17 March 2016

Bringing it all together

The good weather of the last few days has found me out doing other things, notably getting some serious flying in, so progress on the controller project has slowed somewhat.  It's not been completely abandoned though and I've been working towards bringing all the component parts together into something approaching a complete system.

These are the principal components:
  • Arduino Due microcomputer
  • Ethernet interface "shield"
  • Display subsystem & software
  • Encoder subsystem & software
  • VFO subsystem & software
  • Switch multiplexer subsystem & software
  • Ethernet hub
  • Power supplies
Each of these subsystems have been developed separately up to now. Mainly this is because it keeps the complexity at a manageable level when doing initial design and build/debug work.

Now it is time to start bringing the various components together. A big step will be integrating the display subsystem with the encoder/VFO subsystems. This requires quite a lot of pin reassignment and some associated electronics to physically connect it all together. It also requires quite a lot of new software to connect up the Flex radio events to the display and to get the touch screen able to command the radio, etc. The controller software will now become quite complex, more completely resembling the final operational code. I suspect this work will take a few days.

I am also thinking about the physical implementation. There is likely to be a bit of a lead time in getting the front and rear panel CNC milling work done and getting them professionally painted/silk screened. My experience is that this effort is really very worthwhile, producing a controller that will be aesthetically pleasing as well as functionally capable.

Is this the final panel layout?
I'm quite close now to running with the above layout. It is completely symmetrical, in effect providing controls for two complete transceivers in one box. This is really a follow on from my musings a few days ago that unlike most conventional radios, the Flex "slices" are identical radio invocations. It's not the end of the world if I decide down the line that I'd prefer a different layout but it's certainly harder to bash a lump of aluminium sheet than it is to change a chunk of software. So it seems like a good idea to stick to the old adage: measure twice, cut once.

I'll write some more when I've got progress to report on the subsystem integration work.

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