[time-nuts] NTG550AA 1 PPS mod

EB4APL eb4apl at gmail.com
Sat Jun 13 06:59:59 EDT 2015

Hi Ed,

While your board is not exactly the same as mine I think that the 
schematics are almost identical but the TPs and probably the chip names 
has changed.  I think that the main difference is that your unit can be 
powered with -48 V or +24 V and obviously the parts layout has changed.
I have made a partial schematic and it is a work in progress but it has 
been quite useful for me so far.  Since it was started when 
troubleshooting my board, I focused in certain areas and I still 
continue from time to time.  The troubleshooting effort, while some 
initial success, was not able to get good results and now I have a dead 
board that I can trace for expanding the schematic without much care .
I use Eagle to draw the schematic and I'm in the process of adding some 
chips to Eagle since they are not included in the standard library,  
when I finish I will add a new section which covers the signals that 
goes to and from the 110 pin connector J2.  I think it will be ready in 
a couple of days.
I plan to upload an Eagle .sch file and an image to Dropbox, I will 
inform you when it is ready.  The Eagle file could be useful for 
continuing the reverse engineering effort.
I'm working also in pictures of the board's top and bottom with the 
resistors and capacitors labeled according to the schematic, I 
registered the top with a mirror image of the bottom and this is a good 
way to find the correspondence of the vias but it is advancing at a 
slower pace, it takes a lot of time.  Also I have made a table with the 
signals of all the the test points, I will also include this.
I will keep you informed of the progress.
regarding the delay, I checked that Lady Heather accepts both positive 
and negative delays, in fact cable delays are considered negative.  I 
didn't checked that the board retards the pulses with positive values, 
I'll do it after the 1PPS mod but I think that this will work.  I 
believe that the elevation trick is not a good idea, it will ruin the 
GPS receiver calculations, as you say it will work for 1 satellite view 
and only when it is exactly overhead.

