Author Topic: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server  (Read 43872 times)

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Offline gxtiTopic starter

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"Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« on: December 25, 2012, 07:25:02 am »
A simple but effective project for your perusal. Laureline is an embedded SNTP server that receives time from a GPS receiver in the form of a pulse-per-second (PPS) input as well as the usual serial data in whatever format it comes (NMEA, Oncore, TSIP, etc.). I call it SNTP and not NTP because time is served from GPS alone and no other NTP servers are consulted. However, laureline is perfectly suitable as a Stratum 1 reference for NTP and SNTP clients alike.

The processor is a STM32F107 which includes a built-in 100Mbit Ethernet MAC, which I have paired with an inexpensive transceiver to get a good Ethernet solution with predictable and minimal latency unlike the USB-based MACs found in e.g. Raspberry Pi. Also onboard is a small VCXO which is disciplined by the microcontroller to precisely 10MHz using the GPS pulses, in effect making laureline a low-grade GPSDO. The board is powered by a buck converter that accepts 8-40VDC, allowing for direct power from a 12V or 24V lead acid battery. Other than that, the rest of the magic is in software: observing the frequency of the local oscillator by way of incoming GPS pulses, calculating NTP time from the 70MHz timer when queried  and handling network administrivia.

Because almost all STM32 IOs are 5V-tolerant, the serial interface works with both 3.3V and 5V GPS receivers. I've designed but not yet fabricated some tiny adapters to connect two types of receivers to the 6-pin header on laureline, one being Oncore GT+/UT+ and probably other Motorola receivers as well, and the other being Trimble's Resolution T and Resolution SMT carrier boards. Both types are presently available used on Ebay for about $30, half that in the case of UT+. As you can see in the pictures, jumper wires also work perfectly well in lieu of an adapter. There's enough current at either 3.3V or 5V to power a typical receiver with active antenna, as well.

Here is laureline paired with an Oncore GT+, the board at lower left is an isolated USB UART I'm using for debugging:


A (blurry) closeup of the board:


Current status: rev 1 of the hardware works flawlessly, except for the power supply which needed extra capacitance. rev 2 will have a separate PSU module of my own design, so that when I screw it up again at least I can test it separately and/or swap it out.

The software is still in early development. All of the disciplining/GPSDO stuff is not written yet, although I have written such things before for an earlier project that actually was a GPSDO. Presently I hacked together a simple mechanism that just resets the counter each time a PPS arrives and does no disciplining but it's still performing quite well. It also needs to handle leap seconds, both internally and also for presenting the leap flag to NTP clients. I haven't added the code to the repository but I'll do so in the next day or two.

Repository (design docs, code, etc.): http://hg.partiallystapled.com/circuits/laureline/
In zip format: http://hg.partiallystapled.com/circuits/laureline/archive/tip.zip
Also download the library and unzip it to lib/: http://hg.partiallystapled.com/circuits/alib/archive/tip.zip
Schematic PDF: http://hg.partiallystapled.com/circuits/laureline/raw-file/tip/out/production.PDF
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 04:35:39 pm »
Forgot to post this yesterday -- actual NTP results:
Code: [Select]
[root@rei ~]# ntpq -pn
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
-64.73.32.134    192.41.214.45    4 u  501 1024  377   65.940    7.184   0.689
-24.124.0.251    128.206.12.130   3 u  457 1024  377  106.168  -18.808  46.581
+64.73.32.135    18.26.4.105      2 u  443 1024  377   67.824    5.759   0.714
-169.229.70.95   128.32.206.55    2 u  629 1024  377  103.428    7.904   1.133
*172.24.0.6      .GPS.            1 u   19   64  377    2.483    0.777   0.346
-172.24.0.66     172.24.0.1       3 u  491 1024  377    0.169    1.038   0.369
x172.24.0.68     172.24.0.66      4 u  530 1024  377    0.202  109.953 170.476
+172.24.0.1      172.24.0.6       2 u  607 1024  377    0.129    1.566   0.049
Code: [Select]
[root@hanmyo ~]# ntpq -pn
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
*172.24.0.6      .GPS.            1 u    5   64  377    2.531   -0.583   0.291
 172.24.0.64     172.24.0.6       2 u  730 1024  377    0.135   -1.500   0.077
 172.24.0.66     172.24.0.1       3 u  889 1024  377    0.387   -0.636   0.329
x172.24.0.68     108.133.178.111  2 u  932 1024  377    0.314  157.627 123.609
-64.73.32.134    192.41.214.45    4 u  993 1024  377   66.944    4.189   1.518
-24.124.0.251    64.6.144.6       3 u  846 1024  357  106.791  -21.016  37.217
+64.73.32.135    18.26.4.105      2 u  831 1024  377   68.850    4.766   0.517
+169.229.70.95   128.32.206.55    2 u   27 1024  377  103.022    5.961   0.445

