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Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 3:13 pm
by W4MMP
The below was posted in the CW forum and I thought I would repost it here in the Peaberry SDR V2 forum. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands and one for "never say die" I have given a lot of thought on how to integrate multiple Peaberrys into a "Single View" rig. I recently picked up a Raspberry PI 2 (RPi 2) (at $35 US, it was hard to resist). With a 4 core 950MHz ARM processor and a really good GPU, it has the guts to run most radio applications. I realized that with its 40 pin GPIO port and 4 USB ports, all the Peaberry ports of up to four Peaberrys may be attached to the RPi 2 and managed quite effectively. As a test, David's T1 tuner emulator source for the Arduino was ported to the RPi 2. It works very well and one of the first steps of achieving a Single view rig. It will control rig switching relays that control which Peaberry is connected to the a common RF port. (BTW: there are premade relay boards that attach directly to the top of GPIO port and also allow the GPIO pins to pass through the relay board).

If you see any validity in this idea, please pass your thoughts along. I really need ideas on how this would be packaged. I'm thinking an adapter board and case that accepts up to four Peaberry boards that provides a common power input, a common RF port and such. If the cost was kept to perhaps $75 US including case, interface board and RPi 2, would you buy it?

The original post:

EDIT: Since time of the original post I have set the course to use a Raspberry Pi 2 as the guts of the interfacing (as noted above). A basic interface board will still be required to route port/signals to common input/output ports.

1) Provide an architecture that allows multiple Peaberrys appear as one rig.
This I believe will be a combination of hardware and software. An interface adapter will be needed that will provide a one common interface to the host computer. All ports of individual Peaberrys will be attached to this adapter including the USB port. The adapter will accept up to four Peaberrys. Currently a combination of three Peaberrys covers all the HF bands. The fourth attachment is for future expansion should David decide to create a 6 Meter version. Optionally a 5 Watt amplifier with low pass filters could be included on the adapter. The adapter will be micro processor controlled that provides routing of the individual Peaberry ports to the common host interface ports. Under micro processor control USB data will be routed to between the common USB port to a selected Peaberry USB port. Routing will be directed by the ATU port on each Peaberry as the ATU port currently provides band data. Most likely a few tweaks will be need to the firmware

2) Preserve current user financial investment.
Taking the above approach, protects the current investment owners have in their Peaberry(s) versus purchasing an all band Peaberry.

3) Expandability.
This is modular approach to building a complete station. Hams may get their feet wet with a purchase of a single Peaberry. If they like what the Peaberry provides, then an adapter and second and/or third Peaberry may be purchased to build a complete all band rig. With this approach the ham can do an incremental approach to funding the build out of the rig.

4) Backwards compatible.
As always any changes to Peaberry firmware will be completely backwards compatible with the current Peaberry firmware. This the approach I have taken with the Peaberry CW firmware I provide.

5) Open source host application.
One of the biggest rubs I have had with the SDR environment is the "free as in beer" approach of the SDR host application providers. I have been unsuccessful (perhaps due to my sterling personality :roll: ) with getting any changes I would like to see to better support the Peaberry. I believe we as a ham community need a true open source host application ("free as in speech"). Optimally the host application will run on either Windows and Linux. Quisk is one option but is Python script based and has certain performance issues, particularly smaller micro processor implementations (such as the Raspberry PI 2). One application that has promise is OpenExpertSDR that I have been investigating. It is Qt based and there is currently a port for Linux. Placing the source on Github or Codeplex will provide (hopefully) a robust development environment allowing for quality and functionality enhancements.

Funding: Perhaps one method for funding this is to use some type of crowd funding. I believe I could fund the initial interface adapter prototype and create the firmware needed to run it. However getting the host application off the ground is a challenge for me. I am out of my league with that level of complexity. Having a developer dedicated full time is (IMHO) needed. Crowd funding the initial release may be pie in the sky, but it's an idea.

So, for what it's worth, this my take.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:06 pm
by W4MMP
Just a FYI:

Two parts of the host application have been completed.
1) Band sense and switching. This application monitors the ATU port. It will control band switching relays and other aspects of the interface PCB.
2) Peaberry V2 frequency and key port. This application monitors and controls the LO frequency and key port. The important and new feature is that the application is capable of monitoring and controlling multiple simultaneously attached Peaberrys. Based on LO frequency, frequency and key port control information is passed to the correct Peaberry.

Credit: These applications are based on source provided by David Turnbull.

Next step: Main host application. I have finally settled on the development environment which is GTK+ that has a very clean and straight forward IDE, named Glade. Also GTK+ is "C language" based. C++ make my brain hurt :( . A person could make a career out of simply learning the other IDEs I have examined (QT,FLTK).
It does not produce the most elegant of GUIs but that is not what I'm after. A clean, user friendly, and functional GUI. Other than HDSDR, every SDR GUI I have seen suffers from bloat. So this will be a "build from ground up" effort. The application will only function with a Peaberry V2(s), require a Raspberry Pi2, optionally a controller PCB (which is in development) and also will require my Peaberry Iambic/Semi Break-in firmware. Managing the "magic numbers" no longer be a manual effort. That will be accomplished completely in the background.

Hopefully I can get some help along the way. Maybe I can find a "starving programmer" ;). I think David's Peaberry CW application will be helpful as a guide also (if I can deal with the migraines caused by reading C++ source :( )

NOTE: For those who would prefer a Windows based solution, Windows 10 will be available on the Raspberry Pi 2. Date TBD.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:44 pm
by N2TOH
I would focus on the software first before considering a board design for port switching. While I am not one of them there are people with the land area to use separate Antennas for each radio.

my interest would be in the ability to use each of these radios as the same time, to monitor for band openings and cross band operations.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:27 pm
by W4MMP
I will keep your suggestion in mind as I move forward with this project. Yes, creating the host application is the highest priority. Developing a multiband amp/filter/switch board is fairly straight forward and there is a wealth of information available for designing and building BPF filters and such.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:35 pm
by N2TOH
there is also the option of duplexers and multiplexers in place of relay switching. they offer faster change over times.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:31 pm
by W4MMP
N2TOH wrote:there is also the option of duplexers and multiplexers in place of relay switching. they offer faster change over times.

Is this in reference to QSK?

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:18 pm
by N2TOH
no it's not a reference to QSK operation, just in general.

Re: Mulit Rig - Single View

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 2:37 pm
by W4MMP
Since David has stopped production of the V2, it appears I have hitched my wagon to the wrong horse. Time to move on.