[time-nuts] Novatel ProPak-V3 GPSDO

Bob Camp kb8tq at n1k.org
Fri Dec 25 12:19:08 EST 2015


Hi

I think you will find the Novatel OEM cards inside a number of L1/L2 timing receiver designs. The
cost for the basic card is not crazy if bought surplus. Doing the *full* set of firmware / software
upgrades to make them “work right’ is more expensive than some new automobiles. If you 
decide to go that way, it’s almost as cheap to buy the brand new V6 board plus the software as
to upgrade an old one. The advantage is that the new boards have a bit more processing
horsepower on them. 

If you run them as “L1 only” devices, the Novatel cards do not have much (if any) advantage
over the other boards out there. Since they fetch a premium price surplus, their bang for the 
buck factor on L1 is not very good. Something like a TBolt is a cheaper / “at least as good” 
alternative. 

I do not know of any of the precision timing people who use the charge pump output of the 
board for their systems. They pretty much all team the board up with some sort of cpu board
(single board computer) and let it do the heavy lifting and data collection. The full implementation
then is the Novatel card, the CPU card, and a custom board for the GPSDO / measurement 
system.  

This is by no means a knock on the Novatel cards. They are *very* good devices. The gotcha
is the fact that they need a lot of firmware “unlocks” to do all the good stuff they are capable of.
With the *full* set of unlocks the newest cards are (when they come out) likely the best thing you 
can buy for this sort of thing when teamed up with a capable computer. 

Bob


> On Dec 25, 2015, at 6:35 AM, Ole Petter Ronningen <opronningen at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Hello
> 
> I'm sure many of you have noticed quite a few surplus NOS Novatel OEM-V3
> L1-only units appearing on eBay lately. Reading the firmware manual, it
> seems the ProPak is capable of steering an external oscillator with the
> addition of a filtered chargepump circuit. Has anyone made any experiments
> using this functionality?
> 
> Also, a couple of labs (APL and USNO) use ProPak-V3 receivers to
> participate in TAI, by the use of PPP. BIPM has a little information about
> the ProPak (calibration procedures), but other than that I have not found
> much information about the configuration of the receiver in this particular
> setting. Any clues would be appreciated.
> 
> (In case anyone is interested - the receiver can be software upgraded to
> also track L2 - the license is north of USD2K..)
> 
> Thanks,
> Ole
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