I received a nice email from Tadd KA2DEW, there is a lot of development in the NinoTNC. Read the great news below.
We fixed the FTDI USB problem with the NinoTNC board by putting a USB-B socket on the PCB and a Microchip USB IC. This actually cut the parts cost by a few $. We’ll have the boards for sale on ETSY in April. Go to Etsy.com and search for TARPN. If the search doesn’t come up, then it isn’t listed yet. Our plan is to take orders in advance of shipping, and prime the pump with 200 boards ordering in early April with 3 weeks to get the boards into stock. At a time closer to ship time we’ll order programmed PIC CPUs with the latest firmware. When we get down to 50 or so in stock, we’ll order more. Because we’re running on out-of-pocket funding for the boards and CPUs, there may be some out-of-stock issues, but the price is right so hopefully people will smile and deal with it.
The new board is called the N9600A3. The last version was the A2, a black PCB with a 2-bit dip switch and the FTDI module on headers. The new board is the A3 blue PCB with USB B connector and a 4 bit dip switch. The new switches will be used to select more bit-rates. We’re not ready with anything new yet, but hopefully by the time the board ships? We’re likely to have 1200, 2400, 4800 and 9600 for FM and maybe some support for HF via SSB. Just like the A2 board, this one will come with IL2P Forward Error Correction mode which is a very efficient packet encoding providing Forward Error Correct in the same length packet as an AX.25 packet. (Full disclosure, as I understand it, packets with > 64 payload bytes will grow larger than AX.25 but small payloads result in shorter than AX.25 packets).
The NinoTNC A3 will come with a over-the-USB bootloader to update the firmware over USB, and we’ll be shipping a free Raspberry PI Raspbian application to boatload the TNC from a hex file. The hex file will be shipped for free one way or another. TARPN node ops will just do an UPDATEAPPS command on the TARPN scripts.
There is much software support to write for this which is not yet done. Our crack firmware and software teams are busy busy busy. Even though we’re not going to be ready with updated software in time we wanted to rush the A3 out there to solve the availability problem with the FTDIs. In addition we discovered that the tolerances for the Micro USB plugs and sockets are so bad that many people are breaking the FTDI modules plugging and unplugging. That’s not good. It’s easy to work-around but ugly. The A3’s USB-B connector is a much better deal.
See our news and info page starting at http://tarpn.net/d
Like before, we won’t be taking profit from this, and we’ll be selling the PCB + CPU for well under $10 on ETSY. Search on ETSY for TARPN. If it isn’t coming up, then we’re not ready to take pre-orders yet. It should be ready in early April. The news and info page will be updated when we get the store back up and when we have a clue about shipping this. We’ll also be posting a new A3 assembly link with access to the new bill of materials.
If you are interested in this, you should also sign up for the email reflector. http://tarpn.net/t/nino-tnc/email_reflectors.html
Tadd — KA2DEW