I want to synchronize two atomic clocks at the same location to the same time... then let them run independently of each other (then I'd move them apart).

Is there some standard procedure to accomplish this?

Do standard atomic clocks come with inputs/outputs to accomplish this task?

EDIT: I haven't purchased the clocks yet.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you already purchased these clocks? \$\endgroup\$ – Tyler Dec 22 '16 at 19:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, since you have not purchased them yet, I would recommend looking for clocks that have the features you need. \$\endgroup\$ – Tyler Dec 22 '16 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've been looking for those features, but I'm not seeing them explicitly anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Ameet Sharma Dec 22 '16 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Record the clock's offset time. Clocks appear to run at different speeds at different altitude. Check the wikipedia article on universal coordinated time. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkU Dec 22 '16 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very similar question on physics.SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Roger Rowland Dec 22 '16 at 19:57

An "atomic clock" comprises two major subsystems: a precision oscillator controlled by a feedback mechanism that's based on some quantum-mechanical phenomenon, and a digital counter/display subsystem that shows how many cycles of the oscillator have occurred so far.

The relative oscillator phase in multiple units can be measured; there are papers at NIST, and this article is worth a read for more general knowledge.

The counter mechanism can be reset at any time, and if you have two clocks, you can reset their counters from the same reference pulse. It's really entirely up to you how and when you reset your counters.

However, in some cases, it makes sense to just allow the counters to free-run, and instead sample and record their values at certain times, then compute the frequency and phase errors from those recordings. The computed values are then used to "correct" future readings from the clocks. This is the approach used with the atomic clocks used in GPS, for example.

It sounds as if you have a vague idea for a project, but that you haven't really given it a lot of thought or research yet. There are both professional and hobbyist websites devoted to the topic of precision chronometry — you might want to seek them out and do some reading to get an idea of what some of the practical issues are with respect to this topic.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, you accepted my answer within 2 minutes of my writing it. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but it might be a good idea to wait a day or so, to see if anyone else comes up with anything better. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Dec 22 '16 at 20:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Take a look at leapsecond.com to help increase your learning curve. \$\endgroup\$ – Optionparty Dec 22 '16 at 22:33

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