Several years ago I started jotting down a "Craft Bucket List," and number one on my list has always been "assemble my own nixie tube clock."
Well, last night, I FINALLY DID.
Just look at all that beautiful soldering. Eh? Eh?!
(Those of you who actually know what beautiful soldering looks like: be kind. It's my first try!)
Ok, maybe the underside of a circuit board isn't all that impressive. So how about...
Now a close-up!
(Oddly enough, the LEDs underneath are actually pure cobalt blue in real life, but in photos they turn that crazy ultraviolet.)
Even that boring underside is lovely with the power switched on:
Here's the clock switched off:
Next John and I will have to make a case for it, since I don't want the circuit board to show. I haven't decided on a style yet, but you can bet it'll be appropriately steampunky.
John got me this kit for Christmas from PV Electronics in the UK, but I was too intimidated to start on my own. Enter my dad the electrical engineer, who was invaluable in helping me sort and label all the parts (since I can't tell a resistor from a capacitor). Once we had that done, Dad taught me a few soldering tricks, and set me to it.
We hit a road block a few hours in during the high voltage test, when one of the parts began to smoke. (For the record, smoke = VERY BAD.) So we shelved the project for a few months, during which Pete from PV very kindly sent us a replacement part (we think the one piece was defective) and then patiently walked us through some trouble shooting via instant chat on their website. We were really impressed, so if you're in the market for a nixie clock kit, I highly recommend those guys.
I think I spent a good 10 hours on this, but a chunk of that was trouble-shooting and back-tracking with my Dad's help. (Removing soldered pieces takes about ten times as long as putting them on in the first place! o.0) The time really zipped by, though, since it turns out I actually like soldering. :)
The kit comes pre-programmed with a dizzying array of display options, so John and I had fun playing with some of the settings. It's almost hypnotic watching the numbers shift, and we turned on a "slots" feature that jumbles the numbers every 60 seconds. Here, I took a little video so you can see:
This still doesn't quite capture how gorgeous the colors are; on video the LEDs appear to fluctuate, but they're rock-steady IRL. And the colors aren't quite right here, either; they're more electric sherbet orange and rich ultramarine blue. So I guess you guys will have to either come visit or make your own to see what I mean!