The ChronodeVFD Resurrects Old Displays For A Cool New Watch

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Myriam Joire AKA tnkgrl Is Out At Pebble

I am, as you may know, a sucker for watches that use older display technologies (see also Nixie tubes). For example, this cool watch by freelance engineer John De Cristofaro uses a vacuum fluorescent display tube, an early form of digital display that cast a bright blue light and was first used in 1980s-era electronics. They will be familiar to folks who owned Subarus with digital displays after about 1983.

The watch is a “costume” project so it runs for about 6-10 hours on a single AA battery. It includes a small roll cage to prevent the crystal from cracking, and De Cristofaro has built his own circuit board that is set with the aid of three small buttons.

The ChronodeVFD is a personal project I’ve been working on for a couple of months. It’s a wristwatch built around the IVL2-7/5 VFD display tube. I originally purchased a few of these tubes to build a standard desk clock, but after playing around with them, I realized I could probably build a wristwatch too. The tube has a number of features which make it more suited than most Soviet-surplus VFDs for this purpose.

De Cristofaro will publish the schematics and bill of materials shortly, but until then let’s bask in the glory of dead technology resurrected.