172.24.0.6 is laureline, 172.24.0.68 is a windows box that just can't seem to keep up :[

Note the not-fantastic 2.4ms delay. I will see what I can do about that, probably it is due to context switching. I am using ChibiOS and its example LWIP bindings, which ends up having one thread handling packets and another doing the NTP server stuff and on top of that some third thread ends up processing the receive interrupt to begin with. Which means there's a lot of handing off to other threads, which incurs additional delay. So reducing the entire network stack to a single thread will probably improve latency considerably.
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 09:48:48 pm »
Turns out those Oncore receivers are not suitable for timing purposes. The auction listed them as "GT+" but they seem to be some older revision and don't say "GT" at all in the receiver ID. Also "GT+" isn't even the timing-oriented model, "UT+" is. That part is my fault. In any case, the dealbreaker is that the pulse-per-second output jumps forward by exactly 1ms every 16-20 seconds. With enough smoothing it could be made to work since I presume that on average the pulses are still accurate, but for now I've switched to my known-good Trimble Resolution SMT receiver. I bought 3 of these stupid Oncore receivers too, for $10 each... not the most expensive mistake I've made, and at least they will work well for position applications. I always wanted to make a data logger for my car.

I also fixed the Ethernet latency issue by using a single thread to process network data. I talked to someone else who is using the same stack and was able to get good latency figures using the regular, multi-threaded arrangement but I was unable to determine why I was not. Either way, single-threaded works and doesn't make the code any more complex so long as I'm not trying to do TCP.

New NTP figures:
Code: [Select]
[root@rei ~]# ntpq -pn
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
-138.236.128.36  216.218.254.202  2 u   21 1024  377   68.819    3.228  0.641
+108.59.14.130   209.51.161.238   2 u  298 1024  377   34.920    1.167  0.288
+108.61.73.244   96.47.67.105     2 u  300 1024  377   39.524    1.135  1.604
-64.6.144.6      128.252.19.1     2 u  772 1024  377   84.329    6.609  0.252
*172.24.0.6      .GPS.            1 u    2   16  377    0.320   -0.073  0.016
-172.24.0.66     135.34.116.162   3 u  237 1024  377    0.197    0.130  0.581
x172.24.0.68     172.24.0.6       2 u  291 1024  377    0.237  113.341 77.665
-172.24.0.1      172.24.0.6       2 u  287  512  377    0.123    2.382  0.876
Code: [Select]
[root@maruko ~]# ntpq -pn
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
-67.18.187.111   129.7.1.66       2 u  850 1024  177   66.888    2.844   1.485
+174.129.25.69   158.227.98.15    2 u  639 1024  377   35.557    2.227   0.196
+2001:470:1:15b: 132.239.1.6      2 u  397 1024  377  107.438    1.415   0.126
 172.24.0.1      172.24.0.6       2 u  673 1024  377    0.175    2.176   0.446
*172.24.0.6      .GPS.            1 u   48   16  377    0.324    0.382   0.083
 172.24.0.64     172.24.0.6       2 u  795 1024  377    0.309   -0.067   0.073
 172.24.0.68     172.24.0.6       2 u  821 1024  377    0.837  193.564  57.882
 

Offline joe912

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 01:51:56 am »
Cool project.
What's the end use for it? Have you investigated the IEEE 1588 timestamping features of the uC?

Also taking a look at the schematic I would recommend 0.1uF caps from TCT and RCT of the magjack to ground.
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 11:05:48 pm »
Just for fun, mainly. I plan on building a few into enclosures and maybe selling them, but sourcing the GPS module is the limiting factor for making them in any volume. Probably I will try to find a module that's good enough for NTP but not "timing grade" since it seems that new timing receiver modules cost $70 and up. Buying more Resolution Ts from China on ebay is also an option but not ideal as I've seen similar stock dry up and disappear. I need to do some experiments with the Oncores that have a phase skip as that will likely be similar to what I see with new non-timing receivers. I don't foresee it being problematic for NTP due to less demanding precision needs and use of the VCXO as a "flywheel" to smooth out jitter. The PLL parameters will need to be slower and I will need to soak test everything to make sure they track well over time.

