Build An Insanely Complicated Transistor Clock
By James Grahame
Brandon Schader writes, "As an electronics hobbyist, I gravitate toward endlessly cool yet hopelessly commercially impractical projects. This company's offerings definitely qualify.
Stumbled upon this site about a year ago based upon a 'Nuts and Volts' write-up. The coolest project at that time was the Transistor Clock. This is simply a digital clock built entirely with discrete transistors and diodes-no ICs anywhere! Display consists of six 7-segment LED displays. I've built one, and although it's not cheap, it's simply transcendentally awesome.
Now I see he has outdone himself. He now features a "Transistor Clock" kit as described above which uses Nixies rather than LEDs as the displays. This meets the definition of retro in every possible way because it genuinely could have been built as is with no mods in the 60s."
I like soldering electronics, sometimes for an hour or two at a stretch. It's a great way to clear the mind and focus on creating a physical thing. However, the $239 KABtronics Nixie Transistor Clock Kit might be taking things a bit too far. Instead of using logic ICs or microcontrollers, it features 215 discrete transistors, 518 diodes, 472 resistors and 101 capacitors on a massive 10" x 14" printed circuit board.
KABtronics also offers a $199 version with a 7-segment LED display, along with smaller and less expensive models that incorporate newfangled integrated circuits. And if the idea of solid state electronics is too much for you, there's apparently a mechanical relay clock in the works, too.