# fact or myth?

R

#### Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Is this true? I don't believe it, based on a clock built to follow the
powerline. It appears to drift up to 20 seconds a day.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

D

#### Don Bruder

Jan 1, 1970
0
Robert Monsen said:
The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Myth.

A

#### Anthony Fremont

Jan 1, 1970
0
Don Bruder said:

Strictly speaking, you are correct. However, long term accuracy is
actually pretty decent. If a clock is drifting twenty seconds per day
every day in one direction, I'd suspect the clock is not working
correctly. If it runs fast, it may get "ticking" off extra seconds
whenever spikes or surges appear on the line. This is all assuming that
it's an electronic clock and not motor driven.

This guy knows a little bit about time and measuring it:
http://www.bmumford.com/clocks/60cycle/index.html

michael

C

#### CFoley1064

Jan 1, 1970
0
The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Is this true? I don't believe it, based on a clock built to follow the
powerline. It appears to drift up to 20 seconds a day.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

If you're getting 20 seconds of drift a day, your problem isn't the power line
-- you might want to check the IC that's picking up the 50/60 Hz AC from the
transformer or line -- something's definitely wrong there.

Good luck.
Chris

R

#### Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
Anthony Fremont said:
Strictly speaking, you are correct. However, long term accuracy is
actually pretty decent. If a clock is drifting twenty seconds per day
every day in one direction, I'd suspect the clock is not working
correctly. If it runs fast, it may get "ticking" off extra seconds
whenever spikes or surges appear on the line. This is all assuming that
it's an electronic clock and not motor driven.

its a PIC. The tick is the output of a small transformer (actually, the
transformer that provides power for the system) put through a 1MEG resistor.
The transformer is a 120VAC -> 12VAC 2VAC center tap transformer.

The PIC has input clamp diodes to prevent overvoltage, and a bit of
hysteresis to prevent retriggering.

The error seems to be erratic, sometimes lagging my wristwatch, sometimes
leading it. The watch is very accurate, so I don't think its that...

I'll run it for a few more days, and keep track of the errors in a log.

I was really hoping that somebody from the power industry would answer... I
poked around on the PGE (the northern california power company) site, but
didn't find anything useful.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

J

#### John Larkin

Jan 1, 1970
0
its a PIC. The tick is the output of a small transformer (actually, the
transformer that provides power for the system) put through a 1MEG resistor.
The transformer is a 120VAC -> 12VAC 2VAC center tap transformer.

The PIC has input clamp diodes to prevent overvoltage, and a bit of
hysteresis to prevent retriggering.

The error seems to be erratic, sometimes lagging my wristwatch, sometimes
leading it. The watch is very accurate, so I don't think its that...

I'll run it for a few more days, and keep track of the errors in a log.

I was really hoping that somebody from the power industry would answer... I
poked around on the PGE (the northern california power company) site, but
didn't find anything useful.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

I've measured the period of the AC here in San Francisco, and it's
usually 16.6665 or something like that milliseconds... amazingly good.
An old-fashioned AC synchronous-motor-type clock will be a whole lot
better than 20 seconds per day... more like one second per year maybe,
as the utilities *do* shoot for longterm stability. And the
synchronous motor has excellent glitch rejection.

John

C

#### cirip cipcirip

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Robert,

I did a home project that required the PIC to sinchronize to the power line.

I have actually used a comparator and I fed the PIC with a nice square wave.
I thought it was cleaner that way. But definitely you should get better than
20 seconds accuracy.

Here are my suggestions:
1)If you want to keep the circuit simple, then I guess it is OK to supply
the sine wave directly to the PIC input as long as you provide enough swing,
you use the input with hysteresis and, something I haven't seen mentioned by
your post, do a bit of low pass filtering. The Power is usually quite noisy,
so a 60 Hz low pass filtering helps a lot. Actually all the digital clocks
I've seen use that RC filtering scheme.

