10 May 2016

Do you want one?

When I started this project it was because I saw a need for me personally that I thought I could see a way to making a reality. Various conversations with others led to me starting this Blog and, as a result, a few people have expressed an interest in having their own 'WGV Flex controller. Here are some thoughts on how this might work.

Firstly, I think it is highly unlikely that this will ever become a commercially available product. There are numerous reasons for this, notably that some of the code libraries that I employ are on the basis of non-commercial use and the fact that I am not keen to get into selling amateur radio software - I've been there and done that and have no wish to do so again.

But... There are ways and means.

Firstly, let's look at the software. I would be perfectly content to make my software available at no charge, on the clear understanding that its value is what you paid for it and the support entitlement is limited to that value.

The way Arduino code works is that you get the complete source code and have to compile it (using the free Arduino IDE) and then load it on to the Arduino board. This effectively means that this is no turnkey solution. Anyone using the software would have to be willing to compile it and do configuration, etc. at the very minimum. In many cases the user would need to modify the code to his own requirements. So a reasonable level of computer literacy and a willingness to experiment will be essential.

Next, let's consider the hardware. Much of the computing side is easy to define. It comprises a pair of Arduino Due processors, a display, high resolution VFO rotary encoders, various push buttons, multiplexer boards and general purpose shaft encoders. All these components are readily available from the likes of Rapid Electronics and RS Components, with the possible exception of the VFO rotary encoders, which may require a bit of research.

Some sort of enclosure will be required and this is very much a matter of user preference. I have so far identified two layouts, maxi and mini, but neither design is fixed (yet). It may be that we could come up with a couple of standard layouts for specific enclosures. In that case I would probably be able to arrange for CNC milling of the panels, at cost.

Another possibility with standardised layouts is the production of PCBs. In one off quantities, these are extremely expensive but the unit cost rapidly reduces even with quite small quantities. Of course there is no absolute need to have a PCB at all - it can be done, albeit nowhere near so nicely, with Veroboard.

So there you have it. This is more of a DIY project than an off the shelf solution. Still interested? It would be very useful if you would let me know, without commitment, of course, so I can gauge the actual level of interest.


  1. Hi John
    I'm definitely interested in either, but (slight) preference would be for the compact unit. I'm pretty computer literate but not used Arduino, but that can and will change.
    All components would be mail-order for me, but living in the Highlands, that's nothing new (unless Maplins stocked appropriate units...)
    73, Ian

  2. Thanks Ian. At some stage we might look together at making up a kit list that you could go out and procure, so you could make up your own prototype. Nearly all the stuff is available from the likes of RS components and Rapid Electronics, both of whom have excellent next day delivery services for free. I got a few bits, such as the VFO encoders and the switch muxes via eBay.

    73, John, 'WGV