Daylight Saving(s) Time Holdouts

While North America enjoys their Daylight Saving(s) Time and Europe enjoys their Summer Time, most of the rest of the world does not reset their clocks twice a year – by choice. In fact, some countries and some states within certain countries used to have that annual hour offset, but now have decided not to. Whether by latitude or culture, DST was no longer working for their benefit. Many equatorial countries never adopted DST as they get plenty of sunshine year ’round.

Daylight Saving Time.

Blue areas observe Daylight Saving Time. Orange areas used to observe it, but don’t anymore. Red areas (mostly equatorial countries) never observed it. Click to enlarge.

This is an issue we’ve handled at Masterclock because our clocks are sold worldwide. Our clocks and time keeping devices convert the UTC (Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Coordinated Time) synched signals they receive from GPS satellites and other sources to local time when configured to do so. Whether using Time Code or NTP, users are able to custom configure our clocks with easy-to-use computer apps, so there’s no need to go visit the clocks twice a year to reset them manually.

Cover of the 19th (and last) edition of the pa...

Cover of the 19th (and last) edition of the pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”, written by William Willett, who independently conceived DST in 1905. The pamphlet advocated DST for Britain and reported progress toward that goal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The whole idea, back in Ben Franklin’s day, was to use daylight more wisely since there is so much more of it (in the northern hemisphere) in summer than in winter. William Willett’s pamphlet of 1914 (at right) was a call to adopt Daylight Savings Time in Great Britain. This came at a time when clocks and watches were synchronizing citizens to the beat of the railroad time schedule that brought about the adption of Time Zones. It wasn’t sunup to sundown anymore. Workers had to be at work on time!Daylight Savings Time doesn’t work for everyone. Farmers still get up with the dawn and stop plowing at dark if their plows are driven by cattle or horses. For those tied to their desks and manufacturing positions, however, having a little extra daylight to enjoy in the summer still seems to work out better, as long as everyone else is on board.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly and post answers.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com!

Real Time News at the New York Times

There’s Traditional Journalism…
…with their news and ad deadlines running up to the last minute for those scheduled press runs (often interrupted in the movies with the famous phrase, “Stop the Presses!“)

The New York Times building in New York City,

The New York Times building in New York City, home of one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world.

Then There’s the New Journalism…
…much of it online and world-wide with the click of a keystroke. Now, even the New York Times is time-stamping certain stories to let readers know exactly when the news was put online, time-stamped again and again as the latest news comes in like clockwork.

Time Stamping is What We Do Here at Masterclock
Our master clock devices are tied into GPS satellites, providing the most exact time on the planet. We’re in broadcasting, power generation, law enforcement and sports. Wherever precise time-stamped documents and stories are produced, we produce the clocks and time generators that get the job done. Even when GPS satellites go offline (during big storms, for instance) our internal oscillators don’t miss a beat.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly and post answers.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com!

The Power Grid and the Need for a Master Clock Timing System

USA night from space from NASA

The US and southern Canada are lit up at night using power like never before to extend their days. All the major cities and thousands of smaller ones create a fascinating grid of light tied together by highways. Like a galaxy, the illusion of less distance between light sources increases with distance.

The USA from Space
From the point-of-view of a NASA satellite, the USA at night traces the pattern of electric lights from coast to coast: brighter in the cities, darker in the deserts and tundra. This is the power grid, keeping us all illuminated, protected and connected. Here it’s easy to see: where the people are power follows.

(By the way, that’s our Masterclock office in the St. Louis/St. Charles bright spot midway between ‘big’ Chicago and ‘little’ Memphis.)

The ‘Future’ and the Past in Darkness
Whenever Hollywood wants to show its audience the end of the world, it shuts off the lights in vast regions over the USA. This, as every movie-goer knows, signals the fall of civilization as we know it. Such a scenario has already happened in small patches across the USA and elsewhere, so its not too farfetched. Due to its lack of electrical lighting infrastructure, North Korea is also dark every night (Fig. 2).

