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DATV-Express Project

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:05 pm
by KenW6HHC
During February, testing of the compact MiniTiouner-Express hardware receiver and analyzer production units that use the Serit NIM tuner and uses the MiniTioune software from Jean Pierre F6DZP continued. Art WA8RMC has resolved the power supply extended temperature problem and all units have been reworked. However, a new problem has been seen in a few units. Out of 29 production units that are under intense scrutiny, 25 units work perfectly. However, consistently 4 units power up with poor modulation constellation and a low MER reading. Restarting these four units allow them to sometimes work OK…but most times the poor modulation constellation comes on. A possible issue has been identified with the one of the Serit tuners on the “four poor constellation units” and all “four poor constellation units” are in the same manufacturing date code lot (different from the 25 other good units) . Art is working with the Serit manufacturers to analyze.

Ken W6HHC has completed a MiniTiouner-Express User Guide draft that has been reviewed and updated by the project team, A review copy has been sent to Jean Pierre F6DZP for his inspection and comments.
Cover for Draft10 of MiniTiouner-Express User Guide

The project team has decided to delay sales of the MiniTiouner-Express hardware until the poor-constellation-problem on some units is better understood.

There is good news that the PLUTO SDR Tx/Rx units from Analog Devices are now IN STOCK and NOW SHIPPING from both DigiKey and Mouser electronic distributors. The DATV-Express software v1.25p4 software (for windows) will transmit with either a PLUTO modulator or the normal DATV-Express modulator board. Currently, Charles G4GUO has been working to add the Lime-Mini SDR board to the v1.25p4 software. Mostly working, Charles explains he just needs to add the “raised COSINE” filter to the code for Lime-Mini SDR board software. Charles reports he could have a software build ready to provide alpha testing with LimeSDR-mini board in a couple of weeks.

Project Speed is set to moderate….de Ken W6HHC

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:55 pm
by KenW6HHC
As a follow-up to the LimeSDR-mini Tx/Rx discussions, I just placed an order for a Lime-Mini unit for US$139 (the introductory price). These units have been shipping since mid February as promised by Crowd Supply at

The LimeSDR-mini is a very small Tx/Rx unit

A Crowd Supply update e-mail reported that “We've shipped over 300 boards so far and we're happy to report another 900 or so boards will arrive at Crowd Supply's warehouse this week.” My unit is expected to ship on March 31.

73…de Ken W6HHC

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:21 pm
Nice product, just shame there is no European distributor for a British product.

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 2:25 pm
by KenW6HHC
The project team has decided to begin sales of the MiniTiouner-Express hardware as soon as the web site can be updated (some team vacations may impact?). During March, Art WA8RMC determined that the power supply switching regulator was on the verge of causing a small 100mV glitch just as the Serit tuner was being programmed. The glitch coincided with the time the software was communicating with the tuner over the I2C lines. A resister value change eliminated the glitch. The symptom had been occasional “fuzzy constellation and low MER” at power-up. Also Jean Pierre F6DZP reported no problems were found on the unit that was shipped to him for his review..

Charles G4GUO reports that:
• He is waiting for MiniTiouner-Express hardware to arrive (for additional testing)
• He can't get LimeSDR / Lime Mini to produce a good MER. Using DATV-Express software
• Not getting very far with running MiniTiouner-Express hardware on Linux.

Ken W6HHC has updated the MiniTiouner-Express User Guide to draft13 with new updates by the project team and a new front cover. Again, the User Guide will be available for download from the web site as soon as the web site can be updated. (A special thanks to Ian G8IQU...for his recommendations and some work on the new cover design.)

New Cover for Draft13 of MiniTiouner-Express User Guide

Finally Charles G4GUO further reports that he:
• Has been preparing a Spectrian amplifier for 2.4 GHz Es'hail 2 uplink (this has taken most of my time).
• Is trying to figure out how best to attach a 65 cm dish to a tripod for 6 cms DATV operation.
• Cleaned the dust out of his main computer (it is now running noticeably faster).

Project Speed is set to moderate….de Ken W6HHC

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:43 pm
by KenW6HHC
An Important MiniTiouner-Express update

The MiniTiouner-Express Receiver/Analyzer unit can NOW be ordered from the website. You need to first logon to the website (or REGISTER on the website if you have never logged in before). Use the PURCHASE A PRODUCT tab to order the product via PayPal.
  • The price for the MiniTiouner-Express unit (with Serit) is US$75 + shipping
    Shipping for USA is US$7.00
    Shipping to the European Union is US$24.00 including the VAT.
    Shipping anywhere international is US$35.00
The MiniTiouner-Express User Guide (draft13) can now be downloaded as a PDF from the website. Use the DOWNLOADS tab to download the PDF file.

