Eight O'clock Pips

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Mick F
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Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Mick F » 4 Feb 2019, 8:34am

Not just at 8am of course, but what is the purpose of the pips these days?

If you're listening to the radio on FM/MW/LW the pips are just about dead on accurate.
DAB they can be up to a minute late, and online even more late.

As more and more listeners are on DAB and online, they are increasingly serving no purpose at all.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby mjr » 4 Feb 2019, 9:36am

Jazz FM is particularly bad for this. Their broadcast system must include lots of caching because by the time it comes out of my speakers (with about half a second caching on my receiver), the 8 o'clock news starts at two minutes past!

It's a bit of a technical failure that there's no easy way to synchronise digital receivers.
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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby [XAP]Bob » 4 Feb 2019, 9:45am

mjr wrote:It's a bit of a technical failure that there's no easy way to synchronise digital receivers.


It's not a technical failure - it's an unavoidable effect of the system.
There is no need for digital pips anyway - there could easily be a genuine time signal sent over DAB, and online you have NTP.

The analogue pips, are, as has been pointed out, pretty much perfect - so they make sense. The 'technical' fix is to have the pips only played over analogue radio, and have some short jingle that gets played over digital services - which have alternative time sources and displays.
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby mjr » 4 Feb 2019, 9:55am

It's avoidable: attach playback timestamps to the audio data in the steam along with a time signal and play the audio out at the correct times.

Other than pip accuracy, it would also allow you to have independent receivers playing the same station in different parts of the house without it sounding like audio salad in between them.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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661-Pete
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby 661-Pete » 4 Feb 2019, 12:34pm

mjr wrote:It's a bit of a technical failure that there's no easy way to synchronise digital receivers.
I don't know much about DAB, but in my software-engineer days, I devised a bit of software which was able to synchronise clocks on several nodes linked by a peer-to-peer network - this despite the fact that transmissions between nodes were not instantaneous.

Although I was perhaps one of the early ones in the field, I reckon similar algorithms are used today in mobile phones, GPS systems (where it matters!) and the like.

The problem with DABs I suppose, is that they receive only - they can't transmit a return signal. Perhaps it's just as well: the airwaves are clogged up enough as it is!

Incidentally, if I want an accurate time to set a clock by, I simply visit https://time.is/ - assuming I don't have my radio-synced watch with me. I know that both of them are spot-on, because they always agree to a fraction of a second.

For most people, on the other hand, this sort of accuracy hardly matters, does it? And our DAB only delays by about 4-5 seconds - I've never heard of one delaying by up to a minute.
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby philvantwo » 4 Feb 2019, 1:24pm

Well I put radio 4 on my DAB at 11:59 to see what Mick F was on about. The last pip was about 2 seconds late compared to my Garmin watch, how can it be 2 minutes late on Mick F's radio?
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Ben@Forest » 4 Feb 2019, 1:46pm

philvantwo wrote:Well I put radio 4 on my DAB at 11:59 to see what Mick F was on about. The last pip was about 2 seconds late compared to my Garmin watch, how can it be 2 minutes late on Mick F's radio?


Cornwall. Actually Mick's house is still in about 1986 so he's lucky the DAB is that quick.
:wink:

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby al_yrpal » 4 Feb 2019, 2:02pm

I agree, the pips are are hangover from the past. My Casio Waveceptor is synchronised by self adjusting atomic clock timekeeping. According to it the pips are always wrong by being 10 seconds late.

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Mick F
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Mick F » 4 Feb 2019, 2:23pm

Let me tell you the scenario.

We no longer listen to analogue radio. The last car had one, but this one has DAB and that's what it's set to and works flawlessly.
In the house, we listen online via stereo speakers plugged into the iMac in the livingroom, and over a set of bluetooth speakers fed from the iMac.

In the workshop, we have a DAB radio. Again, it works flawlessly.

We have clocks. We have an iPad in the bedroom on a stand overnight with an analogue clock-face with second hand connected to our WiFi. We can use it as an alarm if required of course. We know the time via our clocks and our devices.

If I was listening to (say) The Archers in the workshop on DAB, then came into the house and it was online on the iMac, it would be about a minute behind. Not timed it specifically, but about a minute, maybe a bit less.

I'm often up early with a cuppa in the livingroom listening to shipping forecast/farming today/news etc, then I wake Mrs Mick F up with a cuppa and we chat in bed. I can hear the online radio in the livingroom - we live in a bungalow. I hear the online 8am pips and they frequently come late by about two minutes. Sometimes less, but always more than a minute late.

