How to build a WWVB receiver?

A recent news story about the 50th anniversary of WWVB got me to thinking about building my own WWVB receiver. I Googled “wwvb kits” and came up with the following:

Unfortunately, all of these kits use a little PC board made by a company called C-MAX, and the company has either discontinued making the IC that powers this module or simply quit selling this module in the U.S. As recently as a couple of years ago, Digikey actually sold this module for about seven bucks.

There are several Web pages that show how to interface the CMMR-6 module to an Arduino or a PIC processor. Here are two:

A couple of companies in the UK seem to still have the modules in stock. The price from a company called Earthshine is only six pounds, but that doesn’t include shipping, of course.

There are some plans that don’t  use the C-MAX chip, but, of course, they’re much more complex. One guy designed his own receiver, but it’s quite a bit more complex than simply using a single chip. There are also several commercial receivers available, but the cheapest one I found is $220.

There are several Web pages that describe how to use the WWVB receiver modules from “atomic clocks.” One of the projects scavenges the WWVB module from a Sony clock. The second uses the module from an Atomix 13131. The Atomix 13131 costs as little as $13.

So, I’m still unsure which way I’m going to go here, but it looks as though hacking an existing clock might be the way to go, especially if I can find one at a thrift shop or garage sale.

NIST Conducting Time and Frequency Survey

NISTDo you use NIST radio station WWV or WWVH? Do you have a radio-controlled clock or set your computer clock using NIST? Do you get NIST time via telephone or Internet?

Please take a moment to complete the NIST Time and Frequency Services survey. Your input will be greatly appreciated.

By the way, you might also want to visit the NIST Time and Frequency Division website. It has a bunch of interesting info for time and frequency geeks.

For example, currently there’s a piece on the world’s most precise clock. It says:

NIST scientists have built a second “quantum logic clock,” using quantum information processing techniques on a single ion of aluminum to make a clock that would not gain or lose more than one second in about 3.7 billion years.