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How Do You Make a Clock Silent?

I've tried tinkering, but it never seems to work. Is there a way to make an analog clock silent (or at least quieter), without actually turning it off (the idiot's answer to everything)? I recently had to retire my old bedside clock, and so I bought a cheap-o one at Wal-Mart for about 5 dollars...and it is the loudest thing I've ever heard. Will someone please enlighten me?

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niftified1 year ago

Very often the most effective solutions are the simplest. Put it in a clear container like a jar, preferably with an airtight lid. If you can't find a jar large enough, look for a glass dome to fit over the top of it. I've just done this with a cheap clock I bought and it works very, very well.

yup. Done that. Also put 1 clock behind the glass of the fireplace (seldom used fireplace)

Funny!!

A 5$ clock is bought and instead of thinking to invest another 5 bucks for different model that one would test for noise in the shop first, we go through all lenghts to modify a 5$ piece of crap LOL

But it clearly shows the spirit of improving things that we can't accept in their original design - I love it! :)
The reason why many cheap clocks are so noisy is the use of cheap plastics and high tolerance levels for the parts.

Most "clicking" clocks that use batteries have a pulsed electro magnet that moves the parts and in return the fingers.

If that magnet works every second to move a flimsy rocking mechanism you end with noise.

Smarter designs use a mechanism with a pulsed motor, similar in function to a stepper motor, those designs are usually silent apart from a slight noise when the finger is moved (barely noticable even in silent conditions).

Best option for a clock next to the bed would be a mains powered one with a battery backup.

Good models take their accuracy from syncronising with the mains frequency, others by use of the radio transmitted time signals, which is very popular in Europe and Japan.

I had a $5 Walmart clock that clicked loud enough to hear through closed doors. I stuffed tissues around the outside of the clock mechanism box in addition to clipping the second hand to about an inch. It now has a bearable "normal" tick that is just noticeable in a quiet room. Not silent, but quiet!

JM19992 years ago

The quickest way (sorry i'm 6 years late) is to use a sledgehammer!

tilt_u5 years ago
Beside the obvious solution as buying a clock with "soft tick" (yes, you can get noiseless clocks where second hand moves once pr. second(!) as Seiko, Braun or Junghans), sweep second or a digital one there's a few things you actually can do to reduce the tick of a quartz clock.

What you can do depends on the construction of the clock and your skills.
The tick sound comes because the stepper motor have a strong force at certain points in the cycle and there's slack in the gear train so the whole thing vibrates from one end of the slack to the other (and because of start/stop) - in other words a cheap low cost/quality mechanism (has nothing to do with how long it works).

The solution can be one of two or perhaps both combined.

1. Increase the tension of the gear train so it's under tension and therefore doesn't vibrate from one end of the slack to the other. Depending on the clock design this can be a felt pad on the tooth wheel for the second hand. Just a tiny amount of tension not noticeable to the hand should be enough. Actually many clocks has small "springs" on the second hand gear but often it's not enough.

2. Reduce the force and soften the start/stop. Try experiment with an appropriate resistor in series with the stepper coil to reduce force. Often the force is way stronger than it has to be. Also try experiment with a small capacitor in parallel with the coil to soften start/stop (as a capacitor takes time to (dis)charge) and therefore softens the force so it's not as suddenly.

Of course it'll reduce the battery run time. But I doubt it's by much as alkaline has a relatively flat discharge curve except for the last part. The reduction if not because of increased power (actually if # 2 it draws less - # 1 it's the same) but because the voltage cannot drop as low as before and still retain enough power to run the gear train.

That said personally I'd only do it on a special clock I like to keep where I can not/will not replace the movement (there can be a lot of reasons for that). For an ordinary alarm clock I'll just find a better. Like a Seiko etc. with increasing alarm sound. I really hate the ones (also digital) that starts out suddenly and loud. I like one that starts at (very) low and increases.

+1

bluesean2 years ago
Thanks Ebenostby for your well crafted instructions.
I also found a video on YouTube which is entertaining and informative (perhaps you've seen it...). His approach is very similar to yours but, yes, are a few differences. I'd be interested to get your take on it.
Here's the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Hupi7e3pc

Again, thanks!
ebenostby4 years ago
ebenostby4 years ago
Those clocks with plastic gears that run off a single AA cell and tick once per minute? With cheap Chinese movements? Yes, it's quite possible to quiet them down.
1. Take the clock apart. That is, take the back and knobs off. The knobs will either push on, have a small screw in the center, or the shaft will be split and form a kind of clip. In the latter case, push the two halves of the shaft together and pull the knob off. Take the battery out, too.
2. There will be a small plastic box with the mechanism in it, inside the clock. The back of this mechanism will come off, either with a few Phillips screws or, more likely, the two halves clip together. Separate the clips and lift the back off. Be careful - the gears may spill out all over the place. Try and keep them in place. Be careful of the wires, too - they're very fragile.
3. There's one gear that is actuated by a little coil. Put a tiny drop of heavyish oil - like automobile oil 5W or 20W - on the bearing surfaces that hold this gear in place. Use a toothpick or something to get just a little bit of oil.The next gear it connects to can take this oil on its bearings, too. Finally, wipe a trace of oil on the gear teeth of these two gears. Leave everything else alone.
4. Put the gears back in place and snap or screw the back of the movement on.
5. Put the case back together and snap the knobs on.
6. Put the battery back in. The clock will stop making that clackety noise once per second!
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