Lots of development on the 5″ Nextion screens

Mark AJ6CU  has announced that he have completed what he considers a “beta 1″ for the 5″ version of the CEC user interface.

Note this user interface is substantially different than the original one released by KD8CEC (see screenshots below).  It has been optimized for 800×480 screens and is probably not easily migrated to smaller ones (sorry),

But if you are a lucky ham with either a 7″ or 9” Nextion, it should be a simple matter of opening the “.hmi” file up in the Nextion editor, change the Device settings to match your screen, and compile it to create a tft file.  Mark acknowledges the original work done by Joe Puma (KD2NFC).  Without his headstart, Mark says “I would probably have not been able to complete this.”

The files (both .tft and .hmi are in the files section for the IO BITX20 group.: Files/AJ6CU Nextion 5-inch files/Nextion5inch June 23, 2019-Beta1/

The following screenshots show some of the new GUI.

MAIN MENU
The main change here was to Group the various functions in to “Applications”, “Settings” and “Expert”. Mark did some renaming so that it was clearer on the functions. Also, Factory Recovery now has its own screen that clarifies what is happening (for dummies …). And there is an “About” screen…

ABOUT SCREEN
Every applications should have its own About screen. 🙂

Note that in addition to credits and version, there is a list of the three known problems.

Save/Recall from Memory
Mark has added a popup virtual keyboard for adding a label/tag to a memory location. And he has also made sure that the Current VFO setting was kept. That allows you to turn around on your VFO while the Store to Memory is onscreen and you can save it whenever you find something interesting.

BANDSCAN
The Bandscan as originally designed had a number of problems including only able to look at signals 2k at a time and a maximum bandwidth of ~250kHz. This meant that if you scanned 80m, you only got the bottom half of the band. Mark didn’t like the way bands were pre-selected, as he preferred that the user could select any three in any order. He has added several missing bands.  (For folks outside of USA FCC, it is easy to change these bands from within the .HMI file. Let me know if you would like to do this and I will provide details.) . There is still some room for improvements here.  Mark plans to experiment with a smaller frequency step and smaller scan bandwidth. But that would be part of a future effort…

The first photo below shows the popup selection of offsets from the beginning of the band, using a mechanism similar to how the mode CWL/USB, etc is selected on the front page. The second photo shows a completed band scan that gets to the top of the 3 selected bands.

CW Decoder
Mark has made some minor GUI changes and renamed this function to reflect its functionality. He has also added a slider switch on the left to select between Signal analysis and CW decode.

Factory Recovery
Previously, pushing Factory Recovery required  3 presses to run Factory Recovery. But there was no explanation of what it did and why you probably did not want to do it!  Mark has added a separate screen with explanation and double confirmation.

Main Menu
Mark has added direct access to Store/Record to Memory (see upper right). Also he somewhat liked this spectrum that he captured on Field Day. 🙂

Mark’s Setup
Mark has run both a 5″ and a 3.2″ display simultaneously (thanks Ian!) during development. This allowed for quick answers to the inevitable questions such as: “What did Ian originally attend this screen to do?”  It was very helpful and he would recommend this approach to anybody else that is doing development for Nextion screens.

Reference

5″ Nextion screen files

Mark AJ6CU has added an updated version of the KD8CEC Nextion code for the 5″ screens (Basic and Enhanced) to the files sections of GROUP IO BITX20 list. (Only the 5″ Enhanced has been tested, as he doesn’t have a 5″ basic screen to test with.  This work is an extension to the “heavy lifting” already done by Joe Puma (KD2NFC).

Mark couldn’t help himself and did some “improvements” to the user interface that you may or may not like. He has included the HMI file in the directory as well, so you can adapt it how you would like it to look if you know how to edit HMI files.

If you have a 7″ or 9″ screens, you should be able t load up the HMI, set the device to match your screen and regenerate the TFT file. If you have one of these larger screens and can’t figure it out, it is suggested you contact Mark.

Files: AJ6CU Nextion 5-inch files/5inch June 10

A summary of major changes that were made to Joe’s original effort”

