2018 ~ The Year of SSB Transceivers

Learning Through the Recovery!

Daily I marvel at what happened when I lost my main computer. Thankfully the major radio/electronic files were protected but now with Windoz Ten I have to realign some of the ways I did things. It seems like no matter what you do you have to log into applications and provide passwords --yes more secure but a pain in you know where.

But on the bright side this has caused me to ask why did you do this or that? Now I am forced to look at better ways to do things. Just prior to the event I had switched over to a new way of showing data on the color TFT displays.Formerly when displaying USB or LSB. I fixed the "SB" part and depending on the mode would simply insert an "L" or a "U" in front of the "SB" part. Well we had the flicker problem and now every time through the loop --you would have the L or U seem to flicker. 

A ham in Europe said "Why don't you fix that --it is bothersome". Well that caused me to place both the USB and LSB on the display and then a small dot, or square is placed beside the appropriate mode and that gives a visual indication of what mode. The dot or square is actually flickering so that part is not gone BUT it is not as evident as a text size 3 letter flickering. That seems to have worked nicely as a fix.

I had "lifted" the Arduino from my Belthorn III (pronounced Bel Thorn as I was instructed by the rigs designer G4GXO as opposed to my east coast USA "Belt Horn" pronunciation) for another project. Time to reload the code on a new Nano and while I was at it to fix the flicker problem. This was also a test did I really have Arduino 1.8.5 back working on my new Dell Inspirion. I was successful!

In these shots you can see that there is a small dot next to USB or LSB and no flickering of the letters.

The Belthorn III rig had some serious innovations such as an S Meter and the driver circuit ahead of the IRF510 is actually a 1 watt packaged amplifier block from Motorola (CA2810C). The significant innovation in this amp is the use of the 28VDC Motorola device. So Ok how do you operate this rig off of 12 VDC. The answer: a built in DC to DC convertor power supply from Mean Well which takes 9 to 18 VDC input and produces 24 VDC at 600 Ma. The supply is totally isolated and has proven itself to work flawlessly. This DC to DC convertor is 2.5 inches square and about 0.25 inches high which is easily built into the rig.

The Motorola Gain Block Amp is the Blue Cube Like Package and the Mean Well Supply is just in front of the 28 VDC device. Pretty cool stuff. With  rig like this I am able to drive a 100 Watt intermediate amp which in turn can drive my SB200 to over 600 watts output. This is now a competitive station on 20 Meters.

Now for the fun part -- I have opened most of the saved Arduino sketches in Windoz Ten and for the most part they will compile and load in 1.8.5, although they were originally done in  Arduino 1.0.5. Often I will make a sketch for a rig and then modify that sketch and save it as a Rev 1.

Here is an example where I built a rig and used a Yaesu 3.180 MHz filter out of an FT-101. I then changed the filter to a GQRP 9.0 MHz filter and modified the sketch in four places. The 1st was to load the initial start up frequency and the second to identify the BFO frequency at start up. The final two changes identify if a switch is in one position then it is USB so put in the USB BFO frequency and if the switch is in the other position then use the LSB BFO. Nothing else was changed. The Yaesu filter sketch compiles and loads -- the GQRP burps and hiccups all kinds of error messages that have nothing to so with the four changes. 

I have placed both sketches side by side on my computer screen and reviewed each line of code side by side. The only difference is the new BFO frequencies and the change in start up frequency. Yet the error messages relate to #include <SPI.h> --something about class.  That is a head scratcher and opportunity for learning.

The acid test (today) is to evaluate the sketches that use an LCD -- that was a problem even 1.0.5. Stay tuned. (The yellow front panel is Juliyellow with a cool blue display --now that is real Knack!) I ran that test after this posting and I can now make changes to this "junk box" rig using Arduino 1.8.5. Moving forward.

So the moral of the story has nothing to do with "Stormy" or NDA's but that often our learning journey takes many twists and turns. 

Typically when I post this stuff I get really serious technical questions like --where did you get that cool knob for the Bel Thorn III. I bought several off of eBay and I think they were used on the Swan series of transceivers.

Pete N6QW


  1. Hi Pete. If you do decide to go back to the old LSB/USB style then give me a yell as I had a similar problem and the fix was straightforward.


    Charlie ZL2CTM

  2. Pete

    Re: Flickering of USB/LSB text field.

    I assume you're updating that screen element every time through the main loop. Why not only update that text field when a change in mode occurs?

    1. Yes that is the case and I felt blessed I could even get it to work. Now as I have indicated in the initial part of the post --time for the better mousetraps and to explore more efficient and technically better ways of using the code. It is all about the learning journey.


  3. Pete:

    Re: Software Compatibility

    Have you tried right-clicking on the app's shortcut icon, clicking on "Compatibility" and selecting the OS version it's known to work on?

  4. Pete, that is one seriously sexy knob. Want want want...

  5. You can save yourself a lot of grief by ditching Windblows - it's successive kludges on top of CP/M and riddled with holes. Go to Linux - any 'flavour' - designed secure from the ground up. The whole of the Internet runs on it (yeah, there are Windblows servers, but the transport technology is all Linux.
    I'm running Kubuntu, (dual-booted on an i3 machine bought with Win7 and upgraded to Win10), and its interface ain't too different: the basic tools are pretty much the same - browse with Firefox, email with Thunderbird, Libre Office ... Once learned you're set. It runs better on old systems too. My wife's 'all-in-one', a much newer 'Atom', crawls in comparison.
    When I really have to, I'll go back to the Wi10 - and go have lunch while it updates before use, then leave it to shut down for the half-hour it takes that I could be using productively on Kubuntu. Kubuntu just alerts you the updates are there, and you can do the job (and much more quickly) at your leisure in what would otherwise be 'down time'.

  6. I am running Libre Office on W10 and really like it. Better than MS Office


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