The power and flexibility of microcontrollers can be applied to many ham radio applications including repeater controllers, beacon transmitters, keyers, antenna switches, battery monitors, etc. The HamStack platform is designed to help ham radio operators learn how to design with microcontrollers and program them. A HamStack-based project can be used stand alone or embedded into your own project. The “ham” part of the name refers to the desire to target the platform to the needs of the ham radio operator. The “stack” is a play on words that refers to the physical design of the platform with its ability to stack multiple boards together. Stack also refers to the “software stack” of libraries that are available to make programming easier.
What can I do with a HamStack? Why would I want one?
Hams are always learning about technology and coming up with ways to apply it to radio projects and the world in general. Microcontrollers have become a fundamental building block of electronic systems and we should be familiar with the hardware as well as the programming of these devices.
The HamStack platform lets you monitor and measure the real world and then decide what action to take. It runs at millions of clock cycles per second so the actions of the HamStack take place in the blink of an eye.
The HamStack can measure digital inputs like the press of a button or a switch closure. It can measure a DC voltage such as your battery terminal voltage or power through a directional antenna coupler. It can control things like a light, a relay, or an alarm. It can send and receive data through many different types of serial interfaces including RS232, RS485, I2C, SPI, etc. You can display information on a LCD panel, read a temperature probe, transmit commands to a remote device through a secure RF link, etc. If you are thinking of a new ham radio project, there is a good chance you can enhance the project’s capability with an embedded microcontroller.
The HamStack is designed for the beginner and the experienced designer
If you are new to the world of microcontrollers or programming, don’t be afraid to jump in. The process of designing circuits and writing programs for the HamStack is very simple. Following the examples in the book you will be building hardware and writing programs in no time. The HamStack supports program development in Basic and C. You can choose the language you want to learn or are more comfortable with. For the more experienced users, the HamStack is a powerful hardware platform with a high performance CPU, lots of IO and a variety of packaging options.