The Nextube retro nixie clock

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Hearn (WA4GKQ), who writes:


I’ve just received this Rotrics NexTube [see photo above] after a year of waiting. It was a KickStarter project and suffered numerous delays, and is just now shipping. It’s beautiful — real walnut wood, glass tubes and brass fixtures.

It appears at first glance to be yet another imitation Nixie tube clock but it’s actually much more than that. Each tube is a high-res IPS display that can display almost anything, including photos. It’s highly configurable, uses WiFi to connect to the Internet, and has an (yet undocumented) open API.

Being a ham and SWLer, I can envision someone much smarter than I programming this device to show real-time propagation data from beacons, propagation forecasts, etc. or other information of interest to those of us in the hobby. Imagine each of the six tubes graphically showing real-time band conditions on six different ham bands. It can already be used as a GMT clock. A set of three touch buttons allows app switching and user interaction.

With your infinite access to members of our hobby, I thought maybe you could find a way to expose this to those who might have an interest and expertise to create such an application for this amazing little device. I believe that its potential is almost unlimited, in ways the creators haven’t imagined.

Al Hearn

Thank you for sharing this, Al! What a beautiful, modern take on the Nixie Tube clock! I love the simple design and versatility.

I’m very curious if any other readers have purchased the Nextube or have tinkered with the API. Please comment!

Click here to check out the Nextube at Rotrics.

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6 thoughts on “The Nextube retro nixie clock

  1. Tony Glazier

    I built one using nixi tubes about 1971 and at that time the only other one I knew of was at BBC TV Center control room.

    My friend from Cable & Wireless decided it was 12 seconds fast and turned it off for 12 seconds. It came back as 00 00 00

    This was in Doha Qatar and I had to order a standby battery and fit it to prevent anyone else doing that again.

  2. Da Pup

    I had one tube go bad within 3 months of buying my clock and the seller (GRA & AFCH) refused to replace it so I had to buy a new tube. The tubes are not made anymore so they are either used pulls from old equipment or old stock, and often come from Russia or eastern Europe. Good luck getting them nowadays! I absolutely would prefer a good LED model that I didn’t have to worry about tubes burning out, and have the added option of flexible displays.

  3. Dadams

    Very nice, but it’s still not a Nixie tube. I’ve been running two I built for about 12 years, no degradation of the tubes. But I did pull the current back a bit.
    Long live real live nixies!

  4. Da Pup

    A quick look on YouTube and eBay reveals that this clock is neither best of breed or cheap. One recent review show serious problems with the firmware/software. It’s also very small. From what I can see, there are lots of cheaper and probably better alternatives on eBay.
    BTW I own a Nixie clock with real tubes. The big disadvantage of those is that the tubes are not deigned to operate 24/7 and deteriorate quite quickly over time. One disadvantage of these LED ones is that they don’t have elements to separate hours, minutes, and seconds. That makes them less than an easy read… unless you can show just hours and minutes.

  5. adi

    Any time the Nixie’s popup for me, I recall my brief encounter with the very rare Collins 651s receiver.
    Many many years ago, I stepped accidentally into a room I had no authorization to be in and there it was on the rack among other stuff. I knew what it was as I had the 1976 WRTH at home and It was listed there.


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