Nixie Tubes on a Wristwatch

Cameron Coward
2 months ago

Everyone loves Nixie tube clocks, because the glowing retro tubes lend a vintage steampunk aesthetic that you just don’t get from modern displays. But most are fairly large, and not exactly suitable for carrying around with you. That’s why Snekooei designed a Nixie tube wristwatch, and they’ve written up a tutorial detailing how you can build your own.

This four-digit wristwatch is built using “small size Nixie tubes” — though snekooei doesn’t specify which models he actually used. They appear to be IN-16 Nixie tubes, or something similar. An Arduino Pro Mini with an RTC is used to keep the time, and a button is used to cycle through the different information display modes. The rest of the components are used to drive the Nixie tubes from a pair of 300mAh LiPo batteries.

The wiring is “dead bug” style, which isn’t the most elegant-looking technique, but it keeps the watch compact without requiring a custom PCB. Soldering all of the components together is definitely the most time-consuming part of this build. After finishing that, you can 3D-print the watch’s case. Snekooei says that the batteries are enough to keep the display lit for a full hour, but you’ll definitely want to only turn it on when you actually need to check the time.

steampunknixie tubes
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