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Building a clock the hard way
04-07-2016, 06:12 AM
Post: #1
Building a clock the hard way
Some forum members may find interest in Nixie clocks.
Some time ago I built this cool clock. Not wanting to go down the cumbersome dekatron path, and avoiding the ebay PIC multiplex kits available, I decided to build my own. Based on garden variety chips ( flipflops and decade counters ) and a load of HV switching transistors, and multiple circuit board attempts, find assembled clock.
Note the extra last digit showing 1/10ths of a second, I know it's completely useless, but it gosh it looks good to watch. Keeps relatively good time based on 50Hz mains cycle.
( original concept HH:MM from "Mikes Electric Stuff" site, well worth a visit

Ray
   
   
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04-07-2016, 08:37 AM
Post: #2
RE: Building a clock the hard way
That is very cool and appears to have a relatively low parts count using SSI and MSI parts.
What is the mercury switch used for?
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04-07-2016, 09:20 AM
Post: #3
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Hi Steve,
the mercury switches are for setting time, tilt left fast forward, tilt right slow forward. Each one is set to bypass at certain stages on the decade counters.

Ray
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04-07-2016, 11:25 AM (This post was last modified: 04-07-2016 11:25 AM by jebem.)
Post: #4
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Nice project, Ray.
Thanks for sharing.

Are you into home brew hi-fi as well?
I believe I can see a couple of high efficiency speaker drivers in the background.

Jose Mesquita
RadioMuseum.org member

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04-07-2016, 02:18 PM
Post: #5
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I always love clock stories like this, back in the day I built the original Heathkit neon 7 segment clock, and then later, assembled 2 of their WWV clocks.

All 3 worked first time I plugged them in. The first one worked about 30 years and then became erratic in it's operation, and both WWV clocks worked about 20 years, and one of them will still work for about a week at a time, but then seems to forget it's supposed to be a clock, LOL.

I know it's easy to go to Pfangles and just buy a clock off the shelf, but putting one together is still a cool thing to do.

Appreciate the post !!

2speed HP41CX,int2XMEM+ZEN, HPIL+DEVEL, HPIL+X/IO, I/R, 82143, 82163, 82162 -25,35,45,55,65,67,70,80
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04-07-2016, 05:08 PM
Post: #6
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I still use a seven segment LED alarm clock I built more than 40 years ago it is based on a LSI clock chip as is the nixie clock I built more recently. The clock chip I used in the nixie clock has multiplexed seven segment outputs which I converted back to BCD and demultiplexed to drive the 4-10 nixie driver chips. I have vintage CT7001 and MK5017 clock chips here waiting to be turned into clocks as well.
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04-07-2016, 10:31 PM
Post: #7
RE: Building a clock the hard way
(04-07-2016 11:25 AM)jebem Wrote:  Nice project, Ray.
Thanks for sharing.

Are you into home brew hi-fi as well?
I believe I can see a couple of high efficiency speaker drivers in the background.

Hi José,
In the back ground is an electro dynamics speaker and a wrecked moving armature speaker, just left over junk from repairing tube equipment.
I need to clean the table ?
Ray
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04-09-2016, 12:33 AM (This post was last modified: 04-09-2016 12:36 AM by Adam Vaughn.)
Post: #8
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Very cool! I have yet to build a nixie clock of my own (though I have a Numitron clock project in the works), but I am the 'lucky' owner of a vintage nixie clock, circa 1972. It was sold in kit form by a company called "B&F Enterprises", which was an early source of nixie tubes and other digital components. It uses Amperex ZM1000R nixie tubes with a red-orange coating, and a series of 74xx-series logic chips (7490 and 7492 counters, plus a 7410 for the hours tens).

