The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Synchronized Clocks

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Les, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,022
    Likes Received:
    782
    Location:
    DFW, Tx.
    Does anyone here know a thing or two about synchronized clocks? I'm thinking about how nice it would be to have "official theatre time" in all the important areas (booth, box office, dressing rooms, greenroom, orch "pit" (scene shop usually), SM Console, etc).

    There seem to be lots of [expensive] buy-new options, but I also see some used options that could work for us - usually Bogen or Rauland systems that have been decommissioned from schools. Seems that one can mount a rackable "master clock", a 24v PSU (has to be compatible with the system), and then daisy-chain a bunch of "school clocks" using low voltage wiring. I would prefer wired since we wouldn't need to keep up with batteries.

    I'd love to hear anyone's experiences with this. @RonHebbard this seems to be in your wheelhouse. I am familiar with Atomic Clocks like these, but they really seem to drain the batteries and they're a bit 'fancy'. These ITC Clocks from Uline could also be an option. While batteries would need to be replaced periodically, I guess that might ultimately be better than wiring in a bunch of antique wall clocks.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,565
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @Les I gather you're intending synchronized digital clocks rather than synchronized mechanical analog clocks with three hands sweeping across their 12 or 16" diameter faces.
    Yes; IBM, Simplex and possibly Stromberg clocks synchronized city-wide by several different frequencies being generated by shaft-coupled MG's (Motor Generators) have definitely been in my "wheelhouse" a number of times in the 1960's and early 1970's. [Phuqin' super-imposed tones on the 120 / 208 VAC power lines wreaked havoc with my AVL Coyote and Spindler-Sauppe Kodak Carousel 35 mm slide dissolves too!] Sometime in the early 1990's the IA Head of Sound in a large roadhouse in nearby Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario economically solved his immediate problem by focusing an affordable economy camera on one of his theatre's existing legitimately synchronized analogue clocks and inserting the clocks image within the frame of his many existing video monitors throughout his venue from late-comers in the lobby, through the box office, FOH Manager's office, green room, dressing room corridors, the IA crew room, both sides back stage, the pit and the SM's office. I believe I can find a much more affordable option for you by a company in California. I'll have to invest a little time searching through my PC after which I'll PM you and include an edit on this post. Please be patient and wish me luck.
    EDIT 1: @Les
    Check https://horita.com/video-audio-test-and-production-equipment and look at their extremely affordable units which permit you to use a standard keyboard to insert characters and last minute notices in a black box inserted into your existing image. You can adjust the size and shape of the black box and position the box anywhere you prefer; across the top, across the bottom, off in corner, essentially where ever you prefer. Included in their text insertion options are a number of timers and clocks including 12 or 24 hour real-time or up / down timers for starts of acts, durations of intervals, you've got the picture. Assuming you HAVE THE PICTURE, https://horita.com/video-audio-test-and-production-equipment Has the text inserter and clock of your dreams at a price far more affordable than you can scarcely believe. Ther text inserters will permit you to insert one or two lines of text and / or to scroll text repeatedly across your screens at scroll rates of your choosing. They also have units which will permit you to insert a picture within a picture such as a shot of your MD / conductor in a corner of your cover shot for the benefit of off-stage choristers, muscians and / or understudies. I met a broad range of Horita's magic little boxes the first time I toured a production to Broadway. The rental company providing the video gear which was going to stay with the production after our touring crew and gear was / were returning to Canada provided a plethora of Horita's many and magical little marvels.
    Give their site a thorough read then phone them if you've any questions. On the phone I've found their support closely rivals ETC's.
    EDIT 2: Inserted an omitted word.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Les likes this.
  3. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,022
    Likes Received:
    782
    Location:
    DFW, Tx.
    Actually, analog clocks would work well in the greenroom and dressing rooms. But the SM Console, booth, and other dark areas might benefit from the bright red digital ones. I've seen some 24v Rauland clock systems that appear to support a mix-match of both.

    I wouldn't mind going used on eBay, but I need to make sure I know what I'm dealing with before attempting that.
     
  4. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,864
    Likes Received:
    678
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    $50 a clock plus an annual battery swap will be much cheaper than wiring. Buy one clock and test to see if WWVB reception is adequate in the various locations.

    For radio studios, we use an ESE master clock and displays with time code on coaxial cable. GPS is the preferred time source, but NTP is fine, too. Likely overkill cost wise for theater.

    Of course, everyone now carries a synchronized clock in the form of a cell phone.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  5. Ben Stiegler

    Ben Stiegler Active Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    47
    Occupation:
    Consultant, A1, System Designer, Prod Mgr, TD
    Location:
    Sf Bay Area
    Ron, I love the video-insert idea, and I'm tucking that one away in my future trick bag. For robust analog or digital, my goto is Viking Electronics - https://www.vikingelectronics.com/?s=clock

    You can mix analog and digital clocks at your discretion. Its about $200 for a 12" analog, and they make protection cages (for the shop, etc.) where needed.

    The clocks create a mesh network amongst themselves, use frequency-hopping to stay clear of all the other wireless devices in your theater, and you get 5-8 years battery life! (digital display clocks use a power adapter). A master clock and transmitter handle the sync.

    I would stay away from the antique mechanical cha-chink clocks for a number of reasons, but one important consideration is that when they auto-correct at the top of the hour, there's a lot of buzzing and clinking from the clock. Remember those sound effects from your middle school days? Probably not what you want backstage or in the booth.

