More on Arduino

wb4jfi at wb4jfi at
Sun Apr 15 22:02:17 CDT 2012

-----Original Message----- 
From: Andre Kesteloot
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:12 PM
To: wb4jfi at
Cc: andre.kesteloot at ; Tacos
Subject: Re: More on Arduino

On 4/13/2012 18:34 PM, wb4jfi at wrote:
> I've been looking at the Digilent ChipKIT Max32 for a while now.  At $50, 
> it seems to be a much more powerful device than the Arduino 8-bit CPU. 
> The problem is that it does not have I2S support, so connecting audio 
> codecs (for I/Q sampling) is problematic.  I'm not sure that the 16-bit 
> ADCs inside the PIC chip are quiet enough.
> Another problem may be that the Digilent board only supplies 3.3V to the 
> shields, no 5V.  This according to the article below, but the schematics 
> seem to have 5V shown.  The Arduino ethernet shield uses 5V, for example. 
> While the Digilent boards have their own ethernet shield, it uses an SMC 
> LAN8720 ethernet chip instead of the (now) Arduino-standard Wiznet W5100. 
> I think the article is incorrect about no 5V, at least on the ChipKIT 
> Max32.
> Terry


One of the great advantages of the Arduino UNO, IMO, is its simplicity.
Simple to buy (Micro-Center, and by mail order), simple to power up
(USB), and simple to program (a pared-down version of C).
Also lots of books and articles available.

Once we go for higher-power processors, etc, then we may as well forget
about simplicity and attractiveness to your average Ham operator.
(That's is what I am trying to encourage: your regular ham deciding to
buy an Arduino UNO and connecting it to his/her USB port).


I mentioned the above information specifically because my concerns addressed 
the article that you forwarded to tacos about expanding Arduinos and more 
advanced target platforms (your email on 4/13/12, article: 
  ).  I was not promoting more sophisticated hardware, THAT ARTICLE was.

Within that article, the Digilent ChipKIT 32 seem to be highlighted as the 
next step up in the Arduino ladder.  My email meant to highlight that while 
they are more powerful than basic Arduinos, there are still issues if you 
plan to use them for more advanced projects.

I did not mean to indicate that Unos are not usable for projects.  I am 
using them to do lots of fun stuff.  However, I also don't think you should 
mix up simplicity with ease-of-use.  More sophisticated Arduino variants can 
be just as easy to use, but provide more I/O pins, or more sophisticated 
interfaces that are demanded by more advanced projects.

This is AMRAD, in my opinion we should not limit ourselves to ONLY basic 
devices (and therefore ONLY basic projects), just because we arbitrarily set 
a goal of only using 8-bit processors with only 8 or 16 or 24 pins.  That is 
NOT the way to move this hobby forward.  Is CW a good-enough mode of 
operation, why use SSB?  Packet is totally unnecessarily, we already have 
the National Traffic Systems and ARRL codes.  PSK-31 is too hard to do, 
requiring all that extra junk just to replace model 19 RTTY terminals. 

The average amateur will never write C code for ANY processor/development 
board.  To him or her, it's all about being able to implement what someone 
else has done.  If you want to build a device that receives Kenwood/Elecraft 
CAT commands and parse them out to three different ham rigs or equipment 
(using isolated RS232 ports), you cannot easily do that on an Uno.  But, you 
CAN do that on an Arduino Mega 2560.  If you need more memory or faster 
speed than an Uno's 16MHz, or even the Mega, the Digilent ChipKIT32 (80MHz 
clock) can provide the hardware platform, and the development GUI, to 
accomplish that.  There aren't enough pins on a Uno to support audio 
demodulation of PSK-31, and then display the data on an 16x2 LCD, plus 
support a rotary encoder and a couple of other switches.  Should someone 
abandon that (or other) project just because it does not fit into a Uno?

My original point is that even the ChipKIT Max32, which the article you 
forwarded a link to seems to be touting, is not capable of handling some 
needs, especially in the world of SDR or other basic audio processing. 
Plus, either the article is wrong about no 5V, or the Digilent ChipKIT 
schematics and documentation appear to be wrong.

While I applaud what the Arduino Uno can do, its design, and especially its 
development software, I don't think it's fair to not build a project just 
because it won't fit on a Uno.  After all, none of them can run CP/M.

By the way, who says C programming is simple, even a pared-down version? 
Or, especially a pared-down version.  I have found that the Arduino can take 
a LOT of more standard C statements than I have found on any Arduino 
documentation site.  I've ended up trying a statement, and if it works, I 
use it.  For example, there are a lot more traditional "C" string handlers 
that the Arduino development environment accepts than I can find documented 
anywhere.  Maybe we should not use these, and stick to the "approved" 
statements only?  Lastly, the Arduino environment seems to be a mix of C and 
C++.  It does some of both, but not all of either.

So, I challenge your assertion that higher-power processors necessarily 
eliminates the simplicity and attractiveness to the average Ham operator. 
So there.
Terry, WB4JFI

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