FW: More on Arduino

William F. Fenn bfenn at cox.net
Mon Apr 16 17:41:43 CDT 2012

I love reading all of the discussion about the different Arduino boards and
understand what the more powerfull board does for projects.  I also agree
with Andre when he said;

"My desire is to encourage AMRADers to DO something, anything.
And starting in a simple way is better than not starting at all  :-)"

And I also agree with another of his comments;

"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)."

Last weekend Frank Gentges, Paul Mooney and I went up to Linthicum, Md and
set up an AMRAD Display at the Annual Robot Fest
(http://www.robotfest.com/), sponsored by the National Electronics Museum.
Paul brought a prototype 40 meter receiver that he built to feed the audio
card in his computer and show how SDR (DSP)works.  Frank and I set up a
display on working with PCB's and SMT.  We also had a video loop showing how
to turn a Black and Decker toaster oven into a reflow oven.  Glen
Baumgartner, George LeMasters and Martin Rothfield were also there.  Glen
and George made it possible for three of us to get lunch and Martin, who was
showing a DC Hack project off, helped us (along with George) load our
display into back into the van at the end of the show.  I will also thank
the folks at ARRL for shipping me a load of brochures on very short notice
for a very reasonable shipping fee.

Our goal at Robot Fest was to get young people interested in the "Do It
Yourself" aspect of Amateur Radio.  Our setup was in the room where the
museums Amateur Radio Station is located where  and a number of Hams were on
the Air (40 Mtr & 20 Mtr).  Let's just say they were not operating a GOTA
station.  Our method was to strike up conversions and explain what DIY and
ham radio is.  We would then have them go over to where the hams were on the
air an pick up a brochure announcing ham radio classes.  My feeling is we
just might have interested a number of people in DIY and may have generated
a few more exams for the VE's.

Most of the youth, ages 7 to 12, were with their parents.  There were also a
number of teens.  There was another group (not hams) outside who set up a
bank of soldering irons and had little inexpensive kits for the kids to
solder (they also provided adult supervision for this).  We shared some of
our DIY brochures with them.  I doubt that most of the kids who were being
introduced to a soldering iron would be up to an Arduino at this time but
give them a year to two and they will run rings around us old f--ts.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Frank, Paul and I didn't sit around
talking about what kind of kids we would meet or what was simple or
complicated or whether we should take the time or use the gas.  Instead we
got off our butts and got the job done. The same holds for projects - you
have to start somewhere and I have found that the simpler start can attract
more people who are looking forward to more complicated things.

Maybe AMRAD should produce a very simple, inexpensive crystal radio kit that
can be taken to events such as this and be constructed by the youth.  Let's
say keep the price under 2 or 3 bucks (including ear buds) by using items
from around the house.  Or does this suggestion bring us into a discussion
on whether we should us a galena crystal or germanium diode.  Maybe we need
to use silver wire instead of copper wire for the coil ... Nope, this is no
good, we have to use litz wire.  But we really need to bias the diode and
add a transistor for an audio amp. 

Oh Well!  Who's going to show up to help the kids build their crystal set.
We are all to busy discussing the pros and cons and can't decide on how to
get the job done.

By the way, we may have a safety hazard at Tippy Taco's,  our butts are
getting bigger and the chairs are beginning to come apart.  We need to get
off our butts and get some projects on the burner that are good for both
AMRAD and Ham Radio.


By the way, has anyone got a Linksys WRT54G router Ver. 1, 2, 3 or 4 that
they would be willing to donate to AMRAD for a project.  Frank and I have
two and are looking for couple more for a project.

-----Original Message-----
From: tacos-bounces+bfenn=cox.net at amrad.org
[mailto:tacos-bounces+bfenn=cox.net at amrad.org] On Behalf Of
wb4jfi at knology.net
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 2:36 PM
To: Robert E. Seastrom
Cc: Tacos; andre.kesteloot at ieee.org
Subject: Re: More on Arduino

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert E. Seastrom
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 11:35 AM
To: wb4jfi at knology.net
Cc: andre.kesteloot at ieee.org ; Tacos
Subject: Re: More on Arduino

<wb4jfi at knology.net> writes:

> 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 I were retired I might take a comment like that as a challenge.

Standard baud rate for CAT/CI-V is 1200, no?  That should be well
within the capabilities of

Why not a CAT/CI-V to i2c to CAT program that allows target ID
rewriting and an Arduino per radio (or maybe two radios per target
Arduino if you want to get fancy and the SoftwareSerial library
doesn't need a horrendous rewrite to pull it off)?


CAT is not necessarily limited to CI-V speeds.  The Elecraft K3 CAT speed is

completely adjustable, but defaults to 38,400 (a LOT faster than 1200).  So,

buy the Mega and have four hardware UARTs, no bit-banging required. 
Bit-banging is not a free lunch.  I'm sure the software UART code is 
properly debugged, but it is still another point of failure.  Get three or 
four of them going at once, and watch out.  And it steals processor cycles. 
If you have them to spare, no problem.  If you are close to running out of 
them, watch out.

Another point:  The Uno only has ONE UART serial port.  And that is shared 
with the USB communications as well.  So, you cannot use that one serial 
port for USB communications with a host, CAT commands out to the rigs, AND 
debugging, all at the same time.  Hello bit-banger.  Or, pay twice as much 
for either an Arduino Mega or a ChipKIT Max32.

Keep in mind that we started by talking about the "average amateur".  You 
Rob, and most of tacos are "extra-special amateurs" by definition!

I'm not too thrilled about sending I2C commands across wires between boards 
in a potentially high RF environment.  I2C was designed to communicated 
between processors on the same board, or within a single device.  Running 
I2C signals as wire antennas behind your linear is probably not a good idea.

Plus, the cost of one Arduino Mega is roughly the same as two Unos, so why 
use multiple boards and serial antenna lines where a single Mega or ChipKIT 
will do?  Adding the I2C stuff and inter-Uno communications is way more 
complicated than just buying the more sophisticated board.

Most important:
If you are doing stuff with Arduinos, or other things, WRITE IT UP FOR THE 


Tacos mailing list
Tacos at amrad.org

More information about the Tacos mailing list