[time-nuts] HP Z3801A Motorola Oncore VP Firmware Dates

randy warner randy at geodetics.com
Mon Jun 23 12:51:28 EDT 2008


Et al,

So long as the unit is a VP, the firmare date should not matter. The last
firmware for the VP was v10.0 and was released in 1997, but all VP firmware
will work with the HP's. As you can see from the TAC32 screenshot on Ebay
the receiver being used was a 6 channel VP with v8.4 firmware. This was the
"standard" configuration for the timing community back then. The straight
MCX connector plugged directly into the motherboard connector instead of
going to a cable. If these are coming from China I am guessing that they are
decommisioning a lot of the old Lucent cell-sites.

A note about the connector: Unless you have REALLY good soldering equipment
and know how to use it, do not try to remove the connector. The ground plane
in the board makes removal very difficult, especially in the B4xx and B8xx
receivers. When I was working with these I normally just soldered a piece of
RG174 on equivalent to the connector pins on the back side. If you do this
you cannot have any service loop. The terminations to the connector pins
must be as short as possible.

Initial delays in acquisition are normally due to the receivers being
inactive for long periods of time. If the oscillator characteristics change
a lot during long periods of inactivity it can take over an hour for your
initial fix. Once the new characteristics have been loaded into EEPROM your
acq times should go back to normal. I wrote a paper on this many years ago
when I was working at Synergy. Does anyone have a copy they would be willing
to post?

Randy Warner

-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of vendors at eshop.uoregon.edu
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:52 AM
To: time-nuts at febo.com
Subject: [time-nuts] HP Z3801A Motorola Oncore VP receive...

Mike et al:

The first two Motorola Oncore-VP RX's I bought from that eBay seller were
shipped by TNT courier service, about $30 cost, to my work address with
about a 5 or 6 day delivery time.  The seller provided a tracking number and
I was able to follow the shipment's progress.  It spent about two days hung
up for custom's clearance.  The seller's current eBay Oncore-VP listing uses
Hong Kong's Air Mail Service, presumably handed off to USPS, at a much lower
cost than TNT.  On my second order for the Oncore-VP with this seller he
didn't like my PO Box address that I use for Snail Mail and so I gave him my
work address again.  He also wanted my mobile phone number, but I gave my
work phone number.  I thought it a bit odd that he said that Hong Kong Air
Mail Service didn't like PO boxes...  I don't know why that would be since
they aren't actually delivering it in the US.  Anyway, I've still got two
weeks to go before expecting delivery on the second order.  Oddly, the
seller said to my inquiry about tracking numbers that Hong Kong Air Mail
Service does provide a tracking number -- but I've not been able to get it
from the seller.  So far he has a 100% feedback rating and he sure gave me
good service on the first order.  

Further, he has software available for the receivers, but you need to ask
for it per the instructions in his eBay listing.  

As always with eBay its "Caveat Emptor."  He does have PP Buyer Protection
so along with his 100% feedback rating I'm not too worried.  I can tell you
that I was greatly relieved when the two receivers fired up FB in my Z3801A!
It did take awhile, even with a position initialization fix, for them to
the birds, then get current GPS time, etc.   

As an FYI, be aware (at least in my Z3801A), that the Z3801A's motherboard
firmware doesn't like dates after Dec 31st, 2007.  So if you try to
initialize the Z3801A with a current date it may complain that its out of
range.  Maybe mine has old firmware and newer units won't complain?  I
dunno.  It doesn't seem to be a problem -- just slows down the initial

Note that it doesn't complain about the current date when acquired by GPS
sats -- just the input routine for PC provided dates complains.  

--Larry, W7JYJ 

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