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Some Digital, Radio Controlled Clocks from My Collection

Desktop Clocks

  • The Oregon Scientific "Time Machine" and it's Radio Shack version.
  • The Oregon Scientific RM806 Exact Set Clock.
  • The Arcron-Zeit "Executive" desk clock.
  • The Oregon Scientific "Moon Phase" radio controlled clock.
  • The Atomic Time Translucent Desk Clock.
  • The Seiko Digital R-Wave Clock.
  • The Oregon Scientific RM313PA Projection Alarm Clock.

    Travel Clocks

  • The Radio Shack/Oregon Scientific travel clock.

    Large-Display Clocks

  • The Radio Shack large display digital Clock.
  • The "Atomic Time" large display digital clock.
  • The Oregon Scientific Wide Screen Weather Clock with "Jumbo" Display.

    Others

  • Emerson Research "Atomic Clock Radio"
  • Arcron-Zeit Digital "Sports Watch"
  • Oregon Scientific "Cable Free" Weather Forecaster, Thermometer and Clock

    The Oregon Scientific "Time Machine" and it's Radio Shack version.
    The early models of affordable, digital 'atomic' clocksThese were among the first digital, radio controlled clocks sold in the United States. The Oregon Scientific "Time Machine" came first and then a similar model was made which carried the Radio Shack brand name.

    The original version of this "Time Machine" (and versions which carried other brand names) had an external antenna. It was a 5-inch, cylinder-shaped piece connected to the clock by a hard-wired, 41-inch cord. If the antenna was removed and/or the cord was cut, the clock's synchronization ability was lost. But newer versions of this clock have an internal antenna, elminating any hassles you might have had with external wires. The external antenna version might have had better reception, but I can't really tell. The clock has an easy-to-see, indiglo-style display. Each of these "Time Machine" clocks uses 2 AAA batteries.

    The "Projection" version of this clock is very similar to the "Time Machine." Again, early models had external antennas but new versions do not. The clock includes an AC adapter to power the projection feature. The projection feature will put a dim display of the time onto your ceiling. It's impossible to see when the room lights are on (because it's so dim) but it's easy to see as you lie in bed in a dark room (It's really cool). Radio Shack has featured a projector clock which looks very much like the Oregon Scientific radio controlled projector clock, but they've had both radio controlled and non-radio controlled versions. Be very careful when you see clocks which look similar to radio controlled clocks but they don't say "atomic" or "radio controlled" on the package.

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    The Oregon Scientific RM806 Exact Set Clock.
    Oregon Scientific RM806 Exact-Set ClockThis is the RM806 Exact-Set clock from Oregon Scientific. It's the newest update to the "Time Machine" concept, although it's just a little smaller. I've placed a quarter next to the clock to give you an idea of its size.

    The clock is surprisingly lightweight. It is about 3/4-inches thick and has an internal antenna. Its functions (and buttons for controlling those functions) are identical to the functions of the "Time Machine" model but, unlike the "Time Machine," this one has its zone-changing and alarm on/off buttons located on top (on either side of the snooze button) and they're smaller so that you're less likely to accidentally press them when you don't want to. It's a great design change!

    Because of the overall, small size of the clock, the numbers on the display are a bit smaller than on the "Time Machine." But you can't beat the convenience. This will literally fit in the pocket of a dress shirt and it makes a great little clock for your office desk (because it doesn't take up much space). This clock runs on 2 "AAA" batteries.

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    The Arcron-Zeit "Executive" Desk Clock
    The Executive radio controlled desk clock from Arcron-ZeitThis clock has also been available for a few years. There are a lot of nice features on this clock. For example, it's one of the few radio controlled clocks with two alarms. The two-line display will show you the current, local time in 12-hour mode. The second line will either display the date or the current time in another time zone anywhere else in the world (except for those places which are 30 minutes off from a standard time zone). The other time zone display will also be in 12-hour mode. There is a light on the display to help you see it at night, but it's the old-fashioned light-bulb type and not the "indiglo-style" night display.

    Another great thing about this clock is that it can keep the correct time for hours on end even if you remove the batteries! So when it comes time to change the batteries, there's no rush to install the new ones and there's no need to repeat any of the settings when you install the new batteries. This is the only battery-powered, radio controlled clock I know of which retains its settings even if the batteries are out for a little while.

