[time-nuts] TPLL secret reveled

WarrenS warrensjmail-one at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 10 19:56:19 UTC 2010

Ulrich posted:

> "I know you like my software"
an understatment, I love your "PLOTTER" software,
without it I could of not, or at least would not, of done much of this.

Thanks for you comments.
I hope you do not take my poor communication skills and direct ways, wrong 
or personal.
Hopeful we can disagree and still exchange ideas and thoughts, even with my 
poorly chosen words.
Also I do find the whole TPLL a bit humorous, so try to see the difference 

>> The reason that the simple TPLL works so good [with no extra tweak and 
>> stuff]
>> but is hard for some "experts" to accept [understand],
>> SEEMS to come down to the fact that this method uses
>> Frequency and not Phase.

>This belief is the biggest misconceptions of yours.
> you should check yourself whether you really want to stay at claims like 
> that.

This is staring out with something that I have NO idea what you mean,
Not saying it is your problem, probably mine.
I should not comment on any other things until I understand that your point 
I hope you did not mean that you think I said in the abopve that correct 
ADEV values can not be computed from phase data ot that Freq does a better 

OK, I'm the first to admit that I am poor at communication,
but I don't know what is wrong with my simple statement above.
It is presented as a fact, nothing much to discuss, or argue about, or to go 
wrong, wrong ....

Fact #1) the TPLL uses Freq not phase,
Fact #2) Some experts find it hard to accept the TPLL works very good.
Fact#3) SOME experts (I can name at least two) have a problem understanding 
the subtle differences between the Phase and Freq.

IT does not say they both do not work just fine.
SO I have no idea what my misconception is,
 yes, I'm sure I have many, but I don't know which one could possible apply 
to the above.

>The problem is a bit more subtle
excuse me, That is what I tried to say both above and below,
There are subtle differences between Phase and Freq that are not being taken 
into account by some.
The fact that we agree on this does not seem to be a point we need to 
disagree on.

>But instead to conclude that phase measurements are not well suited for AD
>computations as YOU do, horology's simple answer to this is to compute 
>values that are normalized to the epoch of the given Tau0 with VERY SIMPLE
>MATH as for example shown by Greenhall in  " ... Phase paper sited ..."

I do not think ANYONE said Phase does not work just fine, or is not suited 
(with the right corrections),
and you have just confirmed much of what I was trying to say. with yet 
another paper what it takes to use phase.
Phase needs extra stuff to help it out, which extra stuff depends on the 
I don't use extra stuff to help out the TPLL, and yet it still gets about 
the same answers.
The extra phase stuff is not needed, and it is the extra phase stuff and how 
to do it, that many of the disagreement are about.

For another difference between Phase and Freq, Take trigger jitter and 
Lots is written on how best to help that in H/W with the "RIGHT" limiter and 
the right S/W filter.

Where is the TPLL's trigger limiter and correction stuff, OH yea, it don't 
have a trigger so it don't need none,
and on and on about ALL sorts of phase issues. NO one said the phase issues 
can not all be ALMOST fixed, as the TSC proves.
what I said is I don't need to fix Phase stuff, because the TPLL does not 
have those Phase problems, NO phase, then NO phase problems, what could be 
simpler? As far as I've been able to find Nothing is simpler?
and YES there are always trade-offs, the TPLL does have it's own set of 
problems due to Frequency, that the Phase methods do not have.
(the biggest one has been to try and prove that the TPLL works at all).

> Because in such a situation either winning the Nobel prize with it or to 
> be committed into a closed ward
Hey, ASK Tom "I won a price", but not saying both can not be true. :-)

>I would like to keep the topic of deadtime out of the discussion.
OK, Not an issue anyway because the TPLL when done correctly does not have a 
problem there.

Ulrich then goes into great detail to show why integration is needed.
and concludes that all of this could of been avoided if I had just listen to 
BRUCE in the beginning and did it the way NIST did it 40+ years ago.

