Motorola Oncore GPS receiver


Address: 127.127.30.u
Reference ID: GPS
Serial Port: /dev/oncore.serial.u;  9600 baud, 8-bits, no parity.
PPS Port: /dev/oncore.pps.uPPS_CAPTUREASSERT required,  PPS_OFFSETASSERT supported.
Configuration File: /etc/ntp.oncoreu or, /etc/ntp.oncore.u, or /etc/ntp.oncore.


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

The three most interesting versions of the Oncore are the VP, the UT+, and the "Remote" which is a prepackaged UT+. The VP is no longer available. The Motorola evaluation kit can also 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. Two 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. If you do not have the PPS signal available, then you should probably be using the NMEA driver rather than the Oncore driver.

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.

Fudge Factors

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.
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 /etc/ntp.oncore 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 adjust 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 /etc/ntp.conf file will need a line of the form
       pps /dev/oncore.pps.0 [ assert/clear ] hardpps
if you want the oncore driver to control the kernel PLL. For more information, see the Reference Clock Options page.


Really good.  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.

Poul-Henning Kamp (, Reg Clemens (