North Korea has no lights.

North Korea has no lights. Surrounding countries light up their outlines and major highways, but in North Korea, they’re not wasting any electricity. South Korea looks like an island here.

Let’s remember, it was only about three hundred years ago that the North American continent was dark every night, lit up only by feeble campfires, lightning and occasional moonlight. Look how far we’ve come in this relatively recent ‘Golden Age’ of power generation!

The Power Grid Relies on Time Synchronization
You might think the power grid just produced gobs of power and people used what they wanted whenever they wanted to, like flipping on a light switch. But the power grid is a little more complex than that.

Power generators, whether they are hydrodynamic dams, nuclear plants, coal burning plants or solar cell farms, have to match their power generation to their transmission capability (which is usually a constant) AND the demand on the other end (which usually varies). So when people go to bed at night and turn off their lights and TV sets, the demand lessens and power generation must be reduced in lockstep. Conversely, the worst-case scenario is in the heat of summer, when air conditioners are running at full blast in every home and office. At such times the power grid reaches its structural limits.

Power outages were more common in the past.
Today we have safeguards and procedures in place based on the lessons learned from those mishaps. At all times the entire power system relies on time synchronization to match, switch and otherwise follow power demand patterns with just enough – but not too much – power generation.

Synchronization problems can lead to catastrophic failures.
The massive August 2003 blackout in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada, for example, was at least partially caused by synchronization failures.That’s why today every power plant is synchronized to one precise time delivered by orbiting GPS satellites. In this way, when one portion of the grid needs more power it can get precisely the right amount at precisely the right time.

The timing requirements of the power industry vary, largely because the entire system has evolved over many years. The older parts were designed using technologies that predated GPS satellites and the precise synchronization they offer.

Since electrical energy must be used as it is generated, generation must be constantly balanced with load. Moreover, the alternating current produced by every generator must be kept in approximate phase with every other generator. That’s quite a task.

Generation control requires time synchronization of about 10 milliseconds. Such precision is required by event and fault recorders that supply information used to correct problems in the grid and improve operation.

Stability control prevents generator shutdown, loss of load and separation of the power grid. To avoid these problems requires synchronization to about 46 microseconds (±1° phase angle at 60 Hz). Networked controls have requirements one order of magnitude lower, or to 4.6 microseconds (±0.1° phase angle at 60 Hz).

power linesTraveling wave fault locators find faults in the power grid by timing waveforms that travel down power lines at velocities near the speed of light. Because the high voltage towers are spaced about 300 meters apart, the timing requirement is 1 microsecond (μs) or the period of a 300 meter wavelength. Newer measurement techniques, such as synchronized phasor measurements, require time synchronization to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to within 1 μs, which corresponds to a phase angle accuracy of 0.022 ° for a 60 Hz system. A local time reference must be applied to each phasor measurement unit, and GPS is currently the only system that can meet these requirements.

Masterclock’s Role in the Power Grid
Worldwide and domestically, several power producers listed here and here have purchased Masterclock products for their facilities. Taking references from GPS antennas, these units set a precise time for all the other structures and machines in the station, ensuring synchronization to the most precise tolerances.

When Power is the Synch Signal
For home use, the 60 Hz frequency is used as the resonator for low-priced electric clocks and timers that lack quartz oscillators. The legally allowable tolerance for the 60 Hz frequency is only ±0.02 Hz, or 0.033 %, but under normal operating conditions the actual tolerance is much tighter. As noted in an earlier post, such personal bedside clocks are not on Masterclocks’ product list. We’re working at a higher level of precision.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly and post answers.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com!

Data for this article is derived from a freely available pdf file, Legal and Technical Measurement, Requirements for Time and Frequency by Michael A. Lombardi of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Time in and Around Airports

Masterclock airport clock
You have a plane to catch
.
It’s leaving precisely at 12:55 pm. You look up as you race for Concourse C. Thankfully, there’s a Masterclock analog clock tied into the airport terminal’s computer system. In fact, every airport clock and time keeping device is tied into this centralized system. And they are all synchronized to the split second, getting their time reference from atomic clocks aboard orbitting GPS satellites. You can’t get more precise synchronized time than that!

