Any Good Software Apps for Clocks?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by ChrisCam, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hi Guys, following previous post RC introduced the Microset Precision Timer which is an attractive product at a not too attractive price so I am inquiring what software apps you good folks have found useful for 2 basic functions (1) Set the beat and (2) Beat Regulation

    Kindest Regards

    Christopher
     
  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 19, 2005
    40,278
    624
    113
    Male
    Self employed interpreter/clock repairer
    Iowa
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    ClockMaster for iPhone and other Apple based products is not bad. Bear in mind that you usually get what you pay for :)
     
  3. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
    NAWCC Member Deceased

    Nov 4, 2002
    40,850
    140
    63
    Male
    deceased
    Whitby, Ontario, Canada
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    A mechanic's stethoscope is all I use. Helps to hear an out of beat problem without plugging anything in.
     
    Karl Thies likes this.
  4. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks Harold,
    Probably the simplest, cheapest and reliable but you never know:???::???:
    Kindest Regards

    Christopher
     
  5. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
    NAWCC Member Deceased

    Nov 4, 2002
    40,850
    140
    63
    Male
    deceased
    Whitby, Ontario, Canada
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I do know that I will never have to ask "why doesn't this thing work?" But I suppose holding a drinking glass up to the front of a clock would be cheaper still, but not as effective.
     
  6. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Not quite as convenient as Microset, Audacity 2.1.2 free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds. Audacity is a free program written by a worldwide team of volunteer developers. Audacity is available for Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux (and other Unix-like systems).
    Audacity® | Free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing.

    Not specifically for clock work, but if you have a clip-on mike or guitar pickup type mike if can give you a very graphic display of the ticks against a time line in real time. It will even show any quirky extra sounds and just when in the tick cycle they occur. It will give a good visual indication of when the clock is in beat, and if you read the time line between ticks you can tell numerically when it is in beat. The program has a feature to determining the beat rate from music which I believe some have found to work to determine the clock's beat rate, but I haven't used that function. If you search this forum for "Audacity" I recall there was considerable discussion a few months ago. You can't much beat free! While Audacity is free, you must also download a proprietary driver (also free) from another site which is explained in the Audacity install instructions. I use it mostly for music applications and it is a great program.

    RC
     
  7. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jul 3, 2016
    2,228
    117
    63
    Male
    Carson City, Nevada
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    You can also put a small hole in the bottom of a small tomato paste can, put a cord through and tie a knot, then tie a metal hook on the other end. Hook the metal hook over a metal part of the movement, pull the string tight with the can to your ear and you get sound. The can also blocks external noise.
     
  8. woodlawndon

    woodlawndon Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 18, 2017
    580
    109
    43
    Male
    Woodlawn, Ontario
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hey, thanks for this. I already use Audacity to transfer my analog music sources to digital, great program. I also have a guitar pick-up, it never occurred to me to use Audacity for anything else actually, nice. So just to be clear, do I use bluetooth between the mic and my laptop or do you plug it in somehow?
     
  9. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I don't think it really matters. My computer doesn't have blue tooth. Audacity has a source select menu, and if you have a PC right click on the speaker icon and select recording devices. If you turn on "what you hear", and you hear the ticking in the speakers then Audacity should work OK regardless of how your mike inputs to the computer. Just make sure you use the mike input and not the line-in input.

    RC
     
    woodlawndon likes this.
  10. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks RC and Everyone. I have an old Electronics degree so am obviously thinking what does the Microset thing do and can I make something similar? Does it look for the strongest tick to tock showing a digital readout for each, if it doesn't would that do? I expect it has a beat counter aswell. Like the idea of Audacity..thanks!

    Kindest Regards

    Christopher
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #11 R. Croswell, Jan 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
    First, I suggest that you go to "MicroSet Precision Timer" and read carefully the features and specifications so you know just what the Misroset actually can do. Yes, it has a beat counter as well as a beat error indicator. The counter can be set to display BPH and you can set it to sample across x beats and display (one usually sets x=teeth on escape wheel so you sample the same thing) and it can be set to average over as long as you like. It can also display a straight count if for example you want to see over time if the clock missed a strike. It can also be had with a computer interface.

    As for the electronics behind it, the front panel has an analog signal level control and a red LED that flashes with each beat. The level is set such that only the ticking produces a signal level high enough to register. I would expect to find an amplifier stage to boost the input signal. Then perhaps a "Schmidt trigger" or a differential comparator or differential amplifier chip that would produce an on-off output pulse. I would expect the pulse to feed a decade counter. In the works there has to be a very accurate xtal controlled clock. Just how the count registers are added, divided, averaged and processed are above my pay grade, but it is a digital device from the point where the analog input is converted to a pulse. Inside the Microset there is a small dual in-line removable chip that has all the proprietary programming that makes it go. Simply replacing that chip added all the new features of the next model.

