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6-digit VFD Clock with ESP32

Status: Abgeschlossen
7. Dezember 2017 , Letztes Update: 19. November 2018
The 6-digit VFD Clock design was inspired by the very popular 6-digit Nixie Clock. We opted to use IV-22 VFD tubes for the digits together with DM160/CV6094 tubes for the colon separators. Both types of tubes are still available in relatively large quantities. As the IV-22 VFD tubes have the same dimensions as the IN-12 nixie tubes used in the original clock, we decided to use the same setup and dimensions for the new design. With a similar acrylic enclosure the clock looks very familiar, yet different.

The heart of the clock consists of an ESP-32-DevKitC module from Espressif. Time is synchronized via NTP over a WIFI connection with the internet. The settings of the clock can be altered via USB or via the WIFI network connection.

The VFD tubes are driven in a 2 x 3 multiplex mode using a Microchip HV518P high voltage shift register driver. A simple 7555 based step-up converter generates the 50 V anode voltage, while a Texas Instruments PTH08080W step down module supplies the 1.1 V filament voltage.

  • 9V DC power supply, 3 W maximum power consumption
  • 12 or 24 hour time format
  • date format dd/mm/yyy, mm/dd/yyyy or yyyy/mm/dd
  • temperature display in Celsius or Fahrenheit
  • supports DS18B20, DS18S20, DS1822, LM75 and SE95 temperature sensors
  • RGB tube backlighting with selectable color options
  • different colon separator modes (flashing, AM/PM, ...)
  • 1-wire and I2C interface
  • sleep mode with adjustable night light option and wake-up via a push button
  • fully designed for through hole components and modules
  • command server for network configuration
  • the clock firmware was written using the Arduino environment
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Enclosure - Front view green
Enclosure - Side view cyan
Enclosure - Side view purple
Enclosure - Backside view cyan
Enclosure - Backside view purple
Connecting to the clock using a smartphone and a telnet app
Complete assembly of main PCB, display PCB and backlight PCB
Complete assembly of main PCB, display PCB and backlight PCB
Main PCB without ESP-32-DevKitC module
Main PCB with ESP-32-DevKitC module
Tube PCB - front view
Tube PCB - backside view
Lot of CV6094 tubes - DM160 equivalent
Lot of CV6094 tubes - ex army stock
Lot of CV6094 tubes - DM160 equivalent
Backlight PCB - front view
Backlight PCB - backside view
Escaped from the labs - final prototype setup
Escaped from the labs - first prototype of the main PCB
Escaped from the labs - first display test

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