Monday, December 12, 2016

The Radio Scene at the World's Largest Clocks

Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

It was billed as the world’s largest clock, or perhaps more accurately, as the world’s largest mechanical clock.  It was built in England, it was flown to China, and it was installed in a new tower in the regional city, Ganzhou in Jianxi Province in south China.
            According to Wikipedia, there are half a dozen or more clocks in different countries around the world that are larger than the south China clock.  However, apparently all of the other larger clocks are electrically operated, whereas the south China clock is operated mechanically and it is therefore the largest clock of its kind in the world.
            The world’s very largest clock is the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  The clock itself has four faces, each 151 feet across, and they are illuminated at night by several search lights and by two million LED lights which are visible nearly 20 miles distant.  The clock faces are ornamented with 98 million pieces of mosaic glass, and each minute hand is 72 feet long.  The drive mechanism to each clock face weighs 21 tons each.
            This grand time piece, the largest in the world, is fitted into a towering building nearly 2,000 feet tall, getting towards half a mile high.  This building itself, which is overlooking the Moslem holy place, the Kaaba in Mecca Saudi Arabia, is the fourth tallest building in the world.  This mega-massive project was completed in 2012.
            Among other super large clocks is a floral clock in Surat, India where each hand weighs 1,700 pounds, ¾ ton each.  The face on a floral clock in Frankfort Kentucky is made up of 10,000 individual flowers.  A large clock on Lubyanka Square in Moscow, Russia has the world’s largest pendulum, 42 feet long and weighing 5 tons.
Harmony Clock Tower
The world’s largest mechanical clock was installed in the newly developed Harmony Clock Tower in Ganzhou City, south China in 2011.  Each of the four clock faces measures 42 feet across and each minute hand is 25½ feet long, which includes a balancing overhang on the other side of the pivot.
            The hands for each face were made of lightweight carbon fibre, because they would have weighed two tons each if made from traditional steel.  The swinging pendulum is 13 feet long; it is accurate to 30 seconds a month; and the entire mechanism is guaranteed for 100 years.
            The clock itself, which weighs ten tons, was manufactured by Smith Clockworks in Derby England, and it was flown out to China to meet the

needed deadline.  The four clock faces were made in China.

The Harmony Clock Tower is almost 400 feet tall and the entire project as a tourist attraction cost 72 million, including the tower, the clock, the horological museum, and the surrounding theme park.  However, just four years$ after its inauguration, the theme park suspended operation in 2014 due to low visitor turnout.
            The city of Ganzhou is the largest city in Jiangxi Province and it has a resident population of two million, with some eight million in the surrounding district.  The Harmony Clock Tower is located on Yangmin Road, near to the Ganjiang Highway Bridge on the western edge of Ganzhou city.
            The radio scene in Ganzhou is very similar to the radio scene in numerous other cities in China.   Over the past many years, transmitters have been on the air with national, regional and local programming which is presented in the national language Mandarin as well as in the local and regional languages.
            It is known that the government operated radio services have been on the air over the years in Ganzhou on mediumwave, shortwave and of course the now widely accepted FM.  As with all other areas of China, it is difficult to obtain reliable information about the local radio scene.
            More than half a dozen mediumwave channels for coverage of Ganzhou have been in use over the years, and the Pacific Asia Log from Radio Heritage in New Zealand lists two that are currently on the air: 630 kHz with 10 kW and 729 kHz with 50 kW.
            On shortwave, at least three channels have been in use over a period of time: 3990 kHz, 4865 kHz and 5970 kHz.  Back in the year 2001, two international radio monitors In Germany logged the outlet on 5970 kHz, and they both received an informal QSL verification from the station.
            It is understood that the shortwave station was located at nearby Gannan, which is not to be confused with another city in China with the same name Gannan, that is located near the border with Tibet.
            In tandem with so many other countries around the world, there are many FM outlets on the air in Ganzhou China, and one that is currently operative is 104.4 MHz which carries a full time relay from mediumwave 729 kHz.
 (AWR Wavescan/NWS 406 via A. Peterson)