VK4HAT Console Logging Application

 

I have been tinkering about here for the last couple of days knocking up a logging application for linux/raspberry pi. I am not spending any money on project stuff at the moment so I have been doing things using what I got here and what I am currently trying to do is to shoehorn a raspberry pi into being a shack in the box type situation that runs the whole show within the home brew station I am building. Yeah changed tact yet again, but, its keeping me interested and working towards things.

Anyway, pretty much all the basic functions i want are coded and working now and all that remains is formatting the data correctly for ADIF format, add in some error checking and sanity checking on things like rst reports so I cannot add letters and then add in a MySQL backend for long term data storage. Flat files are fine enough for say one activation of a WWFF, but keeping all the data long term requires a proper database.

Anyway, stay safe and don’t get corona.

 

 

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Projects Version Control

I was listening to The Amp Hour podcast yesterday and the talk was all about hardware revision control from a startup called AllSpice. This got me thinking about all my own projects and how i have them not stored in an efficient and meaningful way.

Currently stuff is all over the place, firmware in one place, ecad in another, datasheets in yet another and other documents strewn all around my documents folder and the internet. My plan here is to bring all the relevant bits together into one place for each individual project.

Each project now has its own directory with the following directory structure. The picture below is for the 50w antenna tuner project. Its the only one i have sorted out enough to have all its bits in one place HEHE.

The Arduino folder contains the firmware for this project, the datasheets folder contains just one datasheet, the one for the relays I used. The point here is to have the datasheet for any new parts that I am using on hand with the project to ensure i do not make footprint mistakes. The documents folder is so i can make notes and will contain files i might have found on the internet etc that inspired the project. The other 3 are just to keep the ecad files all nice and tidy.

So with the directory structure under control and able to suit my needs, the next thing was setting up GIT. Ok, I am not a GIT fanboy, the last time I used a repository in anger was many years ago when i was a programmer for a free online game and then the main game in town was Subversion. Off to learn GIT we go.

This is where things start to become less helpful for you the reader because i am going to gloss over a lot of things here, because so much of this is specific to you, your operating system and who is hosting your git repos.

First thing i did was download and install GIT for windows. Next thing I did was install and configure GIT on my server and setup the repo. I am self hosted and have control over the entire machine, so not much I can tell you what to do here. But for most of you, it would be setup your account on github and make your first repo.

The rest of this is the easy part, on your local machine setup the folder structure you are going to use, put some files in there and open up git. I used git bash because i prefer the unix like command line.

Navigate to the location where your files are located, you can see above for me where things are located. Next we start making git commands.

First initialize the git repo.

Next we add all the files we just moved in there to our repo. I always cheat here and just use the * wildcard to add everything.

Then we commit the changes we have made to the repo. The comments in quotation marks are so you know what you have changed since the last time you committed changes to the repo. Make them as descriptive as you require.

Next we setup an origin, this is more or less just a shortcut to the remote server so you do not have to type out http://some.long.url.com/my_repo.git all the time. It just makes things simple and easy.Just use the url to your repo supplied by github here is that is where you are hosting.

Finally we push our changes to the remote servers master branch of our repository. We are then done. From here on out its just a matter of following steps 2 to 5 each time you either make changes or add new files to the repo. I am only using 1 repo for all my various projects and having them hanging off a single directory, but you might like to have separate repos for all your projects.

Depending on how you have your git repos setup, you might also have to use your username and password when pushing changes to the remote server. I have mine setup so only a single user can read and write to the git repository rather than being public.

So that is about it, now i have the unenviable job of spending a bunch of time sorting out my project files into some kind of sanity and then sticking to the system. HAHAHA wish me luck.

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Books Books Books Books

I was given some books by a friend to read. The series is called The Last Dragonslayer by a British author, Jasper Fforde. http://www.jasperfforde.com/index2.html

Not overly large books, so i spent good portion of Saturday and Sunday reading books one and two and now that I am finished for today, I will knock off the third one. Its kind of a fantasy fiction comedy, not the normal swords and sorcery, high fantasy kinds of stuff I would normally read, but well worth reading. If you are bored and looking for something to read, I can highly recommend these.

And for the 3 people who read my blog HEHE, make a comment down below and tell me what you are reading, I will be book free in a few days and I do not think that George Martin or Patrick Rothfuss are ever going to release the next books in their series and I need something to read 🙂

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Today I Learned Something

So today I was bitching and moaning to some friends about how stupid it is that there are so many standards for digital voip modes, DMR, D-Start, All Star, Fusion blaa blaa blaa and on and on it goes and how you need eleventeen different radios for them all and that someone needs to come up with one dongle to rules them all so I can just use the stupid Baofeng than I never use to connect to whatever network I want.

I hope to be moving within the next 6 months and where we are going there is not going to be much use having 2m and 70cm fm stuff because of a lack of people and repeaters. Some of my mates have DMR others have Fusion and other Dstar and Im like fuck that I am not buying more stupid fucking handhelds to talk to no one with. I have DMR and a hotspot and that is going to be it.

