The purpose of this function is to help you determine that a clock is striking correctly, without requiring you to sit there and listen to it for hours on end.
Some strike errors can be found easily enough by moving the minute hand around manually and listening. Other times, the faults are harder to detect. I will quote some comments made by John Losch, instructor at the NAWCC School of Horology:
“There are several things to be derived from such recorded information. As is the case with “count wheel” or locking plate movements, one worn segment (French clocks particularly) or a bent tooth (American) can be elusive especially to the casual repairman. A record should show exactly where correction is needed. With rack striking, a worn rack tooth can play havoc, especially when its problem is slight, and the evidence of it is intermittent. Irregular striking without a defined pattern would confirm that the error is in the setting of levers or “timing” of train wheels improperly synchronized.”
The Strike Recorder Function will not distinguish between different hammers, and it does not record the actual sound of the strike.
Setup of the Strike Recorder
You may use either the acoustic sensor or the optical sensor with the Strike function. However, as always, the acoustic sensor will be vulnerable to false triggers and may not always produce an accurate result. If you use the acoustic sensor, position it so the strike hammer you’re interested in will trigger the sensor but other sounds will not. This can be difficult to achieve. You will probably want to turn the level control down pretty far. You may find it helpful to clip the acoustic sensor to a popsicle stick and position the popsicle stick so the hammer(s) will hit it. For example, with a Westminster chime, slip the popsicle stick between the hammers and the chime rods. You’ll probably want to muffle the chime rods so they don’t resonate and make noise. With such a setup it is possible to record every strike in a Westminster chime (4 strikes at 15 minutes after the hour, 8 strikes at 30 after, 12 strikes at 45 after, and 16 plus the hour count on the hour). However, you may find the Strike Recorder will be more useful on simple count strike trains.
On simple count strike trains you will probably prefer to use the optical sensor because it will not be fooled by extraneous noise. Arrange it so the strike lever breaks the optical beam just once per strike. This is easily accomplished by sticking a bit of opaque tape (electrical tape) to the strike lever. Hold the sensor with a “third hand” so that the tape will reach into the gap of the sensor and break the beam for as long as the hammer is active.
On the timer, press the MODE button until the LCD screen shows “Strike…”. At this point the LED on the timer will light up whenever the sensor is triggered. This allows you to confirm that your sensor is adequately positioned to detect the strike reliably. Move the minute hand around to trigger the strike and confirm that the LED comes on once per strike.
Strike Capture Mode
When the setup is reliable, press the BEGIN button on the timer. The LCD screen will show:
MicroSet is now in the Strike Capture Mode. The number on the left indicates which strike number was last recorded, and the number on the right indicates what the strike count was. Since you’ve just started, both values are zero.
As soon as a strike occurs, the LED on the timer will blink and MicroSet will begin to count strikes. The display will not change until the strike has finished and several seconds of quiet time have elapsed. Then the display will then show the last strike recorded. For example:
This would mean that the last strike recorded was the first one and that 3 strikes were recorded. The memory capacity in MicroSet will let it record four strikes per hour for 2 days, or two strikes per hour for 4 days. When the memory in MicroSet gets full it will automatically switch to the Strike Review Mode.
Strike Review Mode
When MicroSet is in the Strike Capture Mode and you’ve captured a strike history, you can review it by pressing the MODE button. The LCD display will then switch from showing you the LAST strike that was recorded to showing you the FIRST strike that was recorded. For example, you might see:
This would mean that three strikes were recorded at the first event. You can now step though the record by pressing the PLUS and MINUS buttons. PLUS will move you forward in time, MINUS will move you back in time. With these two buttons you can review the history of strikes.
While you’re in the Strike Review Mode, if you wish to begin a new Strike Capture, press the BEGIN button and the LCD screen will show:
which indicates that the previous strike history has been erased and MicroSet is waiting to record the first strike count in a new history.
The computer interface with the Strike Recorder
Though the Strike Recorder Mode works perfectly well in the stand-alone timer, it is augmented by the personal computer interface. The computer will not only record the number of strikes at each event, it will also record the time of day the strike occurred.
If you have a personal computer connected to the timer while it listens to the strike, it will output the strike count to the computer each time it happens. With the MicroSet software running on the computer, you’ll get a graph of the strike counts at each “event”. For example, if the clock strikes 4, you’ll get a data point with the value “4” in the MicroSet graph.
You can tell what time each strike occurred by clicking on a data point in the graph. The program then tells you what the value of that point is and at what time it was captured.