What Is A Radio Controlled Clock?


These are clocks that are connected and take time from the atomic clocks that are located in different institutions. Atomic clocks are what tell the actual time that our world runs on as of now. And Radio clocks are directly linked to Atomic clocks when it comes to telling time, and this is the reason that they too along with the actual atomic clocks are considered super accurate. Radio clocks come in Analog as well as digital form, you don’t need to set their time, once you set in a battery in them, as they are directly connected to the atomic clocks nearby and would be getting signals directly from there. How do these clocks function you ask? well, these radio controlled clocks have radios inside along with the ordinary parts of being a clock and it receives signals directly from an atomic clock just as we said

These signals receiving clocks are also referred to as atomic clocks though they aren’t technically atomic clocks and are just merely receiving signals from actual atomic clocks. In case you are wondering, these signals aren’t detrimental to humans who are wearing a radio watch or near a radio clock.

How Do Radio Clocks Function?

  • A TimeKeeping Mechanism: This is a way that the clock keeps an accurate account of the time passing by’
  • An energy source: This is a way to provide energy to the motion of the clock, this could be a battery, solar power, an electric appliance, springs, or anything of that sort. But nowadays batteries are the most common example of how clocks are run
  • Display: Finally, this is the part that everyone sees. This can come in quite various designs. It could be a cartoon character or an antique-looking wooden lady, entirely depends on the maker and what he wants his/her work to look like
  1. So basically what happens is that the battery or the power source provides current to the microchip circuit within the clock
  2. Then this current makes the quartz crystals that are precisely cut and placed within the clock to vibrate at a speed of 32768 times a second.
  3. The Microchip circuit detects the crystal’s vibrations and turns them into regular electric pulses, at a speed of one per second, because as we know that is what is needed for the accuracy and normal functioning of the clock
  4. These electric pulses then turn to mechanical power and move the gears
  5. The radio inside aligns the movement and the mechanical energy that would be moving the hands or digits of the clocks, depending on whether its digital or analog
  6. The one gear that moves makes the other gear move. Hence, making the clock tick every second. Til the appliance of the power remains intact, which means the clock will keep running until the battery eventually gives up
A picture of a miniature atomic clock to better answer the question "What are atomic clocks? All about them"

Why Are Radio Clocks Also Reffered To As Atomic Clocks?

Radio clocks pertain and offer the same time and accuracy that an atomic clock does, though it functions on different parameters, and this is the reason why radio clocks are also reffered to as atomic clocks in the conventional sense, as they are viewed as being the same amount of accurate. Another important thing to note at this point is that radio clocks are also sometimes referred to as wifi clocks

Where Does The Signal Come From For Radio Controlled Clocks?

Atomic Clocks, as we mentioned before, radio clocks receive information from atomic clock to tell time

A Bit About Atomic Clocks

You probably have heard of atomic clocks as not are they the most accurate way of measuring time but it is also used scientifically in various ways. The authenticity of them being the most accurate clock can be inferred by the fact that it looses 1 second after every 138 million years. And the recent atomic clocks have become way more accurate then them too. So one could easily conclude that they are super-super accurate. An example of a famous place it is used at is CERN, NASA, and many others.

the basic concept is that all atoms of a given element vibrate or tick the same number of times per second. To elaborate, there are 9,192,631,770 ticks in one second. And though this number seems a bit weird it is quite important. Since today the international standard for what a second is based on that many vibrations/ticks of a cesium atom

Fun Fact:

The clock that the U.S. uses to calibrate its time is accurate to a second in a 100 million years. So if you had put one of these clocks in the medieval ages they will still tell the same time in this day and age.

Data transmission on the internet, as well as the GPS navigational system and cell phone towers and even the high grid, depends on this clock. In conclusion, our high-speed interconnected world works because we can use different pieces of technology using accurate time. So, you take that out of the way, and say good buy to the internet? And isn’t that just sad?

Moreover, whenever we build a new clock, engineers find some good way to use it. So, in the future, if we develop even more accurate clocks, who knows where they will lead us

Atomic Clocks & Technology

Well, as we have already discussed, atomic clocks have a big impact on our world as a whole. Let’s start with the internet, where exact timings are critical. And atomic clocks as we know by now is what helps with that accuracy. Moreover, for GPS satellites to work out your precise position, your timing of the signals it sends and receives has to be super accurate. The signals travel at the speed of light, which means that an error of even a single microsecond error translates to an error of 300 meters on the ground. The timing has to be so precise that even tiny effects like relativity need to be tracked. So we do have Einstein to thank for that because if we didn’t have his equations we wouldn’t have a GPS.

To be exact with each and every microsecond GPS satellites have to carry atomic clocks. The more accurate the clock is, the more accurate GPS can calculate your location

Hopefully, this article was helpful in answering some of your questions about radio clocks. If you have any clock-related questions, feel free to use the comment section below. And if you want to know why clocks don’t appear in dreams, we have a great article on just that so do give it a click if you are interested “Why don’t clocks appear in dreams? Clocks and dreams!Opens in a new tab.“. Here is also a link about the history of clocks if you want to give that a look “History of timekeeping devicesOpens in a new tab.

AK Iqbal

A University of London’ student with a passion for writing. Clocks have always intrigued me and the importance that they have in our lives is way beyond phenomenal. So, on this site, I write everything about clocks, everything from answering any clock-related queries that you might have along with recommending some of my favorite clocks accordingly. Moreover, I will also be conducting some researches on clock related topics and sharing the things that I learn. So stay tuned to ohmyclock for all the fun clocks related content

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