KY6R “Hackaday” and New Ideas for the BT1500A Remote Controller

We are very lucky to have the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, and Kat and I were especially lucky to have attended a demonstration by the developers of “Space Wars” on the PDP-1. The most interesting thing is that my first job out of college was at Kodak in Rochester, NY, and I was an Octal Assembler programmer on PDP-11. After I started and found out that I wasn’t going to code in COBOL or Fortran – which I fully expected, I asked “Why did you choose me for this partiular role?” and they said “Because you are a Ham Radio Operator” and are more technical than the other college candidates. Turns out I didn’t care much for the job, but fast forward 36 years later – and I am getting a little bit closer to the machine and hardware than I was then. And the Arduino and Raspberry Pi are the things that are facilitating this! I will say Thank God for C and Python – they are SOOOOO much better than hacking Octal Assembler.

I am now officially in the mode of doing a “Hack A Day”. I swear, this is more fun than chasing DXCC!

Anyway, I have a new set of thoughts in my evolution toward building the KPOD – BT1500A Arduino based controller:

The KPOD would be powered by a USB port on my Laptop. My laptop would need to connect to the Arduino just long enough to program it (flash programs in memory). The KPOD talks to the K3 via an RJ-45 “radio” port, and I’m trying to better understand if that port is basically the same as a USB port – since the Elecraft C program that I have is run as a “HIDRAW” device – then its got two ports – one is that it is a USB device and the other – this RJ-45 that is specific to the K3. There is a third port – the Aux port. I’m betting that these ports will offer something I can use, but that I will have to incorporate what is almost a device driver as well as the bridge program that takes the KPOD as input and sends this to the Arduino in the same very basic way that my switches to in my “emulator” that I got up and running in yesterdays post.

Anyway, this configuration puts the driver boards and the steppers out with the BT1500A. I would definitely bypass the relay so that I wouldn’t have to keep the 12v power on the drivers all the time. I would turn the 12v line on, tune the two control knobs on the BT1500A, then turn it off.

The Arduino would go inside my little black control box, and it would only be wired so that the KPOD plugs into it. Then, the output 7 wires to the remote steppers and stepper drivers are made at that control box.

I think I will get rid of the WiFi idea and go wired. The cable is already run, and it just keeps this project a lot simpler. If for whatever reason I can’t get the KPOD to work – my fall back is to build my own controls using a prototype Arduino shield, and I will still split the system the way you see in the diagram above, the only difference is that there would be no KPOD.

But for both the “cool factor” as well as the ergonomics of the system, the KPOD controller is well worth the effort – WiFi just doesn’t do anything but make this more complex than it needs to be. It also doesn’t fit with how I am breaking the components up – with no Arduino out at the tuner, WiFi is a moot point,

The big benefit is that I can avoid using both the Raspberry Pi and Arduino and just go with an Arduino. I think I like dreaming up ideas the most – implementing them is fun too – but the initial seed ideas are what really excite me.

Less is most definitely more . . . lets call it more “elegant” . . .

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