Tag Archives: N2APB

CWTD (Chat Withe the Designers) Podcasts and Archives

Not every clever designer does this sort of mentoring! George N2APB and Joe N2CX are really putting something back in for all of us! I’ve on-and-off followed this project through the announcements at the NUE-PSK Yahoo Group list, and hadn’t realized what a wonderful job this team was doing!

CWTD banner

Every other Tuesday evening at 8pm Eastern (0100z), N2APB and N2CX co-host a live audio conferencing session called “Chat With The Designers”. Often joined by designers of other projects as well, we gather around this technical watering hole to discuss various topics that are of interest to us all. Whether you seek information about your latest project on the bench or just wish to listen in on the various designers discussing some new chip or product/kit solution they are currently working on, this is the place to be.

For a little more than an hour, or as long as the discussion is lively, N2APB and N2CX run the session in “net control”-like fashion, guiding the discussion and passing the mic in an orderly way among those wishing to contribute. Augmented by a very useful “text chat window” at the bottom of the screen, everyone is able to post text comments, links and other information when the urge strikes. We record the audio from each session, as well as save the text chat window great reference later on.


They also run a Yahoo Group dedicated to the project:

This Yahoo Group is the forum for email discussion happening in between our bi-weekly Tuesday evening Teamspeak sessions of “Chat With The Designers” … the live, online and interactive weekly magazine for hams, homebrewers, homebrewers and experimenters.

Every other Tuesday evening at 8pm Eastern (0100z), N2APB and N2CX co-host a live audio conferencing session called “Chat With The Designers”. Often joined by designers of other projects, we gather around this technical watering hole to discuss various topics that are of interest to us all. Whether you seek information about your latest project on the bench or just wish to listen in on the various designers discussing some new chip or product/kit solution they are currently working on, this is the place to be.

We have a web page archive of all previous weekly sessions (42 so far!), and each session has a “white board” page containing notes, diagrams and photos that supplemented the discussion topic of that session. Additionally, the sessions are recorded and the PODCASTS are made available there on the web page for each session. You can access the CWTD session archives and podcasts at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/43021514/CWTD/TeamspeakChat.html

We use this CWTD Yahoo Group as an email forum for continued discussion of the various Teamspeak topics in an offline manner, including technical elaborations, suggestions for future topics and general notification of upcoming session material.

Thanks for being with us!

73, George N2APB and Joe N2CX


Well done George N2APB and Joe N2CX – and many thanks!



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Mid-October SDR Cube Transceiver News


SDR-Cube Production Prototype

SDR-Cube Production Prototype



Much much more up at the website, and this sure looks to be a neat project!!

Videos, documents, lots of pictures – much to see!

Should be ready for prime time by Thanksgiving 2010.

Biggest decision will be to order a kit or a built-up version?



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SDR Technology in a Box – no, really a Cube – the SDR-Cube

Coming soon …

SDR Cube

A Portable Software Defined Radio Utilizing An Embedded DSP Engine for Quadrature Sampling Transceivers
by George Heron, N2APB and Juha Niinikoski, OH2NLT

SDR-Cube Prototype with Cover Off

SDR-Cube Prototype with Cover Off

The SDR-Cube is a companion project to the NUE-PSK Modem I’ve reviewed before.

Website where details are slowly being added is at:




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NUE-PSK Digital Modem – Development Roadmap from George N2APB

George N2APB posted this update to the NUE-PSK Digital Modem Reflector.


As many of you know, I’ve had a NUE-PSK Modem from very early on, which twice has been updated to the latest feature set.

Highly recommended and very neat bit of Amateur Radio Kit!



NUE-PSK Digital Modem
Development Roadmap

What new features are we working on?

The NUE-PSK modem currently supports two popular digital modes: PSK-31 and RTTY. We also support variations within those two modes (QPSK, QPSK/R and RTTY-reversed). And we have a nifty USB card add-on accessory that provides connection to the PC for updating, support for flash thumb drives to capture Tx and Rx text for later printing and archiving, and easy uploading/downloading modem configuration settings and macro strings for editing on the PC.

New Features In Development

CW Mode CW (or Morse code) is perhaps the oldest operating mode of all; and although not an official “digital mode” by today’s standards, many users of the NUE-PSK Digital Modem have expressed interest in having it supported by the modem. Our plans are to have CW incrementally provided in several closely-spaced phases: Morse keyboard sending, CW decoding, and then “paddle-input and Morse-output mode” that will enable completely headless operation for optimum field operation … no keyboard or display will be necessary, thus providing for ultra-convenient portable operation. Morse Transmit should be ready in early June. CW Decode and Paddle-In/Morse-Out should be ready mid-summer.