Well, I learned that I can bridge from DMR to Fusion using PiStar and my hotspot, so today I did that and talked to myself on the parrot. Its actually not that hard to do, change a few settings in Pi-Star, modify the codeplug and its done. Its not one ring to rule them all, but its a start. It would be good if this was possible with more systems, but for now, having 2 on the 1 radio will do.

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Antenna Tuner Details and Files

Ok first off, there is no full schematic for this board, I have already moved on to adding new stuff to it and changing how some parts of it work so I can add in new features. So the best i can offer is this extract that shows where the pins on the micro go to.

Secondly, I wont be releasing my code, the reason is that I do not program using the Arduino IDE and teaching everyone how to program in GCC, to install all the tools required, and uploading the code using an external programmer is beyond my ability to teach anyone let alone everyone. There are just to many things that can and will go wrong and it will only make my life miserable trying to help everyone.

That said, the ESP32 can be programmed in Arduino and the actual basic code is not that hard to write yourself. Turn a encoder and it steps through the relay combinations.

With these relays, I would not put much more than 50w though them. Though the data sheet says they will take 1A but that makes them marginal at 100w. As it stands I think 50w is a very safe bet.

Components:
Relays: Omron G5V-1 5V subminiture.
Transistors: PDTC114ET pre-biased SOT23
Caps: 1206 or 1210 Ceramic Multi-layer 1Kv or higher rated, for tuner, 50V 100nF for bypassing. 1uF across the coils of the relays.
Voltage Regulators: 5V and 3.3V 1117 variants SOT223 package.
Toriods: T68-2 T50 would be suitable also, its just what I had, 2,4,8,12,20, 24 and lots of turns.

Schematic as best as i can show without causing confusion because of changes i have made to it. Yeah sorry about that.

Top side of the board as 3d rendered.

Bottom side of the board, 3d rendered.

The board as built by me.

DOWNLOAD: auto antenna tuner_gerber

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Ham Radio Universal Prototyping System

Now i mostly work in SMD and design board for things I would like to test. But i do have a lot of through hole parts still that are sitting there pretty much doing nothing, so I started thinking of ways I can use them up and I think I have a solution. Anyway, I have a whole bunch of ideas I would like to try, different circuits to built, test and assemble into working transceivers. Back in the day, which day, ummm, ye olden day LOL, hams would breadboard circuits using actual breadboards. My idea here borrows on that concept and brings it into the modern age.

Starting with the baseboard, rather than mums old chopping board we have a PCB that has 2 power rails for 12 and 5v, a bunch of bypass caps, a DC barrel jack for power input and a 5V regulator. Lets face it, most of what we do only has 2 power rails and those are the most common. Along the baseboard we have 2 rows of dual 10pin headers for our plugin modules to slot in and out of. Each header has 2 power, 2 ground and 6 unused pins for moving signals between the plugin board. Making for neat and tidy wiring.

 

The prototyping module boards connect to the baseboard with right angle header pins. Either dual or single row header pins can be used, I used single row so i can easily wire stages to the header pins for routing between board on the baseboard.

The tops of each board can be locked together using brass standoffs. This makes for a modular system you can plug and play, mix and match different circuits for testing and characterization.

The backside of each module board contains grounds top and bottom as well as power buses on each side to make veroboard type prototyping nice and simple. This system should allow for quite interesting builds to be achieved  one stage at a time.

DOWNLOAD: Baseboard_gerber

DOWNLOAD: ProtoBoard_gerber

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Soldering Pro Tip

Lots of people say they have a hard time soldering. Well, I wear reading glasses because my eyes are not what they used to be and my hands are fucked with arthritis, i have only 55% use of my right hand and 70% in my left hand. It is what it is and they are only going to get worse over time, so no use bitching and moaning about it, i just get on with living as much as I can.

So, soldering, here is the tip and only the tip mind you (AVE HAHA) bright white light so you can see, and extra magnification. Even as a handycapped I am working with SMD components, I just magnify things enough and use the right tools. And the tools being different shaped tweezers and a nice thick 3mm chisel tip on the soldering iron. Yes, that big chunky tip is the key to things, you want to hold as much heat in the iron as you can. Use thin solder, 0.6mm or thinner because a little dab will do ya (AVE) and with heat in the tip, you are not spending time heating things up, just dab and go, dab and go. Tack one side of the part, lay the solder over the other pad or pads and dab the iron and its done.

The parts I use go down to 0.2mm pin pitch, SOT23 and 0802 in passives. I stay away from BGA and other leadless parts, they just suck, but everything else is pretty much good to go. So don’t be afraid, just illuminate and magnify, if you can see it, you can solder it. OH and flux the fuck out of it HAHAHA, flux will make you a winner.

 

 

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