Re: The radio with two brains


Hi Roy,

Thanks for the comments. I hope that you are soon able to build a similar setup for yourself.

The SW and FM enable signals are useful for the software in autonomous mode. Each time the radio receiver changes modes, e.g. from MW to FM, the Si4734 is rebooted to the new mode. (The FM and AM signal processing code cannot all fit into RAM at the same time.) So, in order to defeat soft-mute, the new MCU software has to reprogram the parameters each time there is a mode switch. By wiring in the antenna enabling signals, I can detect this. Of course this also enables different programming in different modes.

The debug lead can be used with the ToolStick base adapter and other MCU programming/debug tools sold by Silabs. All Silabs MCU have a two-wire (plus ground) in-system debugging interface. In addition to programming the flash memory, this interface works with the free IDE software for interactive source-level debugging. You can run code, stop a breakpoints, view/change registers, etc. I wired the extra lead so I can access the port by only removing the back of the radio. It would be nice to find another "stealth" location for it. I've thought about somewhere under the battery door or the kick-stand, but space is very tight.

I'm still exploring whether Silicon Labs can make the GUI software generally available. I hope so. But in the meantime, I've started working on an alternative, adapting code that is already publicly available. I finally came up with an interface on the PC side that doesn't need a full-blown C++/C#/.NET development system. Basically, I have four functions that easily compile with "MinGW", a freeware C compiler. Above that, I can build everything with the Tcl scripting language. (Tcl may not be to everyone's liking, but the same basic C code should be "glueable" into other frameworks and provides all the USB functionality that is required.) On the USB side, the radio looks like a standard HID device, which uses device drivers that are already built-into Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

Let me know when you get your ToolStick. I can send you more details about the interface and software.


--- In ultralightdx@..., "Roy" <roy.dyball@...> wrote:

Hi Scott

That is very impressive; the interface with intelligence has got to be
the way to go. Having the ability to turn off soft mute without being
connected to a computer will appeal to all members.

Scott I notice you show a wire from the SW and FM enables, what is this
used for? Is the debug lead used with the base board? I am awaiting the
arrival of my daughter card so I can get involved in this new dimension
you have added. Is the Silabs' EVB GUI software available?

Cheers Roy.

--- In ultralightdx@..., "sdwillingham" <sdwillingham@>

Hi All,

My PL-380 has undergone major elective surgery (see my new album in
the photos section). The results are quite positive, adding a stealthy
second brain! Unfortunately, the new brain is a couple millimeters too
big. The short-term solution was to remove the patient's speaker.
Everything else then fits beautifully. I'll have to put some thought
into re-fitting the speaker later.

What can a PL-380 do with two brains? Here's a quick sampling:
1) Full USB interface, compatible with Silabs' EVB GUI software and
with "homebrew" software. 2) I've rewired the PL-380's "Alarm" button so
it can initiate stealth commands. 3) An added bicolor LED provides
feedback. 4) The new brain can automatically override radio parameters
(e.g. soft-mute) even without USB connection.

Now to work on refining the software...


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