As the developer of the MPB, programmer for the IRIG-B decoder, and designer of the synchronization logic in the FPGA, I had originally documented the way that the time synchronization was to work. It was implemented by our DSP programmer, Bob Jackson, and the X86 programmer, Michael Miller.
Later, during the shift from QNX 2 to QNX 4 (now POSIX-compliant), Michael Miller, now my manager, asked me to revisit the time sync design, update the documentation, and implement a “time tag” system for maintaining accurate representation of time in the buffers and on disk, in the presence of time changes, discontinuities, and disagreements between processors.
I documented the plan, identifying the method of arbitration of time, then wrote TimeServ in its entirety. It’s still in use.
Vansco was an important partner of the IAMC for the development of a new product for Manitoba Hydro – the Power Disturbance Recorder (PDR). This was an innovative system that had a Central Station and multiple Remote Stations, connected by modems. In practice, we had Remote Stations be as far as 1500 km (2400 mi) away, way up north on the Nelson River power system. The Remote Station would detect power disturbances and contact the Central Station to alert it of the occurrence. The Central Station would then connect all other Remote Stations and instruct them to capture a time-synchronized snapshot around the event.
The key concepts here were time synchronization and snapshot retrieval. The Remote Station processors had enough storage to keep very long buffers of data – so even if the disturbance disrupted communications for a time, events would still be captured, network-wide. The communications protocol between the Master and Remote Stations always had an initial multiple-pass time-synchronization exchange to resolve the clock offsets between the stations, without external synchronizing source. Of course, now time sync over wide area is easy, due to ubiquitous satellite navigation & timing systems, but at this time, the PDR implementation was innovative and worked well.
After IAMC closed down, ongoing PDR development was transferred to Vansco. Later, former IAMC developer Michael Miller joined our team and was instrumental in its ongoing development.
The PDR was renamed the Dynamic Swing Recorder (DSR) by our Manitoba Hydro team. That team, especially Dave Fedirchuk, felt that more utilities could use this technology. We tried to market it more widely, but later decided that a newer approach was required – creating a more generalized fault recorder, similar to the leaders at the time, the Rochester Instruments or Mehta Tech recorders. This is where the idea of the TESLA 2000 started to take hold.