[time-nuts] Yukon Energy causes time sync problems

Tom Holmes, N8ZM tholmes at woh.rr.com
Sat Apr 10 15:13:58 EDT 2010

Let me see if I've got this straight...

The article talked about the locals losing time, hence not as many hours in
the day in my interpretation. So the line monitor clock was running fast, as
were the clocks of the locals, thus completing 24 hours in something less
than that. So far, so good?

Now, if the monitor clock was developing bad bearings, thus causing it to
run slow, the 'frequency manager' guy would see by comparison to the alleged
GPS clock that he needed to crank up the generator RPM's to make up for the
apparently slow line frequency. He may have also cranked in a little extra
to make up for his perception that they were behind on their 24 hour
obligation of 60x60x60x24 (=5184000) cycles per day. (I wonder if they have
a chart to tell them how many rpm's to add to make up the shortfall,
courtesy of some long forgotten EE who actually understood what was going on
and could do the math?)

Eventually, someone noticed in the outside world that tempus fugit, and the
investigation spotted the fast line monitor clock and the high line
frequency. So now the line frequency needs to be reduced below 60 Hz for
quite a while maybe to bring everything back to where it should be. Being a
somewhat small town, news travels fast and there probably isn't a lot local
fluff to print anyway, so it made the paper. But actually, the newspaper
article was done to tell the locals to reset their clocks so that the power
company wouldn't have to run slow for however long it needed, and avoided
further inconvenience to the citizenry.

If the local papers in any major metropolis ever got wind of such sloppy
frequency control, it would make the Toyota recall story look about as
important as one of the editor's frequent grammar errors, while they
proclaimed a conspiracy by the power company higher ups to cut down on fuel
expenses, cheat on the environmental rules, and inflate usage to bilk
consumers, not to mention the government's lax oversight and slow response
to the 'crisis'.

OK, sorry for that last cynical rant...well, a little sorry anyway.


Tom Holmes, N8ZM
Tipp City, OH

-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of Thomas A. Frank
Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2010 12:52 AM
To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Yukon Energy causes time sync problems

> In this case, the reference clock appears to refer to GPS satellite  
> time,
> but
> uses a standard wall clock to display it. It is the reference clock  
> that
> slowed down when it should have failed to work at all. Perhaps the  
> wall
> clock
> (maybe it was really a HP 113) needed oil. There's the real  
> question for
> time
> nuts: How did the reference clock slow down?

I just went and re-read the article.  It reads to me that the  
synchronous clock, not the GPS reference clock, was what suffered the  
The control centre's wall clock was running faster than the satellite  
clock over the last few days, so staff simply turned down generation  
as they normally do, without knowing there was an internal problem  
with their electric clock, he explained.
Morgan said when the generation was turned down, electric clocks that  
were plugged into the wall - alarm clocks, stove clocks, microwave  
clocks - all slowed down. The change was quite slow and unnoticeable  
until several minutes had been lost over a few days, he said.


Or do y'all think I am misinterpreting the story?  Easier to believe  
that the synchronous clock went bad than the GPS clock.

On a related note, I visited a remote navy base once and went to talk  
to the folks running the station power plant, which was comprised of  
24 very large diesel generators.  They had a $2 synchronous clock  
sitting next to a $2 battery operated quartz wall clock, and were  
manually controlling the frequency.  I suggested that they at least  
get a high quality quartz clock, if not a GPS based clock for the  
reference...but that costs money, so they weren't planning to change.

Also related, I have an Electro Industries frequency meter that I use  
to monitor the power line here in Rhode Island.  I have never seen it  
vary more than .05 Hz from nominal (59.95 to 60.05).  On the other  
hand, during a trip to Scotland, the power frequency went fully 0.5  
Hz out, from 49.50 - 50.50, Hz while I was there.

In both cases, the average is right on over the course of several days.

Tom Frank, KA2CDK

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