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Ice Tube clock stopped working
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Ice Tube clock stopped working

by nhibanez on Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:02 pm

I've had an Ice Tube Clock for 7+ years and it stopped working the other day. I had noticed that there was some weirdness with the display of the tube (Segments not lighting properly) but it seemed that if I set the brightness ~50% that it solved that issue. I've got replacement tubes on order and was planning on trying to unsolder my existing one from the side board and put a new one in place (as I can't find anywhere to get the side board)

However I woke up one morning and the display was completely off. I also use the 'alarm' functionality of the clock and the alarm never went off. So I figured that something in the clock had died so I set out to see if I could figure out what is causing the problems. I removed both IC chips and stepped through the tests described in the installation guide. Everything tests good with one possible exception. When I put the MAX6921 chip in place, the boost converter only outputs ~16v. The docs say it will output around 20v, so maybe this is acceptable? Without the MAX6921 in place the boost converter outputs 57v (which is within the range of 40-70v).

When I have the tube unplugged from the board (with IC chips in place), I get the beep when plugging in the power. However when I plug in the tube and then plug the power in, I no longer get the beep.

Could a dead tube cause this issue?

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by jarchie on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:03 am

What is the part number for Q3? Is it a PN2907A?

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by nhibanez on Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:24 am

Yes. Q3 is PN2907A.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by adafruit_support_bill on Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:37 am

Sounds like you have one of the originals. We have since replaced that part with a P-FET ZVP2110A. If you contact support@adafruit.com with a link to this thread we can send one out.

Jarchie has done a lot of good work with these clocks and may have some other suggested improvements. We have not tried them here, but a search of the forums will show that many have had good results following his advice too.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by LarryDeck on Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:06 am

I too have an Ice Tube clock that has stopped working. The clock worked well for many years until last week when I noticed that the tube was not displaying. I tested the AC adapter and it is still working correctly. I performed the assembly testing with the tube removed but the IC's still in place. The regulator voltage check passed OK but the boost converter voltage was only 25 volts instead of the correct value of 60 volts. In reference to the previous post, the part number of the Q3 in my kit is also 2907A. This is an awesome clock and I would very much like to repair it. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by adafruit_support_bill on Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:32 am

@LarryDeck - If you contact support@adafruit.com with a link to this thread, we can send you a ZVP2110A P-FET to replace the 2907A.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by nhibanez on Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:26 pm

Received the new P-FET, swapped it in and it fixed the issue! So glad that it was that simple. Thanks for the info/part.

So glad that I don't have to replace the tube as thats what I thought was the issue, but now I have 4 spares if I ever need them (but no side boards to mount them to). Waiting to receive a couple of atmega32 chips and I plan on modding it so I can run jarchie's firmware.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by adafruit_support_bill on Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:50 pm

Good to hear you are back up and running. If you want to build up additional clocks with your other tubes, the board-files are available here: https://github.com/adafruit/Ice-Tube-Clock

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by jarchie on Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 am

nhibanez wrote:Received the new P-FET, swapped it in and it fixed the issue! So glad that it was that simple. Thanks for the info/part.

Excellent! And congratulations on a successful fix.

In case you're curious as to what was going on... The original PN2907A PNP transistor acts as a switch for the filament power and VFD driver chip. Normally, there would be a resistor to limit current between the PN2907A and the microcontroller, but this is omitted from the Adafruit design. The microcontroller has a max output of 20 mA per pin, but without a limiting resistor, the PN2907A pulls too much power. Strangely, this configuration can work well for many years, but the microcontroller sometimes starts to act up after a while. Since the ZVP2110A P-FET switches based on charge, it pulls almost no current from the microcontroller. With the overload condition corrected, the microcontroller works properly again.

nhibanez wrote:So glad that I don't have to replace the tube as thats what I thought was the issue, but now I have 4 spares if I ever need them (but no side boards to mount them to).

You can have your own side boards fabricated, as Bill suggested.

Alternatively, I did a redesign of the Ice Tube Clock a while back to incorporate a lot of the hacks and mods developed by various people on this forum. This project included a side board which is interchangeable with the original Adafruit clock. I ordered mine from OSH Park: https://www.oshpark.com/shared_projects/PiRXWH3F And the side-angle header I use is from Digi-Key: https://www.digikey.com/products/en?key ... 09-3338-ND

Be warned though, OSH Park prints purple PCBs, so they will not match the color of your Adafruit main board. And I put "MERRY XMAS" in copper below the silkscreen, so it's barely noticeable but visible. But if you like hacks and mods and want them to be visible, maybe this is a feature and not a bug...

If you'd like to fuss with my side board design, the board files are on the GitHub site for the xmas-icetube project: https://github.com/johngarchie/xmas-ice ... r/hardware

nhibanez wrote:Waiting to receive a couple of atmega32 chips and I plan on modding it so I can run jarchie's firmware.

I hope this is a typo and you ordered the atmega328p and not the atmega32...

I don't know if it helps, but there are tutorials for MacOS X and Windows on the xmas-icetube GitHub wiki: https://github.com/johngarchie/xmas-icetube/wiki


Anyway, good luck and happy hacking!

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by nhibanez on Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:22 am

jarchie wrote:In case you're curious as to what was going on... The original PN2907A PNP transistor acts as a switch for the filament power and VFD driver chip. Normally, there would be a resistor to limit current between the PN2907A and the microcontroller, but this is omitted from the Adafruit design. The microcontroller has a max output of 20 mA per pin, but without a limiting resistor, the PN2907A pulls too much power. Strangely, this configuration can work well for many years, but the microcontroller sometimes starts to act up after a while. Since the ZVP2110A P-FET switches based on charge, it pulls almost no current from the microcontroller. With the overload condition corrected, the microcontroller works properly again.


I was very curious about this. Thanks for the explanation.

jarchie wrote:You can have your own side boards fabricated, as Bill suggested.

Alternatively, I did a redesign of the Ice Tube Clock a while back to incorporate a lot of the hacks and mods developed by various people on this forum. This project included a side board which is interchangeable with the original Adafruit clock. I ordered mine from OSH Park: https://www.oshpark.com/shared_projects/PiRXWH3F And the side-angle header I use is from Digi-Key: https://www.digikey.com/products/en?key ... 09-3338-ND


Good to know. I may order a set just to have a spare.

jarchie wrote:
nhibanez wrote:Waiting to receive a couple of atmega32 chips and I plan on modding it so I can run jarchie's firmware.

I hope this is a typo and you ordered the atmega328p and not the atmega32...


That is a typo, I did order the atmega328p

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by LarryDeck on Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:45 pm

adafruit_support_bill wrote:@LarryDeck - If you contact support@adafruit.com with a link to this thread, we can send you a ZVP2110A P-FET to replace the 2907A.


Received the new P-FET today and installed it. My ice tube clock is once again telling the time flawlessly! Thanks again for the great customer service!

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by jarchie on Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:45 am

LarryDeck wrote:Received the new P-FET today and installed it. My ice tube clock is once again telling the time flawlessly!

Awesome! Congrats on a successful fix.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by Rome_Rob on Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:12 am

Are there any recommended alternate sources for the updated Q3? I'm having the same symptoms as nhibanez but emailing support just got me an email stating that I'm outside the warranty period and the product has been discontinued.

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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by adafruit_support_bill on Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:57 am


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Re: Ice Tube clock stopped working

by Rome_Rob on Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:13 am

Perfect, thanks Bill!

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