Nixie Pipe – Modern Day LED Nixie Tube

Nixie Pipe is my interpretation of a modern day Nixie Tube – the cold-cathode vacuum gas-filled tubes from the 1960s.

The project came about when I decided to make a clock for my kitchen, with specific requirement for an egg timer function! I’ve always wanted to make a Nixie Tube clock but having completed a Nixie Tube project recently and one pipe failing after around 6,000 hours, I wanted to come up this something better. Something that didn’t require high voltages, special driving circuitry, could be easily interfaced and was modular, but which maintained the unique visual depth of a Nixie Tube. Continue reading Nixie Pipe – Modern Day LED Nixie Tube

SoundBar VU Meter Laminated Wooden Speaker

I felt that the battery powered Bluetooth speaker I made could be improved with more colour! Taking a leaf from the VU meters on amplifiers of the 80s, I decided it would be neat to sandwich clear acrylic between the plywood layers, each with an integrated LED that would form a full body amplitude meter.

Having a look around, I found a IC made by Texas instruments that did the VU meter job for me: the LM3915. Below is a photo series showing the construction and completed unit. I designed this version as a soundbar to sit below my monitors at work, so it doesn’t have a battery or Bluetooth, making the wiring easier inside and a slimmer unit. For this one I also used an Oak stain rather than a clear stain on the ply and filled the text with black acrylic, which looks much better I think.

Boblight with Raspbmc – Ambilight Clone

When I first started seeing the Ambilight (Philips’s lighting system that allows the display to bleed out) clones popping up I knew I wanted to create one myself. The open-source system has been fairly well refined to this point, such that it is pretty much plug and play with Raspbmc (XBMC for the Raspberry Pi). ‘nadnerb’ has already created a tutorial for the process, which I followed, so I won’t go into the process here. This post is just to share my results.

Testing before install to avoid any aggravation!
Testing before install to avoid any aggravation!
I opted for some old trunking to hold the LEDs, held using hot glue. The trunking is stuck using double-sided duck tape.
I opted for some old trunking to hold the LEDs, held using hot glue. The trunking is stuck using double-sided duck tape.

HDD Clock

With a cupboard full of old hard drives and some spare time, I recently set about making a persistence of vision clock. Using the platter of a hard disk, a slot is cut to allow backlighting to be emit. When the disk is spinning at 5400rpm+ and backlight constant, the disk appears opaque, as the slit is ‘refreshing’ each point of the revolution faster than our eyes. The trick is to measure the revolution time then flash or change the backlight colour at a fraction of this revolution time at the same point each revolution, in order to create a light segment. For example, flashing the light at a frequency twelve times the disk frequency in phase with the disk will create 12 light segments:


Expanding on this, one can create a light based clock, which takes some getting one’s head around on first sight!

Continue reading HDD Clock

Musical Rainbows in the Van

I always intended on creating my own driver for the LED lights in my van but with the thieving skum pointlessly taking the remote for the included unit, I was spurred into action. Having installed a sound system, a musical light system was a given, to enable the van to live up to the Bang Bus name it has acquired (of certain definition!).
Continue reading Musical Rainbows in the Van