Need A Tool-Make A Tool

I watch a bit of blacksmithing on youtube and something these guys often say when they are building something is Need A Tool, Make A Tool. Its a good way to think about life, why run to the store when you can make something now and do the job you are trying to do now.

So, with my breadboard setup, I am wanting to monitor the current demands of everything I am hanging off the one micro as it will eventually be running off solar and batteries and I need to make sure i have a few days of battery supply and enough solar to charge everything up within a days daylight. Don’t want my things turning off and losing precious data.

So i grabbed an Oled display i could not get working out of the box and got it chooching, a voltage and current sensor that i had doing nothing and made them all talk together with some software and she is skookum as frig. So all i gotta do now is wire it up with a nano stick it in a tiny box with some banana sockets and put it in between my power supply and my breadboard and I will always know how much current we are drawing.


VK4FFAB Arduino Logger TFT Edition

So after procrastinating about this for such a long time I finally got around to porting the code over to make it work with the 3.2 inch TFT Display. And seeing as it was pretty much a huge code rewrite, while i was there I added in come new functionality to improve usability. All input functions will now accept the <BACKSPACE> key to erase mistakes. Still to be done, create and use a new logfile and add in some WWFF specific items like park to park and my park details. All in all I am rather please with how this has come along. Each time I spend some time on it, it comes out much more improved.

Arduino Logger TFT Edition Code: TFT_Arduino_logger


Here is a break down of the stack. 3.2inch TFT on the top, followed by the MEGA2560 and underneath it, the shield board with sd card, real time clock and ps2 keyboard interface. Not my cleanest work, but much cleaner than the last build LOL.

And this is the log file data from the video below. Nice clean ADIF that should by rights allow for importing into any other logging application.

And here is a video of the thing in action. Next on the agenda is boxing it up with a 5000mah single cell Liop, charge controller, BMS and Boost converter to make 5 volts, then add in the new code features and this choocher should be awesome as frig.


Arduino Logger Update

I have made a little progress with the Arduino Logger updating the previous mess i had made in a box, to something that is going to be neat and tidy and use a TFT display where i can show more data than i could on the 20×4 lcd display.

Everything is now built into the shield that sits below the Mega. SD card will be accessible now without taking off the lid. The real time clock is in the shield board now and hidden from view. Next job will be to wire up a 1 Cell lipo battery pack, charger and boost converter to make 5v to run the thing, Oh and convert the software.

It is a bit of a power hungry thing, close to 200ma.


Arduino Light Bulb Moment

You know when you are working on some grand Arduino implementation and you only have 2 available Gnd or Vcc pins and you need to then run a ground and power bus just to service the one extra module you are trying to add. It a pain in the arse for sure. But alas poor Yorick not everything is rotten in the state of Arduino, help is at hand. If you have a few vacant digital or analog pins, turn them into outputs and make them either VCC ot GND with a couple of lines of code and pull a pin either low or high. Code is better than hardware. Obviously current limits on pins apply and you cannot pull 100ma, but if the sensor or modules current limits are sparrow fart, then this is a nice way to solve a common problem.

A Ground Pin

digitalWrite(GND_PIN_#, LOW);
pinMode(GND_PIN_#, OUTPUT);

A Vcc Pin

digitalWrite(Vcc_PIN_#, HIGH);
pinMode(Vcc_PIN_#, OUTPUT);

And here it is in action with a RTC.


Arduino Weather Station

Another project i have had going on for sometime an arduino weather station. Got some of it now working on the breadboard and still have some modules to go including RF transmission of data back to an indoors station monitor. More on this to come. Right now, I am just making sure that the libraries are all working and integrating the code together into the one program.


Arduino SI5351A VFO

Ok, by popular demand, here are my project files for the Arduino SI5351A VFO. The board layout was done in SprintLayout and I do have some boards being fabbed up in China and should have them here within a week, as I need a few for my own projects. So the board uses an Arduino Nano and the SI5351A breakout board from Hans Summers QRP-LABS. The other things needed are LCD 16×2 and an I2C LCD board so that you only need to use 4 wires to connect the LCD, power, ground, SDA and SCL. The only other thing is a rotary encoder. There is no schematic of how to wire these things up, there is only 1 place each thing can go, SDA, SCL for the LCD and INT0 and INT1 for the rotary encoder, its not rocket science, just google the pinout for the nano and you can work it out. And in all reality, you should be able to do and understand these things anyway, just by reading the code.


multifeaturedvfo  This code was mostly written by NT7S , SQ9NJE and AK2B. All I have done to this is changed a few things to make the VFO work correctly with the BIYx 40m SSB. Please acknowledge them for their work and contribution by emailing them and thanking them. The 3 libraries used are also included in the archive. Place them into your Arduino Library folder. Also read through the code, I have added some comments that will help in getting the thing aligned and on frequency. Remember every breakout will be slightly different because the xtal will be slightly different so you have to calibrate the SI5351a to get it perfect.

si5361 These are the Gerber files so you can fab your own boards. Either send them to a fab house in China, load them into your own software and CNC route or ink transfer and make your own. The board on the left in the image below is one i made on my CNC router to ensure it is correct and working. The signal out of the SI5351a breakout can be taken from the 3 pin headers or from the SMA on the board, depending on how you need to deliver the signal into your own project. You can also see that I have used SIP Headers to connect everything, rather than soldering direct to the board. Its always nice to be to able to pill things out if they go wrong.