I've wanted one for a long time, so I finally bought one of these: a NixiChron Satellite controlled Nixie Clock. Wow, it is so awesome. The pictures on his web site do not do justice to how beautiful this thing is. And it is such a cool combination of Space-Age Technology and actual Futureness! It talks to satellites to display the time on vaccuum tubes.

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36 Responses:

  1. fnoo says:

    They'd probably double their sales if they bought your photos instead of using their overly lit ones.

    Seriously considered buying one.... but YOW pricetag.

  2. detritus says:

    Oh man, that looks great. And your photos are much better that the harsh stuff on their site.

    Get that ball washer and you'll be all set.

  3. pixiecup says:

    My husband is salivating for one. very cool.

  4. mackys says:

    The product docs claim 50k hours MTBF for the tubes. They also say that if one does blow out, replacements are "readily available." My question is, how much do those replacements cost? For $499 they ought to at least give you a spare or two with the clock!

    • jwz says:

      I don't know much about them, but the tubes don't seem fragile compared to a lightbulb. And the rest of it feels pretty solid.

      • bdu says:

        Assuming you aren't switching them on and off all the time, the tubes probably have a better lifespan than an avg lightbulb... tubes usually die from the shock of power up/power loss more than anything else.

        • quercus says:

          Of course you're switching them on and off - however they're neons, not fluorescents, so they really don't mind this.

          The trick with long life in Nixies is to set the current up very carefully by adjusting the ballast resistors. Any hint of purple glow is bad and indicates a shortened lifetime. It's not so bad with new tubes, but if you're recycling old ones you really need to do this on a per-tube basis.

          Some lousy photos of one of my own clocks. (I do make them for sale, but not for a month or two)

      • mattbot says:

        Wow, nice!

        I think these are Russian IN-18 tubes which run about $20s a piece and should be easy to find. You should be able to pull a dead one out and pop a fresh one in assuming they used the IN -18 sockets.


  5. c0nsumer says:

    While it oozes more home-y feelings than the pure sex of the NixiChron, a friend of mine made a nixie clock a few years back, quite recently a friend of his finished a stained glass enclosure for it. A photo of it is here, if anyone would like to see.

  6. krick says:

    I've been quite enamored with the (sadly, much more expensive, and now sold out) cherry wood based one for quite some time...

    The first time I ever saw nixie tubes were back in 1993 when I was working at a nuclear plant that was built in the 70s. The room behind the control room had large cabinets that housed electronics. Many of them had numerical displays made from nixie tubes. I immediately fell in love. I had no idea that they made (or you could even buy) them anymore until I stumbled upon the nixie tube clock page.

  7. jonabbey says:

    Had no idea what a Nixie Tube was, but Wikipedia saves the day again.

    Very, very cool.

  8. wetzel says:

    you would think at that price you would get more than a year warranty . . . still, very nice.

  9. ralesk says:

    I envy you.

  10. zonereyrie says:

    I didn't need to know these existed.

    Another thing to buy.


  11. karlshea says:

    "The lower right colon lamp will extinguish to indicate the clock is operating from the local precision, and then relight when the satellite signal has been restored."

    Uh-oh. Should check the antenna.

    • jwz says:

      I live in a concrete bunker with all windows facing north. I've never tried an actual GPS in here, but this one doesn't seem to work very well.

      • karlshea says:

        Is there a way to extend it? You would think that the signal would be okay even if the antenna was a ways away from the clock. My XM radio antenna cable is ridiculously longer than I thought would work, but it does.

        • jwz says:

          It came with a long cable; the dingus is right next to the window. The only way to extend it would be to stick it in the middle of the fuckin' glass, or outside. (And it's not waterproof.)

          • karlshea says:

            What you need is a condom and a roof ;-)

          • aris1234 says:

            From the website:

            "NixiChron uses an integrated GPS receiver/antenna module. And is totally weatherproof. Antenna extensions up to 100 feet can be used with no loss in reception."

            • jwz says:

              The manual that came with it says "The GPS antenna module is not completely weatherproof, and cannot be placed outside if exposed to rain or moisture." I guess it's a SiRF Star III receiver, though the google images of that don't look like the enclosure that this one's in.

      • quercus says:

        I wonder why they chose to use GPS as a clock source? The low frequency clock signals (Rugby in the UK or is it WWV in the US?) are very good at penetrating awkward environments. They also only have a clock signal in there, so you can live with a really bad noise level compared to extracting the complexity of a GPS signal. Chipsets are cheap and cheerful for both systems.

        My most recent clocks (brass-cased steampunkers, with analogue movements) are using cheap low frequency radio movements that only cost me about £8 each ($15?)

        • joel says:

          I had an idea for a very simple clock that prompted some research into this area. In my mind, the main reason to use GPS over Rugby/WWV is because GPS will also give you location data, so that you can deal with daylight savings time without user intervention. Also, it seems that WWV doesn't have quite the signal penetration that one might hope for.

          If you are interested, I have a bunch of links here:

  12. I

    That thing looks awesome, and I could only hope that I could somehow be able to afford one.

  13. saikogrrl says:

    that is pretty damn cool.

  14. dirtybunny says:

    now that's beautiful...

  15. valdelane says:

    I am utterly mad with retrofuture envy.