My cheap 'atomic' clock lost it's radio signal icon

albert_135December 30, 2007

My cheap WalâMart "atomic" clock had an icon showing it was picking up a radio signal and now that icon is missing, the other functions of the clock, time, date, temperature etc. seem to be working.

Do we, here in Northwest Nevada lose the signal in winter? Or is the battery about to go or some such?

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Try moving it to near a window or an outside wall (non aliminum sided).

It may take a few hours, or overnight to lock onto the signal.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 12:52PM
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It worked. I moved the clock four feet to an outside wall and the icon came back in abut 18-24 hours.

Now -- why -- why would it hang there on an inside wall for 11 months with an icon, then lose it's icon for several weeks, and the icon returns when the clock is moved four feet?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 11:17AM
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"Or is the battery about to go or some such?"

or the battery is a little low after 11 MONTHS :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 8:30PM
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Maybe it is the inside/outside wall thing. It lasted for another three months on an inside wall with no "radio" icon but the other features working. I moved it four feet to the outside wall Friday, got the icon back and last night it incremented to Daylight Savings Time.

Curious how four feet can make a difference.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 11:26AM
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4 feet can make a 'no-bar' to 'three-bar' difference on my cell phone around metal structures and rock formations.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 7:21PM
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I just talked to a friend who has a wrist watch that has to left in a window for several hours before it will pick up the signal and switch to daylight silly time.

My clock has a temperature display connected wirelessly to a remote outside thermometer. That works all the time. Some wireless signals do get through several walls.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Back about the 7th of March I moved the clock to a window and the radio signal icon returned and the clock reset itself and I moved it back to the wall and the radio signal icon disappeared.

Sometime last week the radio signal icon reappeared.

I wonder, could atmospheric conditions have anything to do with this?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 12:31PM
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Well, the original batteries and without moving it around or anything, it worked last night.

Curious and, perhaps, interesting.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:17AM
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FWI, update: the inside batteries last about three years and failure is visible, the display fades.

The outside batteries last only about one winter and fail suddenly - the transmission stops abruptly.

The radio icon disappears for several hours to several days from time to time.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:09PM
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Atmospherics, batteries or perhaps new construction nearby has affected the signal?

Radio is a funny animal. Perhaps a neighbour has parked (or moved) an RV - someone had a chainlink (quite a good aerial) fence which they replaced with wood?

All of this has a bearing on it.

I'm in British Columbia and have wondered for some time if we can receive these signals because I like my clocks to be accurate...or if we have our own repeaters here.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 12:38PM
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The time transmissions are at a very very long wavelength - 60 khz (compare to 540 - 1750 khz AM broadcast band.) At such a low frequency, the signals are easily interfered with. Noisy light dimmers, electric motors with bad brushes, cheap fluorescent lights, metal siding on your house, metal mesh in stucco, radiant barrier in your roof, and so on, all take their toll.

So most of these clocks listen for the signal in the middle of the night - when electrical interference is at a minimum. It is also the best time of day for low frequency radio propagation from Colorado - where the transmitter is located. Some will try once, at, say, 1:00 AM. Others may try several times per night in order to get success.

This is why the instructions say to place the clock near a window (no metal) and wait overnight (lower electrical noise, plus that is when they are designed to listen for the signal.)

It is usually not a problem if it misses a few nights. Cheap quartz clocks usually have an accuracy of about 10-15 seconds per month, so the time doesn't drift very quickly. It is kind of a pain when the DST switch happens, and it takes a couple of days for the clock to notice.

Also, if it has been a couple of years since the battery was changed, a fresh battery might be a good thing to try.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 4:20PM
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Good suggestions. I also suspect the removal and reinsertion of batteries will force the clock to seek the signal.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 12:59PM
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