Let me know if you have any questions…de Ken W6HHC

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:15 pm
by G4GUO
Anyone ordering for EU delivery please be patient as it will be a couple of
weeks before we can ship.

- Charles

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 12:57 pm
by KenW6HHC
The sales of the MiniTiouner-Express hardware units began on the project web site on April 05. Sales have been brisk, with around 50 units sold worldwide in April’ including:
EU – 17 units
USA – 10 units
Japan – 7 units
Australia – 3 units
Canada – 1 unit
India – 1 unit
Chile – 1 unit

On April 20, Jean Pierre F6DZP released a new update to the MiniTioune software, called v0.8s. This new software release is designed to be compatible with all of the variations of MiniTiouner hardware, including the MiniTiouner-Pro and the MiniTiouner-Express. See the BATC forum for an announcement of v0.8s new features. The latest MiniTioune software README file continues to improve nicely on describing LEDs and switches and is a “MUST READ”. One change in v0.8s is the hardware EEPROM must identify the NIM product field as “MiniTiouner-Express”…OTHERWISE the software will now say “Incompatible hardware”. Early MiniTiouner-Express shipments did not include this EEPROM change and users affected need to use the utility called FTprog - that can be downloaded from the FTDI web site. This EEPROM reprogramming step is not difficult, and instructions to use FTprog will be included in an update to the USER GUIDE, soon. Art WB8RMC has reprogrammed EEPROM on all units shipped after April 25…and ALL units shipped from Charles G4GUO into EU had been reprogrammed.

Ken W6HHC reports that the shipping date for his order for a LimeSDR-mini has slipped from March 31 to April 19. HOWEVER - Ken has NOT seen an real “shipping e-mail”. yet???

Charles G4GUO reports that:
• While using DATV-Express software, he can not get the LimeSDR-mini to produce a good MER using DATV-Express software…the transmit signal looks OK.
• He can only get PLUTO hardware units to achieve 3 MSymb/sec for DVB-S protocol. The latest DATV-Express software release for PLUTO is v1.25p5. An experimental release, v1.25p6, that completely rewrites the timing software does have better MER and eliminates audio being lost after a few minutes.
• Charles reports that DVB-S could be re-written for PLUTO to achieve better DVB-S Symbol Rates (by loading a new FPGA code to only require Transport Stream import via USB)…but DVB-S2 protocol requires too much FPGA-memory to benefit from this approach.

Project Speed is set to moderate….de Ken W6HHC

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 11:36 pm
by kd2hns

Is there a link to download v1.25p5 software or v1.25p6 software? I don't see that listed on the DATV-Express web site only v1.25p4


Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 7:57 am
by G4GUO

Neither of those versions are stable.

However if you want to risk it here is a link to 25p6 ...

- Charles

Re: DATV-Express Project

Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 4:19 pm
by KenW6HHC
Ken W6HHC has updated the MiniTiouner-Express User Guide to Draft 15 (available for download from the project website under the DOWNLOADS tab). The two main User Guide changes have been to:
1) Updated the guide for MiniTioune v0.8s software changes of features and functions
2) Added an Appendix B to provide instructions to re-program the hardware unit EEPROM for the product string expected by the recent release of MiniTioune v0.8s software. All hardware units shipped before April 25 needed to have EEPROM reprogrammed to be compatible with v0.8s.

Art WA8RMC reported sales of MiniTiouner-Express continued good in May, with a total of 80 units now sold (including five units sold at Dayton HamVention). He is down to an inventory of about 15 good hardware units plus about 8 units with apparently bad NIM tuners. A purchase order for another batch of Serit NIM tuners with be placed.

Charles G4GUO reported that he finally has DATV-Express software working OK with the LimeSDR-Mini (as well as PLUTO, larger LimeSDR, and the DATV-Express boards). The only issue with the LimeSDR-Mini is that it puts out a 20 MHz wide burst of calibration noise, whenever transmitter parameter changes are made, like frequency, power level, etc. The owner has to assure that the RF Power Amplifier is NOT enabled while parameters are changed. Charles’ experimental software that works best with all four exciter boards is not available for alpha testers, yet…(hopefully soon?).

Recently Delivered LimeSDR-mini Unit with RF Shield

Ken W6HHC reported that his long-awaited LimeSDR-mini unit arrived. The unit was originally expected to ship March 31, but arrived on May 24. E-mails from Crowd Supply indicate that they are busy gearing-up for high-manufacturing volumes and that all existing-unfulfilled orders and new orders will start shipping after mid-July. Ken’s only disappointment was he had expected a nice plastic cover to come with the LimeSDR-mini unit. For now, Ken just needs to find time to begin testing the LimeSDR-mini unit.

Project Speed is set to moderate….de Ken W6HHC