NAWCC Chapter 135 Mount Rainier

Chapter Officers


Jerry Cooper

Vice President

Cecilia Dunn


Chet Ekstrand


Leonard Winchell

March 2014 MEETING


 Saturday, March 1, 2014


 TIME: 1:00PM - Social Hour and Mart
2:00PM - Business Meeting and Program. 


Tom van Baak
"Extreme Amateur Timekeeping from Harrison to Einstein"

Tom van Baak will repeat his outstanding talk recently given at the 2013 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium.

Tom Van Baak is a physicist and mathematician by education, an operating systems software engineer by profession, and a precision clock enthusiast by passion.

He received a degree in physics and mathematics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his career he worked as an operating systems software engineer in Silicon Valley and in Redmond, Washington. His interest in precise time dates from a middle school science project where he built an optically triggered, electromagnetically impulsed pendulum clock from old radio and car parts, balsa wood, and plastic.

More recently he began collecting atomic clocks and created a world-class precision timing laboratory in his home with clocks ranging from marine chronometers to hydrogen masers. He specializes in time measurement and error analysis, in experimenting and education. A virtual museum of his clock collection and numerous lab reports are on his website. Van Baak is also the creator of the time-nuts group, a loose collection of hundreds of individuals around the world who collect, repair, create, or experiment with quartz, GPS, rubidium, and cesium time and frequency standards as a hobby.

Today, technology companies and national laboratories work with precise time. But let’s not forget that time, the mystery of time, the creation of timekeepers, the measurement of time, is an intrinsically human passion, one that can be pursued and enjoyed by anyone as a hobby. Tom Van Baak’s presentation focuses on vintage pendulum and modern atomic clocks, on what professionals do well and what amateurs can do with great enthusiasm.

Pendulum clocks have deep roots in history, physics, and technology. In this presentation, the amazing performance of three famous pendulum clocks is analyzed using modern techniques. Many modern clock enthusiasts have tried to duplicate the accuracy of these clocks and none has yet succeeded, in spite of using modern design techniques, materials, and electronics. How can this be? Furthermore, why is it that even the best pendulum clock ever made is still inaccurate, because of the orbit of the Moon and the rotation of the Earth?

Atomic clocks have long since replaced pendulum clocks for accurate timing and find applications in nearly every aspect of modern life. Once exotic and only used by NASA and national laboratories, atomic clocks are now so common they can be found on eBay. This has opened up a new world to DIY (do it yourself) home experimenters. Levels of precision that were unheard of in our youth are now one click away. There is an active community of amateur timekeepers, or as Wired magazine called us, “time hackers,” who delight in and explore the amazing world of atomic clocks.

The talk concludes with a first-hand description of Project GREČAT, perhaps the ultimate DIY clock experiment. Van Baak methodically selected three of his best portable cesium clocks, outfitted the family minivan (with his wife’s permission) as a traveling time laboratory, and drove with his three children up the highest mountain in Washington State. After staying on Mt. Rainier for a long weekend they returned home to compare the traveling clocks against several atomic clocks left at home. Measurements confirmed that the clocks returned 22 nanoseconds ahead in time. Just as Einstein predicted, time runs slower at sea level than it does at altitude; gravity warps time.

We are now entering the era when amateurs can own atomic clocks, when precision timekeeping is a DIY activity, and when relativity is child’s play. The mystery and magic of time is owned and shared by all: nations and amateurs, scientists and children. From the passion of Harrison to the predictions of Einstein, Van Baak's hope is to inspire a new generation to appreciate the rich history and promising future of precise timekeeping


• Chapter Bylaws - Updates to be reviewed and approval sought.

• 2014 Pacific Northwest Regional Planning


Snacks will be served.


Ample Mart space will be available


If you would like to attend this meeting e-mail the chapter secretary for directions

Meeting Schedule  2014

January 4
Introduction to 3-D Printers
by John Runciman
Location Seattle

February  1
Unusual Horological Tools and Their Uses
by Stan Mueller &Norm Nelson
Tacoma, WA

March  1
Extreme Amateur Timekeeping from Harrison to Einstein
Tom van Baak
Issaquah, WA

March  22 - 23
Seattle Mini Maker Faire

EMP Museum
seattle , wa


May 15, 16, & 17
Pacific Northwest Regional

New Location - Hotel Murano (Formerly Sheraton)
1320 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma Washington 98402
United States



Location  Kent

Puyallup Fair
Washington State Fair
Clock and Watch Hobby Hall Display



Bi-Chapter Christmas party
Chapters 50 & 135

Host Chapter 50


National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors

British Horological Institute

American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute

Chapter 31 Pacific Northwest

Chapter 50 Puget Sound

Chapter 53  Inland Empire

Chapter 180  Friends Of The West Coast Clock And Watch Museum

Washington Watchmakers - Clockmakers Association

West Coast Clock & Watch Museum

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