Sunday, February 28, 2016

Beautiful day at the Wyong field day 2016

This year was a perfect day for the annual Wyong field day.

Rowetel had a table this year showing FreeDV and the SM1000s were selling like hot cakes.

Something I hadn't come across before was the excellent (for communications) JRC ST-3 headphones.

The Home Brew Group had a display with amazing work from all including Stephen Vk2BLQ and in the background you can see my tiny crochet loop antenna.

Arduinos and other small computers continue to draw radio folks over to "the dark side" and John VK2ASU showed his serial radio link experiments.

There were lots of great old radios for sale, but I resisted this year.

As always it was great to catch up with many new and old friends including John VK2JPM, William VK2NWB and Nigel who has the very latest in phone technology.

Finally, hidden away at the amateur TV display were some incredible home made - working - valves.

My thanks to the organisers who ran a terrific show again this year. I loved the tea and cheese cubes and experienced a new dish not tried before - sausage on a stick.


Friday, February 26, 2016

esp8266 Arduino programming

The esp8266 is a tiny board that costs from about $5 and has a processor with Wifi capabilities. I bought a pack of the 1Mb upgraded version.

Following these instructions I've built a rat's next of a programmer:

My USB serial interface has a jumper for 5 or 3V so I set it to 3V and there was no need to add the voltage regulator. So far I've got it to join my wifi network and pull a web page.

I'm able to program it with the Arduino IDE which is convenient.

Using code derived from Sparkfun I'm able to create a hotspot with a web server on it.

The device has two GPIO pins and a serial port so it can be used to monitor and control devices. John, VK2ASU, drew my attention to the incredible range some experimenters have been getting from these modules.

At the Wyong field day I had a great chat with someone from the Sparkcc group who is using even lower priced esp8266s than me.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Compiling VfoSource from QST's excellent article on DDS for Forty-9er

QST March 2016 has a terrific article on using a DDS controlled by an Arduino to be the VFO for a cheap CW transceiver known as the Forty-9er.

Download it here:

But the instructions on compiling the code leave a few things out and I thought I'd document it here for others who might run in to problems.

  • I'm Running Arduino 1.6.7 from:
Opened VfoSource

Users/marksp/Downloads/Purdum-Zia-Kidder/VfoSource/VfoSource.ino:11:76: fatal error: rotary.h: No such file or directory
 #include <rotary.h>   // From Brian Low:
compilation terminated.
exit status 1
Error compiling.


Went to Sketch - Include Library - Manage Libraries
Searched for Rotary but not found.

Now, following the instructions from the top of the source code.

Went to
Clicked the "Download ZIP" button which downloaded the zip file.

Choose Sketch - include library - Add .Zip library and chose the downloaded

Choose Sketch - include library - Chose Include Rotary-master.

I note that the IDE now shows:

#include <Rotary.h>   # Note angle brackets around Rotary.h (I can't get this blog to include them)

rather than

#include <rotary.h>

So case is important.

Clicked the tick and the error now is:

VfoSource.ino:21:31: fatal error: LiquidCrystal_I2C.h: No such file or directory
 #include <LiquidCrystal_I2C.h>


Downloaded the latest LiquidCrystal which for me is LiquidCrystal_V1.2.1.Zip

Unzip the download to LiquidCrystal. I renamed this to LiquidCrystal_I2Cqst to avoid a collision with an existing library.

Copied these files over to that directory:


Choose Sketch - include library - Add .Zip library and chose the folder LiquidCrystal_I2Cqst
  • Choose Sketch - include library - Add .Zip library and chose the folder LiquidCrystal_I2Cqst

Hit the tick and all compiles now:

Sketch uses 9,460 bytes (30%) of program storage space. Maximum is 30,720 bytes.
Global variables use 544 bytes (26%) of dynamic memory, leaving 1,504 bytes for local variables. Maximum is 2,048 bytes.

I hope this saves someone else a little frustration.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

CubicSDR with SDRPlay on Linux

I love tuning HF with this configuration. CubicSDR is a very good piece of software and it's open source.  With an SDRPlay device you can see the whole band at once and click to listen in. Here's a little video.

I wish the SDRPlay USB driver wasn't closed source so it could be built in to software.