Product updates - VFD Modular Clock and The Akafugu Nixie Clock


We're pleased to announce the immediate release of new revisions of our two most popular products: null and null.

As of today, all orders from our , and will ship the new version. Some of our distributors may still stock the old versions.

We will continue to support the old revisions, and the firmware enhancements mentioned here also apply to the original revisions.

VFD Modular Clock

We have created a new revision of the base board. The display shields are not changed, and both boards are capable of driving the exact same display shields. The enclosures are also not changed. The original VFD Modular Clock used a native avr-gcc firmware, and in order to make changing and enhancing the firmware more accessible for everybody, we wanted to create a new revision of the board to support Arduino.The two biggest changes are: The microcontroller has been changed to ATMega32U4, which has built-in USB. It is preloaded with the Arduino Leonardo bootloader, and can be updated just by plugging in a USB mini-b cable to a computer. The high-voltage generator has been upgraded to use a more advanced MAX1771 converter chip. This allows generation of 40VDC from 5V, so the entire clock is powered directly from a USB port, and can be powered directly from a computer (or using a 5V USB adapter). * Four Letter Word functionality built-in. The new board comes with a pre-programmed EEPROM with our Four Letter Word database. We've also added a censored mode to prevent swear words from appearing. A new Arduino based firmware has been created for the new board (features are similar to the previous version. GPS and date setting is supported) Pricing will be the same as the previous version. We will include a USB mini-b cable with each clock, but the power adapter will not be included.

New features overview:

  • Atmega 32U4 processor with native USB support
  • New Arduino-based firmware and Arduino bootloader
  • Runs directly off 5V: Can be powered either by a power adapter or directly from a computer
  • Built-in header to attach GPS module (more on this at a later time)
  • Compatible with the normal VFD Modular Clock shields

The new firmware, which we have called VFDDeluxe is here:VFDDeluxe Firmware


The Akafugu Nixie Clock

The new revision of the Nixie clock features a revised schematic for the control and display board. Notably, the driver has been changed and the neon dots used for second indication have been swapped for orange flat top LEDs.

The new revision was mostly made in order for it to be easier for us to continue buying components and also in order to keep the price the same in the future. The component changes were mostly done to replace certain components that we had trouble keeping stock of.

From a usage perspective, the changes are minor, and the only externally visible change in the design is that we have dropped the INS-1 neon tubes we used as colon separators in favor of two orange LEDs. Apart from that the clock looks exactly the same, and the firmware has the same base functionality (although we have added new functionality that applies to both version 1 and version 2).

Internally, there are bigger changes. The two biggest changes are that we've changed the Nixie driver from the Russian K155ID1 to a more modern HV5812 driver, and switched from optotransistors to normal high voltage transistors for the Anode drivers (The control board is still capable of driving up to 6 tubes).

The Akafugu Modular Clock firmware has been updated to include support for this new hardware revision.

Details of changes:

  • HV5812 Nixie cathode driver (changed from K155ID1)
  • MPSA92/MPSA42 transistor pairs to drive the anodes (changed from optotransistors)
  • 5mm Flat Top Orange LEDs for colon separators (changed from INS-1)
  • 2N7000 mosfet driver for LED (changed from 2x MPSA42 for driving the neon dots)
  • Inductor on power board changed from 470 uH to 100 uH
  • Changed to use a single 34-pin connector between the control and display board (changed from 2 14-pin connectors)

Not changed:

  • Power board (except for using 100 uH inductor)
  • DS3231M real time clock
  • ATMega328P processor

Hardware compatibility

The control and display board revisions are not compatible. For example, it is not possible to mix a revision 1 control board with a revision 2 display board.

A revision 2 power board can be used as-is with a revision 1 control/display board. A revision 1 power board does not work with a revision 2 control/display board without swapping the 470uH inductor for a 100uH inductor.

Firmware compatibility

The firmware available on github supports all revisions of the Nixie clock as well as the (upcoming) Diet Nixie clock.

To compile for the correct board, look at the top of the file global.h

You'll find the following:

Code block with id '28' not found.

Uncomment the board you want to compile for.

PS: Uploading the wrong firmware will not harm your clock, but it will not work correctly.

A note to owners of the first revision of the Nixie Clock.

We will continue to support this revision, and we will continue to support the original revision in future firmware updates.