I may investigate IEEE 1588 in the future. A 1588 PHY is only another $5, but I would probably want to upgrade to a full ovenized oscillator once getting into that territory. Definitely worth investigating though.

I'll look at best practice for the Ethernet grounding. I don't recall if the one I'm using has builtin EMI caps but I didn't tie the shield to ground anywa.
 

Offline joe912

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 12:47:51 am »
Timing GPS's do not seem to be cheap, which might make be reasonable since you are getting microsecond accurate outputs from a satellite.  It's pretty impressive though that for $70 dollars you can receive a pulse with 1us of someone on the other side of the world!

You shouldn't need a 1588 PHY to get 1588.  I have used the internal 1588v1 function on a Freescale P2020 processor with a non-1588 PHY. The timestamping is handled when the packet leaves or enters the MAC.  I have been able to achieve +-30ns(-15ns mean with 7.16ns stdev) synchronization between two boards over a 100m cable using only 25MHz crystal, neither board was synchronized to any other reference though.  Pretty impressive considering it takes about 700ns for the signal to travel that 100m cable.  If you get a 1588 PHY you should be able to get better timestamping resolution because your timestamp point is closer to the cable so less uncertainty. You can even do software 1588, but that sortof defeats the purpose because then you have large amounts of uncertainty due to packet buffers and stuff.

There doesn't really seem to be a "right" way of doing it after looking around a bit, I've just always seen those pins decoupled.
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2013, 06:01:48 am »
Revision 2 hardware is finally assembled. I've been making slow progress on the software, it now has more error detection and can support multiple GPS receiver types. The hard part of the leap second handling is also done, but I misplaced my docs for the particular TSIP variant I have to use so right now nothing is actually arming the leap second code. Still quite a long ways to go in terms of supporting lots of different TSIP variants, Oncore, NMEA, ublox, etc. as well as baud rate detection, attempting to wake up a receiver that isn't auto-transmitting, and some sort of serial command-line for configuring static IPs. But probably first I should write a bootloader, that way I can get hardware in people's hands even if it's not complete yet. Performance of the NTP server itself is excellent and I've tuned the PLL so it locks up in less than 90 seconds.

I'm also looking for GPS receiver modules that I could "OEM" as part of a finished product, probably not a timing receiver as they are overkill for NTP and harder to source but something with a solid PPS output with no jumps is essential. There are quite a few modules of unknown provenance on ebay in the $10-$20 range but really I'd like something from a reputable manufacturer that I can buy a few pieces of without breaking the bank or selling my soul to a salesdroid, and then get a larger quantity later if needed. Probably a u-blox module, but again not the timing ones as they are rather difficult to find in small quantities it seems.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/suigetsu/8437505440/#
 

Offline marshallh

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2013, 06:11:01 am »
Good job on that board. I am a fan of oshpark too, too bad the silkscreen sucks.
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Offline Carpenter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2013, 04:06:51 pm »
Good work, property damage use only VCO, for NTPserver  is maybe sufficient, but for use as  NTPserver and frequency normal this is not good choice.
I will try to combine this project with any as http://ve2zaz.net/GPS_Std/GPS_Std.htm
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 04:11:43 pm by Carpenter »
 

Offline talsit

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2013, 07:45:15 am »
Have you looked at the uBlox modules? About a year ago I sourced some LEA-6H modules from their local distributor in Australia for $32 each. Those were the higher-end ones, I'm sure that the MAX ones are cheaper. They use these modules inside of master clock timers on movies, where all cameras have to be synchronised exactly to a frame.
// dmo @ nanibox
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2013, 02:56:59 pm »
Revision 3 is here and has a NEO-6M module which is <$10 from numerous sellers on aliexpress (yay, China) and gets the job done perfectly for NTP. It will, of course, also fit NEO-6T modules but those are harder to get hold of. I ought to figure out if I can buy a partial reel, both for myself and also to part out and sell to other interested parties. But for this project at least, NEO-6M does perfectly fine. It doesn't have "position hold" but it does have "sawtooth correction" / "estimated quantization error" which is a feature that only timing receivers typically have. I don't have any glamour shots just yet, will post them when I can.
 