    My only complaint about this clock is that there are 5 buttons on it for operating and/or changing settings, but none of those buttons is labeled. If you lose the instruction booklet it might take you a few minutes to figure out and/or remember what each button does when you want to change any settings.

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    The Oregon Scientific "Moon Phase" radio controlled clock.
    The Digital, radio controlled clock with moon phase displayThis "Moon Phase" radio controlled clock features the perfectly accurate, radio controlled clock I like so much, along with a date display and a "kinetic" moon phase display. The "kinetic" display scrolls through all the phases of the moon and then stops on the current phase for a few seconds. Then it begins to "scroll" again. Unlike other clocks with moon phase displays, this one sets the moon phase automatically! I should warn you in advance that this clock's moon phase feature is only programmed to work through December 31, 2019. So, I don't know what it'll do after that. You might consider this as a Y2K sort of problem.

    This clock also features an indoor or outdoor thermometer display (in degrees Fahrenheit). There's a switch on the back of the clock to select the indoor or outdoor temperature. This clock has a hard-wired, external antenna which cannot be removed (just like the "Time Machine" models), but the wire for the outdoor temperature probe is designed to be removed and reattached as often as you like. The clock is built for standing itself up on a table surface or it can also be hung on a wall. However, if you hang it up, the indoor/outdoor switch will not be convenient. The large, "HiGlo" display looks great in the dark when you need to see the time.

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    The Atomic Time translucent desk clock.
    The Atomic Time(tm) Radio Controlled clock with 2-inch tall digits in a translucent LCD dispay. The clock on the left is a unique, futuristic design featuring the LCD display in a translucent glass with no backing... so you can see right through it. The digits are each about two inches high, so you can estimate the overall size of the clock using the photo on the left. The base is a silver/gray plastic which almost looks metallic... but it's definitely plastic. It is also available with a black base.

    This clock features an alarm and a snooze function, but the buttons to control the alarm and the snooze are inconvenient because they're small and they're on the back of the clock. The clock cannot display the date and, presumably because it doesn't process that information, it doesn't adjust itself automatically for Daylight Saving Time (As far as I know, this is the only radio controlled clock which cannot make that adjustment automatically). The clock doesn't have a seconds display either, but it has a flashing colon {My Uncle had a flashing colon once. He was in the hospital for three days!}. On the plus side, it has an internal antenna, it's a neat design, it seems to have good reception ability and it runs on 2 AAA batteries.

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    The Seiko R-Wave Radio Controlled clock.
    The Seiko R-Wave Radio Controlled clock.I just got this clock and wow! I love it! It's 5.5 inches tall and 4 inches wide, complete with 1.5-inch tall digits (in the largest part of the display, that is). The easy-to-read display simultaneously shows the time (in 12-hour or 24-hour mode) complete with seconds, the date, the day of the week and the alarm time setting. It also has a radio tower icon and the words "Wave OK" if the clock has successfully processed time data from WWVB.
    The Seiko R-Wave Radio Controlled clock.The instruction manual calls this a "Get Up & Glow Dial" night light display. When you tap the snooze/light button on top of the clock, it'll light up this way for about 3 seconds... and it's extremely easy to read in the dark.
    I find the control buttons on this clock to be the easiest to use of any radio controlled clock I have. The switches are clearly labeled and their functions are easy to understand. If you were to misplace the instructions for this clock, there would be absolutely no trouble remembering how to use all its functions. Using these buttons, you may manually set the time and date, but the clock will override your settings when WWVB reception is clear. Also, I should note that there's a button on the front of the clock, below the display, which will initiate manual WWVB reception at any time. Otherwise, reception takes place once per day and, according to the instructions, that happens at 12:55am Eastern Standard Time. If there is poor automatic reception at that time, reception will repeat every 3 hours until it is successful.

    On the upper, left side of the clock's back there's a simple switch to turn the alarm on or off. It also gives you the ability to disable the snooze function. In the non-snooze mode, when the alarm sounds and you push the snooze button, the clock's alarm will not sound again until 24 hours later. However, in the snooze mode, you can push the snooze button and the alarm will sound again in five minutes.