As acquired, it had bad filter caps, which I found out the hard way. After replacing those, plus the rectifier diodes they took out, it kept time, though not without numerous random glitches. After several operations, both by myself and friends, it now keeps time rather well. Anyway, here are some pictures:
[Image: nixieclock1_small2.jpg]
[Image: nixieclock1_small3.jpg]
[Image: nixieclock1_small.jpg]

Getting back on-topic for this site, I also have a HP 59309A HP-IB Digital Clock. Meant as a real-time clock reference for HP's early microcomputers/calculators and digital test instruments using the HP-IB interface, it offers both time and date readout, using the same sort of bubble digits as HP's early LED calculators (same 5-digit clusters as the HP-35, I think). I'm not sure exactly what it uses for the logic (likely TTL), as the circuitry is densely packed inside the small cabinet, but it's quite capable for its time, with provisions for external frequency standards as well as leap year correction.
[Image: hp59309a_small.jpg]
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04-09-2016, 03:24 AM
Post: #9
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Hi Adam,
Thanks for sharing pics of that nice equipment,
finding old nixie timing pieces and kits is harder than you think,
I have looked for ages but with little success, although I have found a few calculators with nixie displays.
even a heathkit GC1000 would be neat,

Regards
Ray
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04-09-2016, 04:15 AM (This post was last modified: 04-09-2016 04:25 AM by Adam Vaughn.)
Post: #10
RE: Building a clock the hard way
(04-09-2016 03:24 AM)vk6ti Wrote:  Hi Adam,
Thanks for sharing pics of that nice equipment,
finding old nixie timing pieces and kits is harder than you think,
I have looked for ages but with little success, although I have found a few calculators with nixie displays.
even a heathkit GC1000 would be neat,

Regards
Ray

Yeah, I haven't seen a whole lot of nixie tube gear, besides test equipment. I have a HP 5245L frequency counter, plus an Acton Labs "Digital Phasemeter" (considering turning it into a clock, since I have no idea what I'd do with it). I have another homebrew nixie clock which uses TTL ICs, but it's in very rough shape, as someone harvested the power transformer from it at some point. Hoping to get it running someday, though I have my doubts.
[Image: nixieclock2_small.jpg]

I have numerous other homebrew/kit clocks from the old days, including several Heathkits. Most of them are based around MM531x-series "Clock-on-a-Chip" ICs, though I recently picked up a Radio Shack "Project-Board"-based homebrew which uses a MOSTEK MK50250 IC. I do indeed have a Heathkit GC-1000, as well as a similar unit in the Precision Standard Time 1030 rack-mount WWV-synched clock. You could say I have too much time on my hands... Tongue
[Image: gc1000_front2.jpg]
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04-10-2016, 07:10 AM
Post: #11
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I love the look of the nixie clock. I don't think I'd finish such a project unfortunately.

Is anyone up for making a mechanical pendulum clock? They are quite difficult to get working well in my somewhat limited experience Smile


- Pauli
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04-10-2016, 07:59 PM
Post: #12
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I am fascinated by time and clocks as well. When I first discovered WWV broadcasts around 1973, I would use it weekly to synchronize every clock and watch in the house. I also remember buying a clock chip and PCB from Radio Shack to build a LED clock. For my Senior Project in 1984 I made a talking alarm clock. I used a 6502 uP with a General Instruments speech chip that was preprogrammed with a limited vocabulary needed for a clock. My future wife at the time did most of the wire wrapping. It all worked!


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04-10-2016, 10:50 PM
Post: #13
RE: Building a clock the hard way
(04-10-2016 07:10 AM)Paul Dale Wrote:  Is anyone up for making a mechanical pendulum clock? They are quite difficult to get working well in my somewhat limited experience Smile

I've always wanted one of the Mechanica M3 pendulum clock kits, but can't get up the courage to write the check!
You can fit it out with all sorts of exotic accuracy modifications, including temperature and barometric compensation, low drag pendulum, etc.

A cheap pendulum clock tricked out with this mod - a way to tune a mechanical pendulum electronically - is probably more in my budget.
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04-11-2016, 03:34 AM
Post: #14
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I've assembled 2 of the Heath GC-1000 clock kits, and even though Heath did the hard part and preassembled the RF board, I still found it a very lengthy process to put them together. And, LOL, I was young then. I'm pretty sure I don't have the visual acuity or the dexterity to assemble another one anymore.

The world changed, the GC-1000 was an amazing thing, but nowadays, everything seems to have a decent clock in it, I don't even wear a watch either.

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04-11-2016, 12:18 PM
Post: #15
RE: Building a clock the hard way
(04-10-2016 10:50 PM)BobVA Wrote:  I've always wanted one of the Mechanica M3 pendulum clock kits, but can't get up the courage to write the check!