Well If I would of done it the NBS way, then I would of had the same 
problems that they had way back then, and probable would of also abandoned 
the idea long before now. Do remember they did that long before ADEV was 
even invented, so not too surprising that the way they did it had a few 
problems in doing a future not yet invented function.

summery of text that said:
>I understand your argumentation is the fact that you look at the loop 
>voltage at a rate much higher than tau0 rate.
>You need a strong mathematical treatment to prove that the signal 
>processing that you apply to your samples
>basically IS EQUIVALENT to the integration of the NIST method.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, But even Bruce finally accepted that it is 
possible to do integration that way.
I ain't going back there again.
This is not rocket science , It is just about as basic as adding two 
You sample fast enough you can get as good of integration as you want.
And as Bruce pointed out, there are also ways to help out using simple 
Software filters if one does not want to sample fast enough.
And what I have always said, I like KISS, and being more a H/W person, it is 
easiest for me to just go fast enough and use a simple sum_n / n filter to 
get good enough integration.
There is no one best way that fits all, but any good way can be made to work 
fine. It is just not a big deal.
Intigration was been being done this way long before either of us where 
born. it is not new. Can we more past this?

I do not care if Bruce or anyone else does not want to do it just like I 
have. NO problem.
Each person has their own set of trade offs.
WHY does it seem that everyone wants to get this so side tracked, and not 
discuss big picture.
To work good the TPLL method needs to integrate, period. Everyone is saying 
the same thing and ALWAYS has been.
The only thing that has been discussed is NOT how good the TPLL is but does 
'ws' know how to integrate.
I do know how to integrate in S/W, in H/W or with paper & pencil.
NOW can we finally move past this stupid point, and get back to the subject 
of TPLL and not get hung up on all the different ways one can to 
integration. What next, all the ways to do multiplication  and then 
additions, Not with me.

My main point so far is simply, that the TPLL Method can be made to work 
good enough, which means it is limited by the Reference OSC used..
Don't need to make it any better than that.
It can be made better than that, MUCH BETTER, if you can get past how to 
intigrate and into an advanced subject a bit more in line with what time 
nuts is usually about.)


Ulrich posted

I know you like my software and therefore please allow me to put my 50 cts.
into the discussion:

> The reason that the simple TPLL works so good
> but is hard for some "experts" to accept, seems
> to come down to the fact that this method uses
> Frequency and not Phase to make the raw data
> log used to then calculate ADEV data.

This belief is the biggest misconceptions of yours. No one has ever denied
that correct ADEV values can be computed from frequency data and (as far as
I believe) Allan came out with a formula for phase data and for frequency
data at the same time. The problem is a bit more subtle but by far not out
of the reach as a good technician as you.

I would like to keep the topic of deadtime out of the discussion. Therefore
please consider a situation where two old fashion frequency counters (the
ones that were only counting) are synchronized in such a way that they
produce frequency data at a Tau0 of 1 second without any deadtime, the first
counter for second n then the second counter for second n+1 then the first
counter for second n+2 and so on. If you feed the produced data into Allans
frequency formula then you will get a perfect ADEV calculation out ouf it.
The only drawback is that it will have a high noise floor because with the
counters counting complete periods of the wave their effective resolution
may be considered 1 period length of the wave.

Now let us consider what the old fashioned counter REALLY does: Over a gate
time of 1 second (identical to Tau0) it COUNTS the number of WHOLE periods.
Basically the old fashioned counter does make an integrating phase
measurement over the time integral Tau0. The result is not displayed in
units of the phase domain but it units of the frequency domain but the key
point is that the frequency measurement gathered this way contains the same
information contents as if a phase measurement had taken place. Therefore it
becomes clear immediately why one must use a slightly different formula for
the frequency values but why otherwise everything we know from phase data is
contained in in the frequency data as well.

Next consider the case that the frequency of the DUT lineary changes with a
negative slope during the first half of a second to a minimum at the center
of the second and then changes with the same but positive slope so that at
the end of the second the frequency is the same as at the beginning of the
second. Clearly a phase measurement will reveal this behaviour and the old
fashioned counter will as well. This is why we say that the phase
measurement as well as the frequency measurement gathered this way are
characteristic for the WHOLE of the second of Tau0.

The next improvement to the old fashioned pure counter was the invention of
subclock interpolation schemes. A counter using this works so: After the
beginning of the gate time it waits of the next zero crossing and then
measures the time up to the last zero crossing within the gate time with a
fixed resolution of say 1 ns (like the well known Racal Dana
1992/1996/1998). The frequency value is then the result of a computation. If
you consider this working principle you notice that this is even more a
phase meter like thing than the original counter only thing. For that reason
frequency measurements with a counter like that are suited as well for ADEV

The next improvement in counter technology is applying tricks as not to
measure a single time interval during the gate time but instead making
thousands of time-delayed measurements and then applying statistics to it.
The Agilent 53131/2 and the new Pendulum counters belong to this class. They
deliver even more frequency resolution but is has been shown and discussed
in another thread here why frequency measurements with these class of
counters are NOT WELL suited for ADEV calculation. That is why we let them

Once we have understood these facts let us return to the tight pll method.
Let us consider what would happen with the above case with the frequency
changing down and up lineary within one second. Well, since the pll tightly
tracks the dut in frequency the loop voltage will be the exact copy in the
voltage domain of what is happening in the frequency domain. The key point
is that the integrating process that is involved in the nature of the
counter only measurement and also in the improved counter measurement does
NOT take place INSIDE the pll loop.

Had you looked to the loop voltage at a Tau0 of 1 s you would not have
noticed ANYTHING from the frequency changes because the loop voltage
measurements deliver an instantaneous frequency information and not one that
is characteristic for your Tau0. Because the loop voltage contains
INSTANTANEOUS frequency information it is different from counter originated
data and needs special treatment: It needs integration afterwards which in
the original NIST method is applied by the voltage to frequency counter and
the following impulse counter. The case of the frequency changing down and
up lineary within one second documents in the impulse counter values if
looked at at a Tau0 of 1 s but it does not document in the loop voltage if
looked at at 1 s. That is the reason why measuring the loop voltage with an
a/d converter delivers samples of instantaneous frequency data that do not
compare 1:1 to values measured with conventional counters.

Had you included the voltage to frequency converter and counted the impulses
coming from it with a PC and some software then Bruce would have applauded
to you because these ingredients would have performed the necessary
integration over the loop voltage. Since you left out the integration in
hardware Bruce has been pointing to the fact that you need integration in
the software if you want to claim that you have build an implementation of
NIST's tight pll method. If you leave out the integration in software IT IS
NOT NIST'S TIGHT PLL METHOD with its well known properties. Instead it is
WARREN'S TIGHT PLL METHOD with its not so well known properties. WARREN'S
TIGHT PLL METHOD must not be bad a priori but since it is different from the
NIST method you cannot rely on annything that has been said about the NIST
method. You will have to show in what cases it works well and in what cases
it works not so well completely on your own.

I understand that an important part of your argumentation is the fact that
you do not look at the loop voltage at a rate of Tau0 (which would be a
catastrophe for my example) but at a much higher rate that you call
oversampling with some right. Therefore the down and up in frequency of my
example indeed is contained in your samples of the loop voltage. What you
have to proove is that the signal processing that you apply to your samples
basically IS EQUIVALENT to the integration of the NIST method. My last
posting concerning this case already indicated that real world experiments
are a limited tool for that purpose. You would need a strong mathematical
treatment to show this equivalence for ALL practical cases. Otherwise it
will stay Warren's tight pll method and we need to wait for the next years
to come to see its impact on the world of scientifics.

It is by far not as simple as that:

> The reason that the simple TPLL works so good
> but is hard for some "experts" to accept, seems
> to come down to the fact that this method uses
> Frequency and not Phase to make the raw data
> log used to then calculate ADEV data.

and you should check yourself whether you really want to stay at claimes
like that. Had you listened a bit more on what Bruce has been saying in the
last weeks we would perhaps already have a nice hardware (Yours!) AND a
correct mathematical treatment of the samples (delivered by Bruce). This
missed opportunity is a real pity.

Best regards
Ulrich Bangert

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com
> [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] Im Auftrag von WarrenS
> Gesendet: Donnerstag, 10. Juni 2010 06:06
> An: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
> Betreff: [time-nuts] TPLL secret reveled
> There has been speculation on why the low cost, simple, TPLL
> tester compares
> so favorably with the TSC 5120A over a wide range of taus,
> even when  using
> different Oscillators. The theories range from pure luck to
> some special
> secret magic hardware.
> If I was that lucky, I'd be doing Lottery and not ADEV.
> And If I could build some secret simple Hardware, and was
> able to adjust it
> to give some desired effect on future random noise, I'd be in
> politics or
> the stock market, not making ADEV Breadboards.
> There is another more likely explanation that is within my limited
> capabilities, that many refuse to consider.
> That is this method just works correctly without doing
> anything very special
> at all.
> The reason that the simple TPLL works so good but is hard for
> some "experts"
> to accept, seems to come down to the fact that this method
> uses Frequency
> and not Phase to make the raw data log used to then calculate
> ADEV data.
> Most if not all other methods depend on Phase differences (i.e time
> differences) to calculate the Frequency difference.
> The simple analog TPLL method holds the Phase difference to
> zero (with-in 1
> femtosecond) and calculates the average Frequency differences
> by  measuring
> the voltage on the EFC of the reference Oscillator. That way
> no variable
> phase is involved.
> This filtered Frequency data log can then be used to
> calculate ADEV without
> first needing to convert from or to phase.
> The fact that average Frequency differences do not start out as wide
> bandwidth Phase, means that all the fancy write-ups that tell
> how best to do
> that, do not apply.
> Some have argued that Phase and freq are the same thing, so
> the fact that
> this uses freq would make no difference.
> Others have argued that one can not average Freq, so you have
> to convert to
> phase first.
> Both have a basis of truth for some methods, but neither is
> correct here, as
> proven by the end results.
>  (unless one wants to also assume that I'm either the
> luckiest or smartest
> person in the universal for getting it right the first time.)
> While it is true that the TPLL Freq data can be turned into accurate
> controlled Bandwidth Phase data, Wide band phase data can not
> be so easily
> turned into controlled limited Bandwidth, zero dead time,
> integrated Freq
> data, which is the thing that is needed to get good ADEV
> results. The reason is, to get high resolution, such as 1
> femtosecond (1e-15) phase
> data, it takes a  wide bandwidth, which means high noise and
> many other
> problems. To get 1e-15 freq data from the EFC (limited by the
> ref osc), this
> can be done with the B/W equal to tau0.
> The short Over simplified summery is:
> At 1sec Tau0, the up to 1e15 to one difference in bandwidth
> between Phase
> and Frequency measurements makes a big difference that some
> seem to be
> missing. (think Phase trigger jitter)
> The simple TPLL has No secrets, just some basic differences
> that seem to of
> been forgotten or not considered.  The way that frequency is
> measured is
> what is different between the TPLL frequency method and the
> other more
> popular phase methods.
> The fact is, that the simple TPLL in spite of it limitations,
> has been shown
> to work just fine in the real world.
>  If one can not understand or accept that measuring frequency without
> needing to first measure phase is the real secret reason why
> the TPLL works
> so good, without needing any special H/W or S/W
> 'adjustments', then feel
> free to propose a better reason besides Luck.
> ws

More information about the time-nuts mailing list