A quick calculation results in C=1/(2*pi*f*r)=1/(2*pi*60*1e6)=2.65nF. I
guess a 2.2nF should do it.
Also, make sure the signal goes rail to rail (or close) at the PIC's input.

2) Same scheme, filter in, but go through a comparator that provides rail to
rail square wave. That provides nice edges and reduce the stress on the
clamping diodes. I am somehow reluctant to rely on them for signal limiting.

Hope it helps,
Cirip

K

#### Keith R. Williams

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Robert,

I did a home project that required the PIC to sinchronize to the power line.

I have actually used a comparator and I fed the PIC with a nice square wave.
I thought it was cleaner that way. But definitely you should get better than
20 seconds accuracy.

Here are my suggestions:
1)If you want to keep the circuit simple, then I guess it is OK to supply
the sine wave directly to the PIC input as long as you provide enough swing,
you use the input with hysteresis and, something I haven't seen mentioned by
your post, do a bit of low pass filtering. The Power is usually quite noisy,
so a 60 Hz low pass filtering helps a lot. Actually all the digital clocks
I've seen use that RC filtering scheme.

Why not do the filtering in the PIC? Look for the 0->1 transition,
wait 1/60s (minus delta), perhaps in a timing loop, before looking for
the next 0->1 transition. The timing loop isn't critical. It simply
has to lock out another transition around the zero crossings until the
next full cycle.

B

#### Bob Myers

Jan 1, 1970
0
Robert Monsen said:
The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Is this true? I don't believe it, based on a clock built to follow the
powerline. It appears to drift up to 20 seconds a day.

Semi-myth. The powerline (actually, the power *grid*) is not
directly controlled by a single standard, but it IS held to a very
good average accuracy in terms of frequency. Everything on
the grid HAS to be synced together, and the overall grid tracks
pretty close to 60.000 Hz OVER THE LONG TERM. But there
is a lot of what might best be considered "inertia" in terms of
being able to change the frequency, so nothing changes very
quickly.

A clock using the AC line that's drifting that badly is probably
either seeing missing cycles, for whatever reason, or is being
false-triggered by noise on the line.

Bob M.

C

#### Charles Jean

Jan 1, 1970
0
The frequency of "60" Hz from your power company does vary slightly
throughout the day, especially with load pickups or dropouts. The
power company readjusts the frequency at several times throught the
day with a goal of producing exactly 60*86400 cycles in a 24 hour time
period. They try not to let any errors accumulate so that adjustments
are not drastic.

You can check this by listening to WWV(5,10 Mz). Their time is set to
the atomic clock. Even with propogation delay, etc, their accuracy is
good to certainly the low millisecond range by the time it reaches
your ear/brain. Listen to the "on the minute" tone, and record the
times on your ROLEX quartz and an electric(AC frequency controlled,
not quartz) clock. Do this check several times in one day. Don't be
surprised if you see the AC time low on some of the readings, but
HIGHER on others, sometimes as much as 3-4 seconds, as the power
company makes their adjustment. This is not electronic drift. A
quartz clock with 50 ppm electronic drift will gain or lose about 4
seconds/day, but alway gain or always lose time. This is drift and
will allways be a consistent loss or gain relative to WWV, never a
mixture.

The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Is this true? I don't believe it, based on a clock built to follow the
powerline. It appears to drift up to 20 seconds a day.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

If God hadn't intended us to eat animals,
He wouldn't have made them out of MEAT! - John Cleese

R

#### Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
John Larkin said:
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 04:46:27 GMT, "Robert Monsen"

I've measured the period of the AC here in San Francisco, and it's
usually 16.6665 or something like that milliseconds... amazingly good.
An old-fashioned AC synchronous-motor-type clock will be a whole lot
better than 20 seconds per day... more like one second per year maybe,
as the utilities *do* shoot for longterm stability. And the
synchronous motor has excellent glitch rejection.

