1591RE: [dxatlas] Re: Timing Question
- Nov 18, 2009Well, I guess I was on the wrong road.
DM78qg // KA0SWT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
On Behalf Of vk4iu
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 19:08
Subject: [dxatlas] Re: Timing Question
... one other thing.
Dave, I think you have your time scales for things at the wrong order of
magnitude. We need time to millisecond accuracy.
Keep in mind that we have already noted that a "consumer" GPS - which in
reality is what you are asking for - a timing module with a PIC
microprocessor - cannot do the job using a serial interface.
A little PIC timer we built from parts would never be able to keep time to
anything like the accuracy we need. Let alone the problem of interfacing it
back into the PC to "control things" as the performance levels we need to
achieve millisecond accuracy.
What you have described is fundamentally what we need to do, but the
accuracy we need cannot be achieved with your suggestion.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Dave" <dave@...> wrote:
> Hi Peter and Dave Baxter-
> The comments are wonderfully clear and pertinent. I think we have
> circumscribed the issue while a single solution doesn't present itself
> I would like to suggest a solution and see if it can be a starting
> point for
> 1. A GPS unit
> 2. A PIC-based timing module with intelligence to establish
> predictable time pulses (we don't need minutes or seconds, just a
> pulse, from a single reference time point).
> 3. An interface
> 4. Software to provide Faros a pulse train.
> That is, once a timing mark, composed of a minute and second sourced
> from the GPS, is established for Faros, then thereafter all that's
> needed is a pulse. The PC timing pulse wouldn't matter. A really
> inexpensive PIC timer isn't expensive, is it?
> Is this an additional burden on Alex? I don't know. But if the hook
> where timing is identified and that point is opened, this solution
> would work. We wouldn't have to worry about PC time at all.
> What say ye all?
> DM78qg // KA0SWT
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> On Behalf Of vk4iu
> Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 16:48
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [dxatlas] Re: Timing Question
> Morning Dave,
> ... it is 5am here. I'm enjoying the sun rise after 48 hours of
> storms and hot weather.
> It looks like our journeys with Faros have a very similar feel to them.
> But, I am a bit puzzled. While our Internet connections have similar
> figures for "latency", you are not getting a good result, whereas,
> here, I have got Faros giving acceptable results.
> All this discussion that Alex should put more "stuff" into Faros to
> solve our problems, is missing the point about getting accurate time.
> The task of Faros is to listen to the sound stream, analyse it, and
> make a report. Alex has implemented a good solution for time, we just
> have to deliver to his algorithm time data that is good enough, and
> his Kalman filter will sort out the variations.
> Time on the Internet has always been a difficult thing - witness the
> size of the information on ntp at the SatSignal site. Variability is
> the order of the day, and the ntpd implementation does a fantastic job
> of delivery of time under difficult circumstances. The "radio based
> time services" only exist in the USA and Europe. There are none here
> - only GPS, which is universal. The world wide radio based time
> services are just not suitable for what we want to do. The Internet, or
GPS, are the only real
> alternatives for amateur radio. There will never be an RF feed of any
> into an NTP server - its fundamentally not a useful technique - they
> used an atomic clock to time the broadcast - at the other end it has
> to be too grossly degraded for use by ntpd - and, with the Internet so
> wide spread few will be bothered to attempt it.
> Ones own "time reference" is clearly the solution - if the Internet
> fails to deliver with sufficient accuracy. The most appropriate is
> GPS. For around $600 US http://www.beaglesoft.com/stsyhome.htm will
> provide a complete solution - just as Dave has attempted, and I want
> to implement, right out of the box. Its down side, apart from the price,
is the use of a Windows PC.
> But, I would not be surprised to find one could get a good enough
> result with it and Faros on the ONE PC.
> I find the $600 US too expensive, when I can buy the same GPS 18x LVS
> for about $90 US, and implement my own system using ntpd. I am lucky
> that I have 30 years experience in IT Technical Support from old
> mainframes to multiple PC servers and large PC networks. But, Dave's
> experience with the Garmin 16 LVS has given me plenty of reason to
> tread carefully. My first look at the sites referenced in my previous
messages got me very excited.
> The devil may be in the serial port of the PC.
