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CW Trainer from Sept. QST
09-26-2016, 10:07 PM
Post: #1
CW Trainer from Sept. QST
I plan on building the CW trainer project with an Arduino based on the article in the Sept. issue of QST.

If you read the article, you will quickly find out that there is a lot missing, enough missing that most folks might find it hard to fill in the details. For such occassions, QST provides the web extension to the arrticle, called the QST In-Depth, to allow users more access to information that don't fit well in print. What that link did provide was a plain text version of the code (or "sketch" file, in Arduino-speak). But even then, it was still missing some libraries that only seemed to be available if you bought the ARRL Arduino Projects for Ham Radio book.

Fortunately, the author, N4TL, has published an extension to his article on the web, and it provides clickable links to all the missing links that the QST article missed without having to buy the book and CD. See that extension document here:

He listed the part costs to total about $80. I think that is reasonable if you want to follow all his choices, they are good, solid parts from good dealers. If you follow his instructions, it should work without having to rethink anything. By getting good quality parts, you can re-use them for other projects with very few problems. I often want to build a project once and leave it, so I will try to save some money and use some alternative suppliers, and try to get free shipping where posslbe. Let's see what kind of difference that makes.

Among the links are also options for other LCD's modules availble he does show some monochrome options. I think the colorful option is unnecessary. So, rather than the RGB LCD that he used ($25), I am going to choose a simpler monochrome LCD. He also used an I2C serial interface LCD. Again, it seems too costly to me, so I plan on using a cheaper parallel LCD alternative. As long as it is already on a shield, no added soldering necessary. So, here is the hardware I have so far:

Arduino UNO compatible board $6.35 :

Parallel LCD Shield (plugs into Arduino UNO) $4.11 :

One thing the author uses between his Arduino and LCD boards is a proto board to let him do all the wiring to the speaker, keyboard connector, relay and key. I think I can solder wires directly to my LCD board, so that I don't need to order another board just to add a few more wires. I don't think I need to build this with a relay to drive a key input to a rig, and I don't need it to have a key input, I only need the keyboard and the speaker (this is just for code practice, right?) so they are the important parts I need, I'll skip the rest.

Using the Chinese UNO board is not a problem for compatibily, it just isn't built as well as the genuine article, and the connectors might be a little crooked. I will deal with that. The LCD board will plug right in, however it will require the code to be modified. It should not be a major problem. so I will post my modified code once I get that worked out.

I will let you know how it goes in an update soon.

Bob, N6YPE
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10-21-2016, 06:01 AM
Post: #2
RE: CW Trainer from Sept. QST
So far so good on the project. All the hardware I have is now working with some modifications to software. The display is working and is asking for user input. But, I am still lacking the biggest piece of hardware - a PS2 keyboard. I hope to find one cheap at CopaFest, but if not, I will take up Steve - W6SDM on his offer for one of his spare keyboards.
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