    The clock runs on 2 AA batteries, it has an internal antenna and it can be set to ignore Daylight Saving Time if you wish. It can be set to any of the 4 time zones in the continental United States.

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    The Oregon Scientific RM313PA Projection Alarm Clock.
    This clock is available in three colors: blue, red and clear. It runs on 2 "AA" batteries which will power the clock, the alarm and the projection feature in 5-second bursts. If you'd like the projection feature to stay on all the time, there is an AC adapter included for that. But the AC adapter will not power the clock and alarm functions. The AC adapter plugs into the bottom of the clock. This clock will project the time (hours and minutes only with an AM or PM display) onto the ceiling in red digits which are actually very easy to read in a dark room.
    The projector can also be activated without the AC adapter. When you tap the "snooze" button, the LCD display will light up with a normal, "Hi-glo" style backlight and the LED projector will also light up for 5 seconds. You may disable the LED projector (so that only the Hi-glo backlight is activated) using a switch on the left side of the clock. That same switch is used to select whether the LED stays on or off at all times when the adapter is plugged in. There's just one catch with this clear clock. The LED for the projector is fairly bright. And, since the clock's case is clear, it might keep you awake if you leave it on all night and it's right next to your bed. Or, of course, you might just happen to enjoy it as a night light. The red and blue versions are different. They each have a dark "sleeve" around the internal, projection components so that there's very little light coming out. You could very easily sleep with the red or blue version next to your bed while the projector is turned on. I'm not sure how well you'd sleep with that clear version turned on.
    There's no question they'd like to market these things to a young crowd. After all, it's consistent with all the boom boxes and other plastic items (generally meant to be used by teenagers) which are made of tinted, translucent plastic. Apart from the addition of a projection unit, these clocks operate exactly like the RM-806 and other, previously available Oregon Scientific radio controlled clocks.

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    The Radio Shack/Oregon Scientific Travel Clock
    The Travel-size radio controlled clock from Radio ShackI have to admit that I've never purchased the version of this clock which carries the "Oregon Scientific" brand name. However, it looks identical in pictures (except for the name) and I have every reason to believe that it is identical to the Radio Shack version. I've seen the Oregon Scientific model priced anywhere between $40 and $60 but Radio Shack recently started selling their version for $29.99, so you can guess where I decided to buy this style of travel clock.

    This clocks operates just like the Oregon Scientific "Time Machine" and the RM806. So, once you know what the buttons do on one of these clocks, you can operate them all. The "snooze/light" button on the travel version is actually part of the fold-out antenna/stand structure, but once you figure that out you're home free. There is an added "lock" switch on the back of this clock so that you won't accidentally push any buttons when you pack this around on your travels. And it comes with a simulated leather pouch so you won't scratch it during your travels. The display is the same size as the display on the RM806, but the clock itself is smaller than the RM806 and just a little heavier. Like the others, this runs on 2 "AAA" batteries.

    The clock with its night light feature engagedThe night light feature is unique. On most LCD, digital clocks, the night light is an "indiglo" style which turns the background green or blue. But on this one the numbers themselves light up in blue. It's kind of neat (and very easy to see in the dark).

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    The Radio Shack Large Display Digital Clock.
    The Radio Shack Large Display Digital Clock This clock's operation is similar to the "Time Machine" desktop clock (and the variations which followed that original design). It has an alarm, a snooze feature, the ability to display the day of the week (as seen on the right) or the seconds and, as an added bonus, it displays the indoor temperature. The one feature which has been eliminated is the night light. This clock has an internal antenna and a built-in, fold out wire stand, making it easy to mount this on a wall or set it on a table top. It runs on 2 "AA" batteries.

    There was also a version of this clock which carried the Oregon Scientific name. There are other large-display clocks available from other companies, but this is my favorite. This one checks itself for accuracy 6 times each day whereas the "Atomic Time" large display model only checks itself once every 24 hours. Also, the price on this Radio Shack/Oregon Scientific model is impressive and the availability is great. (I mean, how hard is it to find a Radio Shack store?). You may decide you'd like the "weather forecast" version which I'll tell you about in a moment, but that one is becoming rare, it doesn't have a seconds display option and it cannot set the "day of the week" automatically while this one only suffers from not having a weather forecast feature (which may not interest you anyway). Also, this one boasts the largest digits at 2.5 inches tall! It will only display the time in 12-hour mode... but I love it.