    It would be an interesting project to design a similar device from the ground up but if as they say, time is money, it would be a lot less expensive to just buy Bryan's device. Yes, it is a significant outlay of cash, but he had to have put in many hours in designing the thing and they are basically hand-made in small quantities. Bryan also responds quickly to any problems or difficulties.

    There is an app for clock timing that runs on an iPad or iPhone that more or less works but my iPad has a weird in/out jack and I've never been able to get the darn thing to work with an external pickup and it says the results were saved but God only knows where, I sure can't find them. It is nice having a dedicated device, but now that everyone already has a smart phone or tablet of one sort or another, designing a "device" that interfaces with a smart phone or computer may be one possible way go. I'm afraid that technology began outpacing my ability to keep up in electronics in the 1980s. Electronics was my first occupation back in the late 1950s.

    RC
     
    Berry Greene likes this.
  12. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks RC, yes of course a project like this especially if your not in your prime is too time consuming. I would estimate 3 months. Definitely doable with a microprocessor based circuit but hey you can't pursue every line of interest or you'll never master any.

    Kindest Regards

    Christopher
     
  13. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I think one could make an electronic beat-error meter without all the timing features for under $10 bucks. Might give it a try sometime and perhaps others will try also.

    For starters I use an available contact microphone or guitar pickup, input to an amplifier stage (perhaps 1/2 a 742C dif amp chip), use a simple R/C filter in the input to smooth out sounds from "pallet chatter" so we look at the real tick, output to a "flip-flop" or latch logic chip such that outputs A and B alternate state with each input, feed both A and B to a differential amp chip (perhaps another 741C) with an R/C circuit at each input. In operation, the output A or the flip-flop will charge the capacitor at input A of the dif amp. through a capacitor. When the flip-flop alternates The capacitor at A discharges and the corresponding capacitor at B charges. If the beat is even both capacitors will charge to the same potential and the output of the dif. amp. will be zero. If the beat is uneven then the flip-flop will linger longer in one state and one of the capacitors at the dif. amp. inputs will reach a higher potential than the other. If the dif. amp. is powered by say two 9v batteries in a configuration of -vcc 0 +vcc then the output of the diff amp will go positive or negative depending of the direction of the out of beat. In the simplest form, one would just read voltage at the output of the dif. amp with an inexpensive digital volt meter as a positive or negative or zero volts out put.

    That's just a first thought concept. There would need to be a few refinements. The output could be directed to a pair of LED VU-meter circuits (available from Jameco) with red and yellow LEDs at each end with the greens in the middle. Get creative and put a blue or white LED in the middle driven by a logic chip that outputs only neither of its inputs are active.

    Have fun!
     
  14. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
     
  15. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    RC maybe if I get a few moments I will have a pop (competitive nature) at this but could I clarify what is the clock expert listening for ? I mean the tick will not be totally equivalent to the tock, so are we looking for the strongest tick tock? This is crucial to get an idea of the circuit right.

    Kindest Regards
    Christopher
     
  16. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    10,341
    1,092
    113
    Male
    Retired from Xerox
    Breamore, Hampshire, UK
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hi Christopher,

    Before you get too immersed in this, I suggest you have a look at Delph Electronics eTimer software. There's a free demo version which accepts input in various audio formats, which Audacity can provide very easily. The only difference from the purchased version, (apart from the price of £299 or about $430), is the provision of a custom clip on microphone and a slight modification to the software which allows analysis in real time. Although it's called a Watch Escapement Analyser, it will cater for clocks as well. It provides all the functionality of some $5000+ machines.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  17. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #17 R. Croswell, Jan 28, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
    To determine beat error one looks for the difference in the times between the ticks and tocks. tic....toc....tic....toc....tic....toc is in beat. tic..toc......tic..toc......tic..toc......tic..toc......tic is not in beat. The fancy machines can actually measure in milliseconds these times and determine the percent the clock is out of beat. For practical purposes, one does not need to know the actual percent or millisecond difference. All we need to know to setup a clock is if it IS in beat, and if not, are our adjustments moving closer to or further away from perfect beat.

    The intensity of the sounds is not important. The "event" (the tick OR the tock sound) must generate an electrical pulse. There are various ways to do this electronically. The pulse width or duration is unimportant it only has to have sufficient amplitude. A "flip-flop" in its simplest form is a pair of transistors wired together such that the output state of one determines the output state of the other. If one is switched on by an electrical pulse it remains on or latched until it is switched off or the other transistor is switched on. Sort of like a 3-way upstairs/downstairs light switch - either the upstairs light is on or the downstairs light is on but not both. In electronics there are various "logic chips" - and, or, nand nor gates) that can accomplish this. For our basic beat meter we would have two outputs from our "flip-flop" and each output would remain in the on state until the next "event" at which time it would switch off and the other output would switch on - so if the clock is in beat each output will be on the same length of time (the upstairs light is on the same length of time as the downstairs light) The outputs are either on or off. Now if each output is used to charge a capacitor (a capacitor is like a bucket that holds electricity) the output that is on for the longest time will accumulate a larger electrical charge it its capacitor. Now we connect each capacitor to something called a differential amplifier, which is a $0.49 "chip" gizmo that compares the charges in the two capacitors. If the charges are the same the output from the differential amp. is zero (in beat) If the charges are not equal the dif. amp. will output a voltage, either positive or negative, proportional to the difference. Measuring or monitoring the output voltage will reflect the relative amount of out of beat and in which direction. That's an over-simplified explanation of the concept. The actual circuitry would include provision for discharging the capacitors so they don't "overflow with electricity" etc.

