Quirky clock could become feature + video

By Alexandra Newlove

2 comments
Deep from Whangarei's weird and wonderful files is a citizen science project involving a metal man pedalling madly, a miniature of Whangarei's famed bascule bridge and concrete balls which tell the time.
About Time project team Graham Brice, front, with Reg Shaw, Pete Romer and Warren Thomas. Absent are Henk Oosterbroek, Phil Collins and Te Warahi Hetaraka. Photo / John Stone
About Time project team Graham Brice, front, with Reg Shaw, Pete Romer and Warren Thomas. Absent are Henk Oosterbroek, Phil Collins and Te Warahi Hetaraka. Photo / John Stone

Check out this amazing ball clock a group of Whangarei citizens have built. They hope to put one at the Town Basin.

Posted by The Northern Advocate on Monday, 8 February 2016

Deep from Whangarei's weird and wonderful files is a citizen science project involving a metal man pedalling madly, a miniature of Whangarei's famed bascule bridge and concrete balls which tell the time.

A six-metre long ball clock, described as the only one of its kind in the country, may soon be a feature at Whangarei's Town Basin, with the district council contributing $13,000 to help the project through its development stages and set to make a decision on whether to support it further at its February meeting.

What started as a vague notion to get more visitors along to Whangarei's Claphams Clock Museum has turned into a team of seven volunteers tinkering away in a disused shed.

The current working model has taken more than a year and is just a template for the real deal, which the team hope to build from durable materials and install at the Town Basin.

The model includes a clock portion as well as a "fun" section designed to teach passersby the basics of physics. It even includes a small lifting version of Te Matau A Pohe Bridge.

"It would be getting up towards 1000 hours that we've spent on it," said About Time project team member Graham Brice.

The ball clock has four main rails, one labelled with seconds, two with minutes and one with hours.

The bottom rail represents the hours; the next rail represents 10-minute increments; the third, one minute increments; and the top rail, seconds, in 15-second increments.

The top rail receives a ball from a racheted electronic motor every 15 seconds dumping it onto the rail below every minute, while the other balls disperse.

Every 10 minutes, one of the "minute" balls drops onto the 10-minute rail below, while every hour, one of the "10 minute" balls becomes an hour marker. Confused?

Imagine trying to build it, complete with a washing machine motor and series of cogs that have to deliver balls.

"Something has gone wrong pretty much every step of the way," said committee member Pete Romer.

Mr Brice said he was "very proud of the creative imagination and endeavour the team have put into it."

- Northern Advocate

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