> Dave is correct, in that most of us simply want to know that we can
> hear the beacons. I want to do a lot more than that. Let me state
> the problem we are trying to solve as I see it.
> We want Faros to record observations of beacons, with sufficient
> accuracy that we: 1) don't miss any observations, and 2) can easily
> tell short path from long path. Faros time needs continuous time data
> randomly distributed within about 60ms of the correct time.
> Using the data we can then: Analyse band openings over time to
> improve our DX - find/create matching holes in our busy schedules to
> work DX; Use different antennas and work out the actual radiation
> patterns - help us tune the antenna; Compare antennas; Study RF
> propagation; Plan contest operation to maximise our score; Listen in
> real time during a contest for band openings; Compare QTHs; and lots more
I have not thought of yet.
> Note that I said "we" can tell short path from long path. Let me
> describe what I do with Faros to help sort out signals, and compensate
> for minor time variation.
> I have an ICOM IC-706IIG, and a muli-band vertical antenna, disconnect
> the antenna when storms are about, but otherwise the system runs
> Faros creates a GIF image to a schedule. I personally make little use
> of them. The Details Panel, and the History panel, are created from,
> and can be re-created from the beacon logs. So I simply let Faros do
> its thing day after day. I use a "scheduled task" at 00:01 UTC in
> Windows, and a free Windows SDK tool, called ROBOCOPY to copy the logs
> from the Faros directory to a "holding directory" which is "shared" to
> my network - I carefully avoid the "current" beacon log created at
> 00:00. When time permits, on anther PC, I start TWO copies of Faros,
> click on pause, arrange the windows side by side, and on each Details
panel, load a beacon log from the month/day I want
> to analyse/compare from the "holding directory". The "delay correction"
> the second PC could be anything - I adjust it to put the signals where
> I want them - the SP line probably, then make the analysis. If I need
> to, I save a GIF image of the period for reference in my notes -
> mainly I use GreenShot or Snagit or MS OneNote to take snapshots of the
> Clearly if time is all over the place, this technique becomes less useful.
> But, even with a high, and variable, latency Internet connection I
> have found acceptable results - that is signals that follow the SP
> line 90% of the time intra-day, with only small variation over days,
> small enough that I can compensate with the technique described. The
> results are good enough one can see the Ionosphere's "path time"
> changing for some beacons. I would provide images, but the "black
> hats" on the Internet have caused that to be off limits.
> As you seem to have discovered with the Garmin 16lvs, the devil is in
> the detail, in getting any system of anything to work correctly. I am
> headed in the same direction, I am sure I will need a lot of luck.
> How can I help you find a "configuration of time servers" that will
> give you better results. Over time I may be able to help with the
> Garmin 16 LVS and the Linux software. My Garmin 18x LVS is on back
> order - I expect delivery in a few weeks, and will implement it over
> the coming months. These days, I am a "house husband" and I have a
> new found appreciation for the effort of house wives and mothers and
carers. Time to make the troops breakfast!
> Peter VK4IU
> Dave Baxter wrote:
> > Hi Peter (David)
> > Just got back from a frustrating on site service visit.
> > Yes, I know the Satsignal site, and have had a good exchange with
> > the David Taylor there and have successfully got a FreeBSD machine
> > suposedly configured to work as needed, from the same distro and
> > version as he used, but I've yet to get it to successfully see and
> > work with a Garmin GPS16LVC, that has a PPS output (yes, I buffered
> > it to RS232 levels.) The problem I have with all that, is I know
> > next to nothing about that level of tweakage at the kernel level of
> > any 'nix, that and the 'nix community seems intent on flaming anyone
> > who asks questions that they do not see as relavant to their latest
> > and greatest distro. (or more relevantly, they do not themselves
> > understand.)
> > You also it seems found out the hard way what I was told, that the
> > timing accuracy of the NMEA sentence delivery from any GPS receiver
> > currently available, is not good enough for time keeping to the
> > level we need. The eTrex (I have one of the "Yellow" ones too) is
> > otherwise a good bit of kit, but useless for any accurate timekeeping.
> > Also, like you, I've found that protocols like NTP don't play well
> > with mobile internet services. 3G or otherwise.
> > VLF Radio time keeping broadcasts could be another way to go, but
> > again, the hardware to do the job is prohibitivey expensive, and
> > none of the PC software I've found so far that can decode signals
> > like MSF, DCF, WWV etc, provide a true full NTP server function.
