Learn about Life in the 1920s

How to Make an Electric Alarm Clock

Anybody who possesses an alarm clock with an external gong, an electric bell, and a battery, may easily make them combine to get the drowsiest of mortals out of bed on the chilliest of winter mornings.

Photo of Sony Clock Radio
Sony ICF-C318 Clock Radio
with Dual Alarm (Black)

The arrangement has as its secondary advantages and capabilities -
(1) that the clock can be placed where its ticking will not disturb the person whom it has to arouse in due course (some of the cheaper clocks are very self-advertising);
(2) that one clock can be made to operate any number of bells in different parts of the house.

The main problem to be solved is, how to make the alarm mechanism of the clock complete an electric circuit when the alarm "goes off."

If you examine an alarm clock of the type described, you will find that the gong hammer lies against the gong when at rest, and that its shaft when in motion vibrates to and fro about a quarter of an inch.

RELEASE GEAR FOR ELECTRIC ALARM FIG. 39. - Plan of release gear of electric alarm, as attached to clock.

Fig. 39 shows a. method of utilizing the movement of the hammer. A piece of wood, 2 inches long, wide enough to fill the space between the rear edge of the clock and the hammer slot, and 1/2 inch thick, has its under side hollowed out to the curvature of the clock barrel. This block serves as a base for two binding posts or terminals, T1 T2. A vertical slit is made in T1 and in this is soldered [to] one end of a little piece of spring brass strip, 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. To the back of the other end of the strip solder a piece of 1/20 inch wire, projecting l inch below the strip. The strip must be bent so that it presses naturally against T2. A little trigger, B, which you can cut out of sheet brass, is pivoted at a, where it must be raised off the base by a small washer. It projects 1/4 inch beyond the base on the gong support side. A square nick is cut in it at such a distance from a that, when the wire spike on C is in the nick, the strip is held clear of T2. The other end of the trigger, when the trigger is set, must be 1/8 inch from the shank of the alarm hammer -- at any rate not so far away that the hammer, when it vibrates, cannot release C from the nick.

To fix the base on to the top of the clock, the works must be removed (quite an easy matter to accomplish) and holes bored for a couple of screws put through from the inside. If the underside of the base is not quite correctly curved, take care not to force in the screws far enough to distort the barrel. It is advisable to do the fitting of the parts of the release after the base has been fixed, and before the works are replaced. The position of the hammer shaft can be gauged accurately enough from the slot in the case.

The tails of the terminals T1 T2 must be truncated sufficiently not to penetrate the base and make contact with the barrel, or a "short circuit" will be evident as soon as the battery is connected up. If the bell, battery, and clock are in the same

ELECTRIC ARM RELEASER ATTACHED TO CASING Fig. 40. - Electric alarm releaser, as attached to separate wooden clock casing

room, a single dry cell will give sufficient current; but if the circuit is a long one, or several bells have to be operated, two or more cells will be required.

An Alternative Arrangement. - Should the reader prefer to have the clock quite free from the release - and this is certainly convenient for winding and setting the alarm - he should make a little wooden case for the clock to stand in, just wide enough to take the clock, and the back just as high as the top of the barrel. The release is then attached to a little platform projecting from the back, care being taken that the lever is arranged in the correct position relatively to the hammer when the clock is pushed back as far as it will go (Fig. 40).

If a self-contained outfit is desired, make the case two-storied: the upper division for the clock, the lower for the cell or cells. The bell may be attached to the front. A hinged fretwork front to the clock chamber, with an opening the size of the face; a door at the back of the cell chamber; and a general neat finish, staining and polishing, are refinements that some readers may like to undertake.

Setting the Alarm. - A good many alarm clocks are not to be relied upon to act within a quarter of an hour or so of the time to which they are set. But absolute accuracy of working may be obtained if the clock hands are first set to the desired hour, and the alarm dial hand revolved slowly till the alarm is released. The hands are then set at the correct time, and the alarm fully wound.

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