From RF Panadapter to UV Barchart

Panadapters make an enormous difference to finding stations. The ability to visualize the spectrum through one is probably familiar to many of us. I’ve always had an interest in software and recently have been teaching myself Python and so it was an easy sell for me to get the parts needed to turn my Raspberry Pi into a Panadpter of sought per an Adafruit article. For me it was and remains very much learning vehicle and a starting point to something bigger and better. However, somewhere in the interim I acquired a PX3 Panadpter for my Elecraft KX3 and my motivation waned a little bit on the Adafruit Panadpter front.

Very recently I started thinking about how and if a Raspberry Pi and/or Arduino could play a fun role in my nascent SOTA adventures. The mind runs wild with ideas but these need to be tempered with the reality of time taken to build something, its utility, ruggedness etc.

I never quite know how much battery juice I’ve consumed when atop a mountain and worst fear is the battery is exhausted after my 3rd QSO so my interest was piqued by the INA219 chip. Separately my dermatologist and wife are always haranguing me about sunscreen and so I thought a little UV logger could be fun and picked up the Si 1145 board from Adafruit (by the way…Adafruits gets a lot of my pocket money).

I was pleasantly surprised by how adaptable Tony Dicolo’s (Adafruit engineer) Python Panadpter code is. I haven’t done a rip and replace but rather an enhancement as I could see having a RPi based panadpeter while away from GHQ. The code is well written and was easily extended to create the UV bar chart below. Its caned data at this point covering 24 hours (one reading per hour) and the levels contrived to test the color coding.


Tony’s code uses the classic MVC (Model-View-Controller) paradigm to separate data from the UI and I learnt a lot from studying the code. I’ve been able to leverage and retain the screen layout, navigation and click event management software which is really great as building this from scratch is tedious and painful. Its all based on PyGame and not WX/TK which is fine with me!

I use the 3.5″ touch screen LCD from Adafruit and am impressed with the richness of colors and location sensing precision of the screen. I have lots of ideas on where this could all go. So far I have my Yaesu VX-8G spewing out GPS data to the RPi and I also go the eTrex 20x waypoints and tracks etc being read over USB by the RPi.



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