Thursday, January 7, 2010

What's new in the New Year?

Just a Quick update

Steve K5FR and I are working on developing a full fledged SO2R interface for the F5K. It's not quite ready for beta release but we are working through the bugs and its really taking shape

This is a screen shot of the DDUTIL interface. It will allow 2 separate paths of RF with 2 separate amps to be controlled and up to 20 antennas

Here is a logic diagram of the system

The system will allow very complicated stations to be constructed or very uncomplicated stations to be devised. It also can use a foot switch to change from the Run station to the Search and Pounce station. We are presently trying to interface N1MM as the contest interface

N1MM is nice because it has a lot of the SO2R logic already built in.

My present station consists of a F5K, an Ameritron ALS-1300 with a ARI-500 which allows me to change bands automatically using BCD data from DDUTIL, and a modified Ameritron antenna switch that can switch my antennas by BCD data from DDUTIL I call the ability to band follow antennas and amps "frequency agility" Presently that is working with the new interface. This half of the station will be the Search and Pounce "station". For the RUN station I can use one of my other amps. Since the run station doesn't change bands very often, there is no pressing need for that amp or even that antenna to be freq agile. To change bands you just hit the foot switch or hit a keyboard key combo and you toggle between search and pounce on one band and run on another band. N1MM allows you to import data from the cluster into the program and automatically stores the correct band mode call time date and exchange data for each band and does the dupe for you. You don't need freq agile equipment to use this interface. This interface is designed so that you can build a contest station over time, adding functionality.. You can start small but the sky (and your budget) is the limit.

We are also woring on including the ability to control other relays that will be able for example to add inductance to the base of a short 80M or 160M vertical thereby making that antenna broad banded, kind of a poor man's Steppir. Those relays would be controlled by freq so you would not have to manually choose the relays, the computer would do it

Further info will become available as we continue. There is a mountain of stuff to document, but we hope to be ready to go by the ARRL contest coming up on Feb 22. NO GUARANTEE we will get there but so far it looks promising but there are still challenges.

I have published extensively about the components needed. This mostly consists of one or two $19 decoder boards and the LPT port on the computer and a foot switch or push button switch. There is no requirement however to make everything automatic to use this set up. A couple of SB-220's and a few antennas like an 80, 40 and a tribander could be made to work, which was our goal. As time goes on you can add components and without a lot of rewiring keep honing the functionality of the station.

I thought I would put this out a little early so people could be thinking about how to set up their stations, and get their ham radio juices flowing, if they are interested. I think we can get this to the point where the F5K and a couple of decoder boards can replace a couple transceivers and the entire station management hardware that most SO2R operations require.

Steve Nance has written the code for this and I've added in some design and direction in terms of the system design. Steve has done a masterful job on this software. We have tried to make this all at once simple yet extremely powerful and expandable. This project points out the true power of SDR, SO2R for half the money

More to follow