Vintage tech from the Cold War era meets modern-day electronics in this mesmerizing handmade clock.
Nuvitron is a Texas-based startup who enjoys paying homage to vintage Cold War era components by refurbishing them into modern-day, handmade wooden devices like Nixie clocks. Added to their growing collection of impressive gadgetry is their latest project: the Luminous Electronic Bargraph Clock, a timepiece made of gas discharge tubes.
The carefully-designed unit combines Nixie tubes with a beautifully-crafted veneer enclosure. With three modes of operation, the Luminous Bargraph Clock’s embedded sensors can automatically detect its position and will change its mode accordingly.
The aforementioned modes of operation consist of: clock, sound level meter and timer. As you would expect, it tells the time in clock mode — hours are represented by the top bar, minutes along the bottom. The sound level meter provides you with a visual display of audio levels in your surrounding environment. In other words, it’ll let you know when that music blaring from your home entertainment system is too loud. Lastly, the timer can count down from 1, 5 or 10 minutes, while producing a “pleasing yet hypnotic” pendulum effect.
Each of the values are revealed through the faint warm orange glow emitted by the antique tubes. Meanwhile, the different modes are indicated by a hidden LED that animates and adjusts color. Much like a troublesome drunk at a party, to turn it off simply lay it on its side — the side opposite the clock mode — prolonging the tube’s lifespan and preserving the time for the next day.
“We use gas discharge tubes, which, despite what you may think from the name, are not devices for dealing with flatulence. No. They were designed under military specifications with the intention of being used by the Soviet armed forces but were usurped when LEDs were introduced and ended up being abandoned in cold, dark and dusty basements,” the team explains. “It was from these very basements that Nuvitron rescued them and gave them new purpose and meaning in the coolest, old-school gadget ever.”
In terms of its hardware, a custom ATmega163A based circuit board serves as the brains of the operation. These electronics are housed inside MDF and grain veneer housing that is resistant to fluctuations in both temperature and humidity. The front panel is printed with special ink and finished off with three coats of semi-matt lacquer. Beyond that, Nuvitron has even made a special edition that boasts a dark oak veneer which is simply amazing in contrast to the reddish glow of Nixie tubes.
Would this clock make for the perfect timepiece only our mantel or desk? Then head over to the Luminous Bargraph Clock’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Nuvitron crew is currently seeking $15,000. Delivery for early bird backers is set for February 2016, while all others will have to sit tight until March.