Offline Carpenter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 12:19:37 pm »
Unfortunately, under $ 10 including shipping is the only dealer and when ordering min 5pcs
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-UBLOX-modules-NEO-6M-GPS-positioning-module-NEO-6M-0-000-NEO-6M-0/733044197.html
 

Offline talsit

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2013, 12:56:41 am »
That's actually not bad at all...
// dmo @ nanibox
 

Offline Carpenter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 08:18:57 am »
Unfortunately, any Chinese on ebay or alliexpres no offer NEO-6T.
Fixed position is in time aplication very useful.
If you count the average position error 3m, it is about 10ns time error.

If at least already sold new NEO-7, has a 50% higher accuracy and time programmable pulse signal to 10MHz
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 08:37:10 am by Carpenter »
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 03:54:31 am »
They say a man with one clock knows what time it is, but a man with two clocks can never be sure. What about eight?



Of course they are all being fed from the same GPS, which makes it a little less impressive. Just soak testing everything to make sure it stays stable. I haven't decided yet whether to sell these with the GPS module. Perhaps it'll be optional. I'm very happy with the NEO-6M timing performance, especially since it uses a fraction of the power of the Trimble Resolution SMT. The whole board comes in at less than 1W.

After this batch, revision 5 is already in progress. 4 was a disaster as I bungled the Gerber file export, but instead of reattempting what was already a rushed patch-up to deal with a power supply issue that was frustrating me I'm starting over. 5 will be more of a finished product, with an extruded aluminium case and additional ESD and power protection. I'm also replacing the VCXO with a TCXO, and thus dropping the voltage control part of the design and opting for a software PLL. The temperature compensation should have quite a positive impact on stability, while moving to software control might actually also improve stability considering the difficulty of very precisely driving an oscillator with a PWM DAC.
 

Offline LapTop006

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2013, 01:17:34 pm »
It's a shame it doesn't run (directly) off PoE.
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2013, 01:47:00 pm »
I discussed that a bit on the time-nuts list. It doesn't seem cost effective for me to try to do it on-board when you can get a passive (fake PoE) injector/splitter pair for $5 from Amazon that will plug right in. I also wouldn't really want to put the old design on a pole out in the snow and rain due to the slow temperature response, but perhaps the TCXO will fare better. Thermal stability helps a great deal in getting the best performance although of course some people are more interested in the convenience of running Cat-5 not coax.
 

Offline JBeale

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2013, 11:51:59 pm »
I'm also replacing the VCXO with a TCXO, and thus dropping the voltage control part of the design and opting for a software PLL. The temperature compensation should have quite a positive impact on stability, while moving to software control might actually also improve stability considering the difficulty of very precisely driving an oscillator with a PWM DAC.

Interesting project! How hard would it be for an end user to take out your TCXO and use a different 10 MHz clock source?  What are the signal requirements?
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2013, 03:04:47 am »
Thanks for reminding me, I want it to be easy to do exactly that but had forgotten about it among a pile of other new features. There won't be an external connector but there will be an internal one on the board. Thinking now about how best to buffer that and how easy it would be to auto-detect the presence of an external clock, without adding too many extra parts. An inverter and feedback resistor will square up and buffer anything you can throw at it, and a mux to select the clock would get the job done. But while I have the board area it would be nice to not have to add ICs.
 

Offline JBeale

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2013, 08:27:08 pm »
from my point of view, I wouldn't mind a cut-and-jumper solution.  Or you could place the footprints and just make it a stuffing option without adding cost to the base model.  If there isn't enough interest to ever produce the external-clock model, at least it would fairly easy to add it later (as long as it's not a BGA part!)
 

Offline veryevil

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2013, 05:16:16 pm »
Any update on this. Very interesting!
 

Offline ddavidebor

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2013, 09:48:10 pm »
i've used the lea-4t timing module from ublox

they're awesome, you can set up it in timing mode and they do everything is needed to guarantee accuracy. they've also a built in tcxo.

in the newest ones, you can set up a frequency up to some Mhz
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Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2013, 02:05:35 am »
Revision 5 is assembled! I'm quite happy with this one, much more of a "system" than the previous revisions. More input and power protection, designed to fit a box, etc. Of course that comes at a price. The PCB is 55% bigger to fit the box and add some breathing room, and it was already my most expensive single part. It raises some questions of whether this is the best approach or whether a BeagleBone addon or similar would be more cost-effective. But I'm still going to see it to completion and let the buyer decide.

