Project: Nixie Tube clock

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 1, 2011

Hello. I have finally finished my Nixie Tube clock. It has been quite the journey. A lot of time and money has been spent getting this up and running through various mishaps and mistakes. I ended up creating 7 threads in my endavours. In the end most of it was scrapped and replaced with an arduino which made life wonderful :)

Here's the threads I refer to:
How are nixie tubes triggered?
Crystal oscilator
Using nixie tubes as part of a logic clock?
Setting the time
Help building my logic clock
Nixie Tube resistor calculation
I don't get resistors

There she is. While I feel that there may be a few adjustments to make, the clock runs great. I think the tubes may be a little to bright. I did measure it to be 2.5mA which is the nominal current though so it should be no problem.

I also included some blue LED's underneath!

To make this project, I ended up coding an arduino to count in binary. That ended up using 19 pins with just 1 left over to add a button to set the time. The arduino sends its outputs to 74141 chips that decode the 4 bit binary to 0-9. Thus the nixie tubes light up.

I then created a box. It's not that good but I was in a pinch of time to get it done for class. I may make a new one in the future but this one works well. It has a black top but it is off right now.

It uses 9 volts and 12 volt power supplies. I could have definately gotten away with just one 9 volt power supply or one 12 volt PS but I chose to use the two because I was being a bit anal.
I power the nixie tubes using a 180 volt power supply from I tried building my own but I think the mosfet was broken. It only ended up doubling my voltage so I went ahead and got the kit from that website.

So what do you think? It aint the best thing in the world, but for my first ever electrical engineer project (probably my last school wise sadly, may not be continuing with the major) I think it is pretty good.

I may have forgot a few things to talk about, hopefully not.

Questions, comments, concerns?
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Joined Mar 24, 2008
The sticky on the top of the Completed Projects forum spells out what is required for a Project to be displayed on this forum.

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Thread Starter


Joined Nov 1, 2011
My apologies, Bill. I should have taken more time to read through the sticky. Im travelling over the holiday and wont be able to create a full write-up of the project to follow the guidelines for the next 2 or so weeks. I just though I ought to show what I had made before I left.

Thank you for the notification. For now I believe it may be better suited in the projects forum until I am back home.


Joined Apr 5, 2008

The link does not work, as it is an search ID.
A search ID is personal, and can not be shown to others.
Also the search ID will expire after some time.


Thread Starter


Joined Nov 1, 2011
I fixed all the links in the thread, the pictures had a / in them for some reason making it an invalid link.
The schematic I was going to make my "clock" portion of the circuit out of worked great in the simulator but I believe it is flawed in real life. I think a simple change was only needed and that was to GND the inputs of A-D on the 74161 chips. That's why I ended up using the arduino. There's a lot more flexibility in it anyway

I'll try and make a circuit or diagram when away from the family sometime soon that includes the arduino.

Something I think important to note about making a nixie clock.. You can use any 4 bit binary clock circuit for it. I personally have the whole clock split into different parts in my head, primarily the display, clock, and power supply.
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Thread Starter


Joined Nov 1, 2011
I hadn't seen your final version, looks good :D. Looks like your tubes were the ones with the upside down 2.
code is definately the easy way.. but I ran out of time and it was getting frustrating having to buy new boards for this and that and then things not working. Im sure I could do it now that im not on a deadline buut I think I would rather just get a bigger arduino and make one heck of a wild case that does things every x something

You should get on building that case, it'dlook really good!