Keeping things simple, firmware is identical in all four of the PIC16F1509s. When power is first applied to the system, controllers wake up, "sniff" the slots (specified using pull-up/pull-down resistors on two of their pins), then set their I2C addresses accordingly.
Of particular interest is the way in which the Microchip engineers used tools like Excel to determine the X-Y coordinates for the Nixie Tube lead holes, and for the orientations and locations of the surface-mount drive transistors (one for each cathode). The PCB was created using CadSoft EAGLE PCB Design Software and fabricated through ValueProto for $25 each, which is a really good deal for a small hobbyist prototyping run.
The Nixie Tube clock circuit board.
The video below shows the clock displaying time, followed by a random sequence, then temperature.
Day and Cappy also will discuss future enhancements, including the
addition of a pressure transducer, a humidity sensor and Wi-Fi
capability. They alos will introduce a variety of Nixie Tube resources,
including alternative Nixie Tube Clock implementations.
PS For others just coming in, my article originally said $5 a board for the prototype (unpopulated) PCBs -- I made a mistake -- it should be $25 -- and I just made that change in the article -- so UncleRemus wasn't imagining things (grin)
@UncleRemus: Sorry -- this was my bad -- I was interviewing John over the phone -- he said "$25" but I heard "$5" and that's what I wrote down.
I just touched base with John again, he says that the price was $25 each for a 1.5" x 4", quantity = 4, and a 2-week turnaround time.
But still and all, I think $25 for a hobbyist prototype board of this level of sophistication is a REALLY good deal. I don;t want to think what I've ended up paying other board vendors in the past...
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.