Monthly Archives: December 2012


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[Today’s run: Limerock road, 4 miles]

I took last Thursday and Friday as vacation days.  My son and I drove to Cleveland, OH and picked up my auction purchase: this FTS-4060 Cesium Frequency Standard.  It was a minor ordeal, but we made it back OK on Saturday afternoon.

I am not much of a chemist, but I understand that the electrons in a molecule spin around the nucleus at particular energy levels.  The smart people decided a few decades ago to define a “second” in time as being based on the movement of electrons from one  level to another within a particular flavor of Cesium atoms.  Some other smart people engineered the way to capture this effect and package it up into commercial products.   This gizmo is one of those products, one of the “second generation” from what I’ve read on the internet.  The labels on it say that it was made in 1996.

What is it good for?  Basically it is a really constant source of RF signals.  This one has the add-on options which deliver 100 kHz, 1 MHz, 5 MHz and 10 MHz signals to connectors on the front and rear panels.

One of my projects over the last few years has been a similar device based off of the GPS satellite array. The GPS satellites use Cesium standards both in the satellites and in the ground control systems.

So now I have something much more precise than my GPSDO.  Where the GPSDO is good for 0.01 Hertz type of precision, this Cesium thing is good for 0.000001 Hertz precision  (that’s on a 10,000,000 Hertz signal).

Ok, you may ask why a normal person like me would “need” such a thing and the obvious answer is that I don’t.  I’m using it now to try to get a picture of how good or not good my GPSDO is.  My plan is to take it to the hamfest later this month in Jackson and see if someone will buy it from me.  If that doesn’t happen, I can keep it for awhile and further my education in time/frequency measurement.  But I don’t think I will lose any of my investment when I eventually do unload it.

Here is a picture showing that it is in “lock”, meaning that the internal parts are all in agreement and it is putting out the proper signals:


Filed under Ham Radio
Dec 31, 2012
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