Best regards,

El 13/06/2015 a las 1:14, Ed Armstrong wrote:
> Ignacio, I would very much appreciate a copy of whatever schematics 
> you have, even if it is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate
> I agree with you that the 9.9804 Mhz is basically useless, while the 
> even second pulse is merely almost useless. However, as you have 
> apparently looked the board over more carefully than me, you probably 
> already understand why I did it the way I did. The location of the two 
> output circuits were very easy to find, the path from the connector to 
> them is quite distinctive. I just needed to find out where the signal 
> got into the output circuit from, and when I flipped the board over, 
> the trace bringing in the even second pulse was extremely obvious. 
> There was no obvious trace for the 9.9804, and I didn't feel like 
> probing all over the place and looking up a lot of chip numbers to try 
> to figure out where it came from, as I have a very unsteady hand which 
> makes poking around in these closely spaced components an invitation 
> to disaster. So I just went with the obvious.
> I found it interesting that the output circuit inverts the signal a 
> few times. I actually would have preferred to invert it, so that the 
> polarity was correct for a raspberry pie or a serial port under 
> Windows, but it appeared some of the traces to do so were hidden in 
> the layers of the board, and again the more I fool around the better 
> my chance of shorting something out and becoming very unhappy.
> I will be anxious to hear how your version of the modification works 
> out, please do keep us posted.
> I believe the antenna cable feed delay is going to work in the wrong 
> direction here, I also seem to recall reading somewhere that the 
> adjustment range may be limited. I did pretty much correct the offset 
> by manually setting my position about 75M higher than what the device 
> figured it to be, but I am concerned that would only be accurate for a 
> satellite directly overhead, and may cause other inaccuracies by 
> throwing off the geometry, especially for satellites close to the 
> horizon. Based on what I am currently seeing from the Pi, I think the 
> smart solution is to just ignore the offset altogether.
> Ed
> On 6/10/2015 11:30 AM, EB4APL wrote:
>> Hi Ed,
>> I am the one who discovered the 1PPS pulse while troubleshooting a 
>> NTG550AA.  Instead of reuse the 1/2 PPS output and missing this 
>> signal, my plan is to recycle the 9.8304 MHz output circuitry and 
>> connector, the circuits are almost identical.  So I will cut the 
>> trace that goes from TP14 to U405 pin 6 and also use a wire wrapping 
>> wire to joint TP14 to TP33 so the 1PPS will be at J5.  I think that I 
>> will do the modification this weekend.
>> I don't imagine any future use of the X8 Chip signal but having the 
>> even second output could be useful, at least to see the difference 
>> with the 1 PPS.
>> I had not measured the time difference yet, but I made a partial 
>> schematic of the board for my troubleshooting and there I see that 
>> the 1/2 PPS signal is synchronized with the 19.6608 signal that is 
>> the source for the 8X Chip ( 9.8304 MHz), this is done in U405B . The 
>> period of this signal is about 50 ns and this is the origin of the 
>> 1/2 PPS width.  The 19.6608 MHz oscillator is phase locked somewhere 
>> to the 10 MHz oscillator thus it is as stable as this one.
>> I think that using the other half of U405, which actually is used to 
>> divide by 2 the 19.6608 MHz signal, could render the 1 PPS 
>> synchronized with the 1/2 PPS and also with the same width. Probably 
>> the easier way to correct this is to use the command which sets the 
>> antenna cable delay and compensate for the difference.
>> I don't have a full schematic, even I am not sure that the partial 
>> one is 100% correct but I can send it to anyone who wants it.
>> Regards,
>> Ignacio
>> El 10/06/2015 a las 6:30, Ed Armstrong wrote:
>>> Hi, this is my first post ever to a mailing list, so if I'm doing 
>>> anything wrong please be gentle with your corrections :-)
>>> A short time ago I purchased a Nortel/Trimble NTGS50AA GPSTM, I'm 
>>> sure many on this list are familiar with it. At the time of 
>>> purchase, my only interest was the 10 MHz output, for use with my 
>>> HP5328b frequency counter and perhaps in the future also my signal 
>>> generator. No question here, it just works great as is. However, it 
>>> certainly seems best to leave these devices powered up all the time.
>>> OK, now were getting close to my question. The unit pulls about 
>>> 10-11 watts, which is really not very much. But it kinda bugs me to 
>>> have it sit there using electric and basically doing nothing when 
>>> I'm not using it. So, I bought a Raspberry Pi 2 with the intent of 
>>> using it as an NTP server. I can't really say I'm enjoying my intro 
>>> to Linux a whole lot, but I'll get there. It still needs some work, 
>>> but it does function with the PPS output from an Adafruit ultimate 
>>> GPS, which I bought for testing this and possibly building my own 
>>> GPSDO in the future.
>>> The NTGS50AA is a very capable device, but unfortunately it does not 
>>> have a PPS output. Instead it has an even second output, which goes 
>>> low for approximately 50 ns. The falling edge of this pulse marks 
>>> the beginning of the second. During my search for a solution to 
>>> this, I came across a post from this mailing list which I believe 
>>> was discussing repair of one of these units. Someone in that post 
>>> mentioned that there was a PPS signal at test point 33 which went 
>>> low for about 10 ┬Ás. Thank you, that saves me a lot of probing.
>>> The first thing I did was verify that this pulse did exist, then I 
>>> decided to examine it a little closer. I kind of suspected that it 
>>> may have been a rather raw pulse as received from the satellites. I 
>>> found out that is not correct, once the unit successfully phase 
>>> locks, this PPS signal is very accurately tied to the 10 MHz output, 
>>> even when the unit goes into holdover mode. I was very happy about 
>>> this :-) Next step was to see how accurately it was synced to the 
>>> even second pulse. The bad news is that it does not occur at exactly 
>>> the same time as the even second. The good news is that the offset 
>>> is very consistent, 253 ns before the even second pulse, +/- 1 ns.
>>> My next step was to find out where the even second pulse entered the 
>>> output circuitry. I then broke the trace taking the even second into 
>>> the output circuitry, and ran a piece of 30gauge wire wrapping wire 
>>> from the via at test point 33 to the via at the input to the output 
>>> circuitry. The wire fit so perfectly it felt like the vias were made 
>>> for just this purpose :-) Now I've got a very nice PPS signal 
>>> available both at the front jack and at the backplane connector in 
>>> the rear of the unit.
>>> OK, here is the actual question. Do you think it is OK to consider a 
>>> pulse which arise 250 ns early to be close enough? And no, I am not 
>>> forgetting about that 3 ns, there is about 3 ns of delay added by 
>>> the output circuitry.
>>> Hope you didn't mind the long-winded post, and I thank you in 
>>> advance for any advice you offer.
>>> Ed
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