Beeper Sync 3.3
The BeeperSync software can be used to synchronise your beeper box to UTC by only using a windows desktop computer and internet. The precision of this method is usually much better than 50ms and if you have a good internet connection and use an NTP server that is close to you - most of the time you will get a precision of about 5ms or less. The most important factor for the precision is your internet connection speed and usage. Stopping all downloads while using BeeperSync will help you get the best precision. The table below gives you an idea of the accuracy of different methods of synchronisation:
You can also increase the BeeperSync accuracy by using an NTP server that is close to you. For Australia and New Zealand users I recommend the following NTP servers:
If you live in other part of the world you may want to check for the nearest to you server on the Public NTP Time Servers List.
For the synchronistion the BeeperSync software can use your computer printer port (also called parallel or LPT port), the serial port (also called COM port) or a USB port that has a USB-to-LPT or USB-to-COM hardware adapter. If you happen to have two LPT ports then you will need to check which of them is LPT1 and which LPT2. Then you should specify in BeeperSync which of the ports you want to use. The same applies if you have many COM ports.
The next very important thing you are going to need to synchronise a Beeper is a cable to connect your beeper box to your LPT or COM port. The LPT cable you can wire up yourself. Connect pin 25 and pin 2 of the LPT port to a male RCA plug as shown on the image below. Please note that the image shows a female LPT port so you have to work out the corresponding pins on the male port.
If you want to use a COM port then the cable has a few more elements. We should thank to Johnatan Bradshaw for creating and testing this cable. If you are after a COM port you should read Jonathan's original write up about the Beeper Box Serial Interface.
Once you have the cable ready connect it to your beeper's plug labeled "SYNCHRONIZE". Aussies can buy the parts needed for the cable for about $5 from Jaycar Electronics or Dick Smith Electronics.
Synchronising BeeperSync to an NTP server
After you run BeeperSync your first task will be to synchronise it with UTC. Before doing this for the very first time though you should adjust the settings by clicking on the "Settings" link. Set your internet connection speed and I would suggest you to start with a "High" process priority. Depending on you machine CPU speed, brand and type if you try to use "Higher" and "Highest" process priority your Windows may become irresponsive and even freeze completely. Later on if you want to try for a better accuracy you can try to increase the process priority but in some cases you may need to restart your computer from the reset button if it gets frozen.
Once you have completed the confiruation to synchronise BeeperSync you have to choose an NTP server from the list or type the host name of another server of your choice and then press "Sync Time". In the next few seconds (up to a minute) BeeperSync will connect to the selected server, will synchronise your windows clock with UTC and then will run a series of tests and will perform internal calibration.
Once this is done you will see the current UTC time and the estimated synchronisation error. You will also start hearing beeps comming out from your computer internal speaker. If you don't hear the beeps then your computer speaker may not be connected. You can turn the beeping on and off at any time by using the "Beep" checkbox.
If the estimated error from UTC is more than 40 ms it will be shown in red. In such a case do not synchronise your beeper box yet. Press "Sync Time" again. If you stop your internet trafic such as downloads you should be able to easily get an error smaller than 50ms. After the synchronisation is done BeeperSync will continue to query the NTP server once a minute and will recalibrate itself if necessary to guarantee top precision.
Synchronising your Beeper box using BeeperSync
Once you have BeeperSync synced with a good precision to UTC you can proceed with the beeper box syncing. To do this you have to choose the LTP port you have connected your cable to. You may only need to change this option if you have more than one printer ports. Then from the "Pulse type" drop down make sure you have chosen "Minute Pulse (Beeper Sync)". Then connect the other end of the cable to your beeper, turn the peeber ON and when ready press "Go" and BeeperSync will start the synchronisaton process.
As you know the synchronisation is done on a whole minute. If you keep the BeeperSync making beeps and also your Beeper box doing the same you could "hear" the synchronisation. At the 59th second your Beeper will stop beeping for a second and then will start again with a long beep in sync with BeeperSync. The synchronisation has been completed.