Finding the right wooden piece
You’ll be lucky to find a box almost perfect to fit your circuit. Obviously it’s much better to design the PCB referring to the exact measurements of an existing Case.
The piece we will use is made in India from a single Rosewood block. It is beautiful and looks natural. The rougher side will be the front side of the Clock it will make the irregular edges on the front top edge.
We need to drill the 3 cm diameter holes for the six Tubes with the right drill bit and a medium column drill. The process is quiet time consuming but not to difficult. Here is an advice, try to not warm too much the bit. Mark the centers of the holes with a ruler or attach a print of the circuit on top side of the wooden box and then mark the dots with an awl. That helps a lot.
Perfecting the Case
After making a holes it is worth to spent some time to polish the box with a sandpaper a bit, all sides and the holes as well.
To drill the holes avoiding wood cracks formation, push a wood block on the inside surface of the board and try keeping it pressed with shims or clamps then drill the holes until you reach it. Also try to leave at least a pair of millimeters of space between holes. The matching of Tubes board and the Case should be almost perfect.
Fixing the lacks
The Tubes board may not fit exact in the Case so you may need to enlarge inner space of it. To do that and remove wood pieces out of the box you can use drill, fretsaw and chisel. Then the board should fit and align perfectly.
Straightening the Sockets
At this design we used a board with Socket pins for the Tubes to ease replacement in the future. Sockets have the ability to loosen in time so to avoid Tubes gaping the sockets needs to be straighten.
To straighten the Socket pins so to simplify the insertion of the Tubes I suggest to insert all the Tubes at once and remove them. That will help you a lot, since you can handy straighten up them with small pliers.
Testing the Circuit
Before installing the board in the Case always test it.
This will have also a second advantage, i.e. testing the circuit before assembling the Clock. If everything works fine the we can continue with the assembling.
Assembling the Nixie Clock
After testing we can put the board inside the Case.
We will place the board inside the Case and insert back the tubes into it. Pay attention to not let any pin going out from the sockets, you can look from the inside to check them.
Now you see that you can connect the control board to the Tubes board with no trouble. This is very useful since you are now able to build a new Clock and test it with the original.
Finding cool stands for Case
Ok. The Clock is inside the Case, now we can find a good stands for the Case.
Four rubber tips will do the job and will arrange four nice old style stands, in his design we will use them upside down glued to screws heads. With some gimlets drill the four holes, paying attention to not crack the wood. To be sure, begin with a small gimlet and then pass to a bigger one until you reach the desired hole diameter.
Adjusting the Stands
After screwing the stands they need to be adjusted for the Clock to stand firmly.
These stands are very handy because you can screw them until they’re perfectly aligned with a planar surface, and the Wooden Case will have a very precise support, although it’s very rough. Glue the rubber tips with cyanoacrylate glue for example in the exact centre of the screw heads. Now you’ll note that there is enough space to keep the power plug inserted under the clock and let the wire coming out from the rear. How handy.
Building the bottom
Now we have the Clock standing, let’s build the bottom for the Case.
We need to add a cover to the bottom of the Clock to prevent children touching the circuit, since it’s very dangerous and could be lethal. To cut it from a thin wood board mark the edges of the hole with a paper sheet and a pencil then with a screwdriver transfer the shape onto the wood surface. Then cut the perimeter with a fretsaw. We also will need to drill the holes for on-off switch, power plug, and time buttons. At the end we will polish the cover with dark wax to give it a better look. Now the led is no more visible, but since the cover is snap-fit it can be removed so we need to add another hole under the light.
Extending the Buttons
Our board have the buttons on it but since the Clock is in the Case now we need to extend the Buttons outside the box.
Some push-buttons have a long cylinders to protrude out of the case. You can find those in cases for old electronics, these are a good choice. Any plastic supports for shelves with a cylindrical part can be useful so we use them and cut them and glue to the buttons. In our design we also glue a washer so that some space remained between bottom cover and buttons body.
Connecting the Clock
After final assembly let’s connect the Clock and see on it.
Assembling is finally completed and now we can connect the Clock and admire the work we have done!
There is enough space behind the PCB inside the case to keep a 9V power source, maybe 6AA alkaline batteries or a Li-ion rechargeable battery-pack. So In any updates to this design we can add the Power Supply or a battery to the Case.
Placing the Clock
Last thing to do is to find a good place for our Nixie Clock.
The top viewed Nixie displays as these beautiful IN-4 have usually a narrow angle of view. It means that if you place your Clock on a low table or cupboard you’ll hardly see the digits. So I suggest to keep it on a shelf or near the TV so you can see it when seated. You can also decide to insert tubes deeper in the Case so that only the half sphere glass surface protrudes but consider that one of the best features of a Nixie display is that digits lie on different planes, and you can see them much better from the side of a Tube.
Gra & Afch Nixie Clocks
We here at Gra & Afch Design Cases from Wood as well as from the Acrylic.
Our Cases presented in a separate section in our shop.