[time-nuts] Thunderbolts, time references, NTP etc.

Dave Baxter dave at uk-ar.co.uk
Mon Jun 15 09:07:44 EDT 2009

Is this good value, and a trusted seller?

I went looking for "Fluke1" as listed earlier on here for these devices
(Thunderbolt GPS disciplined referenced sources) but though I
(eventually) found the user, no activity was shown for some time.  So, I
went looking for the product instead, and found (among other things)
this item 170344432395 (you know where to look.)

My intended main application, is to drive a local NTP server (Network
Time Protocol) as I'm getting more and more P'd off with my ISP's
ineptitude in maintaining a network where NTP (or anything else not
related to web crawling or email) works with any reliability.  (Huge and
variable latency, ping to ping, at different times of day, confirmed by
other users of the same ISP.)

I run (just because I can!) a HF beacon monitor station, running the
Faros software from Alex VE3NEA.  That uses NTP and only NTP to
synchronise it's software clock.  (http://www.dxatlas.com/Faros/)  The
results of that can be seen at http://g8kbv.homeip.net:8008/  The white
delay spots illustrate where the NTP source is messed up.

The 10MHz output would perhaps be useful, once I have modified a radio
or two to use that as a reference for their synthesizers, but that is
not necessary as yet.   I had a GPS with a 1pps output, but due to a PSU
malfunction, it doesnt work any more sadly.  :-(

Mind you, I'm, still having difficulty configuring a FreeBSD box for NTP
server use.   The instructions to do so I have are good it seems
(http://www.satsignal.eu/ntp/FreeBSD-GPS-PPS.htm) just that the system
does not seem to co-operate, and I'm not that familiar with
Linux/FreeBSD etc at the basic user level, let alone re-compiling the
kernel.  As evidenced by a non booting system, the two times I
eventually got it to compile (that takes hours to complete) and that was
not even with modified sources, just what came on the CD unmolested.  As
each reload takes an age, I sort of lost the plot with that method!

The local Linux User Group is not that much help either, no one has any
experience with this sort of "engineering" thing.

Ultimately, I'd like to run something like this on a non-PC hardware

Does anyone on this list know of a ready to run appliance, or
preconfigured boot CD of this sort?   Providing a LAN NTP source from
GPS, for not much more than the cost of one of the Thunderbolts or
similar?   There are lots of commercial offerings, but way outside my
price budget, this is for a hobby after all.

Changing ISP would be a hassle, and there is no garantee that any other
ISP wouldnt do the same silly thing, seemingly throttling private users
WAN traffic during the day, though they say they don't.  The ISP support
people didnt even know what NTP was when I contacted them, then said
that so long as there were no lost packets, ping delays of up to 250ms
were acceptable!!

Half the trouble seems to be, as a result of them appearing to now be
running their NTP servers on the same machines as their border gateway
systems, based on IP addresses and service names.

Ideas anyone?


Dave B.

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