Tiny, isolated USB to Xcvr interface (PTT, Audio, CAT, …)

I will descvribe here the USB interface between the redio station and the computer which I recently developed and tested. This post is a continuation of the first part, where I described a simple interface for controlling two digital lines using the USB / Serial Converter, where I presented simple interface to control two digital signals (e.g. PTT and CW). This time I will describe an interface that combines more functions:

  • Controlling several digital (switching) inputs and outputs,
  • Interface for controlling the station via the serial interface
  • Audio input and output interface (sound card)

I had some implementation issues with the microcontrollers and USB virtual com ports, which I have described in detail in the previous contribution, I decided it’s better using the tested solutions. The block diagram of the interface is swhown in following picture:

Block diagram of the interface

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Small USB to PTT/CW adapter

In this post, I will first introduce some of the basic technical background of the control of the transmit signal (PTT) and other signals (eg CW or linear activation). The second part will describe theĀ  interface development and the final product.

Standard DB9 male connector

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What is inside plastic?

Photoelasticity is wonderfull phenomenon. It describes changes in the optical properties of a material under mechanical deformation. It is a property of all dielectric media and is often used to experimentally determine the stress distribution in a material, where it gives a picture of stress distributions around discontinuities in materials. Photoelastic experiments (also informally referred to as photoelasticity) are an important tool for determining critical stress points in a material, and are used for determining stress concentration in irregular geometries. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoelasticity]. Experimenting with photoelasticity photography gives some nice photos at least. It is usefull tool for visualisation of the internal stresses within (transparent) material.

My experiment setup:

Photoelasticity photography setup

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6×1 antenna switch

This is complete project for 1×6 antenna switch. It was bult in more than 50 pieces around the world and performs really good. Even big guns use it for their systems. The project was designed with help from other OMs (S55O, S59MA, S50LD, S51CT, S51ZJ, SM2WMV/SJ2W and others).

6×1 antenna switch

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Cheap sh*t magnetic pickup

Do you ever wondered how much magnetic field garbage is around you? This is cheap and easy build to measure magnetic noise or to compare which switching supply is more sh*tty.

Near field probes are nothing new. It’s easy to find one via web search. Here is one good reference for H and E field probes which I found via google image search:

EMC near field probes for H and E field

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From c source to cloud with ESP8266

There are many steps from c source code to cloud data storage. Let’s start…

“To get the end, you must go back to the start” – Grandmother Yelsh

In this contribution I will describe how I started using Espressif ESP8266 with Eclipse and some other details how to store data in “usual” web server. I will not talk about the hardware too much. To follow the tutorial it is enough to have any ESP8266 module connected to serial port on PC either via USB/UART virtual cvom port or directly (rare these days). Two most common possibilities are either module with the USB/UART integrated on-board or separated USB/UART + ESP8266-xx module (usually on breadboard with some additional periphery):

Two most common types of dev.boards for ESP8266

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Precision voltage source – voltage calibrator

_________________ Work in progress _______ Last change: 22.10.2017 ______________


What I missed in my workshop is nifty small programmable precision voltage source which can be used as calibration voltage source for testing and calibration purposes. I decided to make one, because instruments which have word “calibrator” have price with same digits as there is vocals in this magic word.

Let’s start with block diagram:

Voltage calibrator – Block diagram

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Altium – working with embedded boards

Embedded board arrays in altium could be used for creating panels for multiplication during prototyping. Here is short illustrative example. In this example we will:

  1. create single PCB board design (not covered here)
  2. create and embed array with this single PCB
  3. add some markers and holes
  4. add panel cutouts

Final result, keep reading below…

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PRECIsion Power SUpply project

PreciPSU is an attempt to build high performance power supply. The idea started few years ago but it was never realised. Some major target performance specs are as follows:

  • three isolated channels
  • around 50W per channel
  • 24V/3A output per channel
  • lowest possible ripple at fastest response
  • small size
  • programmable via USB
  • nice housing with minimalist user interface (2 plugs per channel, knob, button and small display

Update 15.7.2017: block diagram

PreciPSU Block diagram

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Adjustable gain LNA

Low noise amplifiers are very useful. I built one with single BFG425W transistor with adjustable bias current. The schematic diagram is very simple:

LNA schematic diagram

and the PCB is 20x24mm:


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