There are a trio of issues with the clock input circuit, but it all turned out for the best. I'm glad I put that input circuit there, because the onboard TCXO only puts out 0.8V and I ended up greenwiring from the TCXO to the external input just to make it work.

This is my first time doing lead-free solder, it's quite different from Sn63Pb37. More difficult to work with but it seems to be less prone to bridging, which is beneficial for the QFN. As usual I hand-soldered all the surface-mount parts except the QFN, of which I tinned the pads and PCB and added paste flux then put the whole thing in the toaster oven to reflow. I also bought a tube of quality leadfree solder paste for when I'm ready to make a bunch of these. I've done stencils before and wasn't very pleased with the whole process but it probably had to do with the ultra low quality paste I was using.

On the software front, I have successfully integrated the PLL math from NTPns to replace my simplistic original implementation. I also wrote a simple software clock exactly like you would find in your OS kernel, to replace the now-gone VFC disciplining circuit. The input capture code has been simplified considerably and uses 1 timer peripheral instead of 4. Even using the revision 3 hardware which has no temperature compensation, I can't tell the difference between hardware and software clock so I'm calling this a big win.
 

Offline dfmischler

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2013, 01:16:55 pm »
I like it.  Can you get a disciplined 10MHz output from it, too?  It wouldn't bother me to add an external buffer for that (so you could drive a few meters of RG58 into 50 ohms).

Powering this from 802.3af POE would be nice, but I'm OK with using a splitter for that.

EDIT: after reading that you have switched to a software PLL I guess you can't provide a disciplined 10MHz output.  Oh well.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 04:06:13 pm by dfmischler »
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2013, 04:20:48 pm »
The rev 3 boards have 10MHz out but it's not extraordinarily high quality due to the lack of direct temperature compensation (let alone ovenizing) and due to the PWM DAC that's driving it. I don't have any rigorous ADEV evaluations of it but there will definitely be frequency wiggles on millisecond timescales. That said, if you're interested I do have a pile of the rev 3 boards that I need to get cleaned up and shipped out, and they'd be perfect for someone who just wants to experiment.
 

Offline ve7xen

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2013, 01:05:18 am »
Great news! I already spent the time to build a dedicated NTP server around an old ATNGW100 board and GPS had laying around, but I wonder if this might perform better (probably) in a smaller form factor. Do you support any of the ntpd extensions for e.g. querying clock state, or is there some other interface?

Those Hammond cases are expensive. Wouldn't take much to redesign for one of the Sick of Beige cases I don't think, and perhaps you can get your PCB area down as well. http://dangerousprototypes.com/docs/Sick_of_Beige_compatible_cases
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Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2013, 09:35:55 pm »
I really like the metal box. It helps keep outside noise from interfering with the GPS module, and keeps inside noise from the pre-regulator and CPU from leaking out. Plus it just looks really nice, much better than a boring black plastic box. It is a sizeable fraction of the parts cost but the PCB costs twice as much right now so I stand to save more by getting PCBs made in bulk than I do losing the box. It also seems like it would be easier to get custom end plates for extruded enclosures than a typical plastic tub. Someone told me Hammond even does it themselves at prices barely above what their stock cases retail for at 25 qty but I don't see any mention on their website.

I have an inkling that I should probably split the project in two. One fancy ready-to-use box with everything included and one experimenter board based on revision 3, with or without the GPS module populated, and with 5V input only. For that I would be happy to tweak it for sick-of-beige. The existing boards already have mounting holes as well, so if you're not afraid of a drill bit it'd be easy to make your own.
 

Offline dfmischler

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2013, 12:06:55 pm »
The rev 3 boards have 10MHz out ... not ... high quality ... there will definitely be frequency wiggles...

I guess I'll just keep looking for a cheap enough HP Z3801A or Trimble Thunderbolt then.  Thanks for your reply.
 

Offline dans34

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2013, 12:34:06 pm »
how  much are you looking to sel one of theese for ?
 

