1. Synopsis

Name: hpgps
Reference ID: GPS
Driver ID: GPS_HP
Serial Port: /dev/hpgpsu; 9600 bps 8N1, 19200 bps 7N2 for the HP Z3801A

2. Warning

As of September 2017 we have reports that the internal clock on a Z3801A was observed to roll over to 1998 (see Rollover issues in time sources). Users should audit for rollover before deploying any of these devices. One or more "g" suffixes on your time1 option may be useful as a workaround if your device does not support setting the era date.

3. Description

This driver supports the HP 58503A Time and Frequency Reference Receiver and HP Z3801A GPS Receiver. It will probably work with other Z38xx models. Two-unit pairs of these are sometimes known as a KS-24361. All of these product are well past end-of-life.

These receivers are very old designs, dating from around 1990, so their GPS receiver stages are not very sensitive by modern standards. On the other hand, lots of them are available cheap, because they used to be standard kit on cell towers and were surplussed off in the thousands.

They use HP SmartClock ™ to implement an Enhanced GPS receiver. The receiver accuracy when locked to GPS in normal operation is better than 1 µs. The accuracy when operating in holdover is typically better than 10 µs per day. The receiver should be operated with factory default settings. Initial driver operation: expects the receiver to be already locked to GPS, configured and able to output timecode format 2 messages.

The driver uses the poll sequence :PTIME:TCODE? to get a response from the receiver. The receiver responds with a timecode string of ASCII printing characters, followed by a <cr><lf>, followed by a prompt string issued by the receiver, in the following format:

T#yyyymmddhhmmssMFLRVcc<cr><lf>scpi >

The driver processes the response at the <cr> and <lf>, so what the driver sees is the prompt from the previous poll, followed by this timecode. The prompt from the current poll is (usually) left unread until the next poll. So (except on the very first poll) the driver sees this:

scpi >T#yyyymmddhhmmssMFLRVcc<cr><lf>

The T is the on-time character, at 980 ms before the next 1PPS edge. The # is the timecode format type. We look for format 2. Without any of the CLK or PPS stuff, then, the receiver buffer timestamp at the <cr> is 24 characters later, which is about 25 ms. at 9600 bps, so the first approximation for the time1 option is nominally -0.955 s. This number probably needs adjusting for each machine / OS type, so far: -0.955000 s on an HP 9000 Model 712/80 HP-UX 9.05 -0.953175 s on an HP 9000 Model 370 HP-UX 9.10

This driver will probably work with the 58503B and 59551A if they are set up appropriately.

To use an HP Z3801A, specify subtype 1 on the server config line to setup the right line parameters.

The timekeeping portion of HP’s business was sold to Symmetricom; Symmetricom was later acquired by Microsemi.

4. Rollover compensation

Some devices in this product line have a front-panel display of date-time and controls to manipulate it. On these, it is possible to reset the device’s hidden base date for your current era. Consult your documentation for details.

5. 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.


Setting mode 1 configures for the HP Z3801A.


Synonym for subtype, retained for backward compatibility.

path filename

Overrides the default device path.

ppspath filename

Not used by this driver.

baud number

Overrides the default baud rate.

6. Configuration Example

refclock hpgps

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