4 December 2016

Mk II progress report

I've not been posting so much recently, in part because I've been busy with other things but also because I get no feedback these days and have no idea whether anyone is even tuning in any more. It takes some effort to maintain the Blog, so if you want it to continue please do say hi from time to time.

Anyway, various components that I have been waiting for have finally arrived on the slow boat from parts forrin and that means I can get on with the hardware side again. In particular, the arrival of a pair of high resolution VFO encoders has enabled me to finally demonstrate that my design concept of having a separate Arduino I/O controller is OK. Although the maths suggested that latency issues would be insignificant it's not until I can try it out for real that I feel confident that I've really achieved proof of concept. The practical  upshot is that tuning latency on the Mk II is not noticeably different from any other tuning method.

I also have the right angle HDMI connectors and that means I can get on with PCB design. I'm hoping that my PCB designer friend and I can get together early next week. Most likely I will commission both full-size and mini controller PCBs.

Meanwhile, the software side has been moving along OK, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. There is a limit to the amount of development that can be done without a proper hardware platform and I was getting to that point. I have, however, added quite a lot of back-end code, notably the ability to support up to four Flex 6000 radios on a single network and select as required. This and other developments have added quite significantly to the capabilities of my API interface middleware, making it a more complete proposition.

The more I get into the Mk II development the more I am convinced that this is the correct architecture, especially as a platform for others to implement their own controllers. The Mk I depended too much on specialist Arduino capabilities and numerous libraries that were difficult to get working in harmony. In the Mk II the Arduino code for the I/O Controller is extremely simple, requiring nothing specialist at all. The Windows-based Host Controller can be packaged up in a way that makes it appropriate for a turnkey approach, with the code delivered as an executable and local configuration to match the specific hardware.

It would be interesting, therefore, to hear from anyone that is still interested in the possibility of rolling their own controller based on the Mk II.


  1. Hi John
    Sorry for the silence - just been away from base a lot this year, and its a true comms black hole. thanks for the continued work you are doing, and I've seen the activity on the Flex reflector too. The story of the processor is fascinating, and having just done some work with a Pi3 its astonishing the capability of these tiny units - your MK II sounds highly promising.
    I'm still interested in a controller, but it would be (I think) still the "mini", as my usage is very specific (6m cw/data, especially "JT" modes etc.)
    thanks again John

  2. Thanks for the comment Ian - it's good to know there is at least someone out there still! Mini is fine - it's exactly the same software regardless. I have been doing a bit of coding recently to assure that.

    73, John.