Offline AndyEverett

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2014, 01:47:31 pm »
I have built a very similar project using an Navman Jupiter GPS module - this module has a 10KHz output locked to GPS, which was ideal for disciplining a 10MHz TCXO / OCXO. However, GPS modules do not seem to have a very long shelf life - within a couple of years they have been replaced by a different device with a completely different footprint or software interface. I have also had some experience of commercial GPS time servers. The company I work for purchased a small network time server off these guys: http://www.timetoolsglobal.com/information/gps-ntp-network-sync-products/ which is relatively low cost unit and is quite impressive. We have used it sync a small network of computers and CCTV cameras.
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2014, 03:00:00 pm »
Cool. I find that 1PPS is plenty for this application. I believe the receiver I'm using (NEO-6M) supports 10PPS output as well but I haven't bothered turning it on as it would just mean more time spent running PLL math. Worth a try though, even saturating the Ethernet with NTP queries I'm under 10% CPU load, if I recall correctly. The higher frequency GPS timing outputs (10kHz or even 10MHz) are handy for building GPSDOs without a microcontroller but they're definitely not needed here.

NEO-6 is a staple of u-blox's lineup, and their new NEO-7 is footprint compatible, so I'm not worried about sourcing components for quite a while. If I got my hands on some NEO-6T modules I would consider producing some carrier boards with the same layout as some of the popular timing modules like the Jupiter and/or Trimble's offerings. I'm sure people would be interested but a reel of NEO-6T is not cheap and that's the only reliable way to get them.

I'd also like at some point to build a rack-mount version of Laureline with redundant power supplies and possibly an OCXO but first I have to get this one out the door. Hopefully should have 12 units shippable this week, and I'll see how many more I'll need to make from there.

Pics of the final boards since I haven't posted in a while:


Documentation, work-in-progress but mostly done:
http://partiallystapled.com/pub/laureline-docs/
 

Offline Kohanbash

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2014, 06:32:31 pm »
Hi
Nice project. I just sent a board in to OSH Park two weeks ago for a very similar project. I wanted to log data and have it time synced to the computers in my robot.

I am doing something very similar with a GPS and a micro running an NTP server.
The other things I did was:
- Added several serial ports that will publish time and data
- Analog, digital, counter, and encoder inputs that get timestamped and published via serial.

I wanted to add CAN but am saving that for the next revision.

I will be putting everything on my blog once I have it tested and ready.

Edit: Just linked this project from my blog: http://robotsforroboticists.com/the-workbench/
« Last Edit: April 08, 2014, 06:55:21 pm by Kohanbash »
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Offline kony

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2014, 05:56:53 pm »
gxti: Any particular reason for having routed surround of oscillator ? Reducing drift due to mechanical tension of temperature dependent expansion of PCB ?
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2014, 07:28:04 pm »
A small measure of thermal isolation, and in theory you could wrap some insulation around the tab. Also it looks kinda cool and makes people ask questions :-)
 

Offline jkline

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2014, 05:58:33 pm »
I was lucky enough to score a Laureline and have had it running for a week or so.

First off, thank you!

I do have a couple of questions:

In looking at the doc, I don't see a way in the configuration to get laureline to respond to ntp commands (e.g., ntpq -p).  Is that true?  If so, is there any chance to get that in the next software rev?  I'd like to know how well the server thinks it's doing.  I routinely use ntpq -p, ntpq -c rv, ntpq -c clocvarr, ntpdc -c kerninfo and ntptime.

Also, I have some devices that will only take one ntp server (for that matter, that includes OS X out of the box -- even though one can change that).  As such, I'll need to remember to switch them to another server if and when another leap second is scheduled.  The doc says something along the lines of "laureline doesn't support leap seconds at present".  Do you anticipate there will be an update to support leap seconds this year or next?

Again, thank you for this product.  It's exactly what I have been looking for.

Cheers,
John
 

Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #35 on: April 30, 2014, 07:53:11 pm »
In looking at the doc, I don't see a way in the configuration to get laureline to respond to ntp commands (e.g., ntpq -p).  Is that true?  If so, is there any chance to get that in the next software rev?  I'd like to know how well the server thinks it's doing.  I routinely use ntpq -p, ntpq -c rv, ntpq -c clocvarr, ntpdc -c kerninfo and ntptime.
Monitor commands aren't implemented yet but I'd like to implement them. Part of the problem is that it's not a "normal" ntpd so I have to figure out how to produce the statistics that people want to see from the PLL math that I have. I also have to be careful about security -- right now the 'monlist' command is a major problem for the internet because it can be abused to amplify DDoS attacks. Obviously I'm not going to implement monlist but all query types are potential problems, whereas just answering time requests is fairly safe because the reply is the same size as the query. I also need to improve the logging because really nobody wants to see the second-by-second raw captures by default, they want to see the same kinds of statistics that you're looking for from ntpq.

