r3 - 2013-11-16 - 00:51:10 - RobWindgassenYou are here: NTP >  Sandbox Web > TWikiUsers > RobWindgassen > RobWindgassenSandbox
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Howto get PPS working on a Raspberry Pi


The Raspberry Pi is a low cost platform that with its generic IO pins (GPIO) it is suited to attach a GPS with PPS support.
But the stock Pi kernel is (1) not well configured for PPS and (2) somehow it must be configured to assign a desired GPIO pin as PPS input. Furthermore the ntp package with debian has not enabled the ATOM reference clock driver .

To start with the second one, Hauke Lampe (https://github.com/lampeh) has created a patch for that. It assigns GPIO pin 18 as PPS input. That is the pin next to the RXD of the serial port in the Pi's pin mapping

To get the raspberry kernel configuration properly the options

  • CONFIG_PPS ("PPS support")
  • CONFIG_NTP_PPS ("PPS kernel consumer support")

must be set. But it is only possible see and set the second when "tickless system" CONFIG_NO_HZ is turned off. The raspberry kernel turns this on by default making things a little harder when you are not aware of this.

On kernel versions

My raspberry pi was running a 3.6.11 kernel. I downloaded the latest source for the 3.6.11 series, it is in the archive under rpi-3.6.y.
If you use or want to use another version of the kernel you have to adapt this version number in the following procedure accordingly.

The procedure

The procedure below roughly follows http://elinux.org/RPi_Kernel_Compilation but assumes the kernel is being built on the Raspberry Pi (i.e. no cross compiling) and it's already running raspbian, thus allowing some short-cuts.

Get the raspberry kernel. It can be downloadeded from https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux
Select the branch for your version, e.g. rpi-3.6.y to get 3.6.11, then download using the "Download ZIP" button,
or directly download https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/archive/rpi-3.6.y.zip

Get the Lampeh patch from https://raw.github.com/lampeh/rpi-misc/master/linux-pps/linux-rpi-pps-gpio-bcm2708.diff

Download the patch and the kernel in one and the same directory as ordinary user (pi).
Unzip the kernel:

 $ unzip rpi-3.6.y.zip

Apply the patch:

 $ HERE=$(pwd)
 $ cd rpi-3.6.y/arch/arm/mach-bcm2708/
 $ patch --backup bcm2708.c < $HERE/linux-rpi-pps-gpio-bcm2708.diff
 $ cd $HERE

Go into the kernel source directory and get the current configuration of the running system

$ cd linux-rpi-3.6.y
$ make mrproper
$ zcat /proc/config.gz > .config
$ make oldconfig

Adapt the kernel configuration

$ make menuconfig

Now first make sure "tickless system" is off. Navigate through the menu like

     General setup --->
        Timers subsystem --->
            [ ] Tickless System (Dynamic Ticks) 

Next turn on PPS support

    Device Drivers --->
        PPS support --->
            [ ] PPS debugging messages
            <M> PPS support
            < > Kernel timer client (Testing client, use for debug)
            < > PPS line discipline
            <M> PPS client using GPIO 

Exit the menu and confirm to save the new kernel configuration file.

Now you can build a new kernel. Beware that this may take several hours.

 $ make 
 $ make modules

The next steps put the binaries of loadable modules and the kernel at their target postion and this must be performed with root privilege. To be sure the old kernel is left as is the new kernel is named kernel_new.img.

 $ sudo -i
 # cd <linux source tree directory>
 # make modules_install
 # cp ./arch/arm/boot/zImage /boot/kernel_new.img

Edit /boot/config.txt to add the new kernel name. I use vi

 # vi /boot/config.txt 

and change/add the text that it looks like (the kernel= line may be missing, by default it uses kernel.img)


Now you can reboot the system.