No worries.
You still have time to make your plane. You can be confident that airport time is your time, even when storms block GPS signals. Whenever that happens, internal crystal oscillators take over, providing the “beat” to keep those second hands moving without missing a millisecond.

And that goes double for Air Traffic Control.
They’re not trying to get to a plane. They’re trying to find a precise time slot for every plane to use their runways and airspace — while keeping a very tight schedule. It’s hectic up there with split-second decisions and communications being called out in a constant stream. Thankfully, with full synchronization, it’s all as if everyone was looking at the same clock. So they know when to turn, when to descend and when to leave the gate.

And that goes for airports around the world. Masterclock digital clocks are in several of these control towers in the USA, throughout Canada, and around the world, making sure that everyone, and especially every pilot and air traffic controller, are watching those seconds and minutes tick off in precise lock step.

All are keyed into UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) based on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England. Airplanes pass through so many Time Zones every time they fly that one global time standard is the only way to make sure they’re all on precisely the same time. And that’s also why all pilots and control towers communicate in English. One standard solves so many problems.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly and post answers.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com!

Accurate Time: Essential to Law Enforcement

Radar gun

From the Juvenile Courts and Radar Guns,
to 911 calls and the of broadcasting of Court TV (now Tru TV), precise synchronized time is essential for the law enforcement and the judicial systems.

On the other hand, it should be noted that sometimes the police will take whatever they can get, as evidenced by the far less precise chronologies derived from the likes of insects and their maggots on corpses (often shown in the various CSI TV shows).

Lesson learned: Precision is always relative to the task at hand.

GPS Tracking — Increasingly in the News
Where were you during the crime? And where are you now? These are the two most pressing questions faced by crime scene detectives when dealing with suspects. GPS is typically used to deliver precise location to help law enforcement officials find their GPS tracking devices, sometimes covertly hidden in suspects’ vehicles and contraband.

We use the same system to provide precise time to Masterclock devices.

Radar Gun Calibration
Oscillating quartz and higher quality rubidium crystals regulate time in most Masterclock devices. Along the same lines, did you know that an oscillating tuning fork stands in for a speeding vehicle in radar gun calibration tests? Most radar guns are allowed a frequency uncertainty of 0.1%, which translates to half a mile per hour at 50mph. As we all know, tickets are seldom issued unless the speed is exceeded by several miles per hour, often 10% or more of the posted speed limit. So if you’re clocked speeding, you can’t blame the gun.

Time Stamping — Essential to the Legal Process
Nowadays virtually everything has a time stamp on it. Every email. Every traffic ticket. Every arrest warrant. Certainly every document that passes through a computer has a time stamp on it. That includes every legal document. That time stamp comes from a computer, which typically isn’t very precise on its own.

So, when an entire computer system needs to be more precise and synchronized, then it’s time to install a precision timing system, like the ones available at Masterclock, Inc. With every clock and device wired  to and controlled by a keyboard and a software app, clocks can receive time signals from GPS satellites to maintain precise synchronization — including all adjustments for Daylight Savings Time and Leap Seconds — automatically.

Doesn’t law enforcement have better things to do than to manually adjust their clocks back and forth twice a year? We think so.

911 Call Centers
With calls coming in at all hours, 911 call centers need accurate time. Often the crime is in progress or an accident has just occurred. Time-stamped documents need to be generated immediately so, as time goes by, officers, lawyers and judges, in turn, can reconstruct the incident and reexamine the facts as stated in those documents to assess guilt, fines and punishment.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc.
We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions
about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com to see what we can do for you!

The Countdown Clock. It’s Not Just for NASA Anymore!