Real Time Clock Calendar (RTCC) – When we created and designed the USB card, we planned for components to be later added to allow us to display current date and time on the modem LCD, as well as to add this info on every QSO that is recorded to the thumb drive. This last usage is geared especially for the EmComm community, as it is important to duly note date/time on message traffic into/out of an emergency and disaster locations. The plan is to provide a small update kit for sale such that one can easily upgrade the USB card capabilities, or of course one can send it in for the RTCC Upgrade. We expect to have RTCC component upgrade available in June.

MT63 Mode – We’ve had some discussion on the email list considering “What next digital mode would you like to have available?”, and when we compare the top choices with the development effort required for each (including available modem processor resources), MT63 comes out on top. Development for support of this mode is in progress and we hope to have it complete and available this summer.

The Timetable

Our ‘schedule’ has always been stated as being flexible and informal … We’re just two guys working on things in our radio shacks when the day jobs and family issues are not pressing, and so far most customers are happy with progress that we make. Sometimes, however, perhaps because of the effort we make in providing good customer support and order fulfillment, some people believe that we’re a big company and they get upset that we do not hit a specific day, week or month for availability. So, if you are buying the modem solely for the coming of an anticipated feature, and get easily frustrated when that feature isn’t ready when hoped for, then perhaps this product is not for you.

That all said, we are indeed working on these three new features and are hopeful that they will be coming along soon. And meanwhile, the modem is splendidly usable for all of its advertised capabilities and all set for a summer of Field Days, hikes, camping and other portable operations. We love the modem just as much as any of the 800-or-so other owners, and we too are eager to continue expanding the modem’s feature set.

After all, this is a capability that few other ham radio products on the market have … It’s the modem that keeps on growing!

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Midnight Solutions Announces the NUE-SDR

NUE-SDR Prototype

NUE-SDR Prototype

From a recent email:

FYI, some details of the prototype NUE-SDR option (shown at MassCon QRP
Conference last weekend and currently in development as an optional add-on
accessory for all NUE-PSK digital modems) is now present on the website.
See the link in the ³Modem News² section of the home page.

73, George N2APB


George’s notes:

““NUE-SDR” … an SDR transceiver option for the NUE-PSK Modem — We’re making headway on this newest hardware option for the modem.

We showed off the early/partial prototype at the MassCon QRP Convention this month.

The NUE-SDR is a standalone transceiver consisting of a DSP control board coupled with a the RXTX v6.3 Softrock, both contained in a separate cabinet the same size as the PSK modem.

Designed to be attached beneath the NUE-PSK modem box, and connected to the PSK modem by a short signal cable, the NUE-SDR serves as a 20m QRP transceiver for use with all existing PSK modems.

So now, in addition to no PC being needed for PSK use, there isn’t even a need for a separate transceiver!

This integrated package uses the PSK modem’s graphic LCD spectrum, dial and pushbutton to control the HF transceiver in the lower box to transmit and receive the PSK signals modulated/demodulated in the upper box.

Again, the NUE-SDR is in still only in prototype form, but we are hoping to have product for sale this year with a target price in the $200 range (subject to change), and available as a kit or fully assembled and tested.

(The NUE-SDR will work with all existing NUE-PSK digital modems!)”

Link to the full pdf notes with pictures: http://www.nue-psk.com/NUE-SDR prototype (Mar 18).pdf

George N2APB just did a full update on my NUE-PSK Modem, which was a hugely appreciated service!

I am very much looking forward to his NUE-SDR as an add-on!



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NUE-PSK Modem Gains USB Logging Ability

This just came over the reflector:

USB card for NUE-PSK modem … nearly ready!
Posted by: “George Heron N2APB” 
Mon Sep 1, 2008 12:08 pm (PDT)
Hi all,

Here’s an update on the progress with the USB add-on project for the NUE-PSK Digital Modem … full details and photos, schematic, etc are on the modem website at www.nue-psk.com/usb.

The “NUE-USB” add-on card development is nearly complete and we are awaiting production cards from the fab house. We’ll start taking orders shortly and we can start shipping in about two weeks when the pc boards are received!

In a nutshell, the USB add-on card will make your NUE-PSK Digital Modem more flexible and more useful with its ability to record QSO receive and transmit text to a USB flash memory stick for archival and remote printing. The USB card also provides a serial connection to a PC, a port for a USB printer, and (soon) a real-time clock/calendar function to timestamp QSOs. The updated modem software contains the new keyboard commands for controlling the USB card functions, plus a wonderfully-revamped and consistent text editing commands.

The USB card fits into the existing modem enclosure with minimal modifications. The card occupies the battery compartment, since most users let us know that they would gladly sacrifice the use of internal batteries for this USB capability. (Battery operation of the modem is cool also a cool feature and it can indeed run up to 8 hours on a pair of 9V batteries, but we found that most people use the modem with an external source that also powers the transceiver.)

The USB card will be available for purchase in a variety of ways …

1) Fully assembled & tested — Make a few easy mods to your modem, load up the latest modem software, plug in the USB card and start recording QSOs!

2) Partial kit — PCB and all parts are supplied, with the LQFP 48-pin surface mount controller attached and programmed. You just attach the remaining parts.

