MiniTiouner hardware plus MiniTioune software

MiniTiouner hardware

I thought the MiniTioune  (developed by Jean-Pierre F6DZP) would be a good lock-down/self-shielding project. I had never tried Digital Amateur TV (DATV).

You need to be a member of the British Amateur Television Club (BATC) in order to use their online shop.  I bought:

MiniTiouner version 2 blank PCB

MCP1826 1 volt regulator

Serit FTS-4334LU NIM / tuner module

MiniTiouner USB interface module

These items came to less than 60 GBP.

There is a list of parts and a schematic contained in Mike Willis G0MJW’s Notes on building the BATC v2 MiniTiouner. I recommend you follow his advice.

Also see Adrian M0NWK’s professional-looking article with excellent hints and tips.

The Hammond 1455 series 103x120x53mm enclosure came from rapidonline (eBay).

The DC-DC Converter (MP1584 Adjustable 3A Step-Down Buck Voltage regulator came from alltopnotch (eBay).

The 7HC10 chip came from vila restor (eBay).

I made a couple of substitutions:

I didn’t find the ferrite bead chokes 28C0236-0JW-10, so I used Wurth 1.8 uH 20% Ferrite Rod Core Inductor, 5A Idc, 6mohm Rdc, WE SD from RS Components. These mount horizontally, but there is plenty of room for them on the board. Probably RS has a direct equivalent if you search for it.

I didn’t find the 3.3V regulators MCP1826S-3302EAB so I bought MCP1827S-3302EAB (rated 1.5A max). I found the specified 6’s right after I ordered the 7’s!

I didn’t find a small board-mount fuse holder, so I adapted one out of the junk box.

That added another 40GBP to the bill, so 100GBP so far.

I found some nice Panasonic 22uF capacitors with ESR < 0.25 ohm. Some similar Nichicon capacitors had ESR < 0.55 ohm so these should do fine too.

Most of the other components came from the junk box.

I was delighted to find that the MiniTiouner version 2 blank PCB from the BATC is a top quality board, easy to solder and hard to damage.

I set up the DC-DC converter separately on the bench. The tiddly pre-set pot is fiddly to set. I set the output to 3.8V as measured on a digital voltmeter. Surprisingly, another DVM agreed!

Following Mike’s guidance,  I attached the components to the board & soldered them in, but not yet attaching the Serit or the USB daughter-board. With a 13.8V feed, checking the regulator outputs I got 3.25V, 3.23 V and 1.13 V, so all OK. The DC-DC regulator still read 3.8V out.

IMG_20200515_144234

I added a 10K resistor to the FT2232H daughter-board.

IMG_20200519_115636

MiniTioune Software and PC set-up

I struggled to find the MiniTioune software, but I eventually found the Telechargement / Download Section and downloaded the MiniTioune V0.9.9.1 .zip file. I had to set up a Windows 10 PC (Win10) especially for this software. Oh for a Linux version!

The MiniTioune Software page says: “run the test programs found in the directory where you extracted MiniTiouner to”. I tried the first one I noticed.

I launched Test My Minitiouner Version 2.3. Windows Defender didn’t like this! I clicked Run Anyway.
It detected NIM Tuner B and NIM Tuner A. I didn’t know the difference between MiniTiouner V2 and MiniTiouner V2+ so I clicked on the button MiniTiouner V2 as it says V2 on the board. The test program launched. I clicked I2C Master init (NIM). The journal said:

NIM I2C controller init OK. OK MPSSE is empty. Init MPSSE NIM I2C done!

This felt positive. It awarded a green light!I clicked Test NIM. The journal gave a spiel of read/write tests, but counted no errors. Another green light, but only 26% on the I2C performance scale.I clicked Test Digole Master.

Digole Master Init is not OK.

Digole Master was not happy! Digole Master 2.6 wasn’t happy either.I tried Test OLED1 Master:

Pb with OLED1_master SSD1306 init! NOT OK

I ticked led TS1 OK and led TS2 OK and clicked Read TS leds state:

TS1 led is ON. TS2 led is ON.

I quit that test application & launched Check MiniTiouner Driver and Filters V0.4A. I clicked USB Tuner. A long spiel included:

SeritPro NIM detected. initialising STV0910. STV0910 init OK.Synthesizer Detection, Synthesizer found, value $75. STV 6120 init OK.

5 green lights! I clicked Directshow:

Cannot find the “Universal Source” filter. Cannot add “Universal Source” filter.

It couldn’t find LAV filters either, so 3 green lights, but 2 red lights. The play buttons were greyed out so I clicked Network: 2 green lights!The MiniTiouner Softwage page said “All tests should pass – if it fails the USRC filter test try running the install_usrc_ax_winXP.exe file in the directory and run the test again”. I ran install_usrc_ax_winXP which finished with the message: DllRegisterServer in usrc.ax succeeded which sounded positive. I re-launched: Check MiniTiouner Driver and Filters V0.4A and clicked USB tuner.

