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Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's
Moderators: adafruit_support_bill, adafruit

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by msenn on Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:11 pm

So, I finally ordered an Ice Tube Clock Kit and got in the mail the other day. Sat down today to put it together and it seemed to go quite well right up to the step in the build process where you finish soldering the tube to the little rounded PCB and plug it in for a test just prior to finishing with the battery, last diode and the switches. The directions say that when you power it up for the test that it should beep and light up showing some numbers which it did. All 8's. I really didn't think much of it so I continued on to case assembly and plugged it in again. Same result -- beep and all 8's. This didn't seem right. Still doesn't. Power cycle. No change -- still all 8's. So, I pulled it all apart, checked all my solders which seem OK. Plugged in again. No change -- still all 8's. They are dimmer to the left and right hand sides but definitely 8's.

Both voltage tests during the build went swimmingly and I was right at 5v for the first one and just about 55v on the second test.

I tried searching the support forum at great length as well as Google and I'm not finding any help. Is it possible I have a defective kit, defective VFD tube or -- possibly the most obvious -- that perhaps I've just destroyed it?

I have attached a picture of what I'm seeing as well as a picture of the rear of both PCBs in case you can see something that I can't.
Attachments
DSC_2085_2.JPG
Main PCB Rear
DSC_2085_2.JPG (569.08 KiB) Viewed 789 times
DSC_2084_2.JPG
VFD PCB Rear
DSC_2084_2.JPG (488.95 KiB) Viewed 789 times
DSC_2082_2.JPG
VFD Display
DSC_2082_2.JPG (388.77 KiB) Viewed 789 times
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by jarchie on Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:07 pm

The build looks okay to me.

It's a long shot, but strange display behavior has been associated with Q3 issues. The diagnostic test for that is straightforward: 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. 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.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by Russell 27 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:39 am

I was making some voltage tests on my clock tube header yesterday and the tip of my test lead made an unwanted connection between two joints, and I had a similar reaction in display. I can't say there is an unwanted connection for sure, but you could take some voltage measurements, or continuity measurements of your board and check for problem of unwanted connection. One other thing, I don't think ADAFRUIT has a PULLUP resistor on the reset pin 1 of the microcontroller. You might try resetting the microcontroller by touching reset pin to ground and see if a reset clears things. This could be done right on the programmer pins, reset and ground are directly across from each other.
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by msenn on Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:43 am

Well, thanks for the replies. I think taking a day off and coming back this morning also helped. I powered up this morning and heard a very faint "dee doo" sound (cycling once per second) coming from one of the components. Too much heavy metal 20 years ago so I couldn't tell at all where that was coming from. Anywho, I shorted the outer pins of the Q3 and sure enough BOTH the "dee doo" sound quit and the display showed blinking clock digits. So, I'm guessing either a defective Q3 or I fried it during assembly like I was warned not to do. Anyone know how I go about getting that replaced?
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by msenn on Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:50 am

Wow, not a troll I swear. Nevermind my idiotic question about where to find them. I found them and ordered a few just in case I do it again.

Thanks again for the assistance.
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by jarchie on Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:59 pm

msenn wrote:Wow, not a troll I swear.

I doubt anyone thought that. There's plenty of people who don't know how to go about finding replacement parts.

msenn wrote:I found them and ordered a few just in case I do it again.

Oh darn... sorry for my slow reply here.

Adafruit usually offers to replace Q3 for free... but you've already ordered replacements, so I guess that's not necessary anymore.

And I hate to write this since you've already ordered parts... but I would 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.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by msenn on Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:14 pm

Yeah, I was a little ambitious in my ordering of the replacements. After I read a few other forums it seems that Adafruit may have sent a replacement for me if I would have been patient. Being Sunday, I just emailed DigiKey to see if they'd throw a few of the ZVP2110A-ND's on my existing order so I'll see what happens. If nothing else, it'll only run a few more dollars to order them separately. Thanks again for your help.
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by adafruit_support_bill on Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:23 pm

We do replace parts for failures like this. But do let us know how you do with the parts you have already ordered. The "all 8's" symptom is not a common problem. We are not sure what causes it.

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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by msenn on Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:44 am

Installed the ZVP2110A-ND in place of the included Q3, plugged it in and this thing works like a champ! Thanks again everyone for your help.
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Re: Ice Tube Clock Showing All 8's

by jarchie on Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:00 pm

Awesome! And thanks for the update.
--John <www.jarchie.com/email>

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.