- Iron Ring Clock
The Iron Ring Clock is a clock of unusual design created by four
Mechanical Engineeringstudents at McMaster Universityin Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The clockwas designed and built as a thesis project by Patrick Burton, Braden Kurczak, Michael Paddags, and Peter Whitred. It won the 2nd prize for Manufacturing at the 2003 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
] . The clock was simultaneously put into commission and donated to McMaster University in September 2003. The term
iron ringas used here refers to a ceremonial ring worn by many Canadian engineers, and does not specifically refer to a ring made of iron.
The clock was designed in large part in a four month period at the end of 2002, with some features which were originally intended for an outdoor installation. The clock keeps time through the use of a synchronous
alternating currentmotor, which regulates its speed based on the frequencyof the electricitythat it is fed. The top and bottom halves of the ring can rotate independently, with the top half of the ring displaying the hours, and the bottom half the minutes. The minute ring moves constantly, while the hour ring increments once an hour through the use of a Geneva drivemechanism. (The mechanism used in the clock differs slightly from the one shown in the graphic as it has only 4 spokes.) The rings are driven through a gearboxwhich was designed and partly manufactured by the group. The two ring sections are made of forged stainless steel, with machined surfaces, and facets cut using a robotic six-axis water jet cutter. The central shield, which is the university coat of arms, is made of hand-crafted stained glass. The design of the clock was completed entirely with computer-aided designsoftware, and CNC tools were used for components where the most precision was required. Although the clock was donated to McMaster University on completion, it is maintained by members of the team that built it.
To minimise costs, the team with help from technicians manufactured as many components as possible in an on-campus
machine shop. The total cost of the clock was approximately $20,000 CAD, which was raised through donations, with donors listed on a nearby plaque.
The team believes that the
iron ringmade for the project, with a diameter slightly greater than 1 metre, is the largest in the world.
While it is quite well known on campus, [cite news|url=http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=3286|title=75 people, places and things|author=Julia Thomson|date=
2005-10-28|work=McMaster Daily News|publisher=McMaster University Office of Public Relations] the Iron Ring Clock is not always recognized as a clock. The most common criticism of the clock is that it is counterintuitive to read. (It must be read straight on, with the number on the top ring denoting the hour and the number on the bottom ring denoting the minute. If there is no number directly under the hour indicator, the minute must be inferred from the nearest two numbers.) As the rings move slowly, the clock has been mistaken for a static display. It has shown the wrong time in the past, due to events such as power outages or break downs; in 2006/2007, the clock stopped for three months due to motor problems. However, in the absence of such events the motor and mechanism have shown themselves to be quite accurate.
The clock has also had issues with mechanical
wear; the use of steel bearings to support and position the rings has led to grooves being worn into the rings themselves, as the bearings are hardened steel and the rings are not. Some of these bearings have been replaced, as it becomes necessary; the group is considering future solutions to this problem. Other portions of the gear train are mounted on bronzebearings; these are expected to have a shorter wear life than other gearbox components and will likely have to be replaced before other gearbox components.
Geneva wheel, made of aluminumfor ease of manufacture, has also experienced some wear and will eventually need to be remade.
*cite news|url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/hamiltonspectator/access/445002351.html?dids=445002351:445002351&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Mar+1%2C+2003&author=Peter+Van+Harten&pub=The+Spectator&edition=&startpage=A.11&desc=A+brief+history+of+Mac+time|title=A Brief History of Mac Time|author=Peter Van Harten|work=
The Hamilton Spectator|date= 2003-03-01
*cite news|url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/hamiltonspectator/access/398153601.html?dids=398153601:398153601&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Sep+6%2C+2003&author=Peter+Van+Harten&pub=The+Spectator&edition=&startpage=A.05&desc=Engineering+prank+earns+passing+grade|title=Engineering prank earns passing grade|author=Peter Van Harten|work=
The Hamilton Spectator|date= 2003-09-06
*cite news|title=Time piece becomes legacy|author=Torstar News Service|work=Toronto Metro|date=September 8, 2003
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