Ok, with my arduino woes out of the way, i can now focus on the transmitter part of the 3 band CW rig project. Cannot rush these things and i might even get this rig working before i die, well we all have goals to shot for. LOL.
So what do I need and how are we going to go about it. For a start I am a paddle guy, single lever paddle to be precise so I need some form of built in electronic keying. A fixed speed is all i need, say 15wpm, most of the people I work from parks are slower cw types so 15wpm is a nice speed. Memory keying would be nice as I will be using the rig mostly for WWFF or SOTA a basic CQ macro and CQ Sota and CQ WWFF are all i need build in. It needs to provide the sidetone and finally this needs to be able to key the transmitter on and off as well.
As far as arduino keyers go, the Arduino CW Keyer by K3NG is probably the duck nuts. Fully feature rich and does everything other than be the other half of your contact. I looked at it, tested it and its bloody awesome, but i really do not need all that complexity so I have decided to roll my own.
So i assembled some bits and bobs and started to write some code. I have it sending nice perfect 15wpm code already using the Piezo as the speaker. I probably will not release this code. I think if you want a full fledged keyer use the one by K3NG and if you are like me and just need a simple keyer for your project, then its time to man up and write some code. It is really not that difficult at all.
A Tale Of Woe
So i got this brain wave that it would be nice to use bare IC’s in my projects rather than Uno or Nano board supported on headers. It all seems rather simple don’t it. Buy some IC’s with the bootloader already installed, drop them into your socketed Uno board with its on board AVR programmer and Bobs the uncle who touches you inappropriately at family gatherings.
But Oh No No No No, things cannot be that simple can they. Firstly, ebay is a minefield and while you are probably getting top quality IC’s and not chinesium grade floor sweepings, the term with bootloader can be somewhat vague. Yes the IC will take a bootloader, yes the IC may or may not come with a bootloader, but what bootloader is anyone’s guess.
So armed with what look like a pile of bricks and armed with your google foo, you start to look for answers on the world wide interwebs because the pixies are not going where they are meant to or doing what you want. And here armed with your vague error codes from the arduino compiler you find 100’s of people who have no idea how to fix the problem let alone what the actual case of the problem is telling you all sorts of bullshit. From the IC is bricked and cannot be fixed, from edit this file, edit that file, use a capacitor, use this method of wiring, that method of wiring, this programmer, that programmer.
Well I tried them all and guess what, none of these bullshit explanations made any fucking difference to shit. It all comes down to the stupid who is connecting things together. After trying 6 or so different ways of burning a bootloader i finally got one of the 4 different programmers to actually work, it sent the bootloader to my so called bricked IC’s like a pro and then went on to program some software on the IC as well and made an LED blink.
Oh and don’t ask me how i got it working, i really do not know, this programmer did not work the first 3 times i tried it and today for god knows what reason it worked. Thats arduino for you. I giant pain in the arse when things do not want to happen and a joy to behold when things go well. Your Mileage May Vary.
Just finished a new decade resistor box, it currently covers 10, 100, 1000, 10000 ohms, I did not have any 100K or 1M 1% resistors so i will have to go back and add them in at some stage, not that it is really important, none of the typical measurements that I will be doing will go anywhere near such big values of resistance.
So over my easter weekend activations I managed to activate my 50th VKFF reference. Its an unofficial 50th as 2 parks I had activated previously have been removed and it seems no longer count for the award. So i still got 2 more parks to go before I get the 50 parks activated award. Not that I care, i do this for fun not sheep stations.
After 2 years and 100 odd activations, I somehow managed to break the sotabeams linked dipole. Its been used, abused and not treated very nicely and its never let me down. Even once i noticed it was broken it was fixed with some electrical tape and we kept on trucking. Sotabeams, value for money thats for sure. Now to work out how I am going to fix it.