John

Yes, I was getting comparable results for a while (three or four days it was
within a couple of seconds), but a day or so ago the clock began to drift. I
wonder if I managed to somehow destroy the input pin? There isn't any
protection against high voltage glitches (other than the input diodes in the
PIC.)

The fact that its on the other side of the transformer from the power lines
should afford some protection. The PIC App notes suggest a direct connection
to the powerline through, variously, a 5M resistor, a 20M resistor, and a 1M
resistor, so I thought I was safe.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

A

#### Anthony Fremont

Jan 1, 1970
0
Robert Monsen said:
its a PIC. The tick is the output of a small transformer (actually, the
transformer that provides power for the system) put through a 1MEG resistor.
The transformer is a 120VAC -> 12VAC 2VAC center tap transformer.

A series diode with the resistor would be nice. ;-)
The PIC has input clamp diodes to prevent overvoltage, and a bit of
hysteresis to prevent retriggering.

I assume you're talking about external clamping and not just relying on
www.piclist.com.
The error seems to be erratic, sometimes lagging my wristwatch, sometimes
leading it. The watch is very accurate, so I don't think its that...

Some of this is normal throughout the day. Check out the link I posted,
it shows that loads on the system cause slight variation that the power
company keeps track of. They then make adjustments. I wouldn't be
surprised if at any given moment, your watch (you really should be using
something more accurate like WWV for your testing) is likely to be
several seconds or even a minute or two in disagreement. It's the long
term accuracy that's maintained, the short term accuracy sucks. ;-)
I'll run it for a few more days, and keep track of the errors in a
log.

That's a good way to do it, you need to check the long term accuracy
over several days. You also need to make sure that you are not counting
extra cycles or dropping them. You may need to "clean up" your input a
bit more by using a comparator, I suspect you're getting spikes and/or
missing cycles when surges/sags occur.
I was really hoping that somebody from the power industry would answer... I
poked around on the PGE (the northern california power company) site, but
didn't find anything useful.

Check out the link I posted, it shows what appear to be adjustments
being made by the power company. There are sudden and sharp corrections
on his graph amidst what would appear to be random variations in the
line frequency. Interestingly, they occurred at precise times of the
day on the hour or half hour. This would make sense as the grid needs
all the suppliers to work together.

Good luck and keep tinkering. ;-) Check out that guys site, he's got a
bunch of neat stuff out there. I'm biased though as I collect old
clocks myself. I think one of my next projects will be a pendulum
reinforced by a magnetic "nudge" on each swing. The pendulum will still
swing at it's natural rate, and that will be the time base for my clock.
A hall effect or optical sensor will indicate when to provide the
impulse to the pendulum. Should be fun getting it tweaked out. Not my
idea, but it sounds too good to resist for a PIC project. ;-)

michael

N

#### N. Thornton

Jan 1, 1970
0
I think 20 secs in a day is acceptable power frequency variation, but
it is corrected cumulatively so that timing equipment functions
correctly.

The old synchronous motor clocks were well known to drift out upto a
few minutes sometimes, but they'd always self correct, as they were
following cumulatively corrected mains frequency.

Regards, NT

R

#### Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
Robert Monsen said:
The powerline is synced to the atomic standard... Any small changes are
compensated to ensure that there are exactly 86,400 cycles each day.

Is this true? I don't believe it, based on a clock built to follow the
powerline. It appears to drift up to 20 seconds a day.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

I've been running the clock for a few days, and its much better. I modified
the software to wait 4mS after detecting the zero crossing of the powerline.
Perhaps it was getting double triggered due to spikes on the line.

Thanks,
Bob Monsen

J

#### Jan Z.

Jan 1, 1970
0
their facilities. I was told they have extremely accurate computer equipment
that logs the on going average. They do not attempt to keep the timebase
particularly accurate on a day to day basis but they make sure it averages
out.

