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A project log for Clockwork germanium

A retro version of Yet Another (Discrete) Clock, with vintage parts

Yann Guidon / YGDESYann Guidon / YGDES 01/20/2021 at 01:560 Comments

As mentioned in #Bipolar Discrete UART  I am in awe when watching this fabulous build :

The most interesting part is at 15:50 and I have examined and even simulated this circuit at An even better SCR-based sequencer. This is an impressive design that inspires me again because I want to turn it into a Johnson counter, which is a special case of shift register, which is also something needed for the #Bipolar Discrete UART ...

The name of the game is minimalism ! As noted before in 25. Germanium is not for ever..., the number of available vintage parts has dramatically shrunk and their price has exploded, so the fewer parts, the better !

The design that Leo chose has 1P1N per count: that's 20 transistors per digit, where a Johnson counter would use only 1P1N×5=10 total, which would use only 48 transistors for H:M:S.

Transforming the SCR latch sequencer into a shift register is not trivial but it should be possible. This would be also a great thing for the UART, because there would be no "slave latch". Looking at the schematic/diagram, which looks like a transistorized Dekatron, the clock pulse is driving ALL SCR through one shared diode, and "current steering" (something similar to the effect of a differential pair) will send the most current to one of the branches, which is pre-selected by the charge of a capacitor.

This is this individual branch that must be tweaked, adapted, transformed, so it behaves like a D-flip-flop. Then it will be useful for a wide range of circuits :-)

I know I should look more carefully at the works on the Shockley diode. More early SCR research can be found at