Amateur radio, programming, electronics and other musings

Archive for Jan, 2012

Trimble Thunderbolt (RS232)

Categories: Projects, Trimble Thunderbolt Monitor
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If you are planning to connect your Trimble to a microcontroller as I am you will need to provide it appropriate levels as the RS-232 standard defines the voltage levels that correspond to logical one and logical zero levels for the data transmission and the control signal lines.  Read more

TSIP Packet Structure

Categories: Code
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TSIP stands for Trimble Standard Interface Protocol, and it is used in products from Trimble such as the Thunderbolt and differs from NMEA which is a lot simpler and only contains status data.

The TSIP protocol is based on the transmission of packets of information between the user equipment and the GPS receiver. Each packet includes an identification code that identifies the meaning and format of the data that follows. Each packet begins and ends with control characters.

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Categories: Projects, Trimble Thunderbolt Monitor
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I pulled out the PICAXE documentation, fired up the development environment and started to write some code.  It didn’t take too long before I worked out that the picaxe was just not up to the job of processing the serial traffic from the Thunderbolt.  It might just be my limited experience but I wasn’t prepared to spend any more time on it when I knew there were alternatives available.  I jumped onto the web and ordered a Netduino which is an open source electronics platform using the .NET Micro Framework.  Featuring a 32-bit microcontroller and a rich development environment it is perfect for me who is very comfortable with the C# programming environment.

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Trimble Thunderbolt Monitor Project (LCD)

Categories: Projects, Trimble Thunderbolt Monitor
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I decided I would like to start a new construction project for 2012. Having thought carefully I finalised on a 10MHz reference which can be used as a standard for test equipment, or to lock the master oscillator (TCXO) of a rig/transverter to a solid, accurate source. I did quite a bit of research over Christmas and concluded that the best bet would be to start with something commercial and add to it. It is possible to start from scratch but with the surplus market so cheap why not spend the time adding the sugar and actually using it.

My research eventually pointed me to the Trimble Thunderbolt which is a commercial GPS disciplined clock and readily available on eBay. This was to be the basis of the project. I ordered one and it arrived today.

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