[ntp:hackers] Trimble refuses to distribute updates of firmware for the GPS Thunderbolt

Fernando P. Hauscarriaga fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar
Thu Apr 27 16:27:28 UTC 2006

A few months ago I wrote a patch for the palisade refclock that allows
this refclock to support the Trimble Thunderbolt GPS Disciplined clock.


For the time being the patch works only deactivating event-polling
because the Firmware version of my Thunderbolt doesn't allow to
request time packets. But a few weeks ago, I downloaded the manual
they have for my receiver on their site, and I noticed that according
to this Manual time packets can be requested. Now, the firmware version
for my receiver is 1, I have no idea for wich version of firmware they
implemented time-packet-request, the only "numbers" that I have is
that my Manual version 1 and the online one is version 5.  Well, the
problem came when I wrote to Trimble Support asking for a firmware
update, because on their website I didn't found any, and as my manual
says in Section 4.2:

"When firmware upgrades are available Trimble will provide software
and instructions at that time."

Following are the emails exchanged with Trimble Support, where they
tell me that I should buy an Acutime 2000 receiver (a receiver
exclusively for use in NTP) that my receiver (thunderbolt) will not
work with NTP (so for what I wrote a  patch!?), well, I answered them
telling that the only thing I needed is the firmware update. On the
reply they tell me pretty much the same.  My question is: how I can
handle this situation?, 'cause it's pretty obvious that they refuse to
give me a firmware update...

This is my first experience in this kind of things, so if you can tell
me some tips and advices on how to handle this, I will be very grateful.


Fernando P. Hauscarriaga
Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomia (IAR)


This is the mail that returned to me after I filled up the online form
support on trimble site:

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 11:14:32 -0400 (EDT)
From: Trimble Support <trimble_support at trimble.com>
To: fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar
Subject: SPRT00000065254 - Support Request Received -  Support Inquiry

With regards to your email:

First Name: Fernando
Last Name: Hauscarriaga
Company: Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomia
Email: fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar
Phone: 054221 482-4903

Country: Argentina

Product Name: Thunderbolt GPS Disciplined Clock
Part Number: 35326-00


Hello, I'm working with this model of GPS on timing sync throght NTP, I
have a
patch posted to ntp.org (https://ntp.isc.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=592),
but the
problem comes because I need to implement event-polling. Now, my firmware
version is 1, so there is no way I can request for packet 8F-AB (timing
packet). I downloaded the manual that is on your web site (thunderbolt
2003), and there are some changes in the firmware, for example: You can
time packet 8F-AB, so my inquiry is: There is any possibility for update
firware so I can request time packet?.

This is very important for our radioastronomy institution
(www.iar.unlp.edu.ar), 'cause is the only way we can have an exact time
so it would be great if you can help us.

My best regards.

         Fernando P. Hauscarriaga

They answered me:

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 10:19:53 -0700
From: Wade Dotson <Wade_Dotson at Trimble.com>
To: fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar
Cc: Trimble Support <Trimble_Support at Trimble.com>,
     Michel Rodriguez <MRodriguez at skypatrol.net>
Subject: RE: Assigned Support Request SPRT00000065254

The Thunderbolt receiver will not work with NTP applications as it
streams data rather then waiting for a request before sending a data
packet. You would need to use the Acutime 2000 in order to have NTP work

Wade Dotson
Trimble Navigation

And I wrote again:

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 08:38:32 -0300 (ART)
From: Fernando P. Hauscarriaga <fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar>
To: trimble_support at trimble.com
Subject: SPRT00000065254

Looking at the manual that comes with my thunderbolt, I see that the
packet 8F-AB cannot be requested. But I have downloaded the manual that
you have online, and this manual tells me that this packet can be
requested. Now, there is any firmware update for the Thunderbolt so I can
request packet 8F-AB?
The manual I downloaded is this:



And they answered again:

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 06:11:39 -0700
From: Wade Dotson <Wade_Dotson at Trimble.com>
To: fernandoph at iar.unlp.edu.ar
Subject: FW: Email arrived regarding  SPRT00000065254

True but it is still not compatible with the NTP drivers.  Even if you
get it to request it will still out put packets and the packets being
out put have priority over one that is requested.


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