Friday, July 30, 2010

Atomic Time

I want to tell you about a clock I bought a while back that my mate and I are very happy with. The La Crosse Technology WT-3102B 10-Inch Atomic Analog Clock.

It really isn't an atomic clock. It synchronizes with an atomic clock signal sent out by station WWVB near Boulder, Colorado. If you look at the signal strength maps you can see that the signal is the strongest in the night time hours. Which brings me to how to set up the clock.

At about ten minutes before the hour set the clock to 25 minutes before the hour and insert the battery. Your clock should be reasonably far away from electronic equipment. Especially TVs and Computers. Push the buttons as detailed in the instructions (you get the 4 American continental time zones plus a Daylight Savings on/off option). Then put your clock on an upstairs (no basements) wall that faces to or away from Boulder. When the clock gets the signal it will start spinning. You may have to wait until night to get a strong enough signal. If your building has metal sheathing (siding) the clock may only work in a window facing Boulder.

We put our clock up about 3 ft from a TV set (in a fairly strong signal area - your clock may need to be farther away) on a wall facing Boulder and have never been happier with a clock. We know what time it is to the second. And if the signal is never strong enough? The clock will work as a regular digital clock.

I have had older type atomic clocks that were much harder to set. This one is a piece of cake and I'm super happy to know what time it is. It is especially handy when daylight savings change days come as the clock adjusts automatically. No more clock fiddling to be on time.

Of course you still have to fiddle your alarm unless you have a Sony ICF-C318 Automatic Time Set Clock Radio with Dual Alarm (White). It really isn't an automatic set (WWVB radio) clock. It does adjust for daylight savings and it does have a built in back-up battery so you do not lose the time if the power goes off. The alarm itself is kind of soft, but the radio is loud enough to get you up and it is really obnoxious if you set the radio on top of a running computer. Setting the time and the alarm time are really easy with this radio. However the time does drift some (a few minutes a month). Which is why the atomic wall clock comes in handy.

Update: 31 July 2010 0139z

Commenter rhhardin at Classical Values has some issues with a different model of this clock. They may also apply to the model above. So far I haven't noticed.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


rbl said...

WWVB's transmitter is actually just north of Fort Collins, Colorado, not with the tofu-eating lefties in Boulder.

M. Simon said...


True. And I know that. But Boulder which is close has mind share.