I have for some time wanted a reliable time piece outside my house. I don’t actually require an exact time outside anymore than I do elsewhere, but I do need to get the grass cut by teatime. So, I have acquired a Radio Controlled Wall Clock for my shed.
I have had the difficulty of not being able to see any of the indoor clocks easily through the windows from outside the house. Although I have a wall clock in the kitchen I have to open the door to see it. Reflections on the windows make it difficult to read otherwise.
I have had an old LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) clock hanging around for years inside one of my sheds. It was the typical type that could be stuck on the dashboard of cars in the 1980’s when cars didn’t have a clock built in. However it didn’t like the heat of summer or the cold of winter and was notorious for not keeping time. I had a lot of difficulty positioning it in a convenient place too. It was very poor quality.
While on the subject of sheds why not take a look at my post about “Securing Shed Doors”. — HC
Type of Clock To Use
My basic requirements for an outside/shed clock are:
- It must have a large face so it can be easily read from across my shed if I am inside, and outside of my shed if I am in the garden,
- I don’t require it to be accurate to the second but it must be accurate over a long time – over winter for example.
- When we change to or from BST (British Summer Time) I would like the clock to change automatically.
- The battery must last a long time or I will have to change the battery and reset the time too often.
I knew I could get a Radio Controlled Wall Clock and realised it would solve my time keeping problems because it would automatically adjust for BST. I have an automatically adjusted clock built into my central heating controller and it works well with a digital display. However this radio controlled wall clock, in my shed, has an analogue display (a traditional clock face).
I have no experience of how this type of radio controlled wall clock behaves. I don’t know what issues there may be with this Radio Controlled Wall Clock in very cold or hot weather. Shed temperatures can reach extremes at both ends of the scale.
Positioning My Radio Controlled Wall Clock
I had considered positioning the clock opposite the door on the wall of the shed. Then I would see it inside and from outside when I look in through the door, but I can’t see any of the walls. That’s the nature of sheds.
I fixed it to the inside of the door.
Previous sheds have had hooks on the doors to hang things on for easy access when the door is opened. So far with my new shed I have kept the inside of the door clear. It’s a very visible shed. It looks smart and I don’t necessarily have to shut the door if it’s raining. I might leave the door open if I am working in the shed and the wind keeps the rain out.
I can see that my Radio Controlled Wall Clock will be water resistant (not water proof). The mechanism is well screened by the white plastic case and the transparent front. The front isn’t sealed to the case so heavy rain will seep between the two. That will be a nuisance and encourage dirt to build up over time. But it would have to rise inside (where it can be seen) by several inches to endanger the mechanism. So if it did get wet it wouldn’t go unnoticed and I could take action to keep it dry, i.e. Shut the shed door.
The Radio Controlled Wall Clock has a “^” notch in the plastic on the back to allow it to be hung on a screw or nail. I actually had an ideal screw with a large diameter head and a self tapping thread with a diameter exactly the same as the notch in the case. But I would have had to take action to prevent the point from exiting the boards of the door at the front. So, I have hung it with 2 × Command Strips. See below:
Using Command Strips
Before using Command Strips ensure that the items to be connected by them are both flat. Command Strips can be applied anywhere on a flat surface because they come together and connect. If they are not flat then the items will touch at three points minimum. Check where the points are that touch. Those will be the only reliable points where the Command Strips can be applied.
Command Strips are used in pairs. All the strips are identical. One strip is stuck to one item, using the self adhesive strip on the back of it, and another strip is stuck to the other item. Then when the two items are pressed together so that the Command Strips engage the two items remain fixed to each other until they are pulled apart.
So in my case one set of strips is stuck to the shed door and the other set is stuck to the back of the clock.
Surfaces must be cleaned to ensure adhesion with:
- isopropyl alcohol (surgical spirit) or,
- methylated spirit.
My technique for applying the Command Strips to the correct location on both items is to:
- neatly press the Command Strips together in pairs,
- remove one adhesive backing strip from each pair,
- stick each pair to one item (in my case the clock),
- peel the other adhesive backing strip off each pair,
- align the two items and press them together,
- press firmly at each Command Strip point to ensure adhesion.
Here are the 3m Instructions for applying Command Strips:
It’s not something I have done, but it should be possible to remove Command Strips by following these instructions:
The Radio Controlled Wall Clock I Bought
I obtained my Radio Controlled Wall Clock (Model EL4780) from www.easylifegroup.com and the brand name is T&J (Tavistock & Jones). It works as per enclosed instructions and may be available here. The basic price was £14.99 but it cost £19.98 including post & packing and VAT. When I have looked for one in the past they have either been unavailable or cost prohibitive. (Alternative radio controlled wall clocks are available here.)
This one claims to be accurate to within 1 second in 138,000,000 years because it is synchronised with an atomic clock under the control of the UK’s atomic time regulator. It automatically adjusts to BST in the spring and goes back to GMT in the autumn.
It requires an AA battery to power it. I have used a lithium battery in the hope that it will last forever (and because I had one available). I had better check it for corrosion annually since it will be in a damp place.
The instructions are written in good English and are comprehensive but simple. They cover the following points:
- Customer greeting describing what this clock can do,
- Things to do before first use,
- Field of operation and benefits list,
- Parts diagram,
- Battery installation,
- Setting the clock automatically,
- Setting the clock manually,
- Radio interference,
- The radio control signal,
- Care and maintenance,
- Battery specification.
Here is a PDF of the Instruction Manual as offered by Easylife. It’s in a format for printing on two sheets. So, depending on how it displays on your screen:
- the top, or 1st, image (PDF file page 1) has page 4 on the left and page 1 on the right,
- the bottom, or 2nd, image (PDF file page 2) has page 2 on the left and page 3 on the right.
The Time Signal Controlling The Clock
It maybe the long wave, amplitude modulated, radio signal with a carrier frequency of 60kHz controlled by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). That radiates from a transmitter near Anthorn in the north of England. See it on the active Google Map below:
Or it could be a long wave, phase modulated, radio signal with a carrier frequency of 198kHz controlled by Arqiva and transmitted with the BBC Radio 4 signal. That radiates from the main Droitwich (500kW) transmitter, at Dodderhill, Wychbold near Droitwich in Worcestershire, and two lower powered transmitters in Scotland on the same frequency. See it on the active Google Map below:
One of the lower powered 198kHz (50kW) transmitters is at Burghead.
The other lower powered 198kHz (50kW) transmitter is at Westerglen.
You can find out more about:
- the ‘MSF (60kHz)signal’,
- the ‘Droitwich, Burghead & Westerglen (198kHz) signals’,
- GPS and BIPM Circular T Summary
. . . by visiting and reading: