Make Your Ordinary Clock Into an Atomic Clock




Introduction: Make Your Ordinary Clock Into an Atomic Clock

About: Andrew built a power supply after shocking himself when he was four. He's been taking apart and building things ever since.

Is your wall clock slow, fast, or off by an hour because daylight savings time occurred?

Make your clock Atomic with this easy replacement for $18 shipped at

The time is received from Colorado atomic clock and adjusts the clock up to 5 times a day.

When daylight savings happens the clock automatically adjusts itself to the correct hour, minute, and second.

Atomic Clock Information: - How actual atomic clocks work.

This clock movement is NOT "Atomic." It receives shortwave radio waves, like an AM radio does, that tell the clock what time it is. I am in Pennsylvania, very far from the source in Colorado and this clock syncs up perfectly on a clear night. During the day the signal is weak and may not set the clock. Once you have the clock running it will "sync" itself up to 5 times a day and set the hour ahead and back during daylight savings time.

Step 1: Remove Dials and Clock Movement

The second hand will unscrew or pull off as well as the minute and second hands.

Then removed the movement by unscrewing the nut on the clock face win needle nose pliers.

Step 2: Finish Removing and Begin Installing

Remove the old clock movement from the clock.

Then prepare your new movement. The movement comes with free hour and minute hands so I picked out some different ones and bought a new matching mouse minute hand for an additional $0.35.

Step 3: Assemble and Let Your New Clock Set Itself

Put the clock back together with the new atomic movement. All the dials should point to 12.

Set the clock:

Use the knob in the back to set the time 5 minutes before the actual time.

Put in the battery and wait for the second hand to come around to 12 again.

Hit the red button on the back at 12 and again when the hand comes around to 12.

At this time the second hand will double jump 2 positions at a time.

Press the button again to hear the signal strength for 20 seconds.

The clock should beep on and off, it it is a solid beep or no sound, then it has no signal.

Move it to a window facing Colorado and wait till night time when the signal is strongest.



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    23 Discussions

    So basically you bought a clock and used it to power your old wall clock? I don't understand why this needed to be a tutorial? What am I missing?

    2 replies

    It's an atomic radio receiving movement clock. The old clock movement was manual and the new clock movement updates itself all the time from the broadcasts. When daylight savings happens, the clock will update itself to reflect the new time without any intervention. I think I need to edit the instructable to make that clearer.

    Yeah, I get it. I'm just sayin'.... It isn't an atomic clock just because it syncs with one.

    Yes. I receives radio signals from shortwave time stations, like WWV in Boulder, CO, which belongs to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and transmits time signals 24x7 from an actual cesium clock. If you have a shortwave radio (or use one of the online tunable radios), listen on 5, 10 and 15 MHz, to name a few frequencies.

    And I just checked with klockit. The set receives WWVB at 60kHz, which is actually LONGwave, not shortwave band. WWVB sister stations, like WWV, transmit shortwave. For the record...

    Same as every "Atomic Clock" marketed for wristwatches, wall clocks, etc.

    Make sure you get the signal where you keep the clock! I'm right on the east coast in Rhode Island and I barely get a signal on my RC watch, although I can sometimes get a very weak signal so it's not a complete waste... Works great if you're in the central US probably.

    5 replies

    Thank you for your comment. I updated the main page with some information. I am also on the East Coast near Philly and I didn't have a strong signal during the day. Last night was clear and it synced perfectly with a strong signal. When you don't have a strong enough signal, how off does your watch get? Seconds? Minutes? If its only seconds then I think its worth it unless you are really really punctual!

    These clock units "listen" to station WWVB, which transmits on 60kHz. This is a very low frequency for normal radio propagation. Compare it to the lowest frequency on your AM dial, which is about 10 times that. Just like AM band reception gets much better at night, I suspect that this frequency carries better at night also. So, your clock probably corrects itself at night. Now, for the really geeky among us, you may want to build a low-frequency pre-amp for improved reception. But that's for another instructable. :D

    I don't remember the exact number, but I think it said in the manual that it was something like 15 sec a month or maybe less, I really don't remember that well.