Masterclock - Apollo 17 count down and blast-offEver since the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches of the 1960s we’ve gotten a thrill from the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 — BLASTOFF! countdown series. Largely forgotten, of course, is the count-up series that begins immediately thereafter, chronicling the entire spaceflight.

RC500 from Masterclock.

The C500 from Masterclock, a remote countdown, countup clock controller

Taking a Cue From NASA…
And acknowledging the need in various applications for countdowns and countups, Masterclock created the RC500, a countdown, countup clock controller.

The Wall Street Journal
recently reported that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not have time for dillydallying and wanted to shorten office meetings. So he ordered the installation of countup clocks in meeting rooms to make staffers mindful of how much time they are spending away from their productive assignments. The Mayor’s press secretary was quoted as saying, “We’re not here to sit around and meet with each other—we’re here to get things done.” Since those countup clocks have been installed, meeting times have shortened an average of 20%, according to the press secretary.

Earlier the Mayor installed countdown clocks at City Hall and elsewhere. These tracked the days, hours and minutes until his term expired, with the message, “Make every day count.” Staffers report they are pleased that the clocks are there. Everyone acknowledges that a wasted minute can never be retrieved.

The Stock Market and Other Markets
Marketers have been buying our clock controllers to set a countdown to the end of the day of trading. Sales managers set countdown clocks for sales goal deadlines. Then there are those who use our controllers to time science applications or industrial processes (drying, setting, cooling, etc.) Our controllers can be used in sporting events (how long to the next event), broadcasts (how long before the news feed has to terminate?) and of course, to bring us full circle, NASA has digital clocks in almost every building chronicling local time, UTC time and time until the next launch.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly and post answers.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com!

What We Do Not Make

Alarm clock

This is the most famous digital clock of all, a Panasonic tabletop model from the movie, “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray as the hapless weatherman who kept waking up on the same day. Masterclock does not make this sort of digital clock, one that gets synced by the AC frequency coming out of the wall socket. No, our clocks are typically referenced to GPS satellites for the ultimate in sync and precision.

If you’re looking for a cute little digital clock for your night stand,
you may have come to the wrong place — but stick around, we’ll take you to the next level in time keeping.

Masterclock Inc. does not make bedside alarm clocks, wristwatches or any other such personal time-keeping devices. Sorry.

Howerver, we DO make digital clocks of professional quality. Ours are referenced to GPS satellites.In this modern world, some organizations need that level of professional precision and synchronization in their time keeping instruments.

A GPS satellite
Every GPS satellite carries an atomic clock that helps regulate time for the entire world. Our clocks and devices listen for these signals with special antennas to provide you with the most precise time available for digital clocks and other devices.

We also make traditional analog clocks, the kind you remember in high school hanging on the wall behind the teacher. But here again, ours are of professional quality. They, too, are linked to atomic clocks aboard GPS satellites. They can also be controlled, as a group or individually, from the comfort of an office computer, rather than having to get out and attend to each one individually, particularly irksome during those twice-a-year trips to reset Daylight Saving(s) Time.

Our other time keeping systems are synchronized to precision Time Codes, like IRIG (for the military) and SMPTE (for the broadcast and movie-making industries).

Some of our devices translate one type of signal  to another. Often several devices are set in series between the satellite receiver and the display units. These distribute and amplify Time Code to any number of clocks, all controlled by a central software application so one person at a keyboard can ‘see’ on screen what each clock is doing without having to actually go out and examine each one.That is indeed a far cry from a nightstand alarm clock.

Time is important. That’s why we’re in this business.

This blog is brought to you by Masterclock, Inc. We design, build and sell a large catalog of professional-quality digital and analog clocks, master clocks, network clocks, time code clocks, time code generators and other synchronized time devices for precise applications at an affordable price.

If you have any questions about time, GPS, digital clocks or any other subject you’d like to know more about, sent them to us. We’ll be happy to reply directly.

Come visit us at www.masterclock.com to see what we can do for you!