Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

British Silly Time strikes again

Crazy clockTwice a year I resolve not to comment on BST (British Silly Time), or DST, Daylight Saving Time in in international terms.

And it seems that I am fated to fail in this resolve twice a year, every year.

Last time, as we moved the clocks back an hour so that dark evening got even darker an hour earlier than they had been, I discovered that something had gone wrong with most of my radio-controlled timepieces, both clocks and watches. Until then, these little gems had faithfully looked after themselves, and set themselves overnight as the BST change arrived. But, as of October 2012, all but one has resolutely refused to look after itself, and no longer appears able to pick up the DCF77 time signal.

I had been waiting for the day we moved the clocks forward an hour, so that the light evening we were already enjoying stayed lighter for an hour longer, curious to see if the DCF77 signal was maybe boosted for a while, to ensure that anyone relying on it received the time code to make the change. I needn’t have bothered. While the one remaining clock that seems to receive this signal continuously dutifully changed it time as expected, none of the others (clocks or watches) changed, or even indicated that they were receiving a signal.

So far, I have only tried looking up the data for DCF77, but failed to find any technical reason or bulletin explaining why we no longer seem to be receiving a universally usable signal in Glasgow. According to data, we are well within range for reliable reception – and I have also taken some of the timepieces for a walk, to see if moving them a few miles into a different area, more open area, or higher reception point made any difference. It didn’t.

While there was a ‘Help’ file, I didn’t notice an enquiry address, and DCF77 originates in Germany – and I don’t speak or write German. But I will have another look, since this clock shift failed to see any improvement.

I added another clock since the last time shift, a completely analogue type with no signal strength meter, indicators, or even adjustments. It just starts working when you put the battery in, and sets itself within a few hours.

It also failed to make the hours shift for BST, but I know it is receiving because it checks and resets itself every three hours, with a major reset at 3 am when it syncs all the hands if it thinks this is needed. Since I am usually making the last cup of tea or coffee of the day at that time, I often see this happening, so that’s how I know it works.

I’ll have to dig out the manual, and find out if there is a button to press to force to shift and correct for the silly hour.

More in November, no doubt.


April 2, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , ,

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