14 February 2012

Bluetooth CAT interface for Yaesu 8x7

I am not a fan of Computer Aided Transceiving (CAT), that's why I developed an embedded system to control remotely my FT-817, but I could not pass on this one.

This is a Bluetooth(tm) CAT interface for FT-817, FT-857 and FT-897 (possibly FT-100 too). It plugs directly into the ACC socket on the rear of the radio, it is self powered and it should be the definitive solution to wrong/missing/unrecognized drivers for USB-to-serial adapters, cables running around the shack, ground-loops,  ...

CAT BT adapter on FT817 with internal battery
A LED lits when the pairing is complete and the PC is connected, thus the serial channel is open and ready for use (I know I should have used a blue LED ;-)). I have programmed it to present itself as "FT8x7-CAT" and tunnels the serial interface at 9600 baud.

I could use the CAT signal two rooms away in near line-of-sight, which is more than 5m.

This homebrew accessory is 2cm wide and 5cm long. The current drain has been measured to be:
  • ~40mA when not paired (and no other BT devices around, weird)
  • ~10mA when paired and not sending data after few seconds
  • ~30mA when paired, sending data and few seconds thereafter
It should work on Linux and MAC too provided there is a CAT control software. The Android smartphone pairs with the BT adapter but then it doesn't know what to do with it

I also had a plan: let my FT817 accessories go wireless. This would require an independent power source for the keypad or (interactive) frequency reader, A.K.A. batteries. But besides being a nice system integration exercise, would that be really useful?

Update 2012-03-21, see the video of the interface in action!