GPS and Power Phasing? + My Plans for GPS Eve : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

To begin with, I don't believe there is much cause for alarm, but when I first heard of the GPS rollover, there was some concern about power grid equipment being reliant upon GPS time signals to coordinate the 60hz sine wave (US) from one end of the country to the other. If this is true and if the software was structured slightly differently from one satellite to another, could the phasing be disrupted, causing surges, etc? According to the recent MSNBC article, "Businesses such as power and telephone utilities and even international banking use the GPS to establish accurate timing of some processes." So, I gather there is still some room for concern.

Unfortunately, I have never checked into this. And now, with only a few days left, I probably won't be able to do so either. Still, commentary would be appreciated.

So, what are my plans for 23:59:47 GMT 21 Aug? Or, in my case, 6:59:47pm US Central Daylight Time, Saturday? As the proud (arrogant?) owner of $$$ in electronic equipment, I plan to power down and unplug (am I being too technical here?) and wait a good few hours for the "all clear" signal. Yes, this strategy even requires me to grovel behind the refrigerator for the plug(!)

Why would I do such a potentially embarrasing act? Precisely because I do not know what will happen.

Oh, by the way, if the GPS rollover is uneventful, it will be proof positive that my money should stay in the banks where it belongs (... not!)

-- Zach Anderson (, August 17, 1999



Instead of going around and unpluging every thing try:

1) Turn off the Main Breaker to the House


2) Turn off all of the Breakers in the Box!

This will result in an Electrically "Dead" house.


-- helium (, August 17, 1999.


You may want to reconsider your plans. you wrote;

So, what are my plans for 23:59:47 GMT 21 Aug? Or, in my case, 6:59:47pm US Central Daylight Time, Saturday?

You are at -7:00 GMT (translates to 5:00PM or 1700hrs.) I am in the Pacific time zone or -8:00 GMT (4:00PM or 1600hrs)

Good luck, and don't wait until 7:00PM :-)

-- DOC (, August 17, 1999.

In December of last year, Dick Mills published an article:

Another Myth, We Need Computers to Synchronize

in which he mentions:

"You probably already guessed my answer from the title. No. Neither GPS nor computers are critical to the process. The actual synchronism mechanisms are simpler, more elegant, and more interesting than any computer chip application. They have to be. They ve been in use since before 1880. Anyhow, the subject gives me an excuse to once again use simple pictures to illustrate Y2K points."

FWIW, if anyone has published a refutation of that article, I have not yet heard about it.


-- Jerry B (, August 17, 1999.

Some experts say that this phasing is self regulating once everything is hooked up and running and additional loads would slow the 60 cycles slightly to 59.9999 cycles or so per second, more generators would be started and the 60 cycles would be restored. Timing via satelite may be important to get it into phase when a new generator is being added to the grid. There could still be problems with bank transfers, phone connections etc.

-- Curly (Curly@3stooges.gom), August 17, 1999.


Zach is correct! GMT (or UTC, as it is now known) does not "spring forward" or "fall back" with the changes between standard and daylight savings time. It stays constant. So in the winter, the Central Standard time zone is at UTC -6. In the summer, during Daylight Savings Time, the Central time zone is at UTC -5. The same holds true with your Pacific time zone. Right now, during Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), you are running at UTC -7. When we "fall back" this autumn, you'll be running at UTC -8. So for Zach, the End of Week (EOW) rollover will occur at 13 seconds before 7 p.m. this coming Saturday. For you, it will occur at 13 seconds before 5 p.m. You can verify this by calling the U.S. Naval Observatory Nuclear Clock timekeeping service at 202-762-1401 or 202-762-1069. They give the time for the Eastern time zone, and also in UTC. You will see that your local time is 7 hours behind UTC.

-- Prometheus (, August 17, 1999.

I read and understand Dick Mills article. But, what is GPS used for? Is it possible that what Dick describes is the older, pre-computer way of doing things, and that newer, more modern digital equipment uses GPS? Can you help me out here Mr. Cook, Shakey, Dan the power man?

Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (, August 17, 1999.

Interesting little snippet from an article Linkmeister found...

Paris, Tuesday, August 17, 1999
The Internet May Be the Biggest Question Mark of Them All
By Thomas Fuller International Herald Tribune



Internet users may get a foretaste of Y2K confusion on Aug. 24, when, for reasons not directly related to the millennium bug, the clocks in some satellites that carry Internet traffic will reset themselves to zero. That could affect the way computers linked to the Internet register such things as financial transactions.


-- Diane J. Squire (, August 17, 1999.


Thanks buddy.

-- DOC (, August 18, 1999.

GPS is not used to synch generators into the grid. Whether it is a big phase meter at a power station that is manually locked online when the phase difference between the grid and one particular turbine/generator is about nil, or a person trying to switch back to the power line from a standby genset without powering down a large motor, you just measure the phase difference between one source and the other, throttle your unit up or down to match, and then connect up or switch over when the phase difference is zero (or just about - anticipating that at the time of connection (.x seconds after starting the switch movement) phase difference will be zero).

-- Ken Seger (, August 19, 1999.

I'll probably be at work. GPS rollover will probably be a non-event, although I wonder if the DOD is being a little tight-lipped about some of its less-accessible systems not being GPS rollover compliant.

-- coprolith (, August 19, 1999.

Let's take a gander now at what's wrong with "Satellites Going Boing," quoted above:

the number of weeks is not 1,040, it's 1,024;

no, every satellite in orbit is not set to the GPS system;

so, their internal clocks will not reset to zero at the GPS EOW rollover;

hard drives crashing in orbiting satellites does not seem to be a conceivable consequence of EOW;

so, we are not looking at potential failure of all telecommunications, etc.;

"Y2K experts" who think that EOW is "the real threat" are not Y2K Experts;

older satellites will not necessarily have to be replaced, though the possibility does not seem to be out of the question; and,

the chances that we "could be deaf, dumb and blind for a year" are as infinitesimal as the chances that the writer of "Satellites Going Boing" has the slightest clue about EOW, Y2K, or anything else technological.

-- Cherri (, August 19, 1999.

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