Name: oncore
Reference ID: GPS
Serial Port: /dev/oncore.serial.u; 9600bps 8N1.
PPS Port: /dev/oncore.pps.u

Deprecation warning

This refclock is deprecated and obsolete; the entire Oncore line has been end-of-lifed. The NTPsec maintainers plan to remove it in a future release. If you have a requirement for it, please make this known to us.

This driver reports only two-digit years, and is thus reliant on the system clock to be near correct before samples will be processed properly. You will not be able to use it to run autonomously, nor will it reliably recover from a trashed or zeroed system clock.


This driver supports most models of the Motorola Oncore GPS receivers (Basic, PVT6, VP, UT, UT+, GT, GT+, SL, M12, M12+T), as long as they support the Motorola Binary Protocol.

The (formerly) interesting versions of the Oncore were the VP, the UT+, the "Remote" which is a prepackaged UT+, and the M12 Timing. The Motorola evaluation kit can be recommended. It interfaces to a PC straightaway, using the serial (DCD) or parallel port for PPS input and packs the receiver in a nice and sturdy box. Less expensive interface kits are available from TAPR.




UT+ oncore

Evaluation kit

Oncore Remote

The driver requires a standard PPS interface for the pulse-per-second output from the receiver. The serial data stream alone does not provide precision time stamps (0-50msec variance, according to the manual), whereas the PPS output is precise down to 50 nsec (1 sigma) for the VP/UT models and 25 nsec for the M12 Timing. If you do not have the PPS signal available, then you should probably be using the NMEA driver rather than the Oncore driver. Most of these are available on-line

The driver will use the "position hold" mode with user provided coordinates, the receivers built-in site-survey, or a similar algorithm implemented in this driver to determine the antenna position.

Monitor Data

The driver always puts a lot of useful information on the clockstats file, and when run with debugging can be quite chatty on stdout. When first starting to use the driver you should definitely review the information written to the clockstats file to verify that the driver is running correctly.

In addition, on platforms supporting Shared Memory, all of the messages received from the Oncore receiver are made available in shared memory for use by other programs. See the Oncore-SHMEM manual page for information on how to use this option. For either debugging or using the SHMEM option, an Oncore Reference Manual for the specific receiver in use will be required.

Driver Options

unit number

The driver unit number, defaulting to 0. Used as a distinguishing suffix in the driver device name.

time1 time

Specifies the time offset calibration factor, in seconds and fraction, with default 0.0.

time2 time

Not used by this driver.

stratum number

Specifies the driver stratum, in decimal from 0 to 15, with default 0.

refid string

Specifies the driver reference identifier, an ASCII string from one to four characters, with default GPS.

flag1 {0 | 1}

Not used by this driver.

flag2 {0 | 1}

Not used by this driver.

flag3 {0 | 1}

Not used by this driver.

flag4 {0 | 1}

Not used by this driver.


Not used by this driver.


Not used by this driver.


Not used by this driver.


Not used by this driver.

baud number

Not used by this driver.

Configuration Example

refclock oncore

Additional Information

The driver was initially developed on FreeBSD, and has since been tested on Linux, SunOS and Solaris.


There is a driver specific configuration file ntp.oncore (or ntp.oncore.u or ntp.oncoreu if you must distinguish between more than one Oncore receiver unit) that contains information on the startup mode, the location of the GPS receiver, an offset of the PPS signal from zero, and the cable delay. The offset shifts the PPS signal to avoid interrupt pileups ‘on’ the second, and adjusts the timestamp accordingly. See the driver source for information on this file. The default with no file is: no delay, no offset, and a site survey is done to get the location of the gps receiver.

The following three options can be set in the driver specific configuration file only if the driver is using the PPSAPI. The edge of the PPS signal that is ‘on-time’ can be set with the keywords [ASSERT/CLEAR] and the word HARDPPS will cause the PPS signal to control the kernel PLL.


Even the newest of these variants, the M12+T with firmware dated 9 Jun 2004 now reports bad dates due to era rollover.

Performance is really good, other than the rollover issue. With the VP/UT+, the generated PPS pulse is referenced to UTC(GPS) with better than 50 nsec (1 sigma) accuracy. The limiting factor will be the timebase of the computer and the precision with which you can timestamp the rising flank of the PPS signal. Using FreeBSD, a FPGA based Timecounter/PPS interface, and an ovenized quartz oscillator, that performance has been reproduced. For more details on this aspect: Sub-Microsecond timekeeping under FreeBSD.

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