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Surfin’: Microcontrollers -- Small But Mighty

03/22/2013

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

Microcontrollers are gaining a foothold in the ham radio world. Here are some resources to help begin your explorations.

I’ve added a new book to my library: Ham Radio for Arduino and PICAXE, edited by Leigh L. Klotz Jr, WA5ZNU.

No, Arduino is not a new entity on the DXCC list, but rather a single-board microcontroller, that according to the Arduino website, provides “an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.”

Similarly, PICAXE is a microcontroller that is “designed to be the brain of your electronic project.” According to the PICAXE website, the PICAXE system was “[o]riginally designed as an educational system for schools, [but] has now also been widely adopted by hundreds of thousands of ‘hobbyists’ due to its ease of use.”

WA5ZNU’s book is full of ham radio applications based on Arduino and PICAXE. Visit the book’s companion website for a list of the projects and other pertinent information. By searching Google, you will find hundreds of entries on Arduino and PICAXE applications in Amateur Radio. For example, one of my favorite websites, Hack A Day, recounts Todd Harrison’s recent attempt to build an Arduino frequency counter for a Kenwood TS-520S transceiver.

Speaking of ham radio project development platforms, there also is HamStack, a website I have mentioned before. HamStack concentrates on ham radio projects and is a presence in the ham radio maker community.

I was first introduced to HamStack at the 2011 Dayton Hamvention®. Last year, I attended their excellent presentation at Dayton and just received word that HamStack’s George Zafiropoulos, KJ6VU, will be presenting at Dayton again this year. If you are going to be at Hamvention and are interested creating your own microcontrolled ham radio gizmo, be sure to attend George’s talk. See you there!

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, seeks the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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