 # reboot

Testing the new kernel

# apt-get install pps-tools
# modprobe pps-gpio
# dmesg|tail

Shall produce output that looks like

 pps pps0: new PPS source pps-gpio.-1
 pps pps0: Registered IRQ 188 as PPS source


# apt-get install pps-tools
# ppstest /dev/pps0

shall produce output like

trying PPS source "/dev/pps0"
found PPS source "/dev/pps0"
ok, found 1 source(s), now start fetching data...
source 0 - assert 1383433355.999955687, sequence: 18201 - clear  0.000000000, sequence: 0
source 0 - assert 1383433356.999961056, sequence: 18202 - clear  0.000000000, sequence: 0
source 0 - assert 1383433357.999955419, sequence: 18203 - clear  0.000000000, sequence: 0
source 0 - assert 1383433358.999955780, sequence: 18204 - clear  0.000000000, sequence: 0
source 0 - assert 1383433359.999955141, sequence: 18205 - clear  0.000000000, sequence: 0

Okay I cheated a bit with the above output: I captured it after I had got ntpd running as you can see by the fraction of the seconds.

When this went fine the pps-gpio module can be loaded automatically at startup by editing /etc/modules

# vi /etc/modules

and add the following lines

# kernel mode PPS (for ntp)

Configure ntp daemon with ATOM enabled

The ntp version that comes with debian has been compiled without ATOM reference clock, the one that supprt kernel PPS.

There are different ways to get around this. The standard configure, make, make install way. Although this is straightforward it may clash with the debian package administration.

A. Using debian package system

Compiling using the debian package sources: Edit /etc/apt/sources.list. Duplicate the first line

deb http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ wheezy .... etc
so that you have two copies of it.
deb http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ wheezy .... etc
deb http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ wheezy .... etc

Change in the second one the first word, deb, to deb-src so that it looks like

deb http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ wheezy  .... etc
deb-src http://mirrordirector.raspbian.org/raspbian/ wheezy  .... etc
and save it.

Get sources

# apt-get build-dep ntp
# apt-get source ntp

In my case this will create a ntp-4.2.6.p5+dfsg directory

# cd ntp-4.2.6.p5+dfsg/debian

Edit the ./debian/rules file and add --enable-ATOM to the configure invocation so that it looks like

        ./configure CFLAGS='$(CFLAGS)' CPPFLAGS='$(CPPFLAGS)' LDFLAGS='$(LDFLAGS)' \
                --prefix=/usr \
                --enable-all-clocks --enable-parse-clocks --enable-SHM \
                --disable-debugging --sysconfdir=/var/lib/ntp \
                --with-sntp=no \
                --with-lineeditlibs=edit \
                --without-ntpsnmpd \
                --disable-local-libopts \
                --enable-ntp-signd \
                --disable-dependency-tracking \
                --with-openssl-libdir=/usr/lib/$(DEB_HOST_MULTIARCH) \

Note the the line before --enable-ATOM ends with a backslash symbol (\) to indicate a line continuation symbol. Change the ./debian/changelog file so that the version number between parenthesis is increased to just below the next number. E.g. change 4.2.6.p5+dfsg-2 to 4.2.6.p5+dfsg-3~pps1.


# dpkg-buildpackage -b

Install the new package

# dpkg -i ntp_4.2.6.p5+dfsg-3~pps1_armhf.deb

B. Configure / make / make install

For when you don't care much about the debian package administration for ntp - you do it yourself anyhow. Download ntp (see http://www.ntp.org/downloads.html for current release) and unpack it

$ wget http://www.eecis.udel.edu/~ntp/ntp_spool/ntp4/ntp-4.2/ntp-4.2.6p5.tar.gz
$ tar -xzf ntp-4.2.6p5.tar.gz
$ cd ntp-4.2.6p5

Configure and build

$ ./configure --prefix=/usr  \
          --enable-all-clocks --enable-parse-clocks --enable-SHM \
          --disable-debugging --sysconfdir=/var/lib/ntp \
          --without-ntpsnmpd \
          --disable-local-libopts \
          --enable-ntp-signd \
$ make
$ sudo make install
And you are done.

-- RobWindgassen - 2013-11-16

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