So for example, if they are 5 seconds off in the frequancy count after a one
week period, they will tweek things and compensate for the error the next
week.

K

#### Keith R. Williams

Jan 1, 1970
0
I've been running the clock for a few days, and its much better. I modified
the software to wait 4mS after detecting the zero crossing of the powerline.
Perhaps it was getting double triggered due to spikes on the line.

Also watch for the opposite crossing. Depending on what timers
you have available, I'd time the positive crossing and make sure
you're blind until just before the crossing on the next full
cycle (or use both crossings and count twice).

Think of it as a simple digital filter. ;-)

R

#### Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
Keith R. Williams said:
Also watch for the opposite crossing. Depending on what timers
you have available, I'd time the positive crossing and make sure
you're blind until just before the crossing on the next full
cycle (or use both crossings and count twice).

I'm watching for crossings in either direction, after a pause of 4ms.

Actually, however, I think my prior posting was in error. Turns out the
watch I've been using to test it is starting to run slow; the battery is
apparently running low (just at the wrong time, sts).

Thus, when the powerline clock started running 'fast', it was probably my
watch that was slowing down! Once I started checking it against nist, it
seemed far more accurate (which is what I've been doing since posting.) My
wristwatch, on the other hand, that was keeping time within 60 seconds a
year is now 7 minutes slow... I guess its time for a battery.

d'oh!

There is a lesson for me in here about trusing test equipment, I guess.

Regards,
Bob Monsen

K

#### Keith R. Williams

Jan 1, 1970
0
I'm watching for crossings in either direction, after a pause of 4ms.

Good plan. You're then counting 120Hz? (well, you'd be further
off than 20 seconds...)
Actually, however, I think my prior posting was in error. Turns out the
watch I've been using to test it is starting to run slow; the battery is
apparently running low (just at the wrong time, sts).

I do believe others called on you to compare to WWV(H), or even
some Internet time standard.
Thus, when the powerline clock started running 'fast', it was probably my
watch that was slowing down! Once I started checking it against nist, it
seemed far more accurate (which is what I've been doing since posting.) My
wristwatch, on the other hand, that was keeping time within 60 seconds a
year is now 7 minutes slow... I guess its time for a battery.

d'oh!
Indeed!

There is a lesson for me in here about trusing test equipment, I guess.

Thre is also a lesson here about using three standards when one
is in question. If they're all wrong, it's time to find another
hobby. ;-)

W

#### Watson A.Name - Watt Sun

Jan 1, 1970
0
spam- said:
Strictly speaking, you are correct. However, long term accuracy is
actually pretty decent. If a clock is drifting twenty seconds per day
every day in one direction, I'd suspect the clock is not working
correctly. If it runs fast, it may get "ticking" off extra seconds
whenever spikes or surges appear on the line. This is all assuming that
it's an electronic clock and not motor driven.

This guy knows a little bit about time and measuring it:
http://www.bmumford.com/clocks/60cycle/index.html

My guess is that his watch calibrator box uses a regular crystal
oscillator. Unless its calibration is traceable to the NIST freq
standard, then it's not accurate enough to measure a few seconds a
day.

--
@@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@,@@[email protected]@[email protected],@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@
###Got a Question about ELECTRONICS? Check HERE First:###
http://users.pandora.be/educypedia/electronics/databank.htm
My email address is whitelisted. *All* email sent to it
goes directly to the trash unless you add NOSPAM in the
Subject: line with other stuff. alondra101 <at> hotmail.com
Don't be ripped off by the big book dealers. Go to the URL
that will give you a choice and save you money(up to half).
http://www.everybookstore.com You'll be glad you did!
Just when you thought you had all this figured out, the gov't
changed it: http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html
@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@

Replies
3
Views
947
Replies
5
Views
1K
G
Replies
13
Views
2K
P E Schoen
P
Replies
6
Views
2K
H
Replies
0
Views
1K
H