FT2232H has bad device parameters. use FTprog to reprogram it

So install_usrc_ax_winXP might have scrambled the USB card? Time for a cup of tea… MiniTiouner hardware Version 2 says “If you obtained your module from elsewhere or you need to reprogram it it follow the instructions here“. Following the instructions there, I downloaded: FTDI CDM driverThe FTprog software and NIM tuner template.I ran CDM21218_Setup and followed the installation wizard. It installed two drivers:

FTDI CDM Driver package – Bus/D2XX Driver (06/16/2016 2.12.18) andFTDI CDM Driver package -VCP Driver (06/16/2016 2.12.18)

Next I ran FT_Prog_v3.2.76.375 Installer. A wizard launched. I left the boxes ticked for FT_Prog executable, Create Desktop Shortcut and Templates. It installed & I closed the wizard. I ran FTProg from the desktop icon. It found no FT devices. I tried a better-looking USB cable, re-booted windows & switched the MiniTiouner off & on. One or any of these actions may have helped.

I re-ran Check MiniTiouner Driver and Filters V0.4A. It gave 5 green lights for USB Tuner and Directshow had a green light for usrc filter. So it looks like install_usrc_ax_winXP did do something useful. Maybe a better lead has helped? There was still a red light for LAV filters. I re-tried FTProg with the poorer-looking lead. It found device information. I don’t know what is going on!

I re-tried FTProg with the better-looking lead, intending to proceed on the safe side. It found device information. I right-clicked device 0, selected Apply Template and From File and chose the using NIM tuner XML file. It applied the template. The device 0 Product description says: USB <-> Nim tuner.
I selected DEVICES and Program, clicked the Program button and closed the programmer. Checking settings:

Device 0/Hardware Specific/Port A/Hardware = RS232 UARTDevice 0/Hardware Specific/Port A/Driver = D2XX direct
Device 0/Hardware Specific/Port B/Hardware = 245 FIFO
Device 0/Hardware Specific/Port B/Driver = D2XX direct

After an internet search I found some CODECS from Cole Williams Software Ltd which I downloaded and installed. This gave me all green lights for the USB Tuner and Directshow tests, so the LAV was now flushed with success! However none of the Play… button video clips worked.

I suspected the NVdia on-board graphics controller was not doing the job when driven by the Basic MS graphics driver. I couldn’t find a Win10 driver for the on-board graphics controller. I installed another old graphics card: ATI Radeon 2400 and routed the monitor to this instead. Somewhere in all this, Win10 decided to update itself for a couple of hours, so I had a lunch break. When it finally finished (and reallocated various file types to MS products and demoted my Firefox browser without asking me – I was reminded why I generally avoid Windows!) I found in Device Manager/Properties/Driver that Win10 had allocated an AMD driver 13/01/2015 version 8.970.100.9001 to the ATI Radeon 2400Display Adapter“.

Re-running the MT Drivers & Filters test gave me all green lights. The video clips ran fine. Yay!

So the on-board NVidia graphics adapter in my HP Pavilion Slimline‘s motherboard did not work with MiniTiounter (MT), perhaps because Win10 didn’t find a manufacturer’s driver for it and loaded a Basic MS Graphics Driver instead. I was lucky that Win10 found a manufacturer’s driver for the equally old ATI Radeon 2400. The reasonably-priced current graphics adapter might be a Radeon 1310, needing only 30W; In the end I didn’t need to try this.

I found a bigger monitor so that I could run 1280x??? pixels.

I tried running MiniTiounter (MT) in Win10 user mode. Windows Defender objected to MT; I clicked Run Anyway. Then MT needed permissions to “make changes on my device”. I gave it Administrator permissions. Win10 Defender Firewall needed permissions too.

Thurs-21-May-2020. I connected the feeder from the 23cm antenna to the top F connector of the MiniTiouner. I left off the jumper LNB-A2 so that the MiniTiouner didn’t try to feed DC up to the yagi.

I aimed the 44el 23cm Wimo yagi at Lincoln cathedral. I set MT to 1400 kS/s, 1310,000 kHz, 0 offset. Nothing received. Finally I realised that in moving the coax cable that I had disconnected the DC supply to the pre-amp from its usual bias T;  I had forgotten the pre-amp altogether! I put that right. The repeater output came in at -68dB on the  RF Power meter, which seemed good to me. I was delighted to see a picture!

G0KOO accessed the repeater from near Boston. His were the first DATV signals I’d ever received from a radio amateur.

200521-1930_G0KOO

Here is one of the GB3VL Lincoln Repeater images:

200521-2051_GB3VL_flypast

The hardest part with MT has been setting up the PC with it’s graphics card, driver and CODECS. But thank you Jean-Paul for making it all possible.