The "Node Adapter" Family of clone boards.

On June 19th, 2009, Satoshi Yasuda 7M3TJZ announced that the stopped (abandoned) the Node Adapter project, and that he had closed his website.

Although no longer available from Satoshi's website, we did save some of its information. Also, we do have a write-up of the project's history here - pictures included!

Many people are still working with these boards, and use them to learn how all this digital 'stuff' works.

Several HAMs have teamed up, and now offer their own versions of the Node Adapter board, which they usually created for their own (or club) use only. Some boards are simple, some boards are more complex, all depending on what the intention was.

Nearly all of these boards are used together with the PC Windows-based HOTSPOT software written by Mark McGregor to create a simple repeater for around-the-home use, commonly called a hotspot.. Some people actually use it as a regular repeater, especially in areas where no other repeaters for D-STAR exist.  Because of this, more and more people are starting to refer to these boards as 'hotspot boards'.

Software tools and drivers for these boards can be downloaded from the Software and Tools page. Versions for Windows and Linux (CentOS version) systems are provided where possible.

 

Identical Clone

If you want to make an exact copy of the original board, you could just look at one of those original boards, and then use film-transfer methods (or transparent-transfer methods) to make a copy. Not many un-soldered boards can be found anymore, however, so we're quite happy with the scanned images a helpful HAM sent us- he scanned the boards before soldering them so he could (later) see what was on them, but the images would also help in making a board copy.

 

Images such as these cannot be used for making your own boards, but with the help of some software, they can be used to create transfer-method images ready to be printed onto film sheets. The result is an almost-identical copy of the board.

Click here for a large version!

 

G7LTT Node Adapter Clone

Mark Phillips, G7LTT designed a simple clone board, based on the (older) V2.01 schematics of the Node Adapter.  It does include the modifications published later, and it includes the Option area where the second processor goes if you want to use the board as a (standalone) repeater.

This is the standard DV Node Adapter board, with the USB-A sockets changed to B-type sockets, a DC power connector was added, the famous "1M resistor", and so on.

Other than that, it is exactly the same as the original board, and, of course, will run the same and firmware and application software. Although it can no longer be ordered, you can still find all relevant information about this board on Mark's website. If you want to make it yourself, you can download the ExpressPCB files for the board here.

 

G7LTT Mini-HotSpot PCB

If you don't need the standalone repeater mode (which is the case if you only use the board with the HotSpot software), then you can also use Mark's new Mini-HotSpot board.

The Mini HotSpot  only measures 2.5 x 2.75 inches, and will run the regular V.4 firmware. It uses a standard "B" type socket for USB, and it uses  a more or less standard 9-pin "D" connector for connecting the board to a radio.

The Mini HotSpot has been tested with the Yaesu FT-8900 & FT-857, Motorola Desktrac repeater, Motorola M1225 & Motorola SM50. Most any radio that can support high-speed (9600bps) packet operation can be used.

All information about this board can be found on Mark's website, where you can also order it.

 

G7LTT NotQuiteSoMini-HotSpot PCB

This new design is a logical evolvement of Mark's previous designs, at the cost of a somewhat larger board. In addition to the features offered by the Mini-Hotspot board, this one adds:

  • Digital COS
  • DUTCH*Star HSA Firmware compatible
  • "Satoshi" firmware V4.xx and V5.xx compatible
  • TTL serial port (for slow speed data)
  • S:N/RSSI (when used with DVAR-HotSpot and relevant firmware)
  • USB firmware boot loader (when used with relevant firmware)
  • PICKit2 ICSP header
  • All information about this board can be found on Mark's website, where you can also order it.

     

    DUTCH*Star Mini-HotSpot PCB

    Initially based on Mark G7LTT's idea of creating a trimmed-down version of the Node Adapter design, this implementation uses a different placement of parts, and the LEDs and jumpers are located towards the sides of the board.

     

    Several versions of this board have been designed, the current release of it is Revision C, which cleans up the analog section and further implemented the  D-COS circuitry.

    As with the boards designed by Mark G7LTT, this board, too, will run either the DUTCH*Star HSA firmware, or the original firmware written by Satoshi Yasuda 7M3TJZ.

    Read all about the Mini-HotSpot PCB here

    The first test boards arrived here on Aug 7th (2009), and of course, we went to work right away. The boards soldered fine (not the icky 'tinned' pads, but nice gold-immersed solder pads, which of course had to be done to comply with RoHS in Europe) and sure enough, things worked at first try!

    After spending a few hours experimenting with things, we decided to change some of the component values for better results (mostly, the LED series resistors.. the blue LED is way too bright, and the others were too weak), we changed the capacitors for the 24MHz XTAL from 18p to 22p, and we, uhhm... well, lets say that it was better to actually reverse the polarity of one of the diodes *blush*. Whilst doing that diode, we also replaced the 2N7000 FET with a regular transistor (BC547) as that works fine, and is less sensitive to static and spikes.

    These changes are combined into the A01 revision of the board. This board was never be actually sold by us, it is just an updated design for those who wish to make their own board.

    And so... here it is... the DUTCH*Star Mini-HotSpot in action, connected to our regional repeater PI1DSA.  The HotSpot temporarily uses callsign 'KA4YBR N', and operates simplex on 435.200MHz.

    Although it worked fine the first time, we did have some rather strange and unexplained garbling of audio in RF TX... when sending data to RF, it creates a lot of R2D2-type garble.  Receiving from RX is fine. It was suggested that this may be caused by the PC itself, as there have been many, many examples of USB-related issues with this design.  Indeed, connecting the board to another PC solved the problem, so apparently, some issues exist with USB chipsets in PCs, or the (Windows) drivers thereof.

    The USB issue seems to be caused (most of the times) by the LibUSB development driver used on the PC side. It sits between the system's USB drivers and the applications that wish to talk to them, and it looks like this layer causes problems on several configurations.

    This problem has been fixed with the introduction of our NAtools suite which is based on the WinUSB drivers rather than the LibUSB drivers.

     

    DUTCH*Star Node Adapter PCB

    After having done some work on the first version of our Mini-HotSpot board, we decided that we also wanted to produce an implementation of the entire design, for those who required its support for running in standalone mode, amongst others. So, one rather rainy day, we studied the schematics, and designed our own direct clone of the original design. 

     

    The Node Adapter is based on the newer schematics from Satoshi, however, and after some work, we managed to make the board configurable for either "old" (Version V.xx series of original firmware) or "new" (Version 5.xx series) mode.

    Obviously, this board will run either the DUTCH*Star HSA firmware, or the original firmware written by Satoshi Yasuda 7M3TJZ.

    Read all about the Node Adapter PCB here !

    If you have a board you'd like to share with, or sell to others, and you would like it to be listed here (for example, because you would like to also be able to run our firmware), please let us know by sending us a comment through the feedback form.

    You can find several schematics, PCB layouts and firmware updates here
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