Naturally, I had to verify this. So I tuned to the WWV 10 MHz time signal on my amateur rig, tuned a portable radio to CBC Radio 1 FM, which broadcasts on 99.1 MHz in Toronto and recorded them together:
Yup: Rob’s right – CBC is broadcasting the NRC 13:00:00 signal at 13:00:10, which for time nerds might as well be the change from Julian to the Gregorian calendar.
This recording was made directly from the airwaves. There should be effectively no difference between the signal broadcast times, but here we are with the “National Research Council official time signal” going out at a very wrong time indeed.
That picture might not look much, but it’s doing something rather wonderful. It’s a tiny ESP8266 BASIC script running on a super-cheap ESP8266 wifi module. The code draws a clock that’s synced to an NTP server. ESP8266 BASIC graphic commands are built from SVG, so anything you can draw on the screen can also be saved as a vector graphic:
The runtime includes a simple textarea editor that saves code to the board’s flash:
(and yes, that first line is all you need to set up NTP sync)
Among other features, ESP8266 BASIC has a simple but useful variable display:
I’d picked up a (possible knock-off of a)WeMos D1 ESP8266 board in Arduino form factor a few months ago. The Arduino.cc Software now supports ESP8266 directly, so it’s much easier to program. Flashing the BASIC code to the board was very simple, as I’d noticed that the Arduino IDE printed all of its commands to the console. All I needed to do was download an ESP8266 BASIC Binary, and then run a modified Arduino upload line from the terminal:
ESP8266 BASIC starts in wireless access point mode, so you’ll have to connect to the network it provides initially. Under Settings you can enter your normal network details, and it will join your wifi network on next reboot. I just hope it doesn’t wander around my network looking for things to steal â€¦
This morning, though, I seemed to be running 10 minutes late. The clock was saying 06:56, when I was convinced it earlier than that. I check my watch; 06:46. Cooker clock, thermostat timer, microwave, NTP-synch’ed Linux laptop; all 06:46.
On resetting the clock, and letting it faff about for a few minutes while it listened to the NIST radio signal from Boulder, it got the time right. I guess there must’ve been a duff signal came through in the night. That’s what you get for blindly trusting technology.