    -------------

    Viking’s Wireless Clock System provides reliable, accurately synchronized clocks for your entire facility. Eliminating dedicated clock wiring can save you thousands of dollars on installation and also allows for easy retrofitting of an existing installation. While most wireless systems are limited to the range of the transmitter, Viking’s system is not. Each clock acts as a Repeater (transceiver), meaning the secondary clocks both receive and retransmit the signal, maximizing signal transmission distances. The system is comprised of a CTG-2A master clock, a CL-RFT clock RF transmitter and Analog or Digital wireless slave clocks. Working on Viking’s 915-928MHz frequency hopping technology eliminates interference with other wireless products and requires no FCC license, eliminating extraneous fees. The received signal remains strong even under the effects of noise, obstructions or long distances which tend to decrease the signal to noise ratio. Installation is a cinch for our wireless clocks, just insert the batteries or connect power and hang them. That’s it.
     
    Dionysus, Les and RonHebbard like this.
  6. JonCarter

    JonCarter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    304
    Likes Received:
    182
    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho, US
    I have a couple of these around the house. They're 12" diameter, hang on a push-pin on the wall anywhere, are battery-powered, (change AA cells every couple years), automatically change to & from DST, synchronize themselves by receiving satellite signals and are available everywhere for $25+/-. Why do it the hard way?

    Clock 2.jpg
     
  7. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    I have had an Android app, suitable for those $50 7" tablets that are everywhere, rumbling around in my head for 2 years now.

    This is probably enough motivation for me to march. Thanks.
     
  8. GWWWicked

    GWWWicked Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Montana
    We bought a pair of these POE NTP clocks, the 4" with seconds in green on the catwalk for the balcony tech crew, and a 2.5" without seconds on the face of the balcony for the stage, but somehow the Pastor still can't end on time. POE was great for us because we already had the network infrastructure in place. They weren't cheap, but I love them, especially the green one.

    https://timemachinescorp.com/applications/poe-ntp-digital-wall-clocks/
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  9. n1ist

    n1ist Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    44
    Location:
    Malden MA
    Right now, WWV and WWVH are on the chopping block for next year's NIST budget, so I would stay away from any of the "atomic" clocks. NTP is a safer route.
    /mike
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  10. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    Note that I have signed second hand confirmation from a ranking NIST official: WWVB *is* included in the proposed cuts.

    Note too, though, that those cuts were in the "President's budget", to which Congress's reaction is generally "<yawn> That's nice." :)
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  11. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    "Every PoE network clock display is assigned a unique IP address within your network, and can be configured to either an internal network time source, or an external, internet-based time server like NIST Internet Time Service"

    though note, if you set a dozen of those things to point to time-a, Judah will personally drive to your theatre and set it on fire. :)
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  12. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,565
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @n1ist @Jay Ashworth Will the NIST on-line clock at https://www.time.gov/ still be at my beck and call 24 / 7 / 365, I depend upon it?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  13. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    I don't know.

    It's not clear to me whether the proposal is to shut down *all* of Time and Frequency at NIST, or just the radio transmitters proper.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  14. teqniqal

    teqniqal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    133
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas
    Great story from the past regarding WWVB: Paul Klipsch (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wilbur_Klipsch) was a bit of a time fanatic and he was known to wear multiple wrist watches. When the first resonant quartz crystal wrist watches were produced, he immediately ordered one. Upon receiving it he synchronized it with WWVB. Curious to know if it was maintaining the advertised accuracy, he checked it against WWVB every month. He soon found that the time setting was drifting more than the advertised specification, and he sent the watch back to the Swiss manufacturer with a note explaining the time accuracy issue and a request to repair it, replace it, or refund his money. He soon received the watch back, noticed that the watch package had not even been opened, and then read the note from the manufacturer tucked into the shipping label pocket. It read: "We thank you for your concern for the accuracy of our product, however, you really can't rely on the time announcements from those small southern radio stations." Paul lived in Hope, Arkansas (a small southern town) and the service department at the Swiss watch service department apparently had no idea that WWVB was the US Atomic Clock Standard transmitter.
     
    mikefellh and RonHebbard like this.
  15. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    Teq? How is Klipsch supposed to have synchronized his non-"Atomic" watch with WWVB? All it has is binary encoded phase-shifts on it's CW carrier... :)
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  16. mikefellh

    mikefellh Active Member

    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Also use a WWVB clock...the clock in question is battery operated and it was a PITA to have to get the ladder up twice a year to set a regular clock for daylight savings...now I just need to change it max once a year to change the battery (no power nearby).
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  17. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    Well, except that the President's Budget for next year defunds all NIST radio broadcasts -- I am told that this is at the behest of the new ASec for whichever the hell ASec handles NIST, but haven't confirmed this.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  18. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,864
    Likes Received:
    678
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Congress writes the budget and seldom pays the slightest attention to the President's budget. They never have.
     
    Jay Ashworth and RonHebbard like this.
  19. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,565
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @Jay Ashworth and @FMEng Again I'll query: Do you foresee this eliminating NIST's oh so convenient on-line time sites?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  20. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,948
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    It's uncommon for an administration to appoint people to run department who want to destroy them as a matter of policy, but FME is right; this budget is largely ignored *in most cases*.

    This one's stirred up a lot of hornets, but they're all nerdy hornets and may not help.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice