[time-nuts] TICC Timestamping / Time Interval Counter -- Available to Order

John Ackermann N8UR jra at febo.com
Thu Dec 8 09:18:51 EST 2016

Hi Luciano --

The expanded-channels scenario would use one TICC/Arduino pair for each 
set of channels.  It would require much redesign to stack multiple TICCs 
on a single Arduino, and I don't think one board would have the power to 
handle it.

What I envisioned would be a set of TICC/Arduinos each putting their 
data on USB, and then something like a RPi receiving the multiple USB 
data streams and serving as a control unit that might multiplex the data 
onto a single ethernet stream, or do processing/storage itself.

At this point, the TICC board includes the connections to allow multiple 
boards to be synchronized but we haven't implemented the full system yet 
-- in part because until now there are only 4 working TICCs in the 
world, and they are in 3 locations!


On 12/8/2016 8:09 AM, timeok wrote:
>     Hi John,
>     a question: In the draft operating manual is write is possible to use 2, 4 ,6 etc. input using multiple (1,2,3) TICC.
>     How are connected the extra TICC boards?
>     Is it possible a single Arduino drive multiple boards or each board is connected to an Arduino processor?
>     thanks,
>     Luciano
>     www.timeok.it
>     From "time-nuts" time-nuts-bounces at febo.com
>     To "Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement" time-nuts at febo.com
>     Cc
>     Date Wed, 7 Dec 2016 14:45:17 -0500
>     Subject [time-nuts] TICC Timestamping / Time Interval Counter -- Available to Order
>     I'm happy to report that TAPR is now accepting orders for the TICC
>     timestamping / time interval counter. We've placed an order with the
>     contract manufacturer and expect to have finished product ready to ship
>     sometime in February. The TICC system will include the TICC shield
>     mounted on an Arduino Mega 2560 compatible processor, with TICC software
>     loaded. Each system will be tested for function before shipping.
>     As I mentioned in my original email, TAPR is going a bit out on a limb
>     to produce the TICC, and we have to make a significant up-front payment
>     to our contract manufacturer. So, early orders are very much appreciated
>     to help recover our cash flow.
>     The regular price will be $190 each for the TICC shield with Arduino
>     compatible processor,* but to encourage early orders, we're offering a
>     $10 discount for orders placed on or before December 21 -- that makes
>     the price $180 plus shipping.
>     You can order from: http://tapr.org/kits_ticc.html
>     Thanks!
>     John
>     * We will provide a Sainsmart version of the Arduino Mega 2560 R3. They
>     seem to be a reliable supplier and we used these boards for TICC
>     development.
>     -------- Forwarded Message --------
>     Subject: [time-nuts] New Timestamping / Time Interval Counter: the TICC
>     Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2016 10:48:57 -0500
>     From: John Ackermann N8UR <jra at febo.com>
>     Counters with resolution below 1 nanosecond are difficult.
>     They require either outrageous clock speeds, or interpolators
>     that are typically a bunch of analog components mixed with black
>     magic and stirred by frequent calibration. The very best single-shot
>     resolution that's been commercially available is 20 picoseconds in
>     the Keysight 53230A and HP 5370A/B. My 5370B has an one-second
>     noise ADEV of about 4x10e-11.
>     With the help of some very talented friends, I've been working on a new
>     counter called the "TICC" with <60ps resolution and similar jitter,
>     based the Texas Instruments TDC7200 time-to-data-converter chip. The
>     noise ADEV is about 7x10e-11, not much worse than the 5370,
>     but here's the trick: the TICC is an Arduino shield (mounting a
>     Mega 2560 controller) that weighs a couple of ounces, requires
>     *no* calibration, and is powered from a USB cable!
>     The TICC is implemented as a two-channel timestamping counter. That
>     means it can measure or two low-frequency (e.g., pulse-per-second)
>     inputs against an external 10 MHz reference, or it can do a traditional
>     time interval measurement of input against the other. It can also
>     measure period, ratio, or any other function of two-channel timestamp
>     data. (And by the way -- multiple TICCs can be connected to yield 4,
>     6, 8, or more synchronized channels, though we haven't tested this
>     capability yet.)
>     I've attached a picture of the TICC prototype as well as an ADEV plot
>     of a 17+ day run of multiple measurements taken by two TICCs, and also
>     showing the TICC noise floor. The good news behind that plot is that
>     there are more than 6 million data points behind these results, and
>     there was not a single glitch or significant outlier among them.
>     There's more information available at http://febo.com/pages/TICC
>     The software is open source (BSD license) and is available at
>     https://github.com/TAPR/TICC -- the current version seems be reliable
>     but there are still features to add and a *lot* of cleanup to do; it's
>     currently ugly and very much a work in process.
>     As always, I'll be making the TICC available through TAPR. We're still
>     finalizing details, but we expect the price to be less than $200 for a
>     turn-key system: TICC mounted an Arduino with software loaded and
>     tested for basic functionality. We hope to ship the TICC by February.
>     I'll post a note in a week or two with final price and ordering
>     information. As a heads up, we will probably offer a small discoun
>     for pre-orders. TAPR is a shoestring non-profit group and the up-front
>     cost to manufacture this unit will frankly be a challenge for us.
>     Getting pre-orders will help our cash flow significantly, so we ask you
>     to keep that in mind.
>     John
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