How To Set and Synch a singing Bird-Clock
I have 2 of these puppies. Well, actually one belonged to my wife, who was my girl-friend who gifted me with a second one when we started dating. But now it's April 2017. We’re married, both clocks are almost 20 years old, and I am tasked with maintaining them both. I don’t mind because it’s a labor of love - every time it chirps it reminds of her. After 19 years, it's so much more pleasant than when she chirps, which sounds more like a condor’s cry just before it flies off with some poor bunny in its mouth. (Just kidding. She’s one of 13 siblings so she naturally talks kind of loud. Understandable, no?)
History: (Note, you can skip down to the Quick, Easy fix if you growing impatient.)
The clock was functioning OK, but the glass plate protecting the face was really dirty and the face itself was so grungy, I decided to clean the inside before re-hanging it in the kitchen. Not the smartest move.
When I put the glass back on, the second hand froze up. It appeared to tick or shake, but just could not make any progress moving around the numbers To be honest, it was more tremor than shake, it just sort of trembled every second.
Not knowing how simple it was to fix, I became anxious. “Did I actually screw it up?” I asked myself, already knowing the answer. My wife was less charitable. "You just can't leave things alone, can you?" she asked, obviously dismissive of my good intentions.
Her challenge drove me to soul-search. I had to learn why it had stopped working, so I could demonstrate her how much I cared by restoring it. (You, the reader, can probably figure it out. I was by then so anxious - moving into panic- that I lost all perspective.) I decided to take the plunge into the forbidden territory.
I started researching the “thing” on YouTube ("thing" is a noun I use to describe something that no longer works. If it starts working again, it regains its former glory and I restore its respectful title.)
YouTube has at least half a dozen videos on how to deal with the battery operated quartz movements found in bird-clocks, which are fairly simple if you don't mess with them. They are self-contained meaning, “do not mess with them unless you suffer from OCD and can’t help yourself.”
Actually, removing the screws that connect the colored outer-ring that holds the glass over the face won’t cause serious problems. However, removing the inner ring of screws that fasten the clock back to the plate is downright dangerous, in fact foolhardy. You can mess up one of these things in seconds just by opening it up. They should stencil the warning "abandon hope all ye who enter here," at each screw hole on the clock back. It’s like a miniature version of the Temple of Doom.
If you aren’t that adventuresome, just send the clock to me, taking care to protect the glass cover from breakage. I always can find some use for another bird clock. I’ve actually thought about starting a vintage bird-clock museum here in San Francisco. People here are just crazy enough to pay money to hear a bunch of bird clocks chirping in unison.
OK, let's get back to business.
Fortunately, you don't have to do much to set and resynch them. It’s much easier than any video or instructions I've found. The trick is a tiny black button on the back of the clock. (there's always a trick, isn't there?) I call it the "bird-call-synch" button. Each time you push it, it fires off a pulse to a separate bird-call chip inside the clock, which sounds the next bird call in the sequence. Push it 12 times and you'll hear every different call.
The Quick Easy Fix
Note: you will need 3 live strong batteries, the clock, and two working fingers of your favored hand
1. Assuming all parts are in good working order and you didn’t unscrew anything, confirm the batteries are strong.
2. 2 batteries drive the bird-call chip. They reside together in the lighter-colored cavity that is inset in the clock’s back. The 3rd battery drives the clock movement. It resides in the black cavity that is part of the 2” square clock movement.
3. Remove the 2 bird-call driver batteries. This resets the bird-call chip sequence to the first call. Note: You don’t have to remove the clock-movement battery, but go ahead if it makes you feel better.
4. With the bird-call batteries still removed, use your two good fingers to turn the little time-setting wheel on the clock movement so the clock hands move clockwise until they indicate 11:55 o’clock.)
5. In a well well lit spot, point the clock face to the light source, and correctly replace the batteries you removed. The clock should start running as usual. The moment of truth will arrive In a few minutes, when hopefully you will hear a bird call.
a. If you hear the first bird call within 10 minutes of replacing the batteries, the clock god has smiled on you.
b. If you hear the first bird call within 1 minute on either side of 12 o’clock, the clock god has favored you. Say a little prayer of thanks.
Important Notes: if you can’t find the time-setting wheel, don’t bother trying any of this. If the bird call sounds more than 5 minutes away from the 12, you have my sympathies. Either live with it, learn how to take it apart, or send it to me. I will add it to my bird clock museum.
Unless you are looking for a new Fixit-adventure, don’t unscrew anything anywhere on the clock
Even Easier Fix
If the clock god favors you, and you are hearing bird-calls properly on the hour, there is an even simpler way to synch up the bird-calls. You don’t even need to remove the batteries or move the hands. You must however be able to locate the tiny black bird-call-synch button located in its own light-colored indentation on the back of the clock, and you must be able to associate at least one particular bird with its correct bird-call. We’ll call that bird the “benchmark.”
1. When the clock shows the hour that has your identified benchmark bird on it and the unknown call sounds, press the bird-call-synch button on the back repeatedly until the right call sounds.
Remember to change the batteries every year (or test them if you like to play "chicken" with leaky batteries. Testing gives you an advantage if you enjoy winning when you play chicken with batteries.
If you do wind up with leaky batteries, remove the excess whitish gook and clean up the remainder by dabbing with a little white vinegar on a Q-tip.
Finally, remember, if you grow tired of your bird-clock, you can always send it to me. In return, I will send you a lifetime pass to my bird-clock museum and you can visit it anytime you like.