Laser cut Nixie Tube clock powered by Arduino

by jgarland79, published

Laser cut Nixie Tube clock powered by Arduino by jgarland79 Feb 20, 2013


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I bought all the goodies to make a nice Nixie clock from Taylor Electronics, but I didn't have a nice case for it. It took me about 6 hours to design, cut, and re-cut parts until I had something I was happy with. I disabled the I2C master on the first TES 1361 SmartNixie board and replaced it with an Arduino Nano board connected in the unused RTC connector on the bottom of the backplane board. I poll the GPS RTC board via I2C to get the time and then send command over the I2C bus to the SmartNixie boards to display the digits.


Laser cut parts from 1/8 acrylic (The stuff I bought from Home Depot ended up being 2.2mm thick and not 3.175mm(1/8") so this drawing was designed for 2.2mm, but that isn't hard to change.)

Order these parts from http://www.tayloredge.com/storefront/index.html

1 x 1392 - 6 Digit IN18 Clock Backplane

6 x 1361 - SmartNixie IN18

1 x 1375 - SmartNixie GPS RTC

1 x 1364 - SmartNixie HVPS-H

1 x Active GPS Antenna

1 x Power Plug

I ordered my IN-18 tubes from super-gene on ebay: http://myworld.ebay.com/super-gene/

6 x IN-18 tubes

12V power supply and Arduino Nano can be ordered from Amazon here:



Arduino Sketch:


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Hi, thanks for posting this. How did you disable the master I2C on the board? I ordered one but don't have it yet.
The schematic online states:

"2. Module DS1 becomes the clock master. Any saved settings such as DIMMING or 12/24
hour display mode are stored there. If the modules are moved, whichever module is
plugged into DS1 will become the master and revert back to the factory default settings."

I assume it has something to do with the S0-S3 switches?
Thank you!

I did change the switches to disable the master. I'll have to take a look at it when I get home next week to tell you how I set them.

I did get the board, however I'm still not sure how to disable it. Did you get a change to look?

Hi, I figured it out. DS1 is the clock master because S0 is open, and that creates an address with LSB set to 1. This in I2C addressing designates a master. So simply flipping A1 on DS1 to the ON position will create an address that has LSB set to 0 or 1110. The Arduino is now able to communicate.

Just search for "IN-18 Nixie" on ebay. The seller that I purchased from is no longer selling them.

jgarland79 do you have links to the Ebay page?

I got the tubes off eBay. They aren't cheap.

Awesome Nixie Clock, man! Where did you get the bulbs?

I uploaded a 2.55mm version if you would like to have Seeed Studio cut the parts for you with their 2.55mm material