Help me find these radio controlled clocks!
September 28, 2004 12:02 PM   Subscribe

PickyClockBuyerfilter: After reading about them here, I've become obsessed with those Starck / Oregon Scientific Radio Controlled clocks. My subsequent research has spawned questions. [More inside]

I've googled and froogled endlessly, but have been unable to locate a stateside dealer that has a Basic/Small/Yellow Model in stock. I've managed to find both a british and french dealer with said model available, but this bit from the description on the british site jumped out at me:

"The MSF radio signal is received from Rugby in the UK, and therefore the auto-correction will only work within the UK."

Now - I am entirely ignorant of how a radio controlled clock functions, but that seems to be a dealbreaker to me. I am assuming that this precludes me from finding one overseas, but I am a bit suspicious that this is the only site to mention such restrictions.

Additionally, I have not been able to find any description of What sort of material the casing is made of. Does anyone already own one of these clocks?
posted by adamkempa to Shopping (5 answers total)
 
A few places in the "where to buy" list on the Oregon Scientific pages seem to have online ordering. These guys seem to have the one you're looking for.

There's a chance that these clocks are international and can tune into a number of time stations, but I wouldn't chance it and get it from a place in the US so you know it'll sync up to the WWVB station in Boulder, Colorado. The antennas in these units are probably tuned exactly to the frequency of the station they're made for, because the signals are fairly weak. Maybe if you were in Newfoundland you'd be able to get the signal from MSF with one made for the UK market... If they ever make consumer clocks that sync from GPS satellite signals, those will be able to work around the world. However, all the ones I've seen are expensive and are made for industrial/scientific use. For more info on radio controlled clocks in general, Wikipedia has a decent writeup.
posted by zsazsa at 12:44 PM on September 28, 2004


I've googled and froogled endlessly, but have been unable to locate a stateside dealer that has a Basic/Small/Yellow Model in stock

Try RadioShack Canada. That's where I got mine! I love it.

The time signals that the clock uses may be sent on different frequencies in different countries, and in different formats. Although AFAIK, the shortwave broadcasts would be the same worldwide, from what I can tell of the antenna inside my clock (no radio!) it's not using the shortwave signal. I could be wrong, though.

CHU, my local station, is at 7.335 Mhz, or about a 40 meter long full wave antenna [or about 5 meters to get anything decent]. Your local time station would probably be the same one. Otherwise, it will be WWV from Colorado.

Note that, oddly enough, WWVB broadcasts a signal that looks quite similar to the one broadcast by MSF. They're both longwave 60 kHz, or 5 km. I'm willing to bet that's what these clocks here are using, as that makes more sense from the type of antenna inside the clock. That and it's cheaper to manufacture that way! The signal specs look suspiciously similar.

Just FYI, the Canadian and US models seems to be cross border compatible. I doubt you'd have a problem with one in Ann Arbor, anyways. :-) They do suggest the clocks may not work in Atlantic Canada, though.

I wouldn't trust an atomic clock from outside North America to work here, though. I wouldn't trust *any* electric powered clock from a foreign country to tell time properly here, either, because the power frequencies won't be the same (should the clock maker be lazy and get the timebase from the AC power).

Additionally, I have not been able to find any description of What sort of material the casing is made of. Does anyone already own one of these clocks?

I have this one. It's just boring translucent plastic with rubberized feet. It'd be too complicated to make a radio set clock work if it were made of metal, as it would sheild the signal from the antenna, and the antenna would need to be either external or placed in such a manner the case doesn't affect it. Easier to just use plastic.
posted by shepd at 12:44 PM on September 28, 2004


Don't forget WWVH from Hawaii.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2004


Awww. I guess I'm a bit slow on the ball today. :-)
posted by shepd at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2004


I've got one of the oregon scientific ones and had it for years (can't link to it using explorer on mac os 8.6) and i think it's fab. I'm in the UK and I love the way I don't have to keep changing it for our summer/winter adjustments as it does it via the lovely radio signal thingy (don't u just get my technicality!?)
posted by floanna at 1:26 PM on September 28, 2004


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