Official release of VU2ESE’s Antuino

Antuino

Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE, the designer of the BITx range of kit transceivers marketed through HF Signals has launched his next design: the Antuino.

The website states that:

“Antuino is an accurate instrument that can be used in the field to measure SWR, field strength, modulation, etc. In the lab, it can be used to sweep filters, measure gain, distortion, frequency response, etc. It works upto 150 Mhz. On the third harmonic, it is usable on 435 Mhz band as well (with reduced sensitivity).

“The Antuino, unlike simpler instruments is based a superhet architecture that measures the response of the antenna or circuit at exactly the tuned frequency. It is based on Analog Devices’ Lograthmic Amplifier, the AD8307 to provide accuracy of 1db in your measurements. It is tuned with a crystal locked PLL based on Si5351 oscillator chip.”

Ashhar has confirmed that this is not a kit, but rather is a fully tested unit in an all metal case. It has an internal battery case to hold 6 AA cells. It comes with two SMA connectors.
Steve G1KQH has opened a support group for the Antuino:   https://groups.io/g/Antuino
Reference

Remote access to your uBITx

There have been quite a few posts recently on the BITX20 list about remote access to your µBITx.  There are a number of ways to achieve this, but Jens (KM6ZJV) has provided a useful summary of how he has achieved this using a v5 µBITx connected around the clock to a Raspberry Pi 3 used as an FT8 monitor.

Jens  can access it from anywhere on any device (laptop, iPhone, iPad) with VNC and OpenVPN.

A big advantage of this setup is that the radio is always ‘ready for action’ – even if you have only a few minutes time to transmit (FT8 or FT4 or FS8).

As others have mentioned, the Raspberry PI comes pre-installed with VNC.

Using OpenVPN

OpenVPN can easily be installed with:

http://www.pivpn.io/

OpenVPN allows access to the Raspberry Pi VNC server with the same IP address / port number used in your local network (without a VPN connection). OpenVPN client applications are available for all major platforms.

Of course, once you have established the OpenVPN connection, you can access any other  part of your home network (fileserver, printer, etc.) as well – not just VNC running on the Raspberry Pi.

Jens does not not recommend directly enabling a port to connect to the Raspberry PI VNC server, instead enable a port to connect to the OpenVPN server.

Using Teamviewer

Frank KJ5WI suggests an alternative in teamviewer host.

Teamviewer host on the Raspberry Pi from the above link will allow a remote connection without opening anything. When the webpage opens, scroll down and watch for the pi logo on the right side.  Frank says that the Sun City Georgetown amateur radio club uses Teamviewer for remote access to their club station radios.

KM4UDX took a bit to get both computers trusted and set up… one running on Ubuntu/AtomicPi and the other Win10/oldlaptop. But he says, “it works!”

The  screen capture above from his win10 laptop controlling the AtomicPi with ubuntu controlling his V4 uBITX running WSJTX and completing a JT8 QSO.

Don KM4UDX is thrilled to have remote control!

After his initial success, he switched to FL-Digi and this works as well sending the keyboard via the link to FL-Digi text input window. However, if the uBITX audio output level is set too low from the last time you have adjusted the speaker volume, then you have no way to change/increase the uBITX output level to make Fl-Digi happy.

Challenges with remote operation on the µBITx

Don sees the real advantage from complete visualization of the transceiver (.e.g. Flex).  If he had all of the uBITX functions on the screen, then the volume controls would be screen sliders allowing adjustment of all functions via the remote control.

The first challenge is how to adjust the uBITX volume levels in software through some sort of interface.

The second challenge is not seeing the RF output levels.  While you can adjust the drive level remotely, the impact on RF power output levels is not known, and could result in harmful emissions.

Reference

Adjusting your BFO offset using audio spectrum analyzer software

In adjusting the BFO  you have to be careful to not transmit both the signal AND the carrier.  If the filter has been shifted too far, it is possible to have the carrier transmitting unintentionally. Roman K7TXL found this out while trying to transmit FT8 signals.  He found two spikes on his SDR.

In his experience he has found that the only reliable approach, that doesn’t involve complex test instruments, is to download and use an audio spectrum analyzer program.

Roman uses SpectrumView by WD6CNF.

