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Flat-Earth-Academy: clocks3

Science/ Engineering with a
pendulum regulated wooden clock,

(Page's URL: clocks3.htm)

(This page is a "descendant" of a more general page about a clock I made from an excellent kit. (I have nothing to do with Abong, the kit supplier, beyond being a happy customer.)

Do you enjoy "science"? Have you heard about "engineering"? (Engineering is Doing Things with science.)

I made a wooden clock, from a kit.

It was a great kit, and went together well, worked (quite) well right from the start.


But what is "worked quite well?"


ANYONE can approach their life "scientifically". And doing so pays dividends. It won't lead to all of your wants being satisfied... but if you know about "being scientific", the skills will be useful to you from time to time.

I can't "finish" this page today, but I can make a start. I will try to come back to this and give you more, but there are other demands on my time today... sorry! I'll be back sooner if people write say, "work on THAT one"! (Contact info at bottom.)

Once the clock was going "tick-tock" properly...

Once the clock was going round and round properly, I started investigating how well it was working.

I didn't care, at first, if it "kept good time"!

Something else was more important...

Did it gain or lose time STEADILY?

So I ran tests... And I measured things.

I wound it up, and started it. I wrote down the time by the most accurate timekeeper I had... my cellphone's GPS time... and I wrote down the time the wooden clock was showing. I didn't waste time setting the wooden clock.

I let it run for a while, and noted the GPS time and the shown-by-wooden-clock times again. (I'll call those "GPS-time" and "wooden-time" from now on.

And I did that again and again.

And set up a spreadsheet. It calculates the gps-time-since-start and wooden-time-since start. And the difference between them, at each reading. And from THOSE numbers, the minutes-per-hour gained or lost.

All the while keeping everything I could THE SAME.

And the minutes-per-hour gained stayed pretty steady. Which was encouraging. If that had been changing, it would suggest that there was a "thing" that I was NOT keeping "the same".

"Science" is creeping in here!

Now... I told you some of the things I recorded, and I said that the minutes-per-hour-gained stayed pretty steady.

I have read about clocks for many years, and I suspected that some other things would matter.

I tried using different weights to drive the clock. As long as I didn't change the weight, the minutes-per-hour-gained stayed pretty steady. But with a different weight, the (pretty steady with that weight) minutes-per-hour-gained was different. So the weight makes a difference! Why?

A heavy weight is good in some ways, bad in others. What weight is "the right" weight? That's a whole OTJER discussion! But decide what weight you are going to use before you take other steps to change the minutes-per-hour-gained!

I said the minutes-per-hour-gained stayed pretty steady.

But it did change depending on how far down the weight had fallen. Why? Can you do something to get rid of that slight variation? (It follows a pattern... it wasn't just "random" errors". (Look up "clock fusee" for a related technology, if you want a hint. Think about how the string suspending the weight winds onto the drum.)

What are the pros and cons of the various things you can do to make the gain-per-hour more steady. There are pros and cons to all of the ones I've thought of. Getting a satisfactory balance between everything is... "Engineering". You like making things? Become an engineer and people will pay you to make things!

Try making one of the spreadsheets. It was harder than I thought it would be. Just keep asking yourself if what you are seeing is "reasonable"... until the answer is always "yes"!)

Some scraps... to be "spliced into" this page more elegantly one day!

=== A design choice
There's more than one way to skin a cat, and more than one way to harness the force of gravity to provide the energy to power the mechanism! (I HAVE used "force" properly there... gravity IS "a push or a pull", and thus "a force"... I'm not so sure that I've used "power" and "energy" two IMPORTANT words, that you really should try to master. And "work" is part of all that, too.)

A.N.Y.W.A.Y.... I powered(?) my clock as per "A" below at first, and then changed to "B". ("B" was what Abong had said to do, and provided for in their excellent kit.) Think about the pros and cons of the two options. Also consider them in regard to how big the radius of the drum the string winds onto should be. And the characteristics of the string you use! ALL will make a difference to how well your clock serves you as a timekeeper.

Too many questions? I thought you counted (with PRIDE!) yourself a geek? There's FUN to be had in thinking more deeply than a cow grazing in a meadow... or than 80% of the people around you.


DCF and spreadsheet

Science uses numbers a lot.

To "understand" what the clock is doing, in any useful detail, we need numbers. And in researching it, there will be many numbers.

Some are observations... at such and such a time (number) the weight had dropped to a new "height" (number), and the clock said the time was (number)


These observations need to be written down... clearly... (Do as I say, not as I do.)

Your "private" science may be a lot of fun, but it won't matter to the world. You have to tell others what you've seen (your observations), show them the numbers you've derived from what you've seen, and then what conclusions that led you too. (E.g., I have concluded from my experiments that if you increase the weight driving the clock, it loses a little more time than it does if everything else is unchanged. You may think that only changing the pendulum can change the clock's speed, but that is only true in a vacuum. (Changing the pendulum is, of course, the main way to speed up or slow down the clock.)

If you want to look at them closely, open the image in a new tab.

You need to write down your observations. That document is called your "data collection form". And, with blushes, here's mine...

Geeks often lean towards science/mathematics in school... and away from Use Of English lessons. You NEED the Use of English. You may have the answer to World Peace, or even to How Memory Works... but if you can't communicate effectively it does no one any good.

From the numbers you directly observe, others can be calculated

Derived numbers

Once you have your basic observations, you need to do sums. Hurrah for spreadsheets! Here's the one I used...


You can download it as an .ods... the sort the "plays nicely" with the free, multi-platform, open source Libre Office. (And Open Office). Ask your school, etc, why they are WASTING MONEY paying Microsoft and/or Apple to be in their thrall. (Tell me if it will open nicely in Excel? (I don't have it to try for myself.)

That start with the numbers I mentioned a moment ago. From them, the spreadsheet calculates the elapsed time (since the last time the clock was interrupted, rewound, etc.)... both according to the wooden clock, and according to the clock I was using to test the accuracy of the wooden clock- the GPS time available via my smartphone.

And from THOSE, you can work out how many minutes the wooden clock is gaining/ losing.

Getting the spreadsheet Just Right was trickier than I ever expected it to be. But then I'm no spreadsheet expert.

I haven't been at all interested... yet... in getting the wooden clock to be accurate! That's trivial.... ** IF ** I can get it to operate steadily... always gaining or losing time at the same rate. (Minutes per hour). Until I achieve that, trying to get it to keep accurate time will be a waste of.... time!

A few words from the sponsors...

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