Beyond Design and Cosmodog joined forces to design, develop and install electrical components to create a retro but modern clock display.
Beyond Design decided to partner up with our outside electrical engineering consultant and founder of Cosmodog, Andrew Pines, to develop an electric clock using Nixie tubes as the display/number/time readout. When we were approached to work on this project, it was a joint venture to get creative with Nixie tubes and deliver a product that had a retro, old time feel to it, but also use modern manufacturing methods. Our main goal was to design a housing display with a certain aesthetic and feel that would match the overall nostalgic look of the clock.
Searching for a Solution
For this joint project, our development team at Beyond Design and Andrew Pines realize that Nixie clocks are not being produced anymore, making them a very limited item for purchase. The goal for the design was to keep the same retro model look and feel, but change the housing and mounting of the tubes. We understood what both parties wanted for the final concept, both in the design and engineering portion of the project.The enclosure is styled to look like a microphone or drive-in speaker of the era, the power cord is cloth-jacketed, even the AC plug is made to look period-correct. The packaging will be made to look period-correct as well. The only indication that it’s a modern product is that the technology of the 1950s would not have permitted building it so small.
Look and Feel of the Nixie Clock
What makes the Numechron Nixie clock different from other clocks is that it uses Nixie tubes, also knock as cold cathode tubes, instead of LED screens or rotating hands as the display. The tubes used were manufactured in the 1950’s, making it tougher to find to purchase on the market. We were fortunate enough to stumble on another cache which will enable us to build at most about 350 units. Since the tubes are rare and expensive and the total number we can produce is limited the unit cost to build each one is pretty high for a clock. Some companies are making different styles of clocks, using Nixie tubes, but usually they are mounted on a plain block of wood with fully exposed tubes. The housing component that Beyond Design created protects the tubes, but presents a retro and modern design simultaneously. The electrical components were designed to not have a large external power supply or “wall art” hanging off the wall outlet.
Blast from the Past
The simple and combined retro/modern design is a great re-entry into the clock display category for those who enjoy the nostalgic feeling of old school designs. With a preliminary idea at hand, we provided and fulfilled our joint vision for what we wanted to accomplish with the Nixie clock. With a complex and clever design of the board, along with a power supply on the PCB, it was a great feeling to know that our project is aesthetically retro looking, but also put together very nicely.