Atomic Clock synchronization
December 2, 2007 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Will an Oregon Scientific Weather, Temperature and Humidity Station be able to receive the Atomic Clock signal if it is used in Toronto?
posted by 543DoublePlay to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
Yes, definitely.
posted by chips ahoy at 8:28 AM on December 2, 2007

The wikipedia article goes into some detail about the various bands used to syncronise these clocks:

"There are a number of longwave radio transmitters around the world, in particular DCF77 (Germany), HPG (Switzerland), JJY (Japan), NPL or MSF (United Kingdom), TDF (France) and WWVB (United States). Many other countries can receive these signals (JJY can sometimes be received even in Western Australia and Tasmania at night), but it depends on time of day and atmospheric conditions."

So, basically, as there is one frequency for the whole of the US, and that this frequency can be received far outside that range, it'd be safe to assume that somewhere a hundred miles or so outside the US is safe, I suspect.
posted by Brockles at 8:33 AM on December 2, 2007

posted by dmd at 9:32 AM on December 2, 2007

While it will probably work, Oregon Scientific isn't making any promises, judging from their FAQs:

Do Atomic Clocks work in Canada?

Atomic Clocks purchased in the U.S. are pre-tuned to radio signals broadcast by the U.S. Atomic clock near Boulder, Colorado. These signals only reach limited areas beyond the U.S. border. Atomic Clocks can be set manually when used outside the U.S. For reference, the following Canadian Provinces correspond to these U.S. time zones: British Columbia, Yukon Territory: Pacific Daylight Time Alberta, Northwest Territory: Mountain Daylight Time Manitoba, Nunavut: Central Daylight Time Ontario, Quebec: Eastern Daylight Time.
posted by seymour.skinner at 9:57 AM on December 2, 2007

You may find you only get an intermittent signal to the transmitter. From here in Barcelona, my atomic clock only connects to Frankfurt at night, due to (I assume) atmospheric conditions and less interference. Still, updating the clock once a day is not a concern - with only a seconds readout, atomic accuracy isn't really an issue!
posted by benzo8 at 11:28 AM on December 2, 2007

Mine picks up WWVB in Washington, DC perfectly, and did with great regularity when I lived in Boston, MA. You should have no problem whatsoever getting the signal in Toronto.
posted by Inkoate at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2007

Toronto is less far from the transmitter than some parts of the US are, so it should work fine.
posted by kindall at 12:20 PM on December 2, 2007

Here's the station, WWVB, Fort Collins, CO, United States. They have coverage maps.

Short answer: You're good, you'll get a solid signal at least half of the day. These clocks don't need a strong signal every part of the day, they use WWVB to set and sync a local clock. If the signal fade, the local clock runs freely, using a quartz crystal as a reference, until the signal comes back, it then resyncs and continues.
posted by eriko at 5:54 PM on December 2, 2007

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