[KG3V] An SO2R Antenna Switching Project using N1MM

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KG3V via rec.radio.amateur.moderated Admin

Jan 2, 2022, 11:44:34 PM1/2/22

Kg3v Ham Radio Blog

An SO2R Antenna Switching Project using N1MM

Posted: 01 Jan 2022 03:35 PM PST

I have decided to revive a project that I started over a year ago, but had
put on hold. My Station is setup for SO2R operation but I do not have
automated antenna switching in place. I have 3 or 4 antennas, depending
upon the contest, and manually connect and disconnect them as the contest
proceeds. That is not a strategy for Contesting success, and it must be
improved. Having access to all antennas throughout the contest will allow
me to adjust in real-time to changes in propagation and gives me a better
chance to catch short or unexpected Band openings.

My current QTH is on a fairly small lot, about 3/4 of an acre, so the HF
antennas are closely co-located for use in SO2R. That is one reason I had
abandoned this project in the past. But I now have a new location with more
land, where I will be constructing a Station. That is the primary target of
this project.

Initial Project Plans

The initial project will use a Wireless device to extract the Antenna
switching information from N1MM and provide the control lines to configure
the antenna switch. My antenna switch is a 2X6 Switch, similar to those
made by several manufacturers. It just needs a 4-bit digital control input
for each radio, to tell it how to connect the antennas. N1MM provides
Antenna information in the serial UDP Broadcast Data stream that it outputs
to my Network during the Contest. You can read more about that here.

The UDP Broacasts Antenna information is contained in the Radio Info
packets. I like to refer to this as Antenna Select Data (ASD), which
differs from Band Data. This powerful difference allows you to have
multiple Bands-per-antenna and multiple antennas-per-band. A simple table
in the N1mm+ Configurer is used to define the mapping between bands and
antennas. When operating on a Band, a Function Key allows you to quickly
cycle through all antennas that are usable on taht Band. This has been
described in more detail in some of my prior Blog posts and in the
excellent N1MM+ documentation.

My initial plan is to use the ESP8266 Node MCU as the wireless device that
will control the switch. I have done some experimenting with it, and the
initial prototype seems to work, but I need to add level-shifting, as it
takes 12-volt switching logic. The attached photo shows the Node MCU and a
level-shifter board that I purchased that I am hoping will provide the
proper signal interface.

The Development Approach

The Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) can be used for
developing code for the Node MCU. My plan is to use that, since I have
experience with it already. The node MCU also has the ability to use other
programming languages, but I am trying to avoid going that route. I had an
earlier concept for this switch using just an Arduino and N1MM serial data
from a COM port (blog article is here). This proved to not be the best
approach for me, so I am now looking at using the Ethernet Broadcast data
instead, and the Node MCU device.

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