Tom McNally's
Cool Clocks I've Built ... (or collected)

Here's another Paragon Ben Franklin clock
the story is 100 were made for the BiCentennial
in 1976, 95 went to clients and 5 to employees.
I got this one from the grandson of a former
long time Paragon employee.

This is a 50's version (most likely) of a 15 inch face
Western Union clock that was used in radio stations.
It is a pendulum movement, with a motor that winds
the mechanism, powered by two big 1 1/2 volt dry cells.
The red light would light once an hour, when a signal
would come in over a Western Union telephone line,
and synchronize the clock with Naval Observatory Time
These originally were leased for $ 25 a year, with
service included ! Made by the Self Winding Clock Co.
I had my mechanism beautifully rebuilt by:
Ken's Clock Clinic
My clock is connected to a GPS Master Clock and syncs
at the top of every hour. It's pretty accurate, and the
batteries have lasted over two years. I'm using a
small 3 volt switching supply for the sync solenoid.

This is a Scope Clock from
I built it a couple of years ago, but just got around
to posting a picture. It's built in the case of a 1960's
RCA Oscilloscope, using only the original scope tube.

IEE Nimo Miniature 1" CRT display.
These displays very rare - I found one on eBay.
This is an actual cathode ray tube with ten cut masks with the
digits 0 through 9. Each one is beamed to the phospor coated
screen and displays a green glowing character.

The black module on the left is a 6000 Volt DC power supply
which supplies high voltage to the anode pin on the top of
the tube. The supply voltage is variable by means of a knob
on the side, so it also serves as a brightness control. The
tube wants 1500 - 2500 volts. The filament is 1.1 volts. Time
is kept using a PIC that is programmed as a single digit clock.

The Nimo in action - courtesy of A.J. Franzman.

IEE Rear Projection displays.
These have 11 small 5 volt incandescent bulbs that
project through pieces of film with the digit on them.
It looks like a black and white movie.

Yeah - a couple of wires on the driver board !

The timekeeping section is a piece of a
Nixie board, running at low voltage.
The 43 2N2222 transistors drive the
display at 5 volts from the regulator.

RCA DR-2215 Numitron incandescent displays.
Built on a circuit board designed and sold by Rich White II
Originally from a 70's Radio Electronics Magazine article, updated
with a brightness control by Sal Brisindi at

Set switches and brightness control.

View of the board with MM-5314 clock chip.
It's a multiplexed display, and the Numitrons will
ghost if you don't have a diode on each segment.
The blue translucent box is by Hammond. A startling
departure for me from the usual black Radio Shack boxes !

You can see the surgery required to mount the tiny sockets for
the DR-2215's. The board was made for the larger DR-2000's
The DR-2215's fit in the old TO-5 style used for round metal IC's.

I like the Numitrons !
So I made another one with RCA DR-2000 tubes.

Burroughs B-7971 Alpha Numeric Nixie flashes
the time in sequence 24 times a minute ...
The clock is powered by a Parallax BASIC Stamp II.
It has a 32.768 kHz crystal for a timebase.
The time is set with a unique one button system.

Here's the inside - BASIC Stamp 2 and 14 MPS-A42 transistors
driving the tube, and a traditional transformer power supply.

It looks kinda like this in action !

Here is another version of the Burroughs B-7971
single tube clock in a heavy cold rolled steel case
designed and built by Minneapolis Architect Ben Awes.

I crammed the circuity in a small space in this
8 pound clock ! The black device on the right is a
DC-DC Converter available here Nixietubes
DC power comes from a 12 volt "wall wart"

Another Burroughs B-7971 device, not just
a clock ! It's called the "Four Letter Word"
and the original design dates back to 1973.
Designed by Raymond Weisling, this modern version
uses contemporary components, except the displays.
click here for a site with more info
It spews out four letter words, selectably G or X rated,
or mixed, and even gives you the time on a random basis.
This one is housed in the cabinet from an old GE radio
with a smoked plexiglas front. Very chic indeed !

Tim Hoffman put one of the boards I built
into this cool looking Sankyo mechanical
clock body. It uses Russian IN-17 tubes.

Benjamin Franklin invented this one handed clock
with a 4 hour rotation back in 1758. You have to
figure out what hour it is on your own, then look
at the minutes. It's fairly easy when you get
the hang of it. An idea who's time has never come.
I didn't build this one - I bought the face and
glass on eBay, and Hilmar Hintzer made this nice
oak case for it. Very cool looking !

Here's another bakelite Ben Franklin clock
made by Paragon Electric (the company that makes
those timers) It appears to be from the 60's

6 Burroughs B-7971 Alpha Numeric Nixie tubes
powered by David Forbes clock board !
Check out his site at

Here is the back, showing the board attached.
(don't do this at home - high voltage is exposed)

David's board is intended to drive conventional
Nixie tubes with 10 elements, so I designed a
54 diode matrix to convert 1 of 10 into the 14
segment format needed by these tubes.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands !
I bought some blue LEDs on eBay and decided
to make a clock with 43 of them. There are six
rows of vertical LEDs, Hours/Minutes/Seconds
It's made with a Nixie clock board with 2N2222
transistor drivers and a 12 Volt supply.

It makes a nice flashlight too !

Almost scary !

Now what do I do with it ? (10:26:30)

Nixie clock using some Burroughs 8422 tubes
on the PC Board designed by Mike Harrison !
Checkout his cool collection at
This one has a homemade board to drive the seconds.
See Gary Kaufman's for blank circuit boards !

The board mentioned above using some XN-11 "Numicator" tubes
made in England around 1970. I've built and sold some of
these on eBay. Nah ... it's not addicting at all !

A remote control metering panel from an AM Radio Station
turned into a cool looking analog clock !
A Parallax BASIC Stamp II provides very precise
voltages to display the time on the meters.
I'll take some better pictures after I figure
out how to clean the plastic meter faces.

Closeup of the Hours (12) - 24 hour time is used
The time is set using the toggle switches.

Minutes (40) ...

Seconds (18)...

Note the "clock" behind Joe Pantoliano (as Doc Robbins)
and Tom Berenger (as Frank Ridgeway) in the 1983 movie
"Eddie and The Cruisers" which was filmed in my area !!

This clock uses some cheap little meters to
read the time in a digital/analog mode !
Again, using Mike's PCB with a home made board
to drive the seconds meters. A mess of resistors
set the individual digits. It's 4:36:15 !

Nixie clock with 8422 tubes, and 10 NE-2 neons
that tick off the seconds across the bottom ...
Again, using Mike's PCB with a home made board
to drive the seconds indicator lights.

What it looks like in action !

Nixie clock with six Burroughs B-5861ST tubes,
driven by 7441 TTL drivers, with 7490/7492 chips.
The voltmeter shows the DC on the nixies.
This also uses a 32.768 kHz crystal driven by
a CMOS 4060 oscillator/divider chip for a timebase.

Top view of the circuitry.

Back of the box with the set buttons, fuse, regulator.

One Giant 4" 7 segment LED that tells the time
sequentially, again, driven by a BASIC Stamp II.

This one started it all ....
Heathkit GC-1005 Digital Alarm Clock
Uses Sperry/Beckman "Plasma" 7 segment neon readouts.
I built this from a kit in the early 70's and it has
run reliably 24 hours a day since then.

... tom updated March 31, 2009