Nixie – A Quick Project…..

Cliff H. contacted the News Desk to say: ‘I’ve been enjoying the ‘what our members are making’ section on the website.  Very nice work with Brewstina – I imagine your colleague’s daughter was delighted to receive her.  Perhaps I can contribute with an update to the Nixie Tube Clock I first showed at the 2018 Bits and Pieces evening.

I designed and built the case to contain tubes salvaged from my father’s workshop and circuit boards from RLB Designs.

Originally I thought it would be interesting to keep the electronics visible so I made a transparent acrylic liner for the frame, but I was never really happy with this.  Also my attempt at hand engraving the nameplate left a lot to be desired.

So I decided to tidy it up a bit. I replaced the acrylic liner with a soldered tinplate one (spray painted maroon and polished), and I tried a different technique with the nameplate – drilling and filing the letters right through.

There is a blue LED installed under each Nixie tube. These combine with the orange digits to produce an effect that is suggestive of a row of gas flames (although the tubes actually run cold). It looks very nice in subdued light. The effect is hard to capture on camera – but here’s my best shot.

Electronic components and the parts I made for mounting them.

Partial assembly.




Jig for silver soldering the frame.

Base plate and frame.

Cladding for the stems. Thin brass sheet soft soldered to brass collars. Made in two halves so that they can be lifted off easily for disassembly.

This was supposed to be a quick project, but it took me three years on and off. I enjoyed mixing mechanical and electronic engineering, but plan to return to something steam powered for my next project.

By the way, I would still like to learn how to hand engrave brass properly.  Are there any members skilled in this who would be able to give me some tips?  What tools do you use?

Best wishes to everyone & stay safe!  Yours, Cliff H.’