3) Full Kit — PCB and all parts are supplied. You attach the LQFP 48-pin surface mount controller and program it yourself with a PC serial port and free software.

4) Modified Enclosure (optional) — Lower half of the aluminum enclosure clamshell with mounting and connector/LED access holes.

5) Full Factory Upgrade — Don’t want to do any of this yourself? Just send us your modem and we’ll return it with the USB card fully installed and operational.

Prices are not yet established, but we’ll be keeping them as low as possible to make it easy for modem owners to upgrade. We’ll be announcing prices next week (Sept 8th) and will start accepting orders then. Meanwhile check out other details below …

USB Card Features …
1) Recording Rx and Tx text from the LCD to a USB flash drive (memory stick) — The main intent of the “recording” feature is to capture the Tx and Rx text streams for later archiving and/or printing from one’s PC. The “recording” function we are putting into the software and the file that we are saving to the USB stick captures whatever is coming across the LCD. Whatever you type during Tx mode, and whatever you see in Rx mode is exactly what gets saved away during our “logging” process. (This is in contrast to any kind of a formatted, standards-based, time stamped line of data containing callsigns, signal reports, etc. We will not be doing this type of extensive formatting in the modem – it is just too much effort and there is not enough code space to deal with this.)
2) USB Flash Drive Boot Loading — With the ability to read data from the USB memory stick comes the feature of boot loading new modem software loads directly from the stick, instead of needing to be tethered to the PC serial port for programming new versions of modem software. In fact, one can have multiple software versions on the USB stick, each containing support for different modes of operation (PSK31, RTTY, CW, et al) … just plug in the thumb drive and load in the desired mode you wish to operate! This will be convenient, as in the near-term we intend to provide separate software versions for the different modes of operation. (The current software architecture and memory availability in the dsPIC memory prohibits co-resident modem algorithms.)

3) Built-in USB connection to the PC for “field programming” of modem software updates — Once the modem is updated with the latest software (containing the USB feature support), the USB card’s “B” connector will allow a USB Host cable connection to the PC for download and programming of new software releases, as well as for communication with other devices.

4) Built-in USB printer port — Provides for realtime printing of the Tx & Rx data streams (the same, raw Rx and Tx QSO data, as seen on the LCD.) [Software support not yet available … popular printer protocols will come in later software releases after initial deployment of the USB card.]

5) Built-in Real-Time Clock/Calendar (pcb traces only) — Provisions have been made on the board to support a PIC controller in order to maintain current date and time, ultimately for use by the modem and in the recorded data going to the USB memory stick. Other than the schematic and board layout supporting the PIC circuitry, this feature has not yet been designed – it is hoped that others will help out by adding to the Open Software modem project. The task involves designing the PIC software and hooks in the modem’s dsPIC software … a separate Modem RTCC requirements document is available for those wishing to help with the project.

Design Notes …
The USB board plugs into the main board by means of a mating female connector to the modem’s P4 “Field Programming” pinheader. Minor and easy mods are required on the modem pcb to supply 5 volts to the P4 connector (instead of 3.3V), and to bring two extra control lines out to a new connector that plugs into the USB card. The USB card is the same y-dimension as the modem board, and it extends 1-1/8″ in the x-direction over to the left edge of the enclosure. The board sits even with the main board, supported by two standoffs on the left side and a 4-position SIP female header on the bottom that extends out the right side of the board to plug into the existing P4 connector.

The heart of the design is the Vinculum VNC1L FTDI controller chip. Although more expensive than “USB bit banging” alternatives, the VNC1L chip provides support for the full USB protocol control, and a DOS-like command line interpreter that allows easy writing and reading of a flash disk, making it a relatively easy design-in for USART ports such as we have available on the NUE-PSK modem. (For a great overview of the product, see the July 2007 issue 204 of Circuit Cellar magazine http://www.circuitcellar.com). Additionally, the VNC1L chip offers Host mode support, which allows the USB card to serve as the “serial interface” to a PC, providing a way to load modem software into the dsPIC as before, as well as providing communications to other devices downstream.

A real-time clock/calendar (RTCC) function is optionally possible on the USB card in order to keep track of date and time, even with the power removed from the modem. The concept is that the PIC monitors the modem’s UART port for an “RTCC data request”, whereupon the PIC switches data path to send the date and time information to the dsPIC. The new/replacement bottom half of the enclosure will continue to have the battery cover plate present to allow accessing the coin-sized battery that powers the RTC circuit. (NOTE: Although the RTCC circuit traces indicated in the schematic are indeed provided on the traces of the pc board, the RTCC functions and components are not provided in the initial NUE-USB cards being sold. We did not have time to complete this lesser-important product capability, so we put the framework in place with hopes that some one else can step up to help with this Open Source design.)

73, George N2APB & Milt W8NUE

I’ll be upgrading mine as soon as the full release is out!



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