If you're here, then you may be thinking about asking me to make you a clock, or you may just be curious as to who I am and what Bad Dog Designs is all about, so here is a little bit about myself, what I do, and how Bad Dog Designs came into being. At the time of this writing, I'm in my mid-40s, going somewhat grey, and wondering, a little, what to say!

Since I was a child, I have always been the sort of person who will take things apart to see how they work, and then put them back together again (sometimes even in the right order). Fascinated with electronics, I remember when my parents stopped buying me toys; instead, my father would take me to the local scrapyard and I would come home with a car full of old radios and televisions and goodness knows what else, all of which I would subsequently dismantle and fiddle with.

My professional career commenced as an apprentice at an electronics company. It was here that I gained experience and my electronics qualifications through to an HND (Higher National Diploma). I then moved into some research and development work with embedded microcontrollers, after which I became a commissioning engineer, which took me all over the world commissioning communication equipment. After I grew tired of all the travelling, I ended up in management, looking after a team of maintenance engineers.

As a manager, I started to miss the hands-on aspects of engineering; also, I didn't want to lose my skills. Towards the end of 2014, I stumbled across a Nixie clock online. I remembered Nixie tubes from some of the equipment I used to dismantle as a boy. I looked around the internet and discovered quite a few Nixie tube-based clocks, all looking similar, typically with a circuit board in a clear plastic box augmented with four or six Nixie tubes poking out of the top. "I can do that," I thought, so I decided to have a go.

My first thought was to acquire some Nixie tubes, so I found an old counter made by Advance Instruments that contained seven GN-4 Nixie tubes. Next,I purchased a Nixie tube clock kit, and I converted the counter into a clock.

An early picture of the workshop, in the spare room at home - note the relatively undamaged desk!

I love what I do, and I enjoy turning my clients' ideas into reality. I've been blessed with a creative streak, and now I have the opportunity to share my passion with whoever I create a custom clock for.

Paul Parry - Director

It quickly dawned on me that people liked my slightly different Nixie tube clock creations.I offered my first Advanced Instruments clock on eBay with a cheeky "Buy it Now" price of £250, and it sold in less than four hours! This prompted me to track down six more of the same Advance Instrument counters and transform them into clocks. As each one sold, it allowed me to purchase more tubes and bits of equipment to convert into clocks.

In addition to old test equipment, I also enjoyed making clocks out of wooden boxes with some brass decoration. I did not realise at the time, but what I was doing was making things in the "Steampunk" Genre, which incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. I was fascinated when I discovered that there was a whole Steampunk world out there, so I gradually moved away from test instrument-based clocks and focused more on their Steampunk counterparts, which have proven to be even more popular than my original creations.

As I enjoyed making the clocks in my own time, my wife, Karen, and I decided to set up a business, thinking that my hobby may as well become a second source of income to supplement my day job.Our first task was to decide on a name for our company. One day, we were walking our retriever, Max, who has an affinity for stinking muddy puddles. True to form, Max vanished into the trees.After much shouting and calling, he eventually returned with his tail between his legs,filthy and stinking. And this explains how the "Bad Dog" portion of our company name came to be.

Since late 2014, Bad Dog Designs has transitioned from its humble origins as a simple,sole trader,spare room-based business to running as a workshop-based VAT-registered limited company. Eventually, I left my day job,and I now spend my days happily working at Bad Dog Designs, making clocks, and following my passion.

In 2019 I was approached by Jake Joynson and Anna Keel who wanted to make a small documentary about myself, so you can see that here:

In closing, I'd like to say that one of my best moments was winning a Merit award in the International Arts & Crafts Design Award, 2016. I had never before considered myself to be an artist, or had any formal training in the field, so I was delighted to be recognised as an independent artist.

To add to the story - November 2023 some 10 years after starting Bad Dog Designs, I've had to move the business back to its roots where it all started in a spare bedroom at home. Unfortunatley many factors have lead to the downsizing, the terrible state of the worldwide economy and cost of living problems.. All the original Nixie tubes I use in my clocks are sourced in the Ukraine and Russia, difficult to now get the tubes and the cost of them has trebled in the last couple of years if and when they are available. Then the Chinese have cloned a Nixie tube out of a little OLED screen and stuffed it inside a plastic tube, and they display a picture of a Nixie tube on the little screen. They sell a complete 6 OLED tube clock for less than I can even buy 6 genuine Nixie tubes. It doesn't help that they then market and sell them as real 'Nixie Clocks' 

I've had to take on a paid job, as I basically could no longer afford the overheads of a workshop and all the other costs that go into running a business in its own premises. Bad Dog Designs was my sole income and source of employment for the last 6 years, carried on as long as I could but at least now it's come back home and I can keep it going for many more years to come :) 

Thank you everyone for all your support over the years and into the future!

Best wishes,
Paul & Karen


Myself and Karen, with Theo Paphits when BDD won the #SBS Small Business Sunday award early 2016.

Bad Dog Designs On Instagram