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ICE Tube Clock help
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

ICE Tube Clock help

by javaboyjunior on Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:18 pm

Hi there

Have finished assembly but am having an issue - just one segment of the tube lights up and flashes. I do get the beep on startup and all voltages are as they should be. I have been through and rechecked solder joints.

I have attached photos of the problem and the board - am open to suggestions

Many thanks

Mike
Attachments
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photo 2 (2).JPG (544.83 KiB) Viewed 813 times
photo 1 (2).JPG
photo 1 (2).JPG (577.72 KiB) Viewed 813 times

javaboyjunior
 
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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by javaboyjunior on Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:19 pm

Rest of images:
Attachments
photo 3 (3).JPG
photo 3 (3).JPG (526.2 KiB) Viewed 812 times
photo 2 (3).JPG
photo 2 (3).JPG (452.04 KiB) Viewed 812 times
photo 1 (3).JPG
photo 1 (3).JPG (399.1 KiB) Viewed 812 times

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by jarchie on Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:05 pm

javaboyjunior wrote:I have attached photos of the problem and the board - am open to suggestions

I reviewed your photos, and your build looks good to me.

javaboyjunior wrote:Have finished assembly but am having an issue - just one segment of the tube lights up and flashes.

This sounds like a variant of the flaky segment problem, discussed here. Although the typical symptoms seem different, at least two other users have reported the flaky segment problem manifesting as a single flashing segment (redwire and JaysonL). Adafruit may offer to replace Q3, which should solve your problem, but I'd 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.

Russell had an excellent suggestion: To confirm the issue is indeed the flaky segment problem, try removing the clock battery and soldering 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.

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. The 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, don't be surprised to find it completely dead.
Last edited by jarchie on Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by Russell 27 on Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:25 pm

Actually you can just attach an alligator clip on there for your test partner.

MOSFET JUMPER.png
MOSFET JUMPER.png (6.16 KiB) Viewed 777 times
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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by jarchie on Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:46 pm

Russell 27 wrote:Actually you can just attach an alligator clip on there for your test partner.

I had trouble attaching my alligator clips, but perhaps your clips are smaller? Or perhaps I just wasn't using the right technique...

Soldering a small jumper does have one possible advantage, though: the clock can go back in the case easily and will function normally--albeit without sleep functionality--until a replacement Q3 arrives.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by javaboyjunior on Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:47 pm

I soldered on a jumper as suggested and that fixed the problem - thanks very much for the suggestion. I've ordered the improved replacement part from Mouser.

Thanks for your help everyone!

Mike

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by jarchie on Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:10 pm

javaboyjunior wrote:I soldered on a jumper as suggested and that fixed the problem - thanks very much for the suggestion. I've ordered the improved replacement part from Mouser. Thanks for your help everyone!

Awesome! Glad we could help!

And if you have time, it would be a great help to other builders if you post back later to confirm that the ZVP2110A fixes your problem.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by javaboyjunior on Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:12 am

Yup that did it. The parts from Mouser showed up yesterday, removed the old one, soldered in the new one and everything is working as expected.

Thanks for your help!

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Re: ICE Tube Clock help

by jarchie on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:04 am

javaboyjunior wrote:Thanks for your help!

You're very welcome, and thank you for letting us know what worked. :-)
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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