Got the correct time? Radio controlled clocks and watches that automatically synchronize to official U.S. time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have become more popular as prices drop and style choices increase. Sometimes called "atomic timepieces," these devices receive their time from NIST radio station WWVB located near Ft. Collins, Colo., which is indirectly referenced to the NIST-F1 cesium fountain atomic clock in Boulder, Colo. WWVB broadcasts its signal throughout the nation at 60 kilohertz to clocks and watches with miniature radio receivers tuned to that frequency.
A new booklet and accompanying Web page produced by NIST's time and frequency experts offer consumers advice on choosing the radio controlled clock or watch that best suits their needs. For those already owning a WWVB-tuned timepiece, the guide provides tips on fixing several common operating problems. For manufacturers, the document recommends best practices for clock control, synchronization methods, time-zone settings, daylight savings time practices, hardware specifications and other topics.
The brochure, WWVB Radio Controlled Clocks: Recommended Practices for Manufacturers and Consumers, may be downloaded online. A print copy can be requested by phone at (303) 497-4343, or e-mail at sp960 [at] boulder.nist.gov.