The Ukrainien company Millclock tries to revive the production of Nixie Tubes by creating their own and started a Kickstarter campaign to bring them back into the new century in form of a clock. So let's take a look if they succeeded.
The Millclock ZIN-18 Kickstarter campaign launched on February 7th and successfully reached their goal with the help of just over 100 backers mid march. We actually got this package already a view weeks ago. The Kickstarter campaign was really fast and the delivery of the clock… well compared to all the other delayed Kickstarter campaigns - They were actually pretty much on time!
The complicated assembly process of the base, which consists of 47 steps and the manufacturing of the tube, which includes glass production in ovens with over 1000° degrees, promises a life span of up to 20 years or 200.000 hours uninterrupted 24/7. use.That reflects in the price as well. One Nixie Tube costs around 100 US dollars, but that’s pretty much the regularprice for bigger used ones as well. You can get either 4, like we did, to display hours and minutes or 6 to also display seconds.
They modernised the look of the tubes and they are eager to take up mass production for Nixie lamps again after their production was discontinued almost 50 years ago. Originally Nixie tubes were invented by two hungarianbrothers in the early 1930ies. They called them NIX-1 tubes, which stands for Numerical Indicator experimental No.1. Between the 30ties and 70ties they came up with a lot of variations of such tubes until LED displays took over their place and nixie tubes were no longer produced.
SO HOW DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK?
A nixie tube is a cold cathode display that takes advantage of glow discharge. The nixie tubes are filled with a low-pressured-neon-gas. The glass tube contains a wire-mesh anode which surrounds multiple cathodes, shaped like numerals which are lined up. If the voltage between the anode and a kathode surpasses a certain value the gas surrounding the numerical thread starts to glow.
SO HOW CAN YOU ACTUALLY CONFIGURE THE CLOCK?
There are nine different modes in the settings. By Pressing the round button on the left side on the circuit board you enter the settings mode. The indication light shows which layer of the settings you are at right now. The different layers can be found in the manual. For example the first layer let’s you configure the hours and minutes. By pressing through the different layers you can set the date, time zone, turn on Wifi, switch to 12 hour mode and set alarms among other things.
That whole setup seems pretty complicated. This is why they also developed an android and ios app. If you activate the wifi in the settings menu, you are able to configure the clock so that it connects to your home wifi. After that you are able to change all the settings via the application. Though while testing the app we had some connectivity issues. Also the menu is not as pretty as you might expect from some other applications that are around. And sometimes some menu buttons didnt do what was expected, or didn't even do anything at all.
So let’s sum it up - the tubes are well made and just look awesome, especially in low light situations. The APP could be polished some more and they should really work on their connectivity. but other than that, if you like steampunk and are in need for a new clock, oh and also have the left over money (because a set of 6 tubes with an enclosure costs around 1200USD), go and get one.
Since ours does not have an enclosure yet we might be doing one in a future video! If you guys have any Idea on how it should look like - Wood, metal or plexi or something else? - tell us in the comments down below.