SpectrumView software

WD6CNF Audio Spectrum Analyzer runs on the Windows operating system and has the following features:

  • Analyzes audio from 10 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Takes an input from a microphone or wave file
  • Has variable displays
    • Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) display
      • Variable sample rates (8000 Hz, 11025 Hz, 22050 Hz, 44100 Hz)
      • Variable transform sizes (1k, 2k, 4k, 8k)
      • Upper and lower limits adjustable
      • Continuous, averaged, peak hold
      • Selectable foreground/backgrounds
      • Variable markers (2)
      • Save a reference plot, compare with the foreground plot
    • Time display (oscilloscope)
      • Triggered sweep
    • Waterfall display (color or B/W)

Alignment procedure from Roman K7TXL

  1.  Disconnect antenna from ubitx, or better, find an unused part of the band with just hiss, no other signals
  2. Run audio out from ubitx into PC/Mac/Linux audio in
  3. Run spectrum analyzer and configure it to listen to the audio in
  4. Turn up volume on ubitx until levels are reasonably high but not clipping in the spectrum analyzer
  5. For the ubitx 5 (not the earlier versions), you will want to set the BFO somewhere around 11.055-11.056 MHz as a starting point.
  6. I am going to presume that you started with the BFO frequency on the high side, say 11.057 and you are lowering it. As you do so, you should see on the spectrum analyzer that the noise’s high frequency roll off frequency increase. At some point it will no longer get any higher no matter what you do with the BFO value. The point you want is right as you touch that max value. You might have to back off and watch the max value decrease, then adjusting again until you find the maximum.
  7. Save the BFO frequency using the PTT where you get maximum high frequency response. Roman found that the BFO frequency was about 1.5-2 kHz lower than the frequency where he got the most “bass” response in his headphones, thus the final result had less bass response.
  8. If you have an SDR, you can double-check your results: Run ubitx into a dummy load and have an SDR with separate tiny (or no) antenna nearby, either run WSJT-X “Tune”, or a single frequency of audio into the ubitx mic. The SDR will likely be sensitive enough to pick up stray RF (even with the dummy load) and you should be able to see only one, not two spikes on the display (make sure you zoom in maximum to a narrow bandwidth view).

After this adjustment, Roman has managed to make a few longer distance FT8 contacts, i.e. Seattle to Alaska on 40m.

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

CEC Firmware Release v1.200 for all versions of uBITX

Ian KD8CEC has released his latest firmware.  This requires a minor configuration flag to be set to your µBITx version (3, 4 or 5) in the sketch before compiling and uploading the code to your µBITx.

Earlier µBITx versions do not require upgrading as no new features have been added to the firmware other than compatibility with the new v5 board.

CEC beta release for v5 board

 

Ian KD8CEC has announced a beta version of his firmware (Version 1.12) for the uBITX V5 board.  He has written an article about it here.

All existing firmware functions for V3 and V4 are available on the V5 beta.

The same version of uBITX Manager will work with the v5 Board.

Only the LPF control and the frequency control part are changed in the V5 code.  Ian has released firmware V1.121 for V5.

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

Why has KD8CEC’s firmware been so successful?

There are several alternative firmware versions available for use with the µBITx transceiver.   So why has the KD8CEC firmware been so successful with uBITx owners?

Some key reasons put forward by uBITx.net:

  1. KD8CEC firmware is fully compatible with the standard issue kit.  No hardware changes are required to make it work.  This is a critical point of difference with all of the other variants, and probably the most important factor associated with the success of CEC firmware.
  2. No custom wiring changes are required when using the firmware.  This is a further significant factor in widespread adoption.
  3. The firmware fixes problems that come with the factory firmware – although some argue that CW modes are still not fully addressed in the CEC firmware.
  4. Using CEC firmware means no loss of features from the default factory firmware.   Other alternatives offer fewer or different features from the factory firmware.
  5. Users are familiar with the  user interface, as it reflects the default firmware’s “look and feel” with the standard display supplied with the kit.
  6. It is easy to upload a hex file to the Raduino. Constructors without a working knowledge of the Arduino IDE can upload files easily.
  7. All full releases of CEC Firmware are available as open source firmware.  This follows the same structure as the original code, although most of the code has been replaced.  Open source is not released for beta versions (and for good reason).
  8. No additional processor is required, unlike other firmware variants.  A mechanism for adding additional processors has been added in ver 1.097 (Beta).   This promises a future where multiple processor support will be available.  You won’t be locked into a single processor type.
  9. Addition of a Nextion display or additional processor is relatively straightforward.
  10. The firmware on the Nextion display can be edited by others to provide a different “look and feel” or to add or subtract features.   This is independent of the firmware for the transceiver.