  1. Home page
    • Correction of scale for histogram (have more space, so let’s use it!)
    • Addition of direct access to memory STO/LOC screens (had to eliminate the Radio tower logo, sorry)
  2. Various
    • In case you had not noticed, the button to get “Home” was in various locations, although not done, I am in the process of moving it to a consistent place (upper right)
    • Scaling changes to Bandscan and Spectrum
    • Various pages required you to hit “read” or “refresh” to go get the data. I made this happen on page entry. Kept the refresh button as this seems to be a little flakey.
    • Tried to introduce a consistent color scheme. Blue background, white letters where you can change, yellow for titles.
    • All screens (except home screen) will eventually have the name of screen in upper right in red.
    • Button pushes go green when pushed and return to grey when released
    • Added a few more scrollbar slider sizes so that the slider fit the slide bar better.
  3. Frequency entry (touch the middle 3 numbers on home page) is now a little more obvious. When you are in direct frequency entry, you only see numbers, When you are in Band select, you only see the bands.
  4. Memory to VFO redesigned. Seemed easier to use for me.
  5. VFO to Memory – Mark still doesn’t like this one. He would like to make it more like Memory to VFO where you can see all 10 memory slots and then select the one you want to overwrite. For now, he has just replaced the keyboard with a standard one that pops up when you click in the name and some fancy arrows to spin the mem#.
  6. Although it is against his better judgement, he did make available KD8CEC’s debug screen. Tried to warn you off, but i am sure someone will do something awful to his/her poor ubitx using this screen. 😉
  7. CW setup screen redesign (and it automatically fetches data on startup)

There are some issues remaining … The biggest issue being that when you go into a submenu (e.g. CW setup/MemtoVFO, etc.) the Spectrum Histogram in lower left corner doesn’t always automatically restart.

If you change any control VFO/Freq, mode, etc.) it restarts.

This is going to be a pain to debug because of the extensive use of timers and state machine in the Nextion code…. Would welcome anybody that can make a suggestion here.

I have also not tested it on a Basic 5″. There may be performance issues, especially since the scale of the graphs has increased.

Mark says there is still lots of work, as he also wants to get rid of some of thebackground pictures in the control screens that really don’t match the others. The bandscan is something he would really like to “adjust” because it is really not obvious how it works. And perhaps even a “?” in upper right of some screens for a little help?  He plans to  put together another update shortly.

Reference

Bezels for Nextion Screens

Andy, KG5RKP notes that you can retrieve a bezel pattern for any of the Nextion displays from 3.2 through 7 inches from Itead:

https://www.itead.cc/wiki/Nextion_HMI_Solution#3D_printing_bezel

Andy had a bezel printed by a vendor via 3D Hubs:

https://www.3dhubs.com/

David  Balfour has made bezels  for the 2.8 and 3.2″ Nextion screens by 3D prints.   His rig is shown above.

The larger bezel is on thingiverse if you have a 3d printer. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3342327

Reference

Differences between the JackAl and Nextion displays

Most people don’t understand and won’t want to understand the differences between different types of display technologies.

Unfortunately,  the µBITx community has fractured its user base amongst competing screen technologies.   There are many different types of LCD display screens and they are not compatible at all.   

Differences between the Nextion and JackAl displays have been discussed on the BITX20 IO Group list following discussion about whether a Nextion screen used with the KD8CEC firmware could be ported across to the JackAl.  The simple answer is “No”!

Brian N8BDB notes that  it’s not going to be as simple as replacing a driver and rebuilding the application.  The Nextion display works in a very different way than the normal displays most people use for microprocessors like arduino and teensy.

Normally the display is a “dumb” device that just handles displaying the dots.  Software libraries are used to provide basic functionality like drawing lines, boxes, and text.  Touch events are handled completely separately by other libraries.

The Nextion display is the opposite.  The display has it’s own microcontroller, memory, etc. and the arduino communicates with it through a serial interface.  All of the buttons, text, gauges, etc. are prebuilt in the Nextion editor.  The application doesn’t know where they are on the screen.  It just has a name such as “button1” that is associated with a button on a particular screen for instance.  The application just sends a command to the display to change the text of “button1” to “abcd”.  It would require a significant rewrite of the JackAl UI code to make it work with a Nextion display.

The other thing as Jack pointed out is about resolution.  The Nextion displays most people have are much lower resolution than the display used by the JackAl board.  The 2.4″ and 2.8″ Nextion displays are 320×240.  The 5″ Nextion display ($60) is the closest one with similar resolution (800×480) and that is 33% more in price than the display ($40) that JackAl currently uses.  Even the 4.3″ Nextion display is only 480×272.

There are pros and cons of both screen types.  The Nextion costs a bit more per pixel because it has a processor on board, but the demand (in terms of memory and processing power) on the main µBITx is minimal.   The processor and screen communicate using a series of codes.   The Nextion (in theory) can be adapted to have quite different user interfaces for the same functions.  There are, in fact, at least two distinctly different versions of “look and feel” available already.   However, setting up these requires a fairly steep learning curve on the screen management environment.

