How does a clock system work?


Quick Answer

Analog and digital clocks work by using a power source to create regular vibrations. The vibrations are converted into electrical energy and then mechanical energy, which drives the gears and hands of the clock.

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Full Answer

Analog and digital clocks require a power source, an oscillator for timekeeping and a mechanism for displaying the time. In a quartz-operated clock, the power is supplied by a battery. Digital clocks are powered electronically.

In a quartz clock, the quartz crystal functions similar to a heartbeat. The battery supplies energy to the quartz and causes it to vibrate at a specific rate. A microchip processes the vibrations and produces one pulse of electricity for each second of vibration. The electrical energy from the vibrating quartz is converted into mechanical energy by an electric stepping motor. The mechanical energy drives movement in the gears of the clock. As the gears turn, they move the hands to reflect a change in the time.

Digital clocks work similar to analog clocks but use a different power source and display mechanism. These clocks are powered by alternating current electricity rather than a battery. Electricity produces its own vibrations and eliminates the need for a quartz. Time on digital clocks is usually displayed via LED lights.

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