Icetube clock

Adafruit, well known for the Arduino microcontroller, has a very nice DIY kit to build an open-source clock with a VFD tube. It is a desk clock with alarm, AM/PM display, date and whaterver else the user wants, as the microntroller has a basic code which can be easily modified. It is already very popular due to a Slashdot article. In fact demand was so high that in the first period there were 3 week delays.

Assembly takes a little less than three hours. Essential tools needed are a good wire cutter, soldering iron and a multimeter. After initial assembly, there are several add-ons such as GPS clock, computer NTP synchronization, auto brightness using a photoresistor, advanced firmware (auto daylight saving time, different beeping, variable snooze time etc.). Particular caution is needed for the high voltage circuit (which drives the tube), therefore very detailed instructions are provided. The circuit schematic can be found here, whereas the clock can be purchased by Adafruit's online store here

IceTube Clock

The package contains a power supply (with U.S. plug, so an adapter is needed for european plugs or a power supply of 9V/250mA), a 3V battery (clock memory for up to 2 weeks unplugged), the plexiglass case components and an antistatic bag with all of the electronic components as well as the printed circuit board.

IceTube Clock

IceTube Clock

In the following picture, the main regulator, the microcontroller and the beeper can be seen.

IceTube Clock

A Boost converter is used to step up the voltage from 5V to 70V to drive the VFD tube.

IceTube Clock

First test, the microcontroller and the the power converter work.

IceTube Clock

Final PCB assembly.

IceTube Clock

PCB ready and in the plexiglass case.

IceTube Clock

IceTube Clock