Seems to me that the only time they are of any use at all, is to the analogue radio listeners, and I reckon nobody sets their watches and clocks by them any more. I remember my old grandfather with his fob-watch setting it right by the pips, but those days are long gone.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Airsporter1st » 5 Feb 2019, 8:00am

Mick F wrote:Let me tell you the scenario.

We no longer listen to analogue radio. The last car had one, but this one has DAB and that's what it's set to and works flawlessly.
In the house, we listen online via stereo speakers plugged into the iMac in the livingroom, and over a set of bluetooth speakers fed from the iMac.

In the workshop, we have a DAB radio. Again, it works flawlessly.

We have clocks. We have an iPad in the bedroom on a stand overnight with an analogue clock-face with second hand connected to our WiFi. We can use it as an alarm if required of course. We know the time via our clocks and our devices.

If I was listening to (say) The Archers in the workshop on DAB, then came into the house and it was online on the iMac, it would be about a minute behind. Not timed it specifically, but about a minute, maybe a bit less.

I'm often up early with a cuppa in the livingroom listening to shipping forecast/farming today/news etc, then I wake Mrs Mick F up with a cuppa and we chat in bed. I can hear the online radio in the livingroom - we live in a bungalow. I hear the online 8am pips and they frequently come late by about two minutes. Sometimes less, but always more than a minute late.

Seems to me that the only time they are of any use at all, is to the analogue radio listeners, and I reckon nobody sets their watches and clocks by them any more. I remember my old grandfather with his fob-watch setting it right by the pips, but those days are long gone.


We used the pips from the BBC - different stations depending upon our location - for determining the rate on our chronometers at sea, certainly as late as the early 1980's. By that time we had quartz-controlled chronometers and sat-nav available, but still maintained a mechanical chronometer and kept a rate book. We also continued to practice celestial navigation, which of course depends on the accuracy of time. The thinking behind this was simple: if all else failed we could still determine our position. I think the emphasis on the Navigators being able to revert to this method has increased of late as a result of increasing cyber attacks. I would expect therefore that the watchkeepers would also continue to use the pips for determining their chronometer rate.

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Canuk » 5 Feb 2019, 8:51am

If I want to get the time I listen for the bells, the bells! Our church bell must be radio linked because when I check it against network time it's bang on.

The only trouble is they go every quarter of an hour till midnight... So I can tell the time to the nearest 15 minutes. Plenty, at weekends. I guess the purpose of church bells previously (when time pieces were expensive) was to get you up on the morning for work and get you to mass twice a day on a Sunday :lol:

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Feb 2019, 9:17am

I presumed that the pips had become traditional, a bit like the chimes of Big Ben. Plenty on here will remember when the news was preceded by all 16 notes of the four quarter chimes before all the bongs of the relevant hour and the protests when that was abbreviated. I suppose the pips and the chimes serve the same purpose as a signature tune.

I can see a danger if people assume them to be accurate when they are not.

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby al_yrpal » 5 Feb 2019, 9:24am

Most people live in a world where the time on their timepieces is wrong. I do not because my watch is always correct. https://www.casio-europe.com/euro/produ ... o-watches/

Whether is from my DAB radio, internet radio, Freeview TV or whatever the pips seem to be 10 seconds slow. My Waveceptor watch is titanium, its powered by light on its solar cell face, it adjusts itself twice a year as the timezone changes. Going abroad you just need to tell it the timezone and it adjusts itself. Its accurate to the second. It cost £100, you can get a digital Waveceptor from £31.

Just the thing for pedants! Trouble is you will be 10 seconds ahead of everyone else. :lol:

Al
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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Feb 2019, 9:38am

That's the second plug for your watch in 24 hours. Are you on commission? FWIW, I have one too and it has a nasty habit of changing the display when my sleeve catches the buttons. And if I think about it, do I need a stopwatch accurate to .0001 second or whatever when my reactions have never had the same degree of accuracy? Also, I can set it to sound the hours, but without my hearing aids in I cannot hear them.

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Re: Eight O'clock Pips

Postby Mick F » 5 Feb 2019, 11:02am

I've not worn a watch for maybe 15years. It took me some weening off it as I'd worn one since being at school as an eleven year old.

Time on the move for me now is car clock, mobile phone or Garmin device. At home, we have clocks in all rooms. At the pub(s) either who cares? or there's a clock in there. In town, I'll either fish out my mobile, or look at the church clock and if I'm shopping the receipt has a time stamp.

Do I need to time my life to the nearest second?
No I don't.
Within five minutes is near enough.
Mick F. Cornwall