> > (Some do SNTP, that's about the best it gets, and Faros doesnt do
> > SNTP, only NTP it
> > seems.)
> > My ISP issues. Well, (long story short) during the business day,
> > there seems to be a drastic increase in the network latency getting
> > to anything, evne in their own domain/network! If that is not bad
> > enough, it's variable one ping to the next, by a wide margin (10's
> > to 100's of mS variation, but no packet loss, that is their goal it
> > seems.) Evenings, early mornings and weekends, Latency is down to
> > During the day, it can go to as much as 500mS, but routinely
> > stretches out to 150 to 300mS, depending on the exact time of day,
> > day of week etc. Some days are better, some worse. Watching the time
> > accuracy plot in Faros, at certain times of day, you can see what
> > looks like the effect of someone throwing a switch somewhere. I did
> > some checks, and it's not just me, other users of the same ISP are
> > experiencing similar effects, though they don't use NTP as we do. It
> > is however messing with lots of other systems it seems too.
> > As a result, it totaly screws up NTP for any sort of accurate time
> > synching, like Faros needs. Hence why I was messing with FreeBSD
> > trying to setup a local Stratum 1 server etc. It's getting to the
> > state at home now, where I am going to take another serious stab at
> > it, and see if I can get it going on an old early pentium laptop, as
> > that is much smaller, quieter, and uses less power, than the current
> > desktop I have sort of working.
> > I'd idealy like to have a "Time Appliance", but commercial units are
> > way outside my pocket money range, and like hen's teeth to find too.
> > The people who port 'nix etc onto old router hardware are also
> > uninterested in helping, from the few exchanges I've had on other
> > forums, and I don't know enough to do it myself.
> > I did find this... http://scss.com.au/family/andrew/gps/ntp/ But...
> > When I asked if he would release a copy of the BINARY (not the
> > propriatry TCP stack 'C' code from the compiler) he's gone all
> > silent (like no reply, ever!) Pity, as that seems to be what we
> > need. Maybe someone else could persuade him to if not release the
> > BINARY, then perhaps sell pre-programed (and copy protected) PIC's for
> > For now, Faros bumbles along otherwise OK, but when you look at the
> > plots, the path charts in the UK afternoon, are often showing a snow
> > storm of white "unknown" spots. http://g8kbv.homeip.net:8008/
> > As a reception report, most people are interested in the fact that a
> > beacon has been realiably heard, not what path it was heard by, I think.
> > What I'd like to see long term, is GPS PPS support built into Faros
> > itself, that's where it's needed, NTP could still be used if GPS
> > reception is not posible, or as a fall back. That alone would make
> > Faros most valuable when out portable, or for DXpeditions etc. But
> > of course, only Alex can implement that.
> > Another option, but would also no doubt be a major undertaking on
> > Alex's part, would be to use one channel of the soundcard for the
> > beacons, and one channel for a radio code input (WWV, MSF etc) No
> > GPS needed, just two RX's, and one of them could be a realy simple
> > SDR like
> > (Keeping the audio tones very different, so any crosstalk would be
> > ignored.
> > Or, take a pulse train from any of the commonly available miniature
> > VLF clock receiver modules, into a com port line somewhere, and use
> > that to set Faros's time.
> > I use, is more or less that, that is cited as an example to use, if
> > you look on the main NCDXF IBP site links. http://faros.ve3sun.com/
> > is where you need to go to start that learning exersize! I make no
> > claims for originality on that subject.
> > Cheers All.
> > Dave Baxter
> > G0WBX.
> > --- Original Message ---
> > My current plan.
> > I initially dismissed creating a stratum 0 reference time server -
> > the Meinberg PCI card is priced at $3500 in Australia. But ...
> > Alex VE3NEA alerted me to the following web site http://time.qnan.org
> > I have ordered a Garmin 18x LVS, $100 n Australia, and I will
> > proceed to integrate it into my Linux server. On that site there is
> > a reference to http://www.satsignal.eu/ntp/index.html which is a
> > fantastic source of information relevant to getting Faros a good
> > time signal. I have high hopes of having a fantastic Faros
> > installation for propagation study, site and antenna comparisons.
> > Peter VK4IU
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