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ice tube clock kit
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

ice tube clock kit

by icetubeclock on Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:38 pm

I have just finished putting the ice tube clock together & the display tube is green not Blue!! Also several of the characters either flicker or appear then disappear especially when the number 5 in the minutes is on & when the 2 for the hour is on or the 3 in the minute, the seconds count up is half the brightness of the seconds. During the construction of the main board all the meter checks showed correct & even when the power was applied the beep occurred correctly. I have checked all the components to make sure they are correctly soldered & in properly. Please can you help.
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Re: ice tube clock kit

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:57 pm

I have just finished putting the ice tube clock together & the display tube is green not Blue!!

The tubes are typically a greenish-blue. There are several manufacturers of these NOS tubes and the color varies a bit depending on the source.
Also several of the characters either flicker or appear then disappear

Post photos of the front and back of the board and we'll check for problems.

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Re: ice tube clock kit

by tho on Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:52 am

Hello the digits on my clock is green also

Image
Image
Image

Not sure what I did wrong.

Thanks
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Re: ice tube clock kit

by Agent_24 on Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:51 am

You did not do anything wrong, the colour of the tube can vary but in general most of them look like yours. Mine does.
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Re: ice tube clock kit

by jarchie on Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:50 pm

icetubeclock wrote:Also several of the characters either flicker or appear then disappear especially when the number 5 in the minutes is on & when the 2 for the hour is on or the 3 in the minute, the seconds count up is half the brightness of the seconds.

This sounds a lot like the flaky segment problem, which seems to be caused by undesirable power noise from Q3 (ZVP3306A). Although the typical flaky segment problem is a bit more severe than what you describe, the symptoms can also be much milder.

To confirm the problem, try the jumper test: Remove the clock battery and solder a temporary jumper between the two outer pins of Q3. Be careful not to touch the center pin of Q3 with the jumper; accidentally doing so risks blowing the microcontroller. If you can manage to jumper the outer pins of Q3 with alligator clips or other connectors, that's fine as well.

Q3 acts as a power switch for the VFD filament and driver chip. Adding a jumper bypasses Q3 and ensures the filament and driver chip are always fully powered. Assuming Q3 is the problem, your clock should work fine when powered with the AC adapter. But since the filament and driver chip can no longer be turned off, the backup battery will not be able to supply enough power for the clock to keep time during sleep. And if you accidentally leave the backup battery installed with Q3 jumpered, the battery will be drained extremely quickly when the clock tries to sleep, so if you don't remove the battery, it will likely wind up completely dead.

If the issue indeed turns out to be the flaky segment problem, the solution is to replace or upgrade Q3. I suggest upgrading Q3 to a ZVP2110A, available from Digi-Key (ZVP2110A-ND) or Mouser (522-ZVP2110A). Replacing Q3 with a ZVP2110A will provide more voltage to the VFD filament and prevent two other problems that occasionally effect Ice Tube Clocks: First, the dim digit problem is where the initial and/or final digit appears significantly dimmer than the others and is caused by the low filament voltage in the Adafruit design. Second, low filament voltage also accelerates cathode poisoning, which can shorten tube life and make the 3rd and 6th digits appear dimmer than the others. A clock with both issues is pictured in the initial post of this thread.


adafruit_support_bill wrote:Post photos of the front and back of the board and we'll check for problems.

Also a good idea. I don't know why, but some build problems are only apparent to a second set of eyes.


Agent_24 wrote:
icetubeclock wrote:[The] display tube is green not Blue!!
tho wrote:Hello the digits on my clock is green also

You did not do anything wrong, the colour of the tube can vary but in general most of them look like yours. Mine does.

I agree with Agent_24 about the color of the tubes. The digits are green-blue and usually more green than blue. But the clock is often photographed under low light conditions which can make the tubes appear quite blue.

adafruit.jpg
The brightness gradient across one of my IV-18 tube in a dark room. The tube appears green in normal light, and the gradient disappears when clock brightness is set to higher levels.
adafruit.jpg (10.9 KiB) Viewed 565 times

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