Technical Support Questions

The following questions have been asked by MicroSet customers.
Perhaps they will answer questions you have too.
If you have other questions, send us an email.

Last revised: 02-06-03


Checking MicroSet calibration

Question
I bought one of your Microset timers a year ago or so. I notice that the time base seems to be off. I set up a clock with MicroSet but it is actually losing time. Can I send you the unit for recalibration?

Answer
It is very unlikely that MicroSet is out of calibration. The circuitry I use is very accurate and is not likely to drift by a measurable amount. When I get timers back for upgrades that are more than a year old, the calibration has changed very little -- less than five parts per million. On a seconds beating tall clock, this is an error of about 3 seconds per week. But, if you'd like me to check the calibration, I'd be happy to do so at no cost other than return postage.But before sending your MicroSet in to have it tested, there is a simple test you can perform yourself. Quartz clock motors are pretty accurate. They're likely to be within a few seconds per week. Using the acoustic sensor, clip onto a quartz clock and set MicroSet to reliably hear the tick of the quartz motor. You'll get the most accurate reading if you set MicroSet to display Seconds Per Beat. The correct reading should be about 1.000000 Seconds Per Beat. If the rate of the quartz motor varies from 1.000000 by .000016, this is an error of about ten seconds per week and is likely to be an error in the quartz clock. If the quartz clock motor reads near 1.000000, you can have confidence that MicroSet is properly calibrated.If you think the MicroSet calibration is off by as much as a minute a week, the reading of a quartz clock would have to vary from 1.000000 by more than .000100.If you wish to purchase your own calibration reference, I am making a low cost TCXO Reference device. It is also possible to add a precision TCXO timebase to MicroSet 2 or MicroSet 3. You can read about these on the Accessories page.You will probably find that MicroSet is fine. In this case, look for other reasons why this clock measures correctly but runs incorrectly. It may be that you were not getting reliable triggers on the acoustic sensor. Use the optical sensor if possible, it's much more accurate. Perhaps the interval of time you're measuring is too short. Set the TIME mode to read at least 30 beats (TIME: 30). Be sure the TIME mode is not set to measure an odd number of beats, like 31 or 33. On clocks with low powered movements, the weight of the minute hand rising to 12 from 6 will slow down the clock, and the clock will run faster when the minute hand falls from 12 to 6. Measure the clock when the minute hand is near 12 or 6. Be sure you've given the clock time to settle after making and adjustment. A mantel clock settles pretty quickly, but long pendulums or anniversary clocks can take a long time.


Getting good readings on watches

Question
I'm having trouble getting regular readings on my watches. What am I doing wrong?

Answer
The setting of the Level Control and the placement of the sensor are more important for watches than for clocks.
Click Here for a thorough description of how to make these settings.


Can I use a Vibrograf watch holder with MicroSet?

Answer
Yes, but it is not ideal. If you need to work on high grade watches, or quiet wrist watches, you ought to use our Clamping Watch Sensor for the best results. But you may be able to use an old Vibrograf holder for pocket watches or less critical work.

Ignore the wires coming out of the Vibrograf holder. Put your watch into the holder. Clip the MicroSet acoustic pickup (with an alligator clip) onto the sliding arm of the Vibrograf watch holder. Plug the alligator clip sensor into MicroSet.

You can also remove the sensor element in an old watch holder and replace it with a sensor element that MicroSet uses. We can provide an element if you want to try this. The watch holder will no longer work with the original watch timer, though, and it will probably not work as well as our Clamping Watch Sensor.

For more information, click here.



Measuring fast beat watches with MicroSet

Question
I'm trying to measure a fast beat watch. It runs at 28,800 BPH, but MicroSet tells me it's much slower than that.

Answer
The original MicroSet could not measure watches with rates faster than 22,000 BPH. You must upgrade to MicroSet 2 or 3 to work with fast beat watches. For information about upgrading, click here.MicroSet 2 and 3 can measure watches as fast as 36,000 BPH. The latest versions of MicroSet 2 and 3 also have a programmable minimum setting for the Blanking Window. (The Blanking Window is a feature that lets MicroSet ignore noise between valid beats.) If you have one of the latest versions, your default minimum value may be set too high for fast beat watches. Here's how to see if this applies to you:Turn on your timer. If it says "-= MicroSet 2 =-" or "-= MicroSet 3 =-" you can set the minimum value of the Blanking Window. If your timer just says "-= MicroSet =-" with no number after it, you don't have this feature. To change the default setting of your timer do the following:

  • Turn the timer off and wait 5 seconds.

  • Hold down the MODE while you turn the timer on. It will say "Beep On" or "Beep Off"

  • Press the MODE button. The LCD screen will say "Time beats: 10" (or some other number)

  • Press the MODE button again. The LCD screen will say: "Blanking: 8" or some other number. The number after the word "Blanking" is the default minimum value for the Blanking Window. A value of 8 is appropriate if you will be measuring clocks and watches that are 18,000 BPH or slower. For fast beat watches, you must make the minimum Blanking value as small as 4. To do this now, press the MINUS button until the LCD screen says "Blanking: 4"

  • Press the RESET button. MicroSet will beep twice and start up again. Your default minimum value for the Blanking Window is now "4" and you can measure fast beat watches.

To read more about the Blanking Window, look it up in the Table of Contents of your MicroSet instruction book.


Working with the Windows Interface software

Question
When I am logging data and use boxcar averaging, the Microset program turns off the plotting. Is there a work around?

Answer
You're using a very old version of the software. Contact me for a free update that does not do this.


Question
When closing the Microset program, there is no message box asking if I want to save the data before exiting.

Answer
You're using a very old version of the software. Contact me for a free update that does not do this.


Question
What are the advantages of Version 2 or Version 3 of the Windows Interface software? Can I upgrade?

Answer
Version 1 is a basic program with the minimum features needed for capturing data and viewing it. It was written to be compatible with Windows 3.1, so it can run on older less expensive machines. It has not changed since 1998. Version 2 requires Windows95 or later to run and has many more ways to manipulate and analyze the data. It's a big improvement over version 1. Version 3 is just like version 2 except that it has a Watch menu with features exclusively for working with watches and MicroSet 3. You can upgrade any version of the interface software for a more advanced version for the difference in price. You can upgrade your version to the most recent revision date for a nominal media fee.

More details are provided here: software comparison. If you wish to see if your version of the interface software is the most recent, send us an email.


Working with the Data Capture option in MicroSet 3

Question
I am a little baffled by the following......
I used the Data Capture Option to record the beat on my mantle clock. After starting to capture the data I was called away, and when I got back, Microset had taken 2060 samples in about 12 minutes. However, after dumping the captured data to the computer, it says I only have 30 seconds of data. What am I missing here?

Answer
It takes much less time to dump the captured data to the computer than to capture it in the first place. The Windows Interface Program records a "time stamp" with each sample as it is stored in the computer. Normally, the time stamp records the time the sample was actually gathered. But the time stamp that gets saved with captured data is the time the sample was dumped to the computer, not the time it was originally captured. The computer says you only have 30 seconds of data because it took 30 seconds to dump the data from MicroSet to the computer.If you wish to use the time stamps, you need to reset them after the data is dumped. See note number 2 on page 17 of the MicroSet instructions. The command to reset time stamps is under the Operations menu of the Windows Interface Program. The command is "Change Timestamps".