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Bromley digital Clock

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gjlelec

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Bromley digital Clock

Post18 Nov 2018, 21:40

Interesting item i came across today, who'd of thought the worlds first digital clock was produced and developed in Hull UK in 1961. Despite getting an order to produce 20 units, this never came to fruition and Mr Bromley let the patent lapse, subsequently snapped up by the Japanese and produced. This is the only prototype
Heres the link off the BBC news


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-46252838


bromley clock.jpg


bromley clock 2.jpg
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richard_uk

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post19 Nov 2018, 01:52

Just read about this on the BBC news site, was quite surprised at what it went for (£460) considering it was the first of its kind, and a one off, with the provenance such as the award from 1964, I’d have thought it would made a lot more than that even if they’d just listed it on eBay!
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post19 Nov 2018, 10:02

The auction was just a normal general house auction. Reading what David Bromley the son stated after his mother passed away, ie "we just wanted closure" I'm guessing this was just part of a house clearance sale. Deserved to go in a specialist sale really
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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post19 Nov 2018, 14:06

I would have spent that much for it.
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post23 Nov 2018, 17:28

Looks like Mr Bromley has used a synchronous electric clock motor and equiped it with cam switches to fire each leg of the nixies.Must have taken forever to set up lol. Anyway, despite harking from another lifetime, the notoriously short lived nixies are all working with the exception of No 9 on the r/h side which is very dim. This clock also incorporates a switch to set it going (pull and let go) and a turnwheel to set the time. heres some pics for whoevers interested
Bromley Digitron 001 (800x600).jpg


Struggling Nixie
Bromley Digitron 005 (800x600).jpg


Bromley Digitron 007 (800x600).jpg


Instructions
Bromley Digitron 015 (800x600).jpg


Patent
Bromley Digitron 012 (600x800).jpg
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Adam

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post23 Nov 2018, 21:20

So jealous, just stunning.
Adam
http://www.digital-watch.com - online database of 2000+ watches, manuals and adverts from the 70s-90s
http://www.vintagelcd.com - Vintage Digital Watches for sale
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bruce wegmann

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post23 Nov 2018, 23:47

You might just possibly find a replacement for the failing tube on eBay. If you can manage to read the tube number, and set up a "Saved Search" for that specific number, sooner or later, you may get lucky. Also, you could try switching tube positions (say, putting the failing one in the first position, where it would never have to display a "9"). Despite how antiquated this is, it's definitely worth fixing. I have had Nixie clocks...three of them, currently...for a long time (going on 15 years), and the place just wouldn't look "right" without them.
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post24 Nov 2018, 00:28

Good idea about swopping the Nixies Bruce, didnt occur to me No 1 Nixie displays"0" or "1" and thats it. Nixies have sort of passed me by until this clock but amazing to watch the various digits stepping nearer or further away from the case front. I've ordered one of the new "modern" nixie clocks c/w led accent lighting, new units apparently cycle through the ten digits every minute to prevent "poisoning" the tube. Not quite sure how that works but heres the link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1fWW_wrMk0
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post21 Jan 2019, 18:15

UPDATE-

I've been using the Bromley Digitron for its intended purpose- as a clock. The problem was , the original Nixies were pretty much shot, not suprising after 58 years. The second problem was the original nixies were GR10H (Digitrons- hence the name), a really early 17 pin nixie made by Ericsson Telephone, that i havent been able to source anywhere, for any amount. My quandary became , do i leave it alone, retain its originality or replace the 17 pin bases for common 13 pin units, fit the nearest available nixie to the original size i could find, thus giving it a new lease of life.
I decided on the latter. Luckily, as a nixie virgin, i chanced upon a very helpful chap called David Knight who advised on some of the alternatives and was willing to answer my dull-boy questions.
What i learned was -
The very early nixies had a very short life (4000 hrs of continuous use in the case of a GR10H)
The worst thing you can do to a nixie is put it in a clock. The first hour digit only ever reads " 0" and "1", a death sentence for a nixie (new modern clocks cycle through all the digits to prevent cathode poisoning)
There are people out there that collect nixies, the big rare ones sell for mad money. I found the GR10H listed as "Wanted" on a couple of the collectors sites.
I settled on a fairly common nixie ZM 1022 made by Valvo, 4mm smaller than my originals. However the life on these more "modern" tubes is 50,000 hours minimum and they can be easily obtained for circa £10 ea-
I'd probably still purchase the original nixies for originalities sake if i could find them

