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Two important functions missing in new radios ?

Feb 4th 2013, 15:16

AB3FN

Joined: Jun 5th 2007, 14:11
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Maybe I'm missing the boat here, but I'd like to understand why our radios don't use signals from GPS or WWV. Lots of low cost consumer electronics does.

Instead of a TCXO, for example, a radio's frequency reference could be derived from GPS or WWV. If those signals were unavailable, then the radio would use its internal reference.

Similarly, why don't our radios include a clock, which would also derive the time from GPS or WWV ? And again, if those signals were not available, then the clock would revert to its own internal crystal.

Seems to me that both features would be easy and cheap to incorporate. Are there technical issues that I'm just not seeing ?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and for educating me.

73 - Allan, AB3FN
Feb 4th 2013, 18:05

W1VT

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Consumer Electronics obtains time information from GPS and WWVB, which is considerably easier than obtaining frequency information.

http://www.rt66.com/~shera/index_fs.htm
Brook Shea describes how to lock a frequency reference to GPS.

http://www.realhamradio.com/GPS_User_Notes.htm
Hewlett Packard made a commercial version, the Z3801A, which became available as surplus to hams a decade ago.

Adding a WWVB synched clock could be done, if one didn't mind the hassle of locating an external antenna away from noisy electrical devices, perhaps easier said than done in a modern ham shack with a computer. With many hams, it is more practical to to use an Internet connected computer for accurate timing. Many atomic clocks are battery powered, making it easy to avoid harmonics of 60Hz.

Zack Lau W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer
Feb 6th 2013, 15:30

WB1GCM

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
The Yaesu FTdx3000 has a clock that runs off of an internal crystal as reference. I've seen a few HF mid to high end HF transceivers with clocks. It would be a good feature for all transceivers.

Bob Allison
WB1GCM
ARRL Test Engineer
Feb 7th 2013, 15:51

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
The Ten-Tec Orion 565 (and possibly the Orion II) have a non-volatile clock chip on their CPU boards, but the firmware has never enabled it. I don't know why, but I expect the LCD screen real estate required and the extra menu complexity, along with all the support problems you could imagine, were enough to keep TT from providing a clock function. (Firmware memory was in short supply, too.)

Once you have a clock, you need to be able to set it and to keep it accurate. GPS would help, but that adds to the complexity and requires an antenna, etc. All that said, I'd have liked to have clock that shows UTC and local civil time. (Then, you also need to deal with daylight savings/summer time!)

Some radios, like the HQ-145, used to have an electric clock as an option. Now, for about $10, you can buy a nice small digital clock and paste it onto your rig somewhere.

73 Martin AA6E
Feb 23rd 2013, 12:42

WD8KNI

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Why would any amateur transmitter or transceiver need such accuracy? I just pick a frequency and call CQ, or answer someone else on the frequency they are using. My only need for accuracy is to stay inside the band plan. Commercial gear doesn't even require such accuracy. Perhaps I am missing something.. Fred/WD8KNI

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