New Year’s Resolution!

Q: “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
A: “Why, 1024 x 768, of course!”

Geeky jokes aside, here at the Oscilloclock lab we DO have a form of New Year’s resolution! 「日進月歩Nisshin-geppo, which loosely translates as “Steady progress day by day“, reflects the goal to complete the the once-in-a-decade re-design work, and resume crafting beautiful Oscilloclock products. It also highlights confidence that issues currently facing the wider world will be overcome, one step at a time.

In keeping with local traditions, [Oscilloboy] wrote the slogan in Japanese calligraphy. But there, tradition ended and true joy began! Behold, courtesy of an Oscilloclock VGA Core assembly, Oscilloclock’s 2021 New Year’s resolution on a beautiful old 7-inch oscilloscope!

The Setup

After choosing an appropriately meaningful four-character phrase for our resolution, I asked [Oscilloboy] to write out the characters. Bucking with tradition, we used standard white A4 paper instead of calligraphy paper. The ink took more time to dry, but we wanted to maximize the contrast.

[Oscilloboy] demonstrates his prowess in Japanese calligraphy. Right: the finished product!

After scanning the handwritten characters and inverting the images, I created a rolling video in 1024 x 768 resolution. (See? The joke at the beginning of the post about resolution was serious, after all!)

I then played this through an Oscilloclock VGA Core assembly, which is essentially a graphics card that allows you to use a beautiful old CRT as a rudimentary computer display. (For earlier write-ups, see VGA display… On a 3″ scope tube! and The VGA Cube! .

The assembly used here features a late prototype of the Revision 3 Power Board, which I have been working on for almost a year. I won’t go into all the bells & whistles yet. Stay tuned!

A VGA Core assembly – displays monochrome images from VGA, SVGA and XGA inputs

Unlike a permanent Oscilloclock conversion (see the Gallery for examples), this was only a temporary setup. The VGA Core was positioned externally, with the harness routed into the 7VP1(F) CRT via the rear of one of the side panels. No invasive procedures needed!

Just LOOK at that beautiful CRT socket – brown Bakelite!

No VGA socket on your ultramodern slim notebook of choice? No problem – use an off-the-shelf HDMI to VGA converter!

And voila – the final result! Japanese calligraphy on a vintage 7″ oscilloscope!


About the Model – A rare 1963 Nitsuki Oscilloscope

Nitsuki is the brand name of Japan Communication Equipment Co., Ltd., a specialist in television and microwave broadcasting systems. The firm’s English name was originally Nihon Tsushinki Co., Ltd., so you can see how the Nitsuki moniker came about.

Check out this exquisite cap on the pilot lamp!

By 1963, the Japan domestic test equipment market was mature and quite competitive. English language labeling had become stock-standard. This scope is one of very few units I have ever obtained that has Japanese labeling. How appropriate for today’s display!

Japanese labeling – a rarity!

Some of the higher-quality oscilloscopes of this era featured flip-latches and detachable side panels, for easy access. See the Toshiba ST-1248D for another example. These scopes are infinitely more enjoyable to work with and show off than scopes with a slide-out chassis.

This model is also quite unusual for its time in that most of the components are located under the chassis! The valves (tubes, if you prefer) are even mounted horizontally. Nitsuki used very robust construction techniques, including very tidy cable lacing.

In fact, their design was so robust that the scope functions almost perfectly today (except for some triggering instability), yet there is no evidence of major repairs in the last 57 years!

Back to its natural self – a nice old 7-inch 1963 oscilloscope!

Like what you see?

The Oscilloclock lab struggled in 2020 due to worldly events, but NOW – day by day, step by step, the newly designed Oscilloclock boards are at last taking shape! Does your New Year’s ‘resolution’ for your next project specify 1024 x 768? Or perhaps you’re into displaying fancy calligraphy on vintage CRTs? Let me know.

And as always, see previous posts and the Gallery for info on other unique creations!

Oscilloclock at Maker Faire Tokyo!

Summer is over! But even as cool weather sets in, the Oscilloclock.com lab is smoking hot, preparing for…

Maker Faire Tokyo 2013

Visit the Oscilloclock.com booth, and check out the luxury 2013 edition Model 1S – to be announced in this blog at end October. One unit will go on sale at the event!

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Making the Heathkit Oscilloclock

Last month’s post about the Heathkit Oscilloclock generated tremendous interest, and I’ve heard from several folks keen to try their hand at preserving their own beloved instruments.

… so let’s take a brief look at what was involved in the Heathkit OR-1 conversion!

Heathkit Oscilloclock - inside

Approaches to conversion…

There are many approaches to retrofitting a scope into an Oscilloclock, but it really boils down to how much of the original circuit you want to re-use, vs. what you will bypass with Oscilloclock boards.

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A Heathkit Oscilloclock!

Anyone familiar with Heathkit®?

From 1947 to 1992, the U.S. based Heath Company produced electronic kits for everything you can imagine: radios, TVs, computers, robots, ham gear, and electronic test equipment. Yes, you guessed it – they also produced kits for oscilloscopes!

My Grandpa purchased one such scope, the Heathkit OR-1, around 1960. He wanted to kick off a new career in electronics repair, and the ‘build-your-own-equipment’ approach to training was in full bloom at the time. Also, since this was before the era of cheap overseas manufacturing, he could buy a Heathkit far cheaper than an assembled scope.

Heathkit OR-1 manual - a work of art

Heathkit OR-1 manual – a work of art

Unfortunately, Grandpa’s electronics career never really took off. But decades later, he introduced me to his gorgeous oscilloscope, and boy – did that kick MY career off! Much later, the OR-1 came to live with me. (You can read a bit more about my affinity for this scope in my History page.)

The problem is, I have too many oscilloscopes. But I don’t have enough Oscilloclocks. What more fitting way to keep Grandpa’s legacy alive, than to retrofit his Heathkit?

Heathkit OR-1 Oscilloclock

Heathkit Oscilloclock - Splash and Clock

Special features

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