The most accurate mechanical timekeeper is the Shortt pendulum clock; it makes use of the movement described above for electric master clock systems. The Shortt pendulum clock consists of two separate clocks, one of which synchronizes the other. The timekeeping element is a pendulum that swings freely, except that once every half minute it receives an impulse from a gently falling lever. This lever is released by an electrical signal transmitted from its slave clock. After the impulse has been sent, a synchronizing signal is transmitted back to the slave clock that ensures that the impulse to the free pendulum will be released exactly a half minute later than the previous impulse. The pendulum swings in a sealed box in which the air is kept at a constant, low pressure. Shortt clocks in observatories are kept in a room, usually a basement, where the temperature remains nearly constant, and under these conditions they can maintain the correct time to within a few thousandths of a second per day.
In mechanical clocks, the power source is typically either a weight suspended from a cord or chain wrapped around a pulley, sprocket or drum; or a spiral spring called a mainspring. Mechanical clocks must be wound periodically, usually by turning a knob or key or by pulling on the free end of the chain, to store energy in the weight or spring to keep the clock running.
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