Quote
Also, I have some devices that will only take one ntp server (for that matter, that includes OS X out of the box -- even though one can change that).  As such, I'll need to remember to switch them to another server if and when another leap second is scheduled.  The doc says something along the lines of "laureline doesn't support leap seconds at present".  Do you anticipate there will be an update to support leap seconds this year or next?
First off yes, I definitely need to add support for leap seconds because it is necessary as a precursor to adding more sanity checking e.g. going into a failsafe mode if the GPS suddenly returns bogus data.

Secondly, the answer with respect to leap seconds and NTP clients is it depends on the client. Hardware devices that take a single NTP server tend to be using a "SNTP" sort of mode where it basically just polls the server periodically and sets the clock to whatever it gets back, every time. These kinds of client will be perfectly fine in case of a leap second, because Laureline will instantly start returning the correct time-of-day after the leap second. The lack of support in Laureline is not that it continues on the old timescale, but rather that it fails to notify clients that it's going to step. When the leap second comes, the GPS instantly starts reporting the new timescale and Laureline follows suit. It's the smart clients with a full ntpd stack that get confused, because they will refuse to jump a second into the past just because the NTP server suddenly says so. As long as they have enough sources telling them that a leap second is coming then they will step and everyone is happy.

Quote
Again, thank you for this product.  It's exactly what I have been looking for.

Cheers,
John
You're very welcome, please let me know what else you would like to see.
 

Offline jkline

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2014, 10:05:22 pm »
Thanks for the quick response.  I will indeed let you know if I think of anything else.
 

Offline hn

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2014, 05:36:09 pm »
I just received my Laureline and it is also working fantastically!

     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
*192.168.1.186   .GPS.            1 u   17   32  377    0.395    0.009   0.033


Also, I have some devices that will only take one ntp server (for that matter, that includes OS X out of the box -- even though one can change that).

In addition to specifying one's own ntp.conf for OS X, one can also just put a space-delimited list of ntp servers in the "Date & Time Preferences" in order to have it use multiple servers which should handle the leap-second issue (if I'm understanding it correctly that as long there are servers in the list that handle leap seconds properly the issue is mitigated).
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2014, 08:06:43 pm »
If you "industrialize" this with a locking power connector and some type of mounting kit to fasten it to a rack rail, din rail or backpanel, the world will beat a path to your door.  The next least expensive NTP server I've seen with this feature set is around $1500, and it is terrible. 

Excellent work!
 
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Offline gxtiTopic starter

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #39 on: July 29, 2014, 12:56:01 am »
DIN rail is a great idea. Polycase makes a nice box with a DIN mount that comes with a wall-mount bracket, although I doubt I'd be able to fit all the connections I want on what would be the bottom face when mounted. Ethernet, power and antenna I can do, but adding timecode outputs or a fault/alarm output could get tricky. Having everything along one edge is good for keeping cables tidy, and it also means I can use the same PCB in a 1U rack case without changing anything.
 

Offline alex.forencich

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2014, 05:14:55 am »
This looks like a really cool project.  I need IEEE 1588 (PTP) support, though.  And a stable 10 MHz output would be very nice as well.  I have been looking around for a reasonably-priced solution that provides those features for a while now, but no luck.  Any possibility of those features in a later revision?
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Offline baldusi

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #41 on: December 05, 2014, 04:48:51 pm »
I know this is very advanced. But may I inquire if adding a POE option is too expensive? With it I could leave it in the ducts between the switch and the antenna, almost like a truly embedded solution.
 

Offline mrflibble

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #42 on: December 05, 2014, 05:31:09 pm »
I know this is very advanced. But may I inquire if adding a POE option is too expensive? With it I could leave it in the ducts between the switch and the antenna, almost like a truly embedded solution.

See this post: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/oshw/%27laureline%27-embedded-gps-ntp-server/msg217830/#msg217830
 

Offline reneen

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #43 on: September 30, 2021, 10:27:37 pm »
Hi,

I am trying to get a hold of GTXI (I think his name is Michael), as I ordered and started building a couple of boards, I would like to find out which metal case he had used.  I cant find one with the internal measurement of 49mm X 80mm. Also if he has an suggestions in regards to updating the firmware or hardware.

