I’m thinking of taking some microwave gear with me on future SOTA activations and with that in mind I decided I’d need a beacon keyer. I’ve just finished making mine and thought that there might be some other SOTA types on here who might have a use for such an item.
I didn’t want to have to play with the 817 switching between paddle and key so I made it so it pretends to be a paddle. I can plug it in or the Palm Paddle and no trying to figure out the 817 menus in the wind and rain. My keyer is programmable in situ using a single button. The keyer knows your callsign and lets you select the region code and hill reference. From that it figures out where you are in the UK and adjusts your callsign accordingly and then sends a short message (about 15 chars max) plus callsign and summit ref. Mine sends “VVV VVV SOTA DE call/P CC/RRnnn”. You can start and stop the keying and it remembers the summit reference till you power it down. The whole thing is the size of a matchbox and consists or 3 resistors, 1 cap, LED, regulator, push button and a PIC microcontroller.
There are some pictures, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf/1846561557 shows the prototype on the breadboard during development. The PIC is a 12F509 which is a Flash device and reprogrammable. Just as well as it took a few passes to get it all working. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf/1846561583 shows the finished item in a box. Probably 12 hours software development time and 4 hours to find the box, build the board and mount it. Also in that shot is a beacon keyer from about 10 years ago. There the beacon text was held in an EPROM. A major effort to change it but you could a huge amount of beacon text.
If anyone wants to build one and wants a PIC ready programmed with the beacon code and their callsign email me for more info at mm0fmf AT hotmail DOT com, do the obvious to that to make into a proper email address!