Development of Master Clock Beaglebone Cape

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Dr. Kovácsházy Tamás
Department of Measurement and Information Systems

Nowadays, industry demand towards cyber physical systems is ever growing, while it is already somewhat significant. Just think about the vision of Industry 4.0 or the Internet of Things. These systems, however, present us with some unique challenges. One of these is the question of clock synchronization.

Many of these systems require the establishment of a global timestamping scheme, and a lot of them also need to be able to implement simultaneous sampling and synchronous actuation. However, these goals can only be achieved by synchronizing the clocks of the system.

Unfortunately, the classical solutions (like Network Time Protocol) are neither accurate nor reliable enough. That is why Precision Time Protocol (PTP) has been created in the IEEE 1588 standard; PTP provides a means for sub 1 microsecond synchronization for TCP/IP based networks and it is also reliable enough to be used in safety critical applications.

For these reasons, it is essential that universities research and teach this technology, but to build a PTP network, one needs a master clock which can synchronize itself to a global time via a GNSS receiver. The problem is, that these devices are prohibitively expensive. So, we need to develop a low-cost master clock for universities and researchers with an Open Hardware model.

Thus, my task for this thesis was to create the PCB design for a BeagleBone Black based PTP master clock. So, I did just that and I also created a custom measurement system to evaluate GNSS receivers. This latter was also published in my Scientific Students' Associations Conference paper.


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