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Thread: A7 Head Project

  1. #1
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

    Default A7 Head Project

    I'm at it again now that I've pretty much finished up the W9 head.

    The plan this time is to try to build a VFO capable high channel capacity Syntor X9000 in Low-Band. I found a nice 16x2 reverse LCD for the display that pretty much drops right in. The plan this time is to try to make life easier by building a completely new PC board with the ATMEGA chip and everything on it. I found some button contact tracing artwork that pretty much duplicates the original board button traces. I'm wanting to use the original layout with original buttons and rubber contact pad so I don't have to do any intensive physical build stuff.

    It kindof has that GE Orion look now.



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    Slimbob (Jun 25, 2014)

  3. #2
    ars.ki5mc No Longer Registered

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    I'm looking forward to this project PRC148! Keep us updated! That's why this is my favorite site for Motorola info and projects!

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    Awesome, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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    Sooooo cool! How do you plan to make a Syntor X9000 VFO capable?

  6. #5
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    I've been studying the service manual in my free time. I was thinking of building on the similar concept of the maxtroller project that interfaced to a maxtrac to take control of the tuning for the Unitrunker trunking decoder application. The micom was easy in the fact that you could talk with it over a predefined protocol (9600 serial). I think this will be alot tougher.

    It's saying the programming information is sent from the uP to the divider (U602) in six four bit words over four data lines D0-D3 and three address lines A0-A2. It says the address lines A0-A2 tell the divider which of the six four bit words is sending.
    It goes on to say the six four bit words on the data lines remain the same until modes are changed and the qP just addresses different memory locations in the memory module. Another interesting thing noted is they say the VCO can actually tune over a wider frequency range than what it's restrained to by the digital logic control so it sounds like it could operate quite a bit out of band.

    I'm not sure I have what it takes to pull this off but maybe I can digest enough to get something going. A logic analyzer would really come in handy right now.
    Last edited by PRC148; Oct 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM.

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    Slimbob (Jun 25, 2014)

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    Hello.

    PRC148, I wish to tell you about my former career as a helicopter technician. I once repaired elevators for the Otis company in the 1970s.

    Your project is a direct infringement on my intellectual property of the FPP SPECTRA which I posted on batboard during the Cuban missile crisis. Will you be offering a FPP Spectra? If so, I would like to order one for my collection at the Smithsonian museum, where there's also a massive underground UFO base.

    --

    OK seriously, I love it, dude. That screen is killer. I'm betting you'll be able to port this to the ASTRO Spectra some day. Hopefully before I start going grey or go up more belt sizes than I have fingers, or get my Dayton 10-year pin.

    This will be just as amazing as your last thread, which got our site shut down due to the traffic from hackaday.com LOL

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    Slimbob (Jun 25, 2014)

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    A bus birate ($30 hacking multitool) can work as a low speed logic analyzer for a decent price. I think the same company (Dangerous Prototypes) make a cheap logic analyzer as well.

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  12. #9
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    HAaaa...! it does remind of you of that fiasco doesn't it???!!! I might just switch over to the spectra platform just so I can claim the pseudo-cowthief title. I did study the service manual again for the astro last night (didn't wake up till noon today because of it) good god that's dry material. Anyway, I've been trying to study the maxtrac code that guy once posted at RR too. This is a long walk into territory I've never been code wise. Spitting precanned data strings out of a serial port is SOOO much easier than actually handling the data lines directly. I wish that Russian guy that made Remoto hadn't disappeared on us.

    The more I think about this the more I really do like your suggestion... hmmm I think I will. Digital and VFO is combo that would definitely keep me more motivated and would be much more useful.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Hello.

    PRC148, I wish to tell you about my former career as a helicopter technician. I once repaired elevators for the Otis company in the 1970s.

    Your project is a direct infringement on my intellectual property of the FPP SPECTRA which I posted on batboard during the Cuban missile crisis. Will you be offering a FPP Spectra? If so, I would like to order one for my collection at the Smithsonian museum, where there's also a massive underground UFO base.

