Designed by Dieter Wächter
last update (and finished): July-04-2006

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This clock-project only was possible after a very long search for the mega-rare FIP60B30T displays made by NEC in the early eighties.
Dated: 1980-1981
I have searched for years in Japan to get some of these wonderful tubes.
Finally I got 10 of them and I am sure that these were the only ones I will ever get.
I really had much luck in this find!!!

Display Height: 35mm (1.38")

You will find all information about that tubes here!!!

I've also searched for the original datasheet, which I finally found in an old archive of a NEC distributor in Japan.
So also this is a
Original datasheet for the FIP60B30T (pdf)

Step 1: Designing the schematic

After studying the datasheets and some tests on the display I made some test circuits and finally came to this schematic:

As you can see I used a NE555 timer and a self-made transformer for the 2.7VACRMS filament voltage.
It runs with 30kHz and an efficiency of 61%.
As ever.... a MC34063A step-up converter for the +33VDC for the plate voltage.
The grid voltage and the +5VDC for the ATMEGA8515 controller I took out of 2 voltage regulators.
I used a HV574PG Supertex driver for the anode drive.
Finally the new Dallas RTC (DS1337C ) which has an on-board crystal (I like that all-in-one chips)

Step 2: Designing the board

I had in mind to make a clock with a visible circuit board.
So I tried to put some kind of 'art' into the electronic.
I used a red solder resist.
This is the result:

The board measures: 173.5x119mm

Step 3: Assembling the board

There were no difficulties with the schematic.
Everything worked fine, although it was the first prototype.

Step 4: Designing the case

As I wrote before, I wanted to leave the board viewable.
I made some designs and came to this one (3D-animation only)

I planned the clock to be set up as a desktop clock or a wall clock.
This example shows the clock set up as a desktop-clock.
The front frame should be made of wood and the back cover of black anodized aluminium.
Here you see the result of the finished housing:

clock from the side:

clock from the back:

FIP-Clock from the front:

As I said, it's also possible to hang the clock up on the wall:

Step 5: The coding

There are millions of possibilities to arrange the code.
So I hade to decide which features I wanted to have and which I had to leave away to make the handling not too complex.
The features I put in:

  • Alarm clock

  • Power Down Mode: Tube and supply can be totally switched off for a user programmed period in order to save energy and increase the life expectancy of the tube

  • Adjustable display brightness

  • Sweep hand suppression

  • ‘Bavarian clock’-mode. A Bavarian clock is a clock which does not run counter clockwise but clockwise. ;-) You can set the clock to the Bavarian mode, and everyone will ask you: “What is this?”

  • Different gimmick effects (can be switched off completely, of course)

  • Case is made of massive wood, anodised black aluminium and glass.

This Project is finished
Thanks for reading.

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