January Meeting – The Greenwich time ball

The Greenwich Time Ball  Douglas Bateman

The time ball talk will cover the invention of the ‘instantaneous signal’ by Captain Wauchope leading to its construction in 1833, followed over the years, by many modifications. Douglas will bring us up to date describing his installation of electronic control in 1991 and now with a radio controlled clock that gives automatic changes to summer time and back.

Douglas has been involved with precision timekeeping since building a regulator with photoelectric ‘escapement’ and circular error control. The led to the use of the time signals from Rugby and publication of articles about the clock and the importance of a term called Quality Factor, Q, which related accuracy to the property of the oscillator.

His current project is to write a comprehensive history of the Greenwich Time ball involving examining the Greenwich archives in Cambridge and The National Archives at Kew and elsewhere, and with assistance, examine more or less every detail of the current machinery.