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    The Atomic Time Large-Display Clock with Date and Indoor Temperature.
    The Atomic Time(tm) Radio Controlled clock with Large Display, Date and Indoor Temperature.The clock on the left is new from Atomic Time Inc. It's very similar to some non-radio controlled clocks previously available from places like Brookstone and Radio Shack. As you can see, this one displays the time, date, day of the week and the indoor temperature (using a built-in temperature probe). This is one of the few large-digit radio controlled LCD clocks with a seconds display. And it is one of the few radio controlled LCD clocks capable of showing the local time in a 24-hour mode (rather than the old, AM/PM stuff). Using an hourly off-set feature, you can set the display for any time zone in the world. You may enable or disable the automatic change for Daylight Saving Time (making this one of the few radio controlled clocks which is trouble-free whether you live in Arizona or not).

    There is an alarm function on this clock but it's not too convenient, seeing as how all the buttons to control it are on the back. The clock is made to be hung on a wall or you can use two snap-on legs (included with the clock) for placing this clock upright on a table, desk, shelf, etc. The clock is available with an internal or external antenna from BRG Products, but the external antenna version costs a little more. Either version runs on 2 AA batteries.

    I have a couple of concerns/complaints about this clock. First, the radio sensitivity isn't as good as I've observed on my other radio controlled clocks (I have the version with an internal antenna). My other complaint is that the clock loses time during the day (It's designed to reset itself according to WWVB overnight only). By 10:00pm, it is almost 2 seconds slow every day. In the morning, it's correct again and then, during the day, it slows down again. So far, I've had good luck with daily reception, but if this clock missed a few days in a row it would be off by enough seconds to really bug a time freak like me.

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    The Oregon Scientific Wide Screen Weather Clock with Jumbo Display.
    This one is a lot of fun. It features the same self-setting features as the "Time Machine" clocks but it has an extra large digital display. The digits on the time display are two inches tall! At the bottom of the display, you'll see the month and date, day of the week and indoor temperature readings.

    In the middle of the display there's a "Weather Forecast" feature. This clock tracks the changes in barometric pressure to give a weather forecast which predicts conditions between 12 and 24 hours in the future. The forecast is shown in graphical icons to indicate Sunny skies (or clear skies at night), Partly Cloudy skies, Cloudy skies or Stormy skies. Oregon Scientific claims that this clock only predicts the weather with 75% accuracy but, in fact, it seems far more reliable than that! I've grown to trust this clock more than I trust the TV weather man. Along with the weather icons, there's an arrow to indicate the barometric pressure trend in the last hour. This shows whether the pressure has been rising, falling or has remained steady. A lot of folks have asked me if this can work properly indoors. The answer is yes! Changes in barometric pressure can be measured indoors as well as outdoors... unless your house is as air-tight as a spacecraft. I must admit that, in the summer, when I have strong fans running in the house, they can affect the air pressure to the point where this clock's predictions are less accurate. In the winter, however, it works great!

    There is a way to manually set this clock in case radio reception is poor. In fact, I was forced to manually set the day of the week on this clock. I don't know why that wasn't automatically set when the time and date were set, but apparently it was flaw in the design (and I don't know if that flaw has been fixed in newer models). Also, the owner's manual claims that this clock has an hourly chime function, but it doesn't (again, I don't know if that specification has been changed in newer models). There is no seconds readout on this clock, but the colon flashes once every second. Also, you are limited to a 12-hour display only (I know there are a number of individuals who would prefer to have a radio controlled clock which will show the local, "military" time). On the plus side, this clock has an internal antenna and an alarm with an 8-minute snooze feature. It can be hung on a wall or it also has a built-in desk stand. This clock operates on 4 "AAA" batteries. You may save a little money if you choose to skip the weather forecast feature and just get the new version which is available online or at Radio Shack.

