Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minima - User Options

On Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM, John <****@*******> wrote:
Hello Eldon
I know that you said that you want to stop coding and get on with construction,  I was just about to upload BS02 again but with various options turned off to suit my way of operating , which is a bind, as I have to make the changes, upload again every time I make a small change,     So I was wondering if it would be possible to have some of the more popular options available on the menu like you have the 60m (yes /No), possibly     Tune 2500 khz,    CW beacon,    Scanning, they could all be Yes/No options
Would save a lot of trouble,   Just a suggestion !!!! get the minims going first


I decide to respond to your questions via a blog post, and CC to the Minima email reflector, so my answers can be leverage by others.

Yes, I need to finish my Minima build.

And YES, most options could (or should) be added to the menu option.

Although, I wrote the menus as it is, in hast, as a trial to see if it was valuable. In hast, means that the menu system is very inefficient and requires much code space than it should. It needs to be rewritten with space, performance, and optimisation in mind.

In previous revisions of the Arduino IDE, my Minima Alternate Tuning Method (MATM) Sketch was running out of space and therefore user compile-time USER_OPTIONS was the only method available for allowing users to pick and choose their desired functions. As you know, with the NEWER Arduino IDE 1.5.8, the MATM uses much less of the available space and therefore most (if not all) current USER_OPTIONS will fit, at the same time.

John, I think you have said that you take your ATMEGA328P processor out of the Minima circuit and place it in an Arduino UNO to reprogram it. If so, yes, I can see how compile and modifications would be a pain - and therefore menus would be much better. First, I suggest that you upgrade and use a USB to Serial Converter connected to a four pin header on the edge of your controller board. There are NO components necessary to use this header. Although personally, I always put a 1nF cap on all processor pins that leave the processor board, especially when used in an RF environment. Downloading a Sketch and Restating the processor with this set up is automatic.

PropPlug and Four Pin Header
There are several USB-to-Serial Converters available from different manufactures, most are created using the same FTDI FT232R chip.  I use the "PropPlug" from Parallax. The required four header pins from the processor are; GND, TX, RX, and Reset. The PropPlug works very nicely with the Arduino IDE.

As most readers of my blog know, I like to build electronic project with the smallest parts that I can find (small is my thing). For example, for the Minima I did not use the ATMEGA328P-PU, I used the ATMEGA328P-MU which is a small MLF-32 package. The downside is, it can not be taken out of the circuit to be programmed, nor can it be easily replaced.

Bottom: ATMEGA328P-MU

For me, using the original suggested large DB9 Serial connector for programming on the back of my project was a non-starter, but a simple four pin header is acceptable. Also, the original suggested level translation parts are not necessary with a FTDI interface.

So Yes, new revisions of my MATM software will include more menu items to make option selection easier. Note: "menus" will always be a compile time USER Option.

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