Module 3.4: Real Time Clocks

In Module 3.4, we learn about how real time clocks (RTCs) are used in instrumentation. Timekeeping plays a central role in scientific field instrumentation. It’s used to timestamp data, synchronize multiple standalone devices, and also controls power management. We discuss how RTCs work, how outdoor conditions affect clock accuracy, and the different types of clocks and their accuracy. We also learn how to access and control the real time clock on the WildLogger board, set the date and time, and read it in different formats.

Click here for video slides, terminology, downloads and additional references


3.4  Real Time Clock (RTC)

In this video we cover:

  • real time clocks and how they work
  • how we’ll be using the real time clock
  • clock drift
  • real time clock accuracy



3.4.1: What Time Is It? – Lab 1

In this video we dive straight into Lab 1. We’ll install the library for our RTC, and look at the functions that let us set and read the date and time on our WildLogger .



3.4.2: Command Line Time and Date – Lab 2

In this video we dive straight into Lab 2. Now we’ll create commands that let us set and read the data and time on our WildLogger via the serial monitor (instead of hard coding it in our application).



Supporting Materials

Terminology Sheet

Module 3.4 Terminology Cheatsheet(PDF)


Video Slides

3:4: Real Time Clock – Complete Slides (PDF)



PCF8563 Real Time Clock Library on Github


Conversations & Troubleshooting

Module 3.4 Discussion (forum thread)


Useful References

Circuit Basics – What is Direct Current?

Circuit Basics – What is Alternating Current?

Leap Seconds – Time Nuts

All About Circuits – Crystal and Atomic Oscillators

How Stuff Works – What is an Atomic Clock and How Does It Work?

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