Introduction: Quieting Down a Cheap Alarm Clock

I'm going to guide you through the steps you need to take a really cheap battery-operated alarm clock and make it much much quieter.
You'll need:
A plastic alarm clock run by a AA battery.
A very small screwdriver that fits into the screws that hold the clock's case together. Probably a very small Philips-head screwdriver.
A small slotted screwdriver.
Lightweight oil, like 3-in-1 oil, sewing-machine oil, or watch oil.
You may need a pair of pliers - jeweler's pliers are nice.
A quiet place to work where you won't lose the little parts.

What we're going to do is take the clock apart, put a drop of light oil on the parts that clatter every second, and put it back together. The oil should keep it quiet for quite some time. Maybe as long as you can expect these cheap little clocks to last.

Step 1:

First, pull the knobs off the back of the clock. They're probably held on by friction or by tiny springy plastic "arms" visible in the little hole in the knob. You may need to push the plastic parts together with a screwdriver or pliers - or you may be able to just pull the knobs off.

Step 2:

Did I remember to take the battery out? Take the battery out. Now you can unscrew the little screws that hold the case together.

Step 3:

Be careful now. There are thin wires soldered to parts on both sides of the case. Don't yank on them, or you'll have to solder them back when they pull off. And there's a little coil of copper wire - very very thin. If you even think about touching that, your brain waves will break the wires, and you won't be able to fix it.

Step 4:

The clock movement is the plastic module with wires going into it. We're going to take the back of the movement off. It's held on by clips molded into the plastic. Mine has two kinds of clips. One kind is sprung by pushing the black clip away from the clear top.

Step 5:

The other kind is sprung by pulling the clear clip off the black back. They're all brittle. If they break, you're probably still going to be able to put your clock back together, but be careful.
Unclip all the clips, carefully, and then pull the clear top off.

Step 6:

Here's the movement with the back off. Don't touch those copper wires.

Step 7:

There are little dimples in the inside of the clear piece. They're bearings for the gears. Now put a tiny drop of oil on each of those dimples.

Step 8:

On my clock, there's a gear that comes off first - you can see it sitting on the table in back of the clock here. There's a tiny gear attached to a tiny magnet that's revealed by this - I'm holding it in needle pliers in this picture. Lift it out, don't touch the copper wires that are nearby.

Step 9:

Where that tiny gear with the magnet was sitting - there's a little bearing hole that the gear sits in. Put a drop of oil in there. This is the place where the oil really helps quiet down the clock. Now put that gear back where it was.
While we're here, put a drop of oil on the teeth of that gear.

Step 10:

Put the remaining gear back into place and snap the cover back on the movement. Now close the clock up carefully - make sure you don't pinch the wires. Make sure the snooze button (if it has one) is back in place. And reattach the screws and knobs. You're done!

Did you put the battery in?

Comments

author
ChristineE20 made it! (author)2016-03-24

I HATED how loud this was! It was given to my roommate from his ex so I'm glad I didn't break it, lololololololo! I might go back into it later with better oil. I cannot stand ticking noises at all.

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author
riggerbear (author)2016-03-09

This is so simple but effective, thanks, just saved me a trip to the shop to take the clock back, I really like it as well so was a little upset about the prospect. Thanks again!

author
riggerbear (author)2016-03-09

This is so simple but effective, thanks, just saved me a trip to the shop to take the clock back, I really like it as well so was a little upset about the prospect. Thanks again!

author
aksie (author)2015-04-21

Fine up to step 4 - bending back the lugs. But when I attempt to lever up or pull up the cover to remove it there is considerable resistance and I'm scared of breaking something. I've already removed the two screws holding the clock-movement module to the case (because these appear to go through the module cover as well) and cannot see any other screws to remove or lugs to bend - though the level of resistance I'm experiencing suggests one or the other is still present. It's an Acctim 14117; photo of module attached. Any advice much appreciated.

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author
ToonH (author)2015-04-11

Thanks you very much for this post. I bought a second hand clock for 1 euro today for my son and almost threw it away because of the noise. Thanks to you he now has a nice AND quiet clock!

author
pantalone (author)2015-01-18

I never would have guessed that this would work, but it does! Many thanks for posting this (and thanks for the warnings about the copper coil; I was mightily tempted to play with it ;-)

author
JaredS1 (author)2014-07-25

Thank you! This worked really well. I used olive oil.. the ticking sound is now much much quieter.

author
mechmanic (author)2013-10-20

Thanks.This brought the volume down to acceptable levels.Removing the second hand didn`t make much difference on my clock.

author
nicholotta (author)2013-08-12

p.s., i'm just curious why you can't touch the copper wire. i like ot know why??? about things people say.

author
ebenostby (author)nicholotta2013-08-12

Oh, you can, but you just have to be very very very gentle. The stuff is delicate. Mind waves can probably break it!

author
nicholotta (author)2013-08-12

wow that was great thanks! i'll try it on the next clock i buy. unfortunately i threw the other one away because i was going crazy, lol, i tried to quiet it, but it wasn't quiet enough.

author
ganninu93 (author)2013-04-02

this didnt really work for me, then i noticed that the case shown in step 7 was not tight enough and the gears were moving too much. So what i did was squeeze the covers together and place small pieces of tape to keep everything tight and it reduced the noise dramatically. Now I can sleep in peace :)

author
caarntedd (author)2012-10-01

This is great. I also like the loud ticking of a cheap clock (as WhiteTech says), but I might do this just because I can! (Thanks to you). Thanks for sharing.

author
zomfibame (author)2012-09-29

This might be a silly question, but does the reduced friction cause the clock to "run fast"? ... or is it not that much of a change?

author
WhiteTech (author)zomfibame2012-09-30

Well the second hand only moves once the crystal has vibrated so many times, so as long as the crystal is going at the same frequency, it should be fine!



Good one! Although I have one of these clocks next to my digital alarm clock, specifically because I like the ticking

author
ebenostby (author)zomfibame2012-09-29

No - it doesn't seem to make any difference. Actually, if it did anything, it would slow it down - the oil damps down the movement of the gears, making them "rattle" less.

author
ChrysN (author)2012-09-29

Thank you so much for posting this! I'm going to do this with my cheap clocks.

author
ebenostby (author)ChrysN2012-09-29

Others have suggested removing the second hand. You can always try that, too!

author
jessyratfink (author)2012-09-29

Excellent! I saw the forum topic, I'm happy your answer turned into a full instructable :)

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