Last updated: 20 September 2008
Subject:	Atomic Clock Module
Sent:	Friday, September 19, 2008 18:19:06
From:	Steve Hollar (
I thought I would pass on my experience with the Meade Atomic Clock
Module (ACM). I'll say up front I'm very disappointed.

I bought it through Oceanside Photo and Telescope. After it arrived I
plugged it in and followed the simple instructions. There are two modes
you can put it in, Time Update and At Start Up. I chose Time Update

When I turned the scope on (ETX-125PE), and pressed Mode, the handbox
message said Getting Time and went into the menu tree. I checked the
time and it was completely wrong. Ok, so I tried At Start Up mode. I
turned AutoStar on, pressed Mode and it said Look Signal, which of
course means it is looking for the radio signal to get the time.

Well, after about three minutes, and nothing else happening, I turned it
off. I tried several times in both modes with absolutely no success at

I contacted Oceanside and they sent me a replacement. I went through the
same procedure. No go in the Time Update mode. But, At Start Up went
from the message Look Signal to Found Signal in about fifteen seconds.
Ok, we're getting somewhere now. After about a minute and a half, it
went into the menu tree. I checked the time and it was right on.

Here's the problem though. If I use the supplied Velcro to attach it to
the scope, it never goes past the Look Signal message. If I just let it
dangle, it "usually" finds the signal and gets the correct time. I don't
really think I should have to let it just dangle on it's wire in order
to work though. The only thought I have about this is maybe the radio
signal to get the time is weak in my area. I just don't know.

My conclusion is it's a waste of money. All a person needs is a good
watch that they can synchronize with their computer, which of course can
be synchronized to the atomic clocks. It only takes a minute to input
the correct time in the AutoStar handbox. I think I would rather do that
than go through this aggravation.

Steve Hollar 

And an update:

A quick addition to the Atomic Clock Module report. I talked to a Meade
representative before I received the replacement. He thought it was a
fault in the handbox. It is under warranty, but, would take four weeks
to send it in and get a replacement. Obviously that is totally
unacceptable. I think he is wrong anyway now that I see the replacement
module does work most of the time. I don't think the handbox would have
an intermittent problem with just this one thing.

Also, the design of the module is ridiculous. The wire from the module
to the plug is about eight feet long! I asked the rep what that is all
about since you would be mounting the module only inches from the LNT.
He had no answer. I jokingly said maybe some people like to mount it up
in a tree. He didn't laugh.

So, I ended up with this wire plugged into the LNT, then a big wad of
wire coiled up and tie-wrapped, then the module stuck to the side of the
scope with Velcro. Yes, it looks real ugly, and doesn't work correctly.

Last, what I do to get good accurate time into the handbox. If I'm
photographing, I simply take the time from my laptop, which is synced to
the atomic clocks. If not, I use my cell phones clock, which is also
perfectly synced. With the phone, since it has no second readout, I just
set the handbox to the next higher minute, then press the enter button
the instant the time changes on the phone. That way I'm off by only a
couple of seconds.

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