).
From Tuomo Auer (Finland)
I have build two of these nixie clocks, one for my brother and one for myself. I was surprised when I found out from this site that other people have also build nixie clocks and that the design of Peter van der Jagt's is lookalike. The heart of my clock is FPGA from Altera and type of nixies are CD81 from Hitachi. Enclosure is made of solid aluminum with milling cutter and then polished. More pictures here
From George Grammenos, (Greece)
From Bill Buzbee. Above : nixie clock, with dekatron spinner on left. Below : Combo Nixie/Dekatron tube clock. The Dekatrons spin at 50, 10 and 1 Hz, and every 30 seconds reverse directions. The clock design is fairly simple - a microcontroller talking to a handful of serial->parallel shift registers which drive MPSA42 transistors for the Dekatron guides and 74141's for the Nixies. The time base is supplied by a 1 Mhz oscillator divided down to 100 Hz with 4017s. The switches allow for 12/24 hour operation, daylight savings time and setting both the time and a time correction delta to be applied every 1000 minutes to compensate for crystal error. I've also got battery backup in there.
From Ludo Baranovic (Slovakia)
From Andrew Parsons (New Zealand)
From Kimmo Kauvo (Finland), using an old Sony tuner case.
From Michael Stevenson (UK)
From Matt Fitz-Gibbon (UK)
From Mark Cumpstey (UK)
From Kurt Vogel
From Robert Hansen
The tubes are Z568M; 50mm (1.97") digits. A Microchip PIC16C84 keeps the time, using the power line as a timing reference. It sends BCD data out to a series of shift registers (74HC595), which in turn send their parallel output to the 7441 decoder/drivers' inputs. I thought about a multiplex arrangement, but in that mode, these tubes would require more current than a 7441 could handle: The tubes are running on 3mA, four tubes multiplexed would require about 12mA, but the 7441 has a maximum of 7mA.The sets of transistors (MPSA42 and MPSA92) switch the plate supply to each tube (also controlled by 'HC595 outputs), to facilitate leading-zero blanking of the hours count. Also, when setting the time, they flash the digit being adjusted; essentially a cursor. (The 7441 doesn't blank the display for non-BCD input, so that "trick" isn't available)
From Ralf Spettel (germany)
With your help I designed my own Nixie-clock. You can find it at:
My Nixie Car Clock More info here
My huge clock using B7971 alphanumeric tubes. More info here
My clock using huge East German Z856 nixies. More info here