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DRA818U Serial Programming with your PC

The DRA818U is a nice little chip for experimenting and building your own transceiver, beacon, etc.. All information can be found in the data sheet of the DRA818U. To program the chip with your PC, you need a serial cable and a small piece of software.

Below you will find a small piece of C# software code that runs in LINQPad and helps you in configuring your DRA818U. With some small changes also the VHF version (DRA818V) can be configured. The C# software code is not a good-looking software application, but a piece of code that can be tailored to your own needs and encourage people to do some programming themselves.

Yes, in principle it only runs on Windows. No, you cannot find a Linux/Unix/Mac version here (I would suggest to use Python with the PySerial package then).

The software and electronics set-up described on this page is how I used it for my experiments, but it is of course at your own risk to use it too.

Required Hardware: Communication cable

FTDI TTL-232R-5V To connect your DRA818 module to a PC's serial port, your need a cable/converter that links the (almost) 5 Volt TTL signals from the DRA module to the serial port (RS232) of your PC. Many options are possible, I use a converter cable from FTDI (the TTL-232R-5V for example).

This converter cable plugs into you PC by means of a USB-plug, and after letting Windows installing the driver software, a serial COM port is available on your PC. Which COM port number can be found in the system settings of you PC, and will also be displayed by the C# software code below. On the DRA818 side you need to connect the cable TX to the DRA RX and the cable RX to the DRA TX connection (and connect the ground signals of course). For safety, add in both lines a 100 Ohm series resistor.

Required Software: LINQPad and .Net

LINQPad software To run the C# software code, the free LINQPad software is required. Also a paid version is available with more options, but the free version will do the job. Both LINQPad versions 4 or 5 are fine to use.

LINQPad itself also requires Microsoft .Net ("dot net") to run the C# script. .Net is also freely available for download. After installing LINQPad and possibly .Net, you can load the C# software code and start configuring your DRA818 module.

C# software code: serialCommsDra.linq

To configure the DRA818 module yourself, follow the next steps (or not and play around yourself):
  1. Store the serialCommsDra.linq file somewhere on your PC (Save As ....).
  2. In LINQPad: File -> Open -> serialCommsDra.linq.
  3. Find out which serial port number you have connected to your DR818 module.
  4. Change your setting (1) ... (10) when necessary. Do this with care and look carefully at the example. C# won't make any suggestions to the code you intended to use, but uses exactly the code you actually typed.
  5. Press 'F5' to execute your small C# software program.
The software prints the available COM ports on the output screen of LINQPad (this might be useful to find your COM port number). When the COM port is correct and the hardware is wired correctly, your C# software program will configure your DRA module.

Not all available commands are implemented in software code, but with both this code and the data sheet it must be possible to add other commands.

Feel free to contact me when you encounter problems. Happy experimenting!

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