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Arduino forum member RickP posted his awesome-looking reverse geocache box, which unlocks to reveal its contents only when it’s in a certain place on the globe. He uses an Arduino, a GPS sensor, and a trio of nixie tubes, which indicate the box’s distance from that special spot. When the button is pressed in that spot, a servo motor unlatches the lid.

The large amount of power drawn by the nixie tubes had to be taken into careful consideration. With four D-cell batteries, Rick estimates that the box can do 600 GPS fixes before they run out. Connected to the power button is a latching relay, which allows the Arduino to shut the power off after the GPS fix has been attained and distance has been displayed.

The enclosure is made from a French army medical box. And those guard rails? They’re Ikea drawer pulls.

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Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


3 Responses to Nixie tube reverse geocache box

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  1. theophrastus on said:

    Last i read (all) nixie tubes were rumored as coming out of some limited stock in a Russian warehouse. Does anyone know, are they making new ones now (due to steampunkish demand or whatever)?

  2. cancerouspete on said:

    looks like a bomb, i wouldnt want to run around in public pressing that red button :)

  3. Math Campbell on said:

    This is awesome. All I can say.

    It’s very like the box at the centre of the plot in the quite-steampunkish “City of Ember” film from 2008, although as I recall that used old-style LED-based numbers, a la 1970’s watches…
    Very nifty design as well, great re-use of an old box, and I love the idea of re-gifting it on, so others can join in the fun…

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