    So we are looking for the start of an event, not how loud it is or how long it lasts. The event's start initiates process - sets the electronic switch for the event to "on" - all the way on. Its the time until the start of the next "event" that's important, not the duration or intensity of the actual event. Once the event is detected the electronics is switched on.

    RC
     
  18. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks RC, that sounds to me a good explanation. I will add it to my notes. When / if I pursue this I will keep you informed.
    Kindest Regards
    Christopher
     
  19. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2017
    1,173
    20
    38
    Male
    England
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks Graham, kind of you to point me in this direction, will definetly have a look.

    Kindest Regards

    Christopher
     
  20. Berry Greene

    Berry Greene Registered User

    Oct 2, 2017
    405
    23
    18
    Male
    Retired electronics engineer
    Chichester
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    You and me both Mr Croswell! The pace of electronic development became the stuff of madness and since you & I must be of a similar age so must we have shared our witness of that progress. I had to laugh when I read that bit of your post because your grasp is still better than most. I think one reaches a point along the line where you know from previous experience what can be done. You also know that it will cost you a lot of sweat to do it and in fact almost anyone with electronic knowledge and dedicated enough will eventually do whatever it is. I much prefer mechanical clocks! Watches are also OK if you can see them and you don't shake too much with advancing years! They don't chime though - do they? Yeah yeah I 'spose some do!
    ATB BerryG
     
  21. bytes2doc

    bytes2doc Registered User
    NAWCC Member Sponsor

    Aug 31, 2009
    157
    3
    18
    Physician
    Tennessee
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    If you have a android phone try out clock tuner. It free and a small cost for more advanced features.
     
  22. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 26, 2012
    848
    136
    43
    Country Flag:
    Also, WildSpectra for Android.
     
  23. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 19, 2005
    40,278
    624
    113
    Male
    Self employed interpreter/clock repairer
    Iowa
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    For Apple, Clockmaster is pretty good.
     
  24. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
    9,219
    494
    83
    Male
    Trappe, Md.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I just checked out Clock Tuner in the app store. With any app, and especially "free ones" always check the permissions that you have to grant to the app. This one wants full access to the Internet for up and down loading plus access to Google Pay. I have to ask why an app like this needs to upload anything to the Internet and why. I also wonder why it need access to Google Pay if it is free. Anyway I didn't install it so can't say how it performs.

    RC
     
  25. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 26, 2012
    848
    136
    43
    Country Flag:
    FWIW, WildSpectra only requires permissions for the microphone and camera, both of which are used directly by the app. I find WildSpectra indispensable for setting the beat and regulating pocket watches and often find it helpful for clocks as well. I paid the $0.99 for the pro version to help support the developer. This is a complex piece of software with commensurate capabilities.
     
    Kevin W. likes this.
  26. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

    Aug 17, 2014
    2,790
    224
    63
    Male
    Science teacher, writer
    Lancaster, Ohio, USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #26 kinsler33, Apr 18, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
    But be sure to try out the mechanic's stethoscope first. I have found that a great deal of troubleshooting can be done simply by listening to the sound of the tick. You can hear faint scraping sounds, and rotten-sounding ticks, and squeaks, and apply your efforts accordingly. That's how I finally fixed a rebellious floating-balance escapement not long ago. And if you do house calls the stethoscope looks somewhat impressive to the clock owner. Harbor Freight Tools sells one, and I suppose there are sturdier specimens on the market.

    As for finding the beats per hour, I've learned to live without this swell feature. That is because you have to know the desired beat rate to regulate the clock in this manner, and I haven't found a 'beat book' that's been even slightly useful. The listings of clock descriptions vs. beats per hour are sent in by clock repairers who are generally very good at determining the proper figure for BPH but not particularly adept at describing the clock in question. "Black Cast Iron Sessions" really doesn't help, because they made these for years and used any number of movements. Thus you'll have several choices for desired BPH, which doesn't help much.

    Or, you can count wheel teeth and figure out the BPH on your own. I've never had the patience, at least not yet.

    M Kinsler

    and when they see the stethoscope they might turn down the volume of the TV set.
     

Share This Page