Idea: Build an accurate time piece from junk

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Have the teams build an accurate time piece from scratch (no sun dials)

-- Rick Gray (rgray@penn.com), April 02, 2001

Answers

This would be a very interesting technical challenge with lots of possible solutions. Building it in 10 hours might be a difficult since it took John Harrison 50 years to perfect a clock that could be used on board ship to calculate longitude. The competition would be a problem. I could not image something more boring than watching clocks tick to see which one will lose the least time.

-- Joe Pressel (demwits@earthlink.net), April 03, 2001.

One way to make the challenge less boring would be to require the teams to trigger some mechanism after a proscribed amount of time. For example, you could have a tennis-ball launcher triggered by the machine after 30 seconds. The producers could make a control machine that is know to time accurately, start all three simultaneously, and then compare the results in slow motion.

But the only machine I can think of that I would want to build for this would be a pendulum clock. Maybe a water clock or some other form of oscillating timer could be constructed, but the pendulum would be by far the easiest. One thorny issue would be whether to allow the contestants to wear their wristwatches to calibrate the things. (My vote is NO!)

-- Gregg Christopher - The Odd Goods (fsgac@uaf.edu), April 03, 2001.


I should have said build the "most accurate" clock. I can't forsee any design made in a junkyard putting Timex out of business.

I was thinking along the lines of a water clock or pendulum clock myself. I like the idea of testing the clocks accuracy by having them trigger a device after an allotted amount of time.

I don't like the idea of sundials because there is very little construction and a lot of calculations.

-- Rick Gray (rgray@penn.com), April 03, 2001.


I suggest that a timer of some type would be a great idea, (had it myself). I was thinking along the line of a One-Hour timer, which would chime or ring a bell. Playing a tune may just be out side of possible in only eight hours of construction time.

Boring? NO! Watching the various gears or pulleys running round, water dripping, sand pouring out, a pendulum swinging. Just think how exciting!

The device could be constructed from just about anything, including paper and wood. Itís a one shot timer, it either runs or not. The calculations are not complex and a well-stocked junkyard will supply everything needed.

The clock has a great history and is a device recognized around the world. Letís see just how difficult it is to time out an hour.

I vote YES! Have at it!

-- Jack Leese Beatcher (talljack@earthlink.net), April 04, 2001.


An accurate timepiece from Junk? Isn't that a Timex?

-- Dan Denney (rustrenegades@hotmail.com), April 04, 2001.


So maybe the clocks should be powered by gasoline engines. Would that spice it up a little? While I will freely conceed that clock making is a fine and noble craft- and art, even- watching clocks tick (or drip or whatever) may not make for riveting gotta-watch television. Remember, they need a snappy finish for each and every show!

-- Chip Haynes (ehaynes@co.pinellas.fl.us), April 05, 2001.

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