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Monday, April 13, 2015

Once again, into the digital morass...

Well, it has happened to me yet again:  After a somewhat happy period of stubborn luddite rejection of digital technology, yesterday I decided to jump into the fascinating world of Si5351 PLL chips.  I don't have to tell you who is responsible for this decision.  But he is of Italian descent and lives in Southern California.

I'm working with an Arduino Uno board and a prototyping shield sent to me by the same Italo-Californian gentleman.  The physical wiring of the Si5351 was remarkably easy -- just four connections.  Wow, I thought, this is going to be easy.  WRONG. 

Lady Ada's sketch and library compiled and uploaded without difficulty and the little device was simultaneously spitting out 125 MHz, 13 MHz, and 10 kHz energy.  Pretty cool.

But I got into trouble when I tried to load some of the VFO circuits out there.  Most of the trouble was caused by my errors in managing all the libraries and such.  But as I was telling Billy, it really seems to me that the folks who work on this stuff are using another language. And the problem is that it is a NON-HUMAN LANGUAGE.   If it were French or even Chinese, it would probably be easier. But you end up getting error "messages" like "U-int-8 has not been declared!"   Oh, I see.  I found myself thinking back fondly to my recent problems on 40 meters with the screeching amp and the helpful ESSB guys.  Ah, the good old days.

So, I'm not going as far as declaring microcontrollers to be demonically possessed (remember the regens?)  But I do suspect extraterrestrial involvement in these little devices. 

In the end, I got several of the VFO sketches working.  You get a sense of how new the Si5351 VFO work is when you find yourself using code that was written last week or last month.  Thanks to Lady Ada, Pete N6QW, Jason NT7S, Tom AK2B, and Thomas LA3PNA.  All of these folks are doing great work, moving the radio art forward (even if they are working with ET). 

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  1. Very cool! I hope to be getting into the digital world very soon, thanks for the inspiration.


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