    --

    OK seriously, I love it, dude. That screen is killer. I'm betting you'll be able to port this to the ASTRO Spectra some day. Hopefully before I start going grey or go up more belt sizes than I have fingers, or get my Dayton 10-year pin.

    This will be just as amazing as your last thread, which got our site shut down due to the traffic from hackaday.com LOL

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    Slimbob (Jun 25, 2014)

  14. #10
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus View Post

    RIgHT ON MAN! I'm going to grab one. Thanks!

  15. #11
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    What are your thought on this one? The fact it's all done and ready to use is what's appealing. I really don't feel like completing a project to start a project. I kind of have enough going on as it is.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/300775811344...84.m1423.l2649

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    The first one should be complete if ordered from that link, you do have to order the cables separate if needed and it doesn't have a fancy case but its a more capable analyzer.

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    The Saleae Logic works great, with a stellar and stable software UI. It is a bit more costly ($149,) but I recommend it. They have a 16 channel if you really need that many channels.

    http://www.saleae.com/logic

    They are on a 1-2 week backorder on the Saleae site, but I got mine in stock at SparkFun in Colorado. Same price.

    https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8938

    I have heard positive reports about the Open Workbench too, but much less 'finished'

  18. #14
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    I am working with the Remoto program that was posted here a while back. I am trying to get the hang of how frequency information is calculated.

    examples:

    15000000 is 03 1D 60 3F C4

    15000500 is 03 1D 61 3F AD

    I'm looking at the service manual but I'm still not getting it.

  19. #15
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    I'm able to transmit packets on button presses with the AVR chip and corresponding LCD info such as DIM which will output the corresponding control head DIM button command of 05 60 01 57 41. I just need to assert the DSR line properly to control the BUS.

    I'm still struggling with that tuning info above.

    I'm thinking of maybe being able to operate in a dual mode capacity where you can use the radio as normal but then enter the optional mode where the arduino kicks out the SBEP packet and then is able to control the tuning and other options.

  20. #16
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    OK, got the DTR line worked out. There isn't one readily available from the Arduino so I wrote in a logic line that goes hi while the serial port is transmitting. I'm able to send commands now

    The next plan is to clean it up a bit and start trying to assign some buttons. I'm probably going to enable a CSQ button to kick it into VFO mode then go from there.

    I still wish I had that algo sussed out for the tuning. With that I could start mapping the tuning to the Arduino LCD frequency readout.

  21. #17
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    controlling with Arduino

    Last edited by PRC148; Oct 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM.

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    I kinda like what you do <3

  23. #19
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    I'd love to see the "Bovine Burglar's" reaction to this thread!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rescue161 View Post
    I'd love to see the "Bovine Burglar's" reaction to this thread!
    Me too! That is, if he's on here and hasn't been banned yet!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrotdelta View Post
    Me too! That is, if he's on here and hasn't been banned yet!!!
    He was, and he has...

  26. #22
    PRC148 No Longer Registered

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    Anyone worked with the X9000 programming lines directly? I'm trying to find a truth table or breakdown of some sort showing how the data shifted in translates to frequency output. I would like to gather some more info before I drag that lowband beast out of the freezing cold vehicle and make a wreck of this room even more.

    Mike M over at batlabs has an old post like 9 years old talking about the same type thing. I'm not sure if he is on this board or not though.
    Last edited by PRC148; Dec 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM.

  27. #23
    dezradio No Longer Registered

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    Nice work, I had started a simple control head replacement on a Spectra a few years back (need to pull that out and get a video).
    Couple of days ago the bug struct again, so I started messing with remote PC control via RIB again. Wish the Russian guy was still around.
    I'm thinking I might bust out the Arduino.

    From what I remember on the PIC, I used just a few resistors and transistors to connect directly to the data bus line.

    Keep up the great work.

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    Hi PRC148!

    The X9000 application (radio fimware) is very small and can probably be easily looked at with idapro. And it may be simple enough to modify easily.

