23 January 2017


I've been asked to present on SDR and my controller project at Chris, G3WOS's 6m BBQ on 5th August 2017. This talk will be somewhat different, with a 6m slant and probably more operational anecdotes, with a little less technical content. Although I've been QRV on 6m for many years and always get on the band for the summer Es season, I wouldn't really consider myself to be a 6m aficionado, so I shall have to watch what I say :)

See you there?


Hurrah! The maxi PCB arrived on Saturday and I've fully populated it with controls. Everything works exactly as it should, which is something of a relief.

At the front are all the switches and rotary encoders together with the display. Not visible are the four VFO Tx/Rx control switch/LED units and the two VFO encoders. These fix directly to the aluminium front panel and are connected to the PCB with header pins.

The back of the PCB has the Arduino Due piggybacked onto the board, behind the LCD display and the two 16 bit switch multiplexers, which are also piggybacked onto the main board. On the left you can see the HDMI ribbon cable which attaches to the display on the other side of the board.

I can now get on with finishing the software, a task that was on hold because I needed the full hardware environment for testing. I'm also working on the Mini PCB, which I am hoping to get into fab early in February, although these things always seem to take longer than I expected. The two aluminium front panels, one Maxi and one Mini are also in for CNC machining.

Plenty to be getting on with ahead of the lecture series planning for April.

10 January 2017

Maxi PCB

It's been too long coming for all sorts of perfectly valid reasons but at last I have the completed PCB design for the Maxi-Controller.

The Arduino I/O processor is mounted on the PCB, behind the display and this means that all the connections to the various controls can be printed as tracks, considerably reducing the amount of wiring required. Of course it makes the board a lot more complicated and that is one of the reasons it's taken a while to get it right.

Most of the problems aren't, in fact, anything to do with the PCB circuitry. Mainly it's a case of getting all the components to fit without getting in each other's way and, notably, ensuring that the few cables that are required don't snag on other parts of the board.

For example, it has proved necessary to move the two vertical columns of pushbutton switches about 4mm further away from the display so that the display's HDMI cable can be fitted. Similarly, we had to move switch multiplexer 0 from the top of the board down to the bottom in order to make room for the USB cable to the Arduino.

The good news is that in fixing the maxi-controller board layout we have now solved pretty well all of the problems we are likely to come across on the mini-controller PCB. Once the maxi board is into fab we can get started on the mini PCB and should have it done in a few days (famous last words!).

Here are a few more views of the PCB

1 January 2017


Happy New Year to all my readers.

I finally did it! As a new Year's present to myself I've at last made the Flex 6500 and my Mk I controller the main station radio. In truth I've been using it for several months and the FT5000 hasn't been turned on in as long but today I moved the FT5k out of the shack and the Mk I controller took its place at the main operating position.

I've made a bunch of QSOs to check that everything is working OK. It is. Of course this isn't the end of the story, not even by half - there's the Mk II on the horizon and to be honest I really need to redesign the layout of my station rather than just plonking the controller in place. But that's for another day. Right now, I'm off to make some more QSOs.