Nice but I'd prefer to make the movement rather than assemble a kit Smile


Quote:A cheap pendulum clock tricked out with this mod - a way to tune a mechanical pendulum electronically - is probably more in my budget.

This is very nice and would take some of the pain out of getting a clocking running well.


- Pauli
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04-13-2016, 04:04 AM
Post: #16
RE: Building a clock the hard way
(04-10-2016 07:59 PM)Steve Simpkin Wrote:  I am fascinated by time and clocks as well. When I first discovered WWV broadcasts around 1973, I would use it weekly to synchronize every clock and watch in the house. I also remember buying a clock chip and PCB from Radio Shack to build a LED clock. For my Senior Project in 1984 I made a talking alarm clock. I used a 6502 uP with a General Instruments speech chip that was preprogrammed with a limited vocabulary needed for a clock. My future wife at the time did most of the wire wrapping. It all worked!

Yeah, I still use WWV (and sometimes CHU) for clock-synchronization purposes, though the radio-controlled clocks like the GC-1000 also do the trick. I don't do it quite weekly, given that I have a couple dozen clocks set up, though I do keep track of how far they've drifted from WWV (most of them are line-synchronous, and line frequency isn't quite as stable as it once was).

Very cool talking clock! I love the old computer speech synthesizers, and have several of them, including the TI-99/4A Speech Synthesizer, the Commodore Magic Voice, and the Mattel Intellivoice. I also have a couple of the talking clocks which Radio Shack sold in the mid '80s-early '90s, like the VoxClock 3 (which wakes me up every morning) and the VoxClock 2 cube (which is sitting on my computer desk).

(04-11-2016 03:34 AM)TASP Wrote:  I've assembled 2 of the Heath GC-1000 clock kits, and even though Heath did the hard part and preassembled the RF board, I still found it a very lengthy process to put them together. And, LOL, I was young then. I'm pretty sure I don't have the visual acuity or the dexterity to assemble another one anymore.

The world changed, the GC-1000 was an amazing thing, but nowadays, everything seems to have a decent clock in it, I don't even wear a watch either.

I wish I could've built the GC-1000 I have; I found it at a local hamfest for $50 (which was apparently a steal). I didn't get to build it, but I have replaced several of the electrolytic capacitors on its circuit boards, and have the manual which went with it. Did any of yours have the RS-232 port add-on?

Sure, pretty much every modern cell phone has "atomic time" thanks to cell phone towers, but I prefer to do things 'the old-fashioned way' (besides, my "dumbphone" has no idea what time it is if it can't connect to a tower, which occurs far too often for my tastes). I have numerous wristwatches, which I rotate through on a daily basis; my favorites tend to be the Bulova Accutrons from the '60s and '70s. As the old saying goes, "A man who has one clock knows what time it is; a man who has two isn't sure." I have several dozen of them, what does that say about me?! Confused Wink
-Adam
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04-13-2016, 10:51 AM
Post: #17
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Hello!

(04-10-2016 10:50 PM)BobVA Wrote:  I've always wanted one of the Mechanica M3 pendulum clock kits, but can't get up the courage to write the check!

A check? Even manufacturers of old-style clock kits don't accept checks in the 21st century, at least not in this part of the world ;-)

But isn't the way to go 3D-printing anyway? The moment I have a 3D printer I will start making one of these: http://hackaday.com/2016/01/11/3d-printe...lon-clock/

Regards
Max
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04-14-2016, 02:18 PM (This post was last modified: 04-14-2016 02:19 PM by 4ster.)
Post: #18
RE: Building a clock the hard way
Being the HP-41 centric nerd that I am: How about a nixie tube display run by a CX via HP-IL? ;-)

Thanks for the discussion. What is it about humans and our obsession for measuring time?

Steve
In order of appearance: HP 41CV, CMT-MCGPS, HP 41CX, DM 41, DM 42
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04-14-2016, 03:41 PM
Post: #19
RE: Building a clock the hard way
I'll never have time, but I have always thought it would be fun to use the 82166 (HIGTR) to control strings of christmas tree lights arranged as 7 segment displays laid out on a football field to make a big clock readout.

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