clock system

what is a clock system?

In general, a “clock system” is a group of interconnected clocks, wherein a “master clock” delivers time control signals to synchronize any number of “secondary clocks”. A master clock often contains (or drives) a “program clock” that rings bells or controls lights (etc). Secondary clocks are often referred to as “slave clocks” in conversational English; though I, personally, think the Japanese terms 親時計 and 子時計 (“oyadokei” and “kodokei”, or “parent clock” and “child clock”, respectively) make a more useful comparison.
 
Most Americans have probably been looking at parts of traditional medium-grade school-type clock systems in “older” (or “newer”, in some areas) and better-funded schools and hospitals and such for their entire life. These types shall be the main focus of this section of the site.
 
Broadcasting facilities and train stations often use more accurate higher-quality types of clock systems—starting with the thirty-second reverse-polarity impulse type system, which is apparently especially popular in European train stations and Japanese schools. (Additionally, a device called a “master clock” is also used to provide the clock frequency in professional-grade video/audio recording and editing setups; whether or not such devices are typically capable of driving any type of secondary time-indicating appliance is unknown to me.)
 
Residential-grade synchronous clocks (plug-in clocks, both with a motor and some digital alarm clocks) are also technically a type of secondary clock, as their timebase is controlled by the utility grid to which they are connected. In a more contemporary sense, the ubiquitous radio-controlled clocks (almost always erroneously marketed as “atomic” clocks; consists of a cheap quartz movement of various types corrected by a radio receiver) are a type of secondary clock, being controlled by a radio signal derived from a real atomic clock, which are run by various governments (depending on your part of the world—in the United States, the agency NIST maintains civilian-accessible time signals).
 
A more appropriate question is: “why do I seem like Standard Electric Time system clocks so much?” Some of the reason is in the next section. The other reason also has nothing to do with timekeeping: I really like the way they look. See comparison below. Is that really the best contemporary designers can do? Or, can anyone actually read that Simplex design that is taken as the industry-standard these days? Seriously.

art-deco SET, modern SET, contemporary Simplex
Which one doesn’t belong?

why clock systems?

As with most people who like these things, apparently, I was always rather fascinated by the clocks at school. I had been looking at March/April 1960 Standard Electric Time type FMT GRC synchronous system clocks every school day since kindergarten. There’s just one problem: they never really worked properly that entire time in either building. Nobody ever cared about this, though—it almost seemed that everyone preferred to just run them as manually-set synchronous clocks. I didn’t even have any idea that it was a “system” at all until a certain later point.
 
Then, one day during winter of my junior year of high school, I looked on eBay. It really is true that you can buy anything on the internet. I bought my second GRC on March 06, 2004 (the date I consider as the first day I owned a clock system). I never looked back.
 
To this day, I do not remember ever seeing a clock system “in the wild” that functions completely correctly. It surprises me that I can still say this. I hope it’s just the buildings I have seen, and not a greater problem.

introduction: my clock system

I primarily run Standard Electric Time GRC secondaries controlled by a Lathem LTR8-128 master, along with a few other things. This section of the site will mostly detail this setup. The LTR8-128 also controls the buzzers (call it a “glorified alarm clock”) and the PA system (detailed in another section), among other things.
 
I don’t really like to say that I “collect” system clocks. I think that “I own a clock system” sounds better—it just so happens that I have some extra parts. If anything, I collect extra parts. Due to my current living situation, however, most of this equipment is not yet installed. Someday, this site will detail how awesomely this equipment (among other things) fits with the house-building that I will design and build by/for myself, and indeed how well it fits with my intended lifestyle. You might have to wait a while for that. Sorry.
 
I’ll have a SET GRC system in my residence for the rest of my life, no matter how small. SET ARs in similar style cases will be used as a supplement, for the most part. The system will be controlled by a Lathem LTR8-128 for as much of the time as possible.
That’s just my style.
I believe that owning and operating a clock system for personal use isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It isn’t for everybody—especially not for the people who originally caused them to be purchased, it seems—but it is possible in most cases. I hope I can use this site to glorify this idea, just a bit. (This is a disclosure of my political agenda.)

LTR8-128
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