    Finally, I want you to take note that there's a version of this clock which is not radio controlled. Apart from the lack of WWVB reception, it seems to be identical. So, beware. If the advertisement you see for a clock like this doesn't specifically mention "atomic clock" or "radio control" then it's not going to be radio controlled.

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    The Emerson Research Atomic Clock Radio.

    The Emerson Research 'Atomic Clock Radio' The Emerson Research "Atomic Clock Radio" is fun too. This has an external antenna similar to the one on the "Time Machine," but with a much shorter cord. The clock radio is similar to most clock radios you'll find at any department store. It has an AM/FM radio, two alarms, a "sleep" timer, a dimmer switch, etc. The only major difference between it and standard clock radios is that it sets itself to the correct time and date automatically. Also, it constantly monitors the radio broadcasts from Colorado to ensure accuracy (rather than activating this feature at regular intervals). Like many standard clock radios, this one uses a 9-volt back-up battery to keep your time zone and alarm setting in case of an AC power failure (The battery is not included).

    I bought this clock radio from the first catalog in which I saw it and the price was $69.95. One week later I saw it at a Super Target store for $39.99! Later, I saw some at Wal-Mart on close-out for $29 and, later still, Wal-Mart was closing them out for $19! I suppose the reason why Wal-Mart couldn't sell them and was forced to close them out was that Wal-Mart doesn't really have any sales people in the electronics section. Nobody is telling customers why this one clock radio costs more than the other AM/FM clock radios next to it. Therefor, nobody was buying them (until I found out the price had dropped and my family bought the store's entire stock!).

    Unfortunately, all the Wal-Marts and Target stores in my area stopped carrying this clock. Target now carries another, similar, less-expensive clock from Emerson Research. The new Emerson Research clock is self-setting too, but it is not radio controlled. It is programmed with the correct time during the manufacturing process and an internal battery keeps track of the time until you plug in the clock. Because of that internal battery, you'll never have to use a 9-volt back-up battery either. So, if you want a self-setting clock radio which adjusts for daylight savings time automatically, this may be the best thing for you. The time is very close to being exactly right (it's within a minute) but only the "Atomic" radio controlled clock from Emerson Research is capable of perfect accuracy.

    Please Note: Emerson Research also makes a "Smartset" clock radio which automatically sets itself. The time is pre-set at the factory and retained by a built-in battery. But the Smartset clock radio does not utilize WWVB and will not be exactly synchronized with the "atomic clock" unless the user manually corrects it (which is easy to do). While it is not "eactly" correct, the Smartset clock radio is still a good product and can adjust itself automatically for daylight saving time changes. Also, its price is usually lower than the price of the "Atomic Clock Radio" discussed here.

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    The Arcron-Zeit Digital "Sports Watch."
    The Arcron-Zeit radio controlled digital watchThis Radio Controlled, Digital "Sports" watch is now widely available from mail order sources. It's a good watch but I was disappointed with the all-too-brief owner's manual. For example, the manual doesn't tell how the battery should be changed nor what type of battery is used... and I was dying to know. Curiosity got the best of me and I opened the watch to discover that it uses a 3-volt, CR1620 Lithium battery. If you already know how to change a watch battery, there's nothing tricky about changing this one. As with all digital watches which feature an alarm, be very careful not to lose that tiny spring which fits between the watch's electronics and the back of the case. If you're not experienced at changing watch batteries then, when it becomes necessary to change the battery, take this watch to someone who is exprienced with digital watches.

    The watch automatically activates its radio receiver to check itself once a day. However, it's possible to manually activate the radio reception at any time by holding down the lower button on the right side for two seconds. The manual tells the wrong button to press for this function. If the watch has not been able to use the WWVB signal for a few days (or if it doesn't successfully process the signal when the battery is installed) you may set the time manually and then, when radio reception improves, the watch will reset itself to "atomic" time. The owner's manual doesn't tell how to do this, but it's not difficult to figure out (If you need help, e-mail me and I'll tell you what to do). If the watch has successfully processed time information from WWVB in the last 24 hours, it will not allow you to manually adjust the time other than to change time zones.

