The New Nixie Machine II by Frank Buchwald at the M.A.D.Gallery


Frank Buchwald’s impressively detailed works were part of the initial line-up of artists showcased at the inauguration of the first M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva. Buchwald’s intrepid Machine Lights followed by the first Nixie Machine inspired the admiration of MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser from the start, landing Buchwald’s work a permanent exhibit at the M.A.D.Galleries.

Nixie Machine II

Introduced in the 1950s, Nixie tubes, also known as cold cathode displays, became a popular way of presenting numerals using glow discharge. The name Nixie is thought to derive from the Burroughs Corporation’s “NIX I,” which in turn was believed to have stood for “Numeric Indicator eXperimental No.1.”

Each glass tube is filled with a low-pressure neon-based gas and includes a wire-mesh anode and layered cathodes shaped like numerals; a separate cathode is needed for every numeral 0 to 9. A distinctive orange glow discharge surrounds each cathode when power is applied. Assembled in multi-digit arrays by connecting electronic circuitry to several tubes, Nixie tubes were often used for computers, clocks, and frequency counters, though these were eventually supplanted by more practicable, less costly – though arguably less charming – displays such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The new Nixie Machine II represents the next evolutionary stage of the original Nixie Machine. Each and every detail has been manually handcrafted, from the design, construction, and detailed finishes of the clock to the six Nixie tubes produced by Dalibor Farny.

Nixie Machine II is a collaborative project between two Nixie tube fanatics, Frank Buchwald and Dalibor Farny, and it came to life thanks to a chance encounter. As luck would have it, Farny stumbled upon Buchwald during an exhibition of technical antiques in Berlin and instantly recognized him as the creator of the legendary Nixie Machine. One might say it was destiny that brought these two Nixie tube enthusiasts together to develop the new Nixie Machine II.

The architecture of Buchwald’s industrial creation fuses his distinctive design principles with his vivid imagination. The steel-and-brass base of the clock, measuring 1.2 meters, displays insect-like limbs supporting the central body while steel brackets enclose the Nixie tubes like arms gripping time; flexible, tentacle-like tubing “nourishing” the Nixie tubes with energy and information is at the core of the composition. An orange glow surrounding the visible inner structure of the Nixie tubes provides the piece with both an industrial look and a bio-animated character.

Farny manufactures Nixie Machine II’s modern, vacuum Nixie tubes in his workshop in the Czech Republic. Each tube features a steampunk-like inner structure awash with honeycomb grids and tungsten wires smelted with glass lighting up filigree digits encapsulated in blown glass cylinders. Driven by his passion for the subject, Farny spent years researching and experimenting to successfully bring the famous vacuum Nixie tube Z568M back to life.

The electronic heart of Nixie Machine II takes a completely innovative approach. Based on a powerful, Wi-Fi-enabled electronics dock, the clock is connected to the internet to automatically keep accurate time, removing the need to set it manually. All settings and special features – including scroll effects, day/night modes, digit light dimming, time zone settings and more – can be intuitively programmed online. The clock can also operate offline, regulated by a knob on the back.

This collaborative invention will inspire both awe and conversation with anyone viewing the animated time-telling machine. For more info. on MB&F, Click Here. For more info on. M.A.D. Gallery, Click Here.


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