With NOS Nixies

bromley 2 001 (800x600).jpg


bromley 2 004 (800x600).jpg
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post12 Apr 2020, 21:07

Update on the update
Bromley clock has been running ok except it has a habit of stopping. There is no telling how long it will run for, sometimes half a day, other occasions for weeks / months. The problem is getting it to re-start. From the previous posts you will see there is a spring loaded switch to pull on the back, this causes a slight hum, then its supposed to start. Sometimes it goes first pull but mostly it can take 20-30 attempts to re-start. I finally got fed up of it and dismantled it, expecting to see rows of microswitches. Instead Mr Bromley seems to have used a swiper and track method of firing the nixies, the only thing i've ever seen remotely similar is in the back of my 70s Bally Bingo machine. I dont want to pull it any further apart than i have as i'll probably cock it up. I've highlighted where the thread bar goes to attach to the start switch. Anyone know what the big green thing does ? Any ideas gratefully accepted

bromley 001 (640x480).jpg


bromley 003 (640x472).jpg


bromley 004 (640x480).jpg


bromley 006 (640x480).jpg


bromley 007 (2) (640x475).jpg


bromley 011 (640x480).jpg


bromley 012 (640x480).jpg
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Old Tom

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 08:15

The big green thing is a Painton 5 watt wire wound, ceramic coated, resistor- the actual value is on the side away from you so you cannot read it (as usual!). It looks to be in good condition (no heat discolouring) and is probably fine. Old non self starting synchronous motors can be a real pain to start- I have a Copal digital clock with one in and this always takes lots of attempts to restart on the pull starter. The speed at which you pull the starterr out seems to be critical, must be just right to match the natural running speed of the motor.
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 10:04

Thanks Old Tom, do you know what i'm opening/closing with that start switch ? I was expecting a start capacitor. It never used to be this difficult to get going so something must have changed- thanks
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Old Tom

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 12:16

Is that actually a start switch- the movement looks to have been swiped from a 1950s electric clock and normally these had mechanical knob starter- you pulled/twisted the knob to ping a short metal arm onto the motor armature to start it rotating.
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 13:14

In Thomas Bromleys instructions (earlier pic , this thread) he says to pull the arm and release, no mention of twisting. So in effect, if i understand you correctly, this pull and release mechanism is actually mechanically , momentarily spinning the synchronous motor to kick it off ?
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Old Tom

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 14:31

Correct- a mechanical starter- if you look at the backs of 1950s Smiths & Metamec electric clocks you frequently see the instruction "pull & release to start" next to either the setting knob or sometimes a separate knob.
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gjlelec

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 15:46

What do you think of the wiper system to fire the nixies ? All home made or stolen from something ? Is there any way to improve the starting method without doing away with it altogether ? I've already had to replace the nixies and bases and dont want to affect its originality more than i have to - thanks
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Old Tom

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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post13 Apr 2020, 16:28

The outer switch ring looks to be a manufactured component (wipers definitely homemade)- the only component I can think of that this could have been swiped from is a stacked uniselector relay of the type that used to be found in old Strowger telephone exchanges. I do not know of any other way of starting a non self starting synchronous motor other than a physical shove to the rotor.
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Re: Bromley digital Clock

Post14 Apr 2020, 17:07

Thanks for the informative answers Old Tom. I may try and get my hands on an old cheapo mechanical start electric clock, one i can dismantle without worrying about wrecking, just to see how they achieve the start. I've been pulling the lever and experimenting with how long i hold it out before releasing (thinking it was connecting something electrical- obviously wasting my time with hindsight ) Does it spin the motor on the pull or the release ? Or could it be either ?- thanks

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