    The watch will always adjust for Daylight Saving Time changes. You may manually select Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time if WWVB reception was inadequate to make that adjustment automatically. But if, for example, you select Standard Time when we are actually observing Daylight Saving Time in North America, then the watch will override your setting each time it receives WWVB. The owner's manual says you can manually adjust the Daylight Saving Time setting but then doesn't tell how. I figured that out myself, too.

    One of the fun features is the ability to set the watch to any of 24 World Time Zones. Also, you can set it to display local time, date and day of the week simultaneously or it can display local time and UTC simultaneiously. The UTC time will be displayed in 24-hour mode while your local time zone can only be shown in 12-hour mode.

    As you might guess, this watch's radio reception isn't as sensitive as the reception of other, larger radio controlled clocks. You may have to be extra careful about storing the watch overnight in a place where radio reception won't be hampered by electronic items or other obstacles to radio waves. There is a radio signal strength meter in the display during radio reception. Like the other Arcron-Zeit clocks, this watch will calibrate itself to compensate for its own quartz inacurracy. In other words, even if it receives radio signals only once every few days, it will still remain accurate. You can travel to foreign countries with this watch, resetting the time zone to where you are, and remain accurate until you return to North America. (The radio signal from Colorado is only meant to reach North America. Other countries use "atomic time" signals from their own areas and those are broadcast using different frequencies than our North American system uses.)

    The watch has an alarm but it's quieter than most watch alarms and probably won't be loud enough to wake you up (but it won't be too disruptive if the alarm goes off in the middle of a meeting, for example). The watch does not have an hourly "chime" feature at the top of the hour. In addition to the audible alarm, you can set a silent "date alarm". When the watch reaches the date you've set, a small, date icon will flash in the display (I don't really see the point of having a silent, date alarm but it's there, whether you need it or not). And, finally, this watch has a standard stopwatch with a lap timer, which operates the same way this function works on most other digital watches with a stopwatch feature. Please be advised that the watch isn't terribly sturdy. I find that its crystal is very easily scratched and more delicate that most digital watches. And, while this watch is water resistant, it is nowhere near as waterproof as most digital sport watches (like a basic Timex or Casio watch).

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    The Oregon Scientific Radio Controlled Cable Free Weather Forecaster clock and indoor/outdoor thermometer.
    The Oregon Scientific, Radio Controlled, Cable-Free Weather Forecaster clock and indoor/outdoor thermometerThis is the Oregon Scientific, Radio Controlled, Cable Free Weather Forecaster. First of all, it features a radio controlled clock showing the time and date, just like the "Time Machine." Above that, it has both indoor and outdoor thermometer displays. The outdoor temperature probe is a wireless transmitter with its own digital readout (on the right side of the picture). The probe transmits the temperature reading every 30 seconds to the base unit. The base unit has a memory feature which stores the high and low temperatures (both indoors and outdoors) until the user resets it. According to the owner's manual, the outdoor probe can be placed up to 90 feet away from the base station, but the distance often has to be shortened if there are obstacles to radio reception between the probe and the base unit (Sometimes, a wall is enough of an obstacle to shorten that distance).

    Finally, on the top of the base unit's display, you'll see its "Weather Forecast" readout. This uses barometric pressure changes to predict the weather about 12 to 24 hours in advance. Rather than give a numerical, barometric readout, it has icons to indicate clear skies, partly cloudy skies, cloudy skies and/or stormy skies. Although the forecast isn't 100% accurate (just as the local weatherman's forecast isn't 100% accurate) it is surprisingly good at predicting conditions.

    There is a version of this cable free thermometer/clock without the weather forecast feature. This may be a good option if you want to save some money. Also, it should be noted that you can add two more outdoor, wireless temperature probes to this system and monitor the outdoor temperature in up to three locations. With the touch of a button on the base unit, you can select which probe's temperature readout you'd like to view. The additional probes, of course, will cost you extra. Each probe uses 2 AAA batteries while the base unit uses 4 AA batteries.

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    Please note: I am an independent clock hobbyist. I have no affiliation with any of the retailers I refer to except as one of their customers. I have never been offered any compensation other than a friendly e-mail or two from any of the retailers I have mentioned in this web site. I run this web site as a free service to others who, like me, would be interested to know more about these clocks. I have no "insider" information about these companies or their products. I simply try to gather all the information I can when I find it.


    2008