Bluetooth LE CAT interface

RUMlog for the iPad and iPhone

Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DL2RUM » Sun 10. Apr 2016, 14:35

The next RUMlogNG iPad version (3.2) will be able to use an external Bluetooth LE CAT interface.
Clarke, K1JX have had the idea and pointed me to this device: https://www.adafruit.com/products/2479

There are few advantages over a WLAN CAT interface:
  • cheaper interface
  • less power needed for the interface
  • less power needed for the iPad
  • more reliable connection

The tested Adafruit BLE device pulls just 3-5mA at 5V, while the Piglet (http://pignology.net/piglet/) needs 50-180mA! Clarke has found out while using it in the field, the iPad battery life is reduced to ca. 60% when using the WLAN connection for TRX control. See the graphics below.

On the other hand, you have to build your own interface. The signal lines need to be inverted. For testing I used a simple 74HC4049, powered from the 3.3V voltage regulator on the Adafruit board. The KX3 works fine with this level. Other transceivers may need a MAX232.

Some hints for the Bluefruit LE device:
  • make sure you are using the latest firmware
  • it uses a fixed rate of 9600 baud on the UART side
  • you have to invert input and output signals
  • it uses always hardware flow control --> connect the CTS pin on the board to ground, if you don't like to use it

WLAN.png
iPad Energy impact for WLAN interface


BTLE.png
iPad Energy impact for Bluetooth Low Energy interface


BTLE_CAT.JPG
Used prototype to test with a KX3




To use it on your iPad, go to the TRX Control section and push the "Scan BT" button. Found supported interfaces will be listed in the table. Select the interface you want use. Press the "Connect BT" button or go to the K3/KX3 control screen if you want to use it. Here you will find a "Connect BT" button as well.


IMG_0096.PNG




For info: Apple don't allow us to use a direct USB connection to external devices. Even simple Bluetooth devices are not well supported, we have to use LE (Low Energy) interfaces only.
73 and best dx de Tom, DL2RUM
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DK5LP » Fri 15. Apr 2016, 08:53

Thanks Tom!

This is a featuare that I need.
My iPadMini wants to much energie with a WLAN-Interface.

vy 73 SV9/DK5LP / AK5LP
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DL2RUM » Mon 30. May 2016, 11:36

Find attached a schematic using a MAX3323EEPE, provided by Clarke, K1JX. This version of a MAX232 chip is a ESD protected up to +/- 15kV. Not a bad idea in a RF rich environment. The chip is powered from the 3.3V regulator on the Bluefruit board. The overall current draw is ca. 2.5 (idle) - 8mA @ 5V.
The MAX3323 uses RS232 voltage levels (+/- 10V), all newer Elecrafts and Kenwoods should work with is. Check the manuals before using.

Starting version 3.2.1 Icom transceivers will work as well over the Bluetooth LE interface. You will just need a 3.5mm (1/8'') plug and the Adafruit BT LE board. Just bridge RXI and TXO and connect it to the tip of the plug.

For Icom:
Mod - n/c
CTS - ground
TXO - Tip of plug
RXI - Tip of plug
Vin - +3-15 V
RTS - n/c
Und - ground
DFU - n/c


PCB Creator Schematic - RUMBle v3 Print.pdf
Tnx Clarke, K1JX
(9.99 KiB) Downloaded 189 times
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby N8NOE » Tue 5. Jul 2016, 22:37

Will this Support Audio Also?
Could be used for TX/RX if it does, maybe even a Waterfall setup..
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DL2RUM » Wed 6. Jul 2016, 07:35

No.
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby vk7ben » Wed 28. Sep 2016, 21:55

HI There!

I'm having trouble getting the app to "see' my BLE module. I've purchased one of the many $10 Generic BLE devices off ebay but when scanning in the app using the iPad it does not detect the device.

The device is basically and FBT06 BLE attached the am AMS1117 regulated power module, and has a broadcast ID of FBT06 and presents 2 com ports. I have successfully been able to achieve rig control and access to bluetooth com ports with Windows, MacOS and Android.

With the recent release of iOS 10, has this introduced a change in behaviour?

Any help would be great! :)

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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DL2RUM » Thu 29. Sep 2016, 05:14

Ben, please note: you will need a BT Low Energy module. This isn't just a low power version of BT, it is a different technology. The simple BT-Serial converter can't be used on an iOS device.
Currently this module was tested only: https://www.adafruit.com/products/2479
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby vk7ben » Fri 30. Sep 2016, 03:51

Thanks Tom,

I wasn't aware that this was not quite the same technology. I guess I will go back to plan B of getting a raspberry pi 3 or similar to run rigctld on and access via wifi :)
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby ct1drb » Tue 11. Oct 2016, 20:13

Hello all,

last week I ordered a BLE device and got it yesterday. To minimize costs I used part of the pigtail device and it is working quite fine, it was a question to replace the WAN device to the new one and it was quite simple. It is working quite well, except:

when I choose option KX3 Control at first BT is working and the "Disconnected" information goes out and it seems well. Then I move dial from radio and frequency from VFO A freezes, I have time to play with Men 1 for instance but for a while, then it seems that BT goes out. I have to push Disconnect BT, then Close me and back to the TRX Control window. I have to start all process again, except push Scan BT button. If I stay in the TRX Control window no problem at all, if I go to the Logbook window I can switch bands or modes and there is no freeze at all.

Despite this problem I am looking forward to do a portable operation with all setup, just to check performance.

Tks for outstanding software and time you spend to develop it, my congrats.

Best 73.

CT1DRB
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Re: Bluetooth LE CAT interface

Unread postby DL2RUM » Tue 11. Oct 2016, 21:52

Make sure, you have the latest Firmware version on your BT module. The KX3 control window works very smooth with version 0.7.0 or better.
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