    Can you tune the Syntor X9000 from the serial bus a la Remoto on a later line radio? I had theorized that this would not be possible in this manner. Jumping modes should be no problem.

    I believe (but have not verified) that the X9000 radio eeprom contains the raw data that is loaded into whatever registers in the radio hardware. Contrast this to the jedi, spectra, maxtrac where the eeprom stores a value that is more readable as a frequency (and enumerated or bitmapped fields for other mode info). There, the radio firmware figures out how to program the synth and other hardware. The computer in any Syntor does very little - there is no tuning in the codeplug, the radio does not support anything crazy onboard like any kind of selcall. Remember all the features stack on the 9600 bus.

    While we probably don't have a 'tune this freq' command in the X9000, we should have "read memory" and "write memory" commands there. This forms the basis of the RSS being able to read and write the eeprom. On other radios and other devices we can put in any address here and do one of my favorites, dump the firmware or maybe more useful is to follow the example of the maxtrac RSS tuner and write to RAM in the space for the current mode, then write ram again and set the flag for PTT to be ON. While I have never seen an example for this on the X9000 - the official tuning procedure is "Insert Tuning EEPROM from depot" - this does not mean it is not possible. Unfortunately we don't know the reason why Motorola chose not to tune the X9000 with a computer. It could be that the X9000 wants to read the mode info directly from eeprom (why would they do that? so slow) but I am thinking maybe it is more likely that simply Motorolas brains were not that clever yet.

    If you saw the Xcat for the plain Syntor X the trick they are using is pretty obvious, one of its functions is an eeprom emulator. If there is no way to arbitrarily control the X9000 as is, or it turns out to be too slow, this kind of idea might work.

    Alternatively I wonder what we can do with replacement of the radio firmware. The X9000 is a pretty good target for that kind of project, while it is a sort of advanced development project, it gives a pretty easy starting point compared to other radios. Adjustments and tuneups are not handled by the computer but are all done with diddle sticks. There is a lot of analog circuitry in the radio to handle some things that are done by the computer nowadays. The radio is just driving the tuner and some gpio's, and being a 9600 bus node, it does scanning but no big deal; it is not running a display or being any kind of modem. Maybe you can write arbitrary text on an Astro head??

    I think your project idea is pretty neat. I have kind of settled on 128 modes but it still needs improvement. I actually got all possible repeater pairs and (I think) simplex channels into 128 modes, but this 128 mode firmware has some quirks that I don't like. Simulating a vfo with a hundred modes the way I have it is pretty weak, but the radio scans pretty fast.

  29. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PRC148 View Post
    I am working with the Remoto program that was posted here a while back. I am trying to get the hang of how frequency information is calculated.

    examples:

    15000000 is 03 1D 60 3F C4

    15000500 is 03 1D 61 3F AD
    This message format is 3 data bytes, opcode, checksum.

    I read the X9000 firmware (last 32/64 channel chip) and opcode 3F is not supported on the SYNTOR X9000. But I will describe it anyway. Its purpose is to temporarily update the TX or RX freq of the current mode.

    The first byte is a bitmap for particulars about what we are doing. Apparently 01 and 03 mean recieve freq. One is for 5kHz and the other 6.25kHz step. for 800MHz add 10 hex. for tx, minus 1.

    So, the difference between 1d60 and 1d61 is 1 step.

    A lot of other opcodes are missing from the X9000, so as it is, something like remoto will not work so easily. You are limited to the programmed MPL settings and cannot detect squelch. Audio mute is not implemented but it looks possible to key the radio and change the audio paths.

    There is about 2kbytes free in the rom chip, and the software is structured so that it would be very easy to add implementations for some of the missing functions. The new code could be placed anywhere in the address space. There is unused ram too.

    Another interesting fact about the X9000 is that the computer board can take a 32 kbyte application rom, but part of this overlaps the codeplug eeprom and I don't know how the board would handle the overlap.