Fresh off the press – some photos of the Oscilloblock – Summer Dusk edition in its new home! The owner is clearly a huge Nixie tube and neon aficionado, but this is his very first CRT clock. What a fitting environment!
Ahh, summer – it’s well and truly over. But one person in the world is able to enjoy the warm, cheery feeling of summer every single day: the proud new owner of this beautiful Oscilloblock – Summer Dusk edition!
This playful timepiece features a Lego art case, painstakingly designed and constructed by Oscilloclock lab’s junior technician from a whopping 548 brand-new Lego parts sourced from around the globe. No expenses spared! Even the control knob is actually a Lego Technics gear. And just in case the owner wanted to take it apart and build it all over again, we included a 140-step Lego building guide in the package. Good luck!
The Oscilloblock features a good-looking 1970’s 3-inch (75mm) flat-faced CRT from Toshiba, with the iconic scripted logo in great condition on the base. At the rear is a scarce brown bakelite CRT socket, which are very hard to find complete with the rear insulating cap! The harness consists of tough 3kV tolerant silicone-sheathed cabling, shielded over most of its length to reduce electromagnetic interference.
One design goal was to have more than 90% of the CRT’s surface area completely exposed for viewing and touching, as opposed to encasing it in acrylic. Borne from this was a tremendous achievement for 2015: a new CRT ring support structure!
The internals of the clock are equally exquisite. A set of latest-revision Oscilloclock control, deflection and power boards drive the CRT at 2.1kV, providing a crystal-clear, ultra-bright trace. And of couse, every figure and character is generated using silky-smooth Circle Graphics.
There is only one control. It’s intuitive. It’s fun. It’s simple! Visit my YouTube channel to see various Oscilloclocks in operation.
But not everything is obvious, and Oscilloclocks all ship with an Operation Guide, with content specific to each and every unique unit. Here’s a snippet from the Oscilloblock’s guide:
Like what you see?
There’s really no limit to what can be done with a CRT and an idea! It was my son’s idea to use Lego, and he is proud to know there is nothing in the world quite like this Oscilloblock. See the Gallery for other equally unique creations.
Everything begins with an idea…
The rainy season is officially over, and the long heat of summer has taken command. But here at Oscilloclock.com, we plan to sweat it out in air-conditioned comfort at…
Visit our booth and check out several new models! First up is the fabulous 2015 edition Oscilloblock. One unit will go on sale at the event!
Here we see the original Oscilloclock Prototype leaping for joy with the glorious Leap Second! The Hourly XY Bump screen-saver even bumps the screen twice, just for added effect.
Note: Flicker is due to camera effects and is not visible to the human eye.
And it’s coming very soon.
On 30 June 2015, for exactly one second, time will stop!
Only just after I’d written last month’s post about an X-Y-Z display for an HUD, the customer asked for a spot of extra help with his new playtoy.
The Oscilloclock Deflection Board currently assumes X and Y input ranges of 0-5V, centred on 2.5V. However, the customer was programming an Arduino-based controller board with analogue output from 0-3.3V. Applying this directly of course didn’t break anything, but sure did make it hard to centre on screen! Would there be a quick way to adjust voltage levels?
Another issue was that the gain in the current-revision Deflection Board is hard-wired, and the image was not the right scale to just fit the screen. The gain could be changed via a single resistor per channel, but would there be an easier, more flexible way?
YES on both accounts!
Recently I received a most intriguing request: I was asked to build a self-contained, super-bright X-Y display unit with 3-inch CRT, for use in an “HUD“. Hmm…
Holographic Utterance Device?
Horizontally Unstable Doohickie?
Fortunately, I didn’t need to guess any further. As I was once an avid flight simulator enthusiast, I quickly hit upon the correct meaning: Head-Up Display. This is a mechanism that overlays instrumentation or map data onto the view looking forward from the cockpit, so that the pilot doesn’t have to look down to see this information.
Wikipedia has a great introduction to HUDs and their history, but Mike’s Flight Deck has the definitive tome for flight simulator enthusiasts who want to actually build an HUD. According to Mike, the system employs various optical paraphernalia, but at the heart of the mechanism is what lies closest to my own heart – a CRT Display!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…
…and so the great nursery rhyme goes! But here at Oscilloclock labs, we’re not talking about an egg (which, one theory goes, represented the defeated King Richard III). We’re talking about a beautiful old CRT, savagely shaken and shattered during international shipping. What a waste. But oh, what a great chance to see the insides close-up!
I believe in reincarnation. Every vintage device sporting a CRT deserves to live again, to be loved again, to lift someone’s spirits again. And in 2014, this beautiful Toshiba ST-1248D received its chance, born again as a suave Oscilloclock!
See this in HD, and find more exciting videos on my YouTube channel
Manufactured sometime in the mid to late 1950’s, the ST-1248D was extremely well-designed and assembled, compared to other compact models available on the domestic Japanese market at that time. The engineers considered both function and form – latched panels on the side and back, delicately laced wiring, and a relatively spacious interior conducive to heat removal and circuit reliability. But the delightful brass bezel is what really makes this one of the most beautiful Oscilloclock conversions ever.
Now here’s a familiar picture!
It seems that the Heathkit OR-1 is a very rare oscilloscope nowadays, and Chuck Penson reached out to me for a photo to put into his latest book, Heathkit Test Equipment Products. This is a very well-written, well-researched treasure trove of data about the most iconic kit manufacturer of its time. Highly recommended!
And of course here is the Oscilloclock Heathkit OR-1 again, in all its glory: