Nixie Tube Clock

This project is not done yet because my 3D printer broke, and I am getting a part to finish this project.

As a personal project I wanted to create a nixie tube clock. To do this I would need three different skills: electronics, 3D design and programming. I am a good programmer and who has taken many classes and created several programs professionally and personally. But electronics and 3D design I would need to learn a few things.

The first thing I needed to do was play with the electricity. The nixie tube needs 170 volts and just a little amperage. In my research I could buy a small kit to boost 12 volts to 170 volts. I put it together and tested all my nixie tubes. They all worked!

The problem with nixie tubes is they have 10 pins, one for each digit. This is a problem because to display 6 digits it would take 60 output pins from the Raspberry Pi. To add an additional 60 outputs to my Raspberry Pi; I used eight SN74 shift registers daisy chained together. To separate the high voltage from the low voltage of the Raspberry Pi, I used 60 transistors. I had a lot of soldering to do.

Once the electronics were working, I could move on to the 3D model of the case. I wanted something that would have look like an old radio from the 1930s. I looked up a lot of old retro radios. Once I had something in mine, I created this.

As I created the model I wanted more; and added two gauges to the front. They are incredibly easy to control with a Raspberry Pi using PWM. The 3D filament that I used has wood particles in it and can be stained.

Currently my 3D printer is broken putting this project to a standstill. I want this nixie tube clock to display all sorts of things from the price of Bitcoin to the temperature outside and of course the time.

As I was working on this project, I was posting my progress on Reddit. A writer at wrote a blog post on this project. Blog Post