If anyone else can chime in with any information, I certainly would appreciate it.

Renee

PS:  I know that this is a 2014 project, but it seems to be well done!

« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 12:18:16 am by reneen »
 

Offline AndrewBCN

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #44 on: October 03, 2021, 09:23:14 am »
Hi,
I am trying to get a hold of GTXI (I think his name is Michael), ...

Hi Renee,
It seems gtxi has not logged in since 2014, and the repository on GitHub has also not been updated for the last 7 years, ditto apparently for his website.
His name is Michael Tharp, his email address is gxti@partiallystapled.com

Note that seven years ago we didn't have cheap and high performance SBC computers to work with. I would guess that in 2021, anybody building a GPS synchronized NTP server would use a readily available RPi or another SBC (instead of going to the trouble of designing a PCB for a low-end STM32F1 MCU), couple that with an inexpensive GPS module with a 1PPS output, and program the "glue" to make it all work under Linux (the Linux kernel has a driver for a 1PPS input for timing purposes). Or at least that's the route I would have suggested to you, if your objective was to build a standards compliant NTP server in the shortest time with a limited budget.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2021, 09:27:13 am by AndrewBCN »
 

Offline MadScientist

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2021, 10:24:33 am »
Has anyone tried the ATGM336H for PPS solutions it’s suppose to be a neo clone
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Offline JBeale

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2021, 06:54:56 pm »
I've been using a Teensy 4.1 with the Ethernet kit https://www.pjrc.com/store/ethernet_kit.html as a NTP server, as described in this thread: https://forum.pjrc.com/threads/61581-Teensy-4-1-NTP-server and it has been working well for the past year or so. The Teensy's MAC does have hardware timestamping. I provide a 1PPS signal from a separate GPDSO. The board itself is very compact. My implementation is less so because I put it inside an 8" concrete block and then that in an insulated box, to slow down its temperature drift. Having done that, the Teensy reports an internal clock drift of 0.005 ppm per hour (which is measured and also corrected by the external GPSDO 1-PPS) so that seems to work pretty well.
 

Offline reneen

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #47 on: October 11, 2021, 01:29:21 pm »
Hi Andrew,

I have been following your NTP Project for a while, and i will probably build one, but the thing that attracts me to the Laureline is that all of the configuration has to be done via the USB, and the Ethernet only give you the opportunity to query the time. It is a bit safer from any intruding hands trying to reset or change time etc.
It will be use on a non-mission critical business environment where I want to have a backup source to the internet NTP's. 

JBeale: Same with the Teensy 4.1 I think, but I just ordered one to try it.

Thank you for your opinions and feedback. I have been tinkering with GPSDO for a couple of years now, and this will give me an opportunity to benefit from their accuracy.

I will let you both know of my testing and opinion.

Renee
 

Offline JBeale

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #48 on: October 11, 2021, 02:59:12 pm »
Yes, AFAIK the Teensy implements only what is actually needed on the network side, and it has no OS at all. Not to say it's necessarily secure from any network malfeasance, but if there is an attack, it would have to be designed for that rather unusual device.  Mine is only on my LAN, not exposed to the wider net but it has worked fine for a year or so, and it has the attractive feature of being fairly cheap as such things go.
 

Offline montecri

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2022, 04:39:19 pm »
 
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Offline cdev

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #50 on: April 03, 2022, 07:29:22 pm »
Why not use a gigabit Ethernet MAC instead?


You have to agree really, the ping times are a lot faster with GBE. Make sure to use a board that uses real Ethernet and especially real interrupts for the NTP (and not filtered through USB like the RPIs up through 3).

Is the difference significant? Opinions vary a lot on this.
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Offline 5U4GB

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Re: "Laureline" embedded GPS NTP server
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2024, 12:16:09 pm »
Note that seven years ago we didn't have cheap and high performance SBC computers to work with. I would guess that in 2021, anybody building a GPS synchronized NTP server would use a readily available RPi or another SBC [...]

You can also get turnkey solutions like this for under $100 from everyone's favourite crapvendor if you just want a black-box ready-to-go NTP server.  Whatever these things are they're pretty sophisticated and not just a ripoff of the Laureline, NTP, SNTP, web UI, and a bunch of other stuff in a device normally costing $1,000 and up.
 


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