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How to Reset a Radio-Controlled Atomic Clock

Radio-controlled clocks, also (inaccurately) called atomic clocks, contain small radio receivers that allow them to receive broadcast time signals from the National Institute of Standards and Technology research station in Fort Collins, Colorado. The time signal is broadcast continuously. How often your clock receives it depends on the clock's design. The broadcast signal ensures your clock keeps the most accurate time possible. Resetting your radio-controlled atomic clock is simple.

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  1. Remove the battery or batteries in your radio-controlled atomic clock. Wait at least one minute.

  2. Insert a fresh battery or batteries into the clock's battery compartment.

  3. Check to ensure that the clock is set to the correct time zone. Set the clock to the desired time zone using the "Time Zone" button.This step is essential to ensuring that the clock displays the correct time.

  4. Let the radio-controlled atomic clock do the rest. The clock contains a radio receiver that will receive and decode the NIST radio signal and display the correct time for the set time zone. Depending on your clock model or the design of the internal radio receiver, this process may take between one and five minutes.

  5. Place the radio-controlled atomic clock near a window that faces Fort Collins, Colorado, if it has trouble receiving the NIST radio time signal.

  6. Tip

    Atomic clock manufacturers usually recommend using alkaline, rather than rechargeable, batteries for the most accurate timekeeping.


    Avoid positioning your radio-controlled atomic clock within 8 feet of electronic devices such as televisions and computers. Such devices can interfere with a clock's ability to receive the time signal.

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Things You'll Need

  • Radio-controlled clock
  • Batteries as required

About the Author

Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally since 1998. She has contributed to various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines, as well as a book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." Mattingly-Arthur is studying travel and tourism through Penn Foster Career School.

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