book collections email follower instructable user
Picture of SMD Nixie Clock


I initially wanted to build something because I was looking for a project to do, and finally wanted to do a project with SMD components. The considerably smaller size of the SMD components would allow me to make smaller PCBs, and open up the world of SMD components to me for future designs. I had built a word clock several years back following an Instructable, and thought that another clock would be fun (and give me an opportunity to give something back to the community). It would also have the benefit of being slightly useful after building it. Nixie tubes also just look really nice.

There were many bumps along the way, and I learned a lot about using these small SMD components and reading the datasheet (did I say read the datasheet!).

Follow along and I will show you how you can build one of your own!

Below is a quick video of what the clock will look like. (The word clock is in the back!)

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

To build this clock, you will need the following:


6x IN-14 Nixie Tubes

2x IN-3 Nixie Indicator Bulbs (they come in a pack of 10)

1x ATMega328P Microcontroller

2x HV5622 High Voltage Shift Register

1x 78L05 5 V Voltage Regulator

1x DS3231 Real Time Clock

1x CR2032 Battery Holder and Battery

2x 4.7K Resistors

2x 120K Resistors

6x 27K Resistors

1x 10K Resistor

60x Machine-tooled Female Headers

1x Main PCB (see next step)

1x High Voltage Power Supply

3x Right Angle Push Buttons (I had some on hand; I didn't remember where I got them from.)

1x Barrel Jack Connector

1x 12 V Barrel Jack Power Supply

Wires with female headers on the end

4x 4-40 Screws

4x 4-40 Nuts

Some wood


Soldering Iron


Flush Cutters

Needle-nose Pliers

Isopropyl Alcohol

AVRISP Programmer




Optional: CNC Mill / Laser cutter / 3D Printer etc. (if you have access to one)

I ordered some of the electronics components from Mouser, and the rest I had on hand (can also be ordered from Mouser, Digikey, or your other favorite part distributor). The PCB was fabricated by OSHPark. The power supply board and Nixie tubes were from eBay.

JohannesE66 months ago
Thats a really cool clock you've build there!

I'm facing some issues trying to build one as well.. hopefully someone can help me :)
Not beeing good in programming at all i just wanted to copy your code 1:1 but I'm not sure which pins are connected where because your schematic picture is a bit unsharp.. So I'm having problems figuring out on which pins i have to connect the shift register with the atmega. And I dont know enough abot the code to rewrite it..
Would be nice if sb. could help me! :)
KrišsT11 year ago
Hey, made the clock. Looks realy good! Was fun but also fustraiting.
So i got some problems.
1) I cant set the minutes and seconds. And i cant set the date. (It seems like second switch isn’t working. )
2) There is some problems with the second counting tubes. When seconds ar counting and the last digit is 0, it dosent disaperes but just moves one to otrher second countig tube. And when its counting from 0-9 at the back it shows digit 1.
I dont know anything about programming so i cant really check the problem.
Here is some pictures.
ManuB192 years ago

amazing project, used your design with IN 12 nixie tubes, waiting for pcb to arrive.

Excellent Instructable. Of all the self-made clocks, NIXIE tubes are the most fascinating displays.

Hey -

just wanted to say thank you for putting in such hard work and sharing it all with us. Really appreciate everything here!!

WannaDuino2 years ago

i was sitting on my bed

dude, i was more and more and more AMAZED and almost stumbeld out of my bed, becopus i by every cool picture or what you typet. I got closer to the screen.

AMAAAZING IBLE. i want 1 but its a bit expencive i see.(total cost??) i love diy digital (old and new ) CLOCKYS

o yeahhhh


Billgabo2 years ago

what is the total cost?

Pa19632 years ago
Alcohol fumes have never posed a problem to me. It's the liquid stuff that causes real trouble.
LesB2 years ago

How long do Nixie tubes last operating 24/7 before they fade out?

thernxt123 (author)  LesB2 years ago

I'm not too sure, but I've read that they can run for decades. I've tried to ensure that they last as long as possible in this design by putting the minimum amount of current through that will light up all the digits completely. My clock has been running for about 10 months and the digits haven't dimmed at all.

KISELIN2 years ago

REMARCABLE! APLLAUSES to You. this is what I would call for a real insrtuctable BRAVO

Actually, who remember's that them nixie-tubes and whatewer vacum- tubes where the ancient for...for-fathers to a transistor, (the transistor became a commercial thing in the wery beginnig of 50's, 1951=me). Them young lady's working then in 40's with them so called "Computer's", and they Ladys were called "Computer's" because they computed a certain amount of "data" in a given time.

In those long gone day's, (and in early James Bond film's you often see them nixie-tubes)

Once more, You gave me a kick in the ass to do some something

holla20402 years ago

thanks for the HV5622 part reference, didn't know about that one.

This has to be the geekiest watch ever made. I LOVE it!

where can i buy all the components that the links are not provided ?

i searched on the internet but the result gave me pro names and i am new at this so somebody pls help

did somebody make a tutorial video?

(removed by author or community request)
thernxt123 (author)  Instructables Robot2 years ago

Thanks, and good luck with your build!

The Nixie Visualizer does look pretty cool. Maybe one day I'll make something similar.

Poll_one2 years ago
Old and new technic together. Beautiful. Thank you !
JunezRiyaz2 years ago

Great work !

I think you worked so hard to make this instructable.

loboat2 years ago
Beautiful creation. I definitely want to build one now !

really cool idea!

tercero2 years ago

Nicely done

Swansong2 years ago

It looks really nice! I like the style you chose. :)