[time-nuts] L1 GPS timing signal(s) into local time on computer(s)

Bill Dailey docdailey at gmail.com
Sun Aug 19 10:23:12 UTC 2012

I will jump in a bit.  I, and many have been right where you are.  You are correct...USB is a no go for accurate time.  Same on windows.  So you need a Linux box with serial port.  Anything from a Beaglebone, pandabox...or pc will work.  You certainly need a gps with a pulse per second output (most have) and you can wire that up to the appropriate line on the serial cable or send to the target computer via gpio pin.  The pps thing is fairly simple really.   If you are receiving gps data via serial connection it takes a variable amount of time to get each status report from the gps...list time etc etc in text format and sends it repeatedly.  This gets ntp to within a second or some fraction thereof...the pps part refines that..no text or anything... Just a one pulse per second separate from the gps info that acts as a exclamation point to tell ntp "right here is the actual start of the second!" alone the pps wouldn't be useful for time but with the time info ntp already has from the nmea sentences it is priceless for really precise time.   That's about it.  Once you have gps and pps configured on Linux you should be in the sub 5 microsecond range.  It gets tricky getting better than that and you have to Ntpns and really worry about hardware issues that affect precision (system clock stability etc) but it can be done.


Sent from my iPad

On Aug 18, 2012, at 11:25 PM, Sarah White <kuzetsa at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi, this is my first post.
> First off. Windows 7 USB connection to the GPS (no serial ports / modern
> computer) and I'm pretty sure that is my main problem.
> Past few months, I've been trying to figure out my timing issues. Lots
> of reading & trying to figure out how to best configure everything. I'm
> typically still off (randomly) by 20-100 miliseconds. I'd like to at
> least get to within 50 microseconds (nanoseconds would be wonderful)
> 1) I need a computer with a serial port. The curent GPS module I'm using
> is INTERNALLY RS232 --> USB converter, and recognized by my windows 7
> computer as: "Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COM3)" ... the latency
> and jitter is horrible, and both are seemingly random.
> 2) I need to run my stratum 1 clock (connected to the stratum 0 time
> source via old-school RS232 serial) on linux or a form of BSD with
> support for kernel timestamps, and a version of NTP with a driver to
> supports my reference clock... points 1 and 2 seem fine.
> 3) I'm clueless about mounting an antenna, running cable, grounding /
> lightning protection, etc... Really want an easy to install one.
> For software, I've used 4.2.6 (stable / production) as well as 4.2.7
> (dev version) NTP and haven't been able to tell any difference.
> Just using the generic NMEA driver / this is a no-name cheapo SIRF module.
> Also, trying to wrap my head around these:
> http://linuxpps.org/wiki/index.php/LinuxPPS_installation
> http://linuxpps.org/wiki/index.php/LinuxPPS_NTPD_support
> And here is where I give up. As the subject line suggests:
> HELP!!! I'd like to convert L1 GPS timing signal(s) into local time on
> computer(s)
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