On the other hand, the JackAl screen (along with all other types of LCD screens) is strongly tied into the firmware of the JackAl teensy processor and amending the “look and feel” of the display requires detailed knowledge of the processor, firmware and the screen programming environment on which the JackAl is built.  It is unlikely that the Nextion will be ported across to the JackAl environment any time soon.  Bite the bullet and buy a new screen!

Reference

Release of CEC firmware v1.1 (non-Beta)

Ian KD8CEC has released version 1.1 of his CEC firmware.  This the first major release since Beta version 1.097.    He has also released new versions of uBITx Manager (for Windows) and Nextion screen firmware.

Version 1.1 includes all additions or improvements from the last non-Beta release version 1.08.   This includes features and bug fixes addressed in Beta versions 1.09, 1.093, 1.095,  and 1.097.   No further changes have been made to the Version 1.097 Beta version.

You do not need to upgrade if you are using Version 1.097. This is the version with only the version number changed.

Major Changes since the last official release

  •  The firmware supports additional features for the Nextion  and TJC LCDs
  •  Read & Backup uBITX, ADC Monitoring, ATT, IF-Shift and more on Nextion LCD (TJC LCD)
  •  Factory Reset (Both Character LCD and Nextion LCD are applicable)
  • Signal Meter using ADC (A7 Port)
  • I2C Signal Meter
  • Spectrum display
  • Band Scan
  • Memory Control on Nextion LCD (TJC LCD)
  • Speed Change CW-Option on Nextion LCD
  • Fixed Band Change Bug (Both Character LCD and Nextion LCD are applicable)
  •  uBITX Manager removed the Encode and Decode buttons. The procedure has become a bit easier.
  • I2C Device Scan on uBITX Manager ( Both Character LCD and Nextion LCD are applicable)
  • Si5351 I2C Address can be changed
  • Recovery using QR-Code Data from Server
  • Nextion LCD and TJC LCD can display Spectrum and CW Decode (using Stand alone S-Meter)
  • Fixes for other Minor Bugs

Please refer to the link below for details.
http://www.hamskey.com/2018/09/ubitx-firmware-cec-version-11-release.html

Please download the related files from the link below.
https://github.com/phdlee/ubitx/releases/tag/1.1

Nextion LCD or TJC LCD’s GUI have not changes since the 1.097 (Beta) distribution. If you are using a different GUI that is customized by other helpful developers, you should not need to upgrade the firmware.  Some screen sizes are still not supported in ver 1.097 (and therefore in version 1.1).

For further details see Ian’s blog at www.hamskey.com

3.2″ Nextion display files for CEC v1.097 Beta

With each new releases of the CEC firmware and CEC Nextion firmware,  Ian KD8CEC provides constructors with 2.4″ and 2.8″ versions of the NExtion firmware.    Meanwhile, a bunch of other Nextion screen users eagerly await adjustments to the firmware that will work with their particular screen size (3.2″, 3.5″, 4.3″, 5″ or 7″).   Adjustments have to be made for each screen size.

Darren VE3XLT has helpfully converted the current beta for the larger 3.2″ screen.

Files for downloading can be found here:

 

Here’s a video of the display in use so you can see its features

 

Reference

Further details on Nextion Display and second arduino

Ian KD8CEC, in his third article on using a second arduino with the µBITx, demonstrates the signal scope feature made possible with having a dedicated ardunio nano connected to the main Raduino control processor via i2c lines.

The signal scope shows a section of the band surrounding the currently tuned frequency IN REAL TIME.    The nano and the serial connections to the Nextion doesn’t have the agility to provide a full blown waterfall display, but a real time display of signals around where you are currently tuned is still pretty impressive.

The other feature that is present in the Nextion display version of this arduino add-on, is a CW decode function.

Bring on the release of v1.097 of CEC firmware!

Nextion display and a second arduino

Ian KD8CEC has now given us part 2 of his description of the latest firmware update (v1.097).   If you have a Nextion display, and add a second arduino you can have a higher quality s-meter and multi-band signal monitor on your µBITx.

For more details go to Ian’s website at hamskey.com

The wire up diagram follows:

The second arduino echos information in one direction from the main raduino via the i2c serial channel which is faster than via serial port.  It uses a dedicated serial port to output the signal again, potentially making the sampling faster for taking signal strength readings.  It will be interesting to see what effect this has in practice.

Remote head for uBITx

The creative genius of µBITx constructors has no end.  This 3D printed version of a wired remote head for the µBITx was designed and built by Gel Vega DU2RK and is truly amazing.

The Remote Head incorporates a ring lit rotary encoder and ring-lit volume control, 8 pin microphone jack,  stereo jacks for headphones and key and a 3.5″ Nextion screen.    Now for a wireless version Gel