What is an ETA Nixie Tube Clock and How Do You Build One?

In our house, the concept of time is somewhat fuzzy. This is especially true in the morning as we get ready for school and work. The amount of days dropping off the kids late to school is a little embarrassing. Additionally, the expenses taking the toll road so I can shave ten minutes from my commute to make the morning meetings is way out of budget. While in the car, the direction application on the smartphones can conveniently give the estimated time of arrive (ETA) to the destination, but doesn’t warn us when we should leave the house. So this hack is all about helping fix this problem and making the Nixie tube clock a little more useful than just looking cool.

This DIY project will combine the estimated time of arrival function with a Nixie tube display to create an estimated time of arrival (ETA) Nixie tube clock. It is all easily controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero W that is connected to the internet through WiFi to provide the latest time and gets the ETA for any number of destinations. The travel time is provided by the free Google Directions API interface that includes traffic to give the best estimates on any particular day. The goal is that with an ETA Nixie tube clock, no math is needed to add a rough, often optimistic travel time, to the actual time to determine if we are running late. The clock does that for you and with the power of IOT, is much more accurate! A motion sensor is also added to the clock to turn off the Nixie Tube Display when no one is around, saving power and increasing the Nixie tube lifetime. The complete project, including the six IN-4 Nixie tubes, are powered from a 1 amp iPhone charger using the 5v to 170v Nixie Tube Power supply described in an earlier blog. Now that it is built, we will see if it brings our family’s concept of time a little more into focus.

This is a full open source hardware and software project. The schematics, PCB layout, and BOM were done in KiCad (TM). The Raspberry Pi software was written in python is also open source and the hardware and software project files are available for download at Github. This blog will describe the design and how to build and setup the ETA Nixie tube clock. Additional blogs will describe how to build a wooden Nixie clock mount and how the software can be customized to add your own display flare. Comment are welcome and encouraged. Do you need an ETA Nixie Tube Clock so you aren’t late in the morning?”