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I just read your post again and it looks like I didn’t answer your main question. Sorry about that. I was in a time crunch and I did a quick hit and run up here last night. I think what you’re asking is do you really need an expensive set up like this? Can a guy that’s pressed for bucks get by with some creative ingenuity? Absolutely Ed!
When you look back a century or so none of those great watch and clock makers had all the goodies we have access to now but they sure did great work! You don’t need most of the modern tools and stuff you see for sale at the supply houses but…many of these tools can make life much easier and work hours more productive.
The timing machine is a great example of this. Without a timing machine one has to record a timepieces rate over a long period of time where a timing machine will give a good indication of a timepieces rate in an instant. Using it to set the beat is just a tiny portion of what it’s capable of doing. It’s also an extremely powerful diagnostic tool. Still, all of the wonderful things that it will do can also be done without the use of the machine. It’s just a big time saver in the long run.
Your stethoscope idea is an excellent one. It will work wonders when setting the beat on some of those quiet tickers.
What Tom was talking about though was timing a watch. To count the ticks of a watch he would need to have some type of sensor to see or ‘pick up’ the ticks. Rather than an audio type sensor he came up with the idea of using a strobe light. A very interesting idea. By using an accurate and adjustable strobe he could determine the exact rate of the balance by adjusting the strobe frequency until reaching resonance with the balance. Seems link a cool idea. This led to the optical sensor idea that David mentioned. All creative ideas.