So I started binge watching Travelers on Netflix (Sci-fi time traveling series with Eric McCormack from Will & Grace). One of the characters on the show has this really cool clock in his apartment.
So I googled “glass tube clock” and discovered that it was a nixie tube clock. Basically, nixie tubeswere cold cathode display tubes created in the 1950’s for technological displays, primarily numbers. They were manufactured by many companies, including Siemens and others. Think of the early pre-cursors to LED displays, a past gone technology. The Russians continued using them into the 1980’s, and stock-piles of them were built up before the end of the cold-war, and unused tubes (new old stock) sat in warehouses for decades. So even the most recently produced tubes are 35+ years old.
Then enter the steam-punk, tech hipster era, and using modern printed circuit boards and readily available drivers and the cool nixie tube clocks via kits and fully made versions have popped up on eBay and elsewhere.
See obligatory SDMB thread from 2015: Why Did The Russians make All Those Nixie Tubes? - In My Humble Opinion - Straight Dope Message Board, where several dopers have bought or built their own clocks. The recent demand for these unique clocks has driven the prices of the tubes up, especially the larger tubes, which go for $60 to $100 per tube in many places. A guy in the Czech Republic has begun manufacturing his own Nixie tubes and sells them for $150+ each.
Average life of a tube is estimated at 5,000 hours for early tubes and as high as 200,000 hours for the later ones, so if it was the latter, and a clock ran continuously, it would last about 20+ years…not to bad. Many of the clock drivers used in the kits have motion sensors or internal timer so that the bulbs only stay lit during certain hours or when there is motion detected, so as to extend the life of the bulbs.
So, I’m thinking about getting a clock for my office at work, just because of the novelty. Any of you that have experience with these tubes, what’s your opinion? Have the tubes continued to function?