All posts for the month June, 2012

Update to the update: It looks like most interest is in the full kit – could anyone who wants to buy the full kit contact me directly on (tony ‘at’ the name of this blog .com) even if you’ve already left a comment and I’ll match you up to the comments/replies.  I’d prefer to sell them in the order interest was first shown, not who can get to the buy button first.  More displays have been ordered so don’t worry about missing out – a few more full kits will be available once they arrive find their way through Customs.


Well I seem to have done this all backwards – if it was at all organised this would have been on a fast host and prices listed before I asked Hackaday if they’d be interested in postaing a news article but then I didn’t expect it to be this popular – maybe a few visitors – I’m still a bit dazed by the interest there’s been.

Still waiting for a couple of prices, I expect to be waiting a while as the quantities just aren’t enough to interest some suppliers. For example I need a source of 110-115 gram (4oz) spools of enamelled copper wire for the coils – 100g won’t be quite enough and the next off the shelf size is 250g, wasting weight and adding to the cost. Nobody is interested in a custom batch this small so I’ll just have to make them up from a bulk roll. Anyway finally the prices, these include wire, solder etc but not a power supply – again it adds to the weight and anything that can provide 12V 2A+ will do, even a car battery. You’ll need to supply basic tools such as wirecutters, sandpaper, paint or wax for finishing, a good quality soldering iron and lots of patience.

The postage prices quoted are for a 50x50x8cm package 4kg (2kg for the PCB only kit) in weight, for an exact price go to and select your destination country. If you know of a cheaper option please let me know. I’ll also combine postage at cost if you buy more than one of any type such as for a group purchase.



Full Neon Jacket – A complete kit of all parts required to build the board and pieces shown in the photographs posted here, including all the case parts and 25x IN-7 + 9x IN-7ANixie tubes (32 plus 2 spares). I only have enough tubes for 7 of these. £172 plus postage: £30 US/Canada, £20 EU and £9 UK.

Hardware only – A complete kit of all parts required to build the board and pieces shown in the photographs posted here, including all the case parts but WITHOUT nixies. There are plenty of sellers on ebay or you may have some already, or you could experiment with a different tube. This (and the cheaper options below) are the versions I’d prefer to sell. £140 plus postage: £30 US/Canada, £20 EU and £9 UK.

Budget Hardware only – A complete kit of all parts required to build the board and pieces shown in the photographs posted here, including all the case parts but WITHOUT nixies and supplied with standard brass hex nuts in place of the dome nuts and thmbnuts. They’re quite cheap to buy in the USA so it seems a bit silly for me to import them then send them back again if you don’t need them. £130 plus postage: £30 US/Canada, £20 EU and £9 UK.

Skeleton Crew – A kit of all the electronic components and printed circuit boards needed to build a working chessboard PCB and 32 piece PCBs but WITHOUT piece base cases, case parts, board top or Nixie tubes. Ideal if you want to design your own board and pieces to build them into and choose alternative Nixies. £69 plus postage: £25 US/Canada, £20 EU and £9 UK.

There will also be one completed working board and set of 32 pieces with Nixie tubes, ready to plug in and use. This will be the second prototype which will be assembled in order to prepare the instructions for the kits. No assembly or soldering needed, it will be finished in the same style as the first board using gold and silver enamellers’ wax for the pieces and white wax for the board. I’ll probably list this one on ebay, postage as for the full kit plus insurance if needed.

I’ll make them available on both our own shop and on ebay, payment by paypal will be easiest. Once they’re listed I’ll contact everyone who has asked about a kit directly. Please remember they may take a couple of weeks to prepare for despatch.



As a few of you seem interested in buying one of these I’ve decided to go ahead and put together a kit. This will include all the parts required to build the board and pieces in my previous post but please read the following so there is no confusion over exactly what you’re buying:

All case parts, baseboard, piece bases, coil formers etc will be cut and engraved ready to use but will probably need sanding to remove loose material and tidy up visible edges – in the case of the piece bases they will need further sanding to remove machining marks. I actually didn’t bother too much with this, which produced the ‘woodgrain’ effect on some pieces. You’ll need to finish the board top and piece bases with engravers wax, filler or paint for whatever effect and colours you want.

All electronic components, enamelled wire and solder will be included and one square on the main board and one piece base PCB will be ready assembled and tested, giving you a chance to see one piece working before you start and provide something which can be used to test/compare against the other parts you assemble.

All the Brass nuts, bolts and thumb nuts are included though I may replace the dome nuts with thumbnuts. I’ll include enough parts in total to build about 34 piece bases and 66 squares (including the assembled ones), just in case of mistakes. The board doesn’t include feet but I may include them by the time the kits are ready.

The thicker case components will be made fron NOS Tufnol estimated to be from the 1960-70s and is limited in supply. The thinner laminate and PCBs will be supplied by local companies. The electronic components will be purchased from RS or Farnell (Newark) and the brass thumbnuts have to be ordered from the USA. The displays if needed will have to be bought from the usual suppliers (I have enough here for a few boards) and the actual machining of parts will be done by myself so this isn’t going to be an ‘off the shelf’ product and will probably be made to order so I’m not left with unwanted stock.

This is not a project for beginners – it makes extensive use of surface mount components. The circuits are not complicated and are laid out with plenty of space between parts where possible but you will still need to be confident soldering small parts. The main PCB is almost 15×15″ and as only 10-20 will probably ever be made I’ll be machining them myself. They won’t have any solder resist or component legend though the assembled square should be easy to copy and photographic instructions will be supplied for all stages of construction. Expect to spend up to a week of your spare time on it depending on experience and patience.

Postage will be charged at cost – for international orders it won’t be cheap but if you know of a cheaper service or can arrange collection by your own courier I’ll be happy to help arrange it. The total weight including packing materials will be about 4kg (9 pounds).

If you’re still interested after that lot they’ll be listed on the bay of Fleas shortly, I’ll update this post once ready. There will also be one complete set for sale as I’ll have to build one from the kit to prepare the photographs for assembly instructions.

This developed as a spinoff from the hardware and controllers I’m designing for a range of nixie clocks and watches as a ‘simple’ project that wouldn’t need much software to complete it.

All visible parts are made from materials contemporary with Nixie technology and no modern plastics or resins are used anywhere in its’ consruction (other than the electronic components and PCBs). The board and pieces are machined from phenolic resin laminate and assembled using brass fittings. The brown base pieces have been filled and wiped with gold and silver engravers wax, giving a ‘worn gilding’ appearance.

The displays are ex-Soviet Nixie gas display tubes, manufactured in the early 1980s. No Chinese LEDs here…..







Sorry I haven’t posted recently but there have just been too many projects on the go at once and nothing ahs been getting finished, the dreaded feature creep attacks anything that looks almost ready to call ‘completed’.

I do finally have one ready though and will be uploading some pictures soon.