Ce-232

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james1095

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I recently picked up a copy of Bill Cheek's last book and was pleased to find that he had published the design for his CE-232 interface for the Pro-2004, 2005, and 2006 scanners. Unfortunately the printing in my copy of the book was skewed, making the provided PCB layout unusable. I spent a few hours drafting up a clone of it in KiCad, a modern open source (free!) EDA, cooked up a board, and the thing worked the first time. Now that I've taken the time to do that, I figure I may as well offer my layout to anyone else who would like to build one of these things, if somebody would like to host the board files and the required software I would be happy to provide them. Also I recommend purchasing a copy of Bill's book so you have the instructions for building and installing it. I got mine for under a buck from Amazon Amazon.com: The Ultimate Scanner: Cheek 3 (9781568660585): Bill Cheek: Books

First though, this is Bill Cheek's intellectual property. Bill has been dead for well over a decade and his company, Commtronics Engineering went with him. From what I know of him, I think he would be thrilled to see hobbyists keeping his creation alive all these years later as long as nobody is trying to make money off it, BUT if you or somebody you know has a stake in his IP, please simply ask and I will respect this.

Lastly, I'd like to build a couple more of these for my other compatible scanners and don't particularly feel like drilling all those holes so I'm planning to have a batch of boards fabricated. This layout is modified slightly to eliminate the jumper leads since double sided PCBs are the same price as single sided these days. The supplier I use does multiples of 10 boards so I'll have some extras available, it's looking like I can provide these bare PCBs for about 8 bucks each, postage included. I'm NOT offering kits or support, the layout works but you are on your own building, installing and using it. I found that Jameco stocks pretty much all the parts though so I can provide a shopping list. Cheap PCBs can take a couple months but if anyone is interested, speak up and I'll work out the details. I don't know if there's a lot of interest in building a 20 year old interface for an "obsolete" scanner but I certainly had fun and am enjoying using mine, it really transforms my Pro-2004 into what it should have been in the first place.
 

CooLix

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Hi James,

I tried to message you directly on this forum, but it doesn't appear to allow me. I would be interested in the schematic you have used and even the CAD file if that is ok with you?

Regards

Steve
 

james1095

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I haven't been active on here in a while, but I did have a batch of boards made some time ago and have been using one in a Pro-2006 for several months. If anyone is interested in a blank PCB or a kit of parts, let me know and we can figure something out. I haven't heard any objections so I'm not opposed to offering complete kits for little more than my cost of parts, or empty PCBs for those who wish to source their own parts.
 

orpcat

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I built a CE-232 interface about 15-20 years ago that I purchased from Bill Cheek.I have been looking for a source of the PCB. I would be interested in purchasing PCB or kit.

Thanks
 

james1095

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How about $5 shipped (domestic USPS) for a blank PCB, $3.75 each additional PCB? I think I have 7 left, but I can get as many as I want in batches of 10 in the unlikely event that there is sufficient demand.

If you want a kit of parts, I'll have to put together an order and see what current prices are. Seems like it cost me around $25 for everything and amazingly Jameco had every single part in stock at the time. I can include a printout of the schematic and PCB layout that should be sufficient to build the thing or I can email you the KiCAD files.

Please contact me offline at jamesrsweet@gmail.com or send me a PM on here and let me know what you'd like and I'll work out the details.
 

kruser

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I haven't been active on here in a while, but I did have a batch of boards made some time ago and have been using one in a Pro-2006 for several months. If anyone is interested in a blank PCB or a kit of parts, let me know and we can figure something out. I haven't heard any objections so I'm not opposed to offering complete kits for little more than my cost of parts, or empty PCBs for those who wish to source their own parts.
I'm interested in a kit. Sounds like fun and something I've always wanted to build but never did do to the boards being obsolete. I thought some of the components are also obsolete but maybe I'm wrong on that part.

Anyway, I sent you a PM so you can contact me.

Thanks!
 

james1095

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I'm interested in a kit. Sounds like fun and something I've always wanted to build but never did do to the boards being obsolete. I thought some of the components are also obsolete but maybe I'm wrong on that part.

Anyway, I sent you a PM so you can contact me.

Thanks!

A lot of the parts are obsolete, but they're not impossible to find. The microcontroller is the only thing I had any trouble locating and that was the most expensive single part, but they are out there.
 

SCPD

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Nostalgia aside, someone should update the schematic to use an atmega328 in an Arduino like configuration.

Did Bill publish the code that runs the 68HC11? If so, is the command set documented?
 

james1095

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Nostalgia aside, someone should update the schematic to use an atmega328 in an Arduino like configuration.

Did Bill publish the code that runs the 68HC11? If so, is the command set documented?

No, but the particular microcontroller has a built in bootloader and the code is loaded into it by a program included with his software package. I think the command set is documented but I've not looked into it, I'm not much of a programmer. I've found his software, while archaic looking, does work surprisingly well.
 

PiccoIntegra

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Nostalgia aside, someone should update the schematic to use an atmega328 in an Arduino like configuration.

Did Bill publish the code that runs the 68HC11? If so, is the command set documented?
I don't think the bootloader and ROM code were ever released into the wild. The hard part of the code would be the timing parameters for reading the LCD's serial data lines. I would imaging that someone smart enough, could disassemble the code to find this info. Unfortunately, I'm not that someone... :(

The command set was released, and I've attached a copy to this post for those who may want it.

James, do you still have any of these boards left?
 

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james1095

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The source for the 68HC11 was never released. Sure you could come up with something from scratch but why reinvent the wheel? These scanners have been out of production for decades. The software is an antiquated DOS app, and the original parts used are still available, if not as readily as they once were. IMO there is just not enough demand to warrant starting over from scratch. The whole unit cost me less than 25 bucks in parts to build and I could make more easily. While the DOS software does work well, a more valuable use of time would be to re-write the control app as a modern Windows program.

I do in fact have some left, not just boards but complete kits. I've been meaning to post them here but have been exceptionally busy. I've sold kits to two people here, and I know at least one of them built and successfully installed it.
 

rbm

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Coincidentally there was another thread related to Bill and the PRO-2006 etc. scanners.

I just posted this there:
At one time I had 10 PRO-2006's with the CE-232 installed. Until a lightning hit took out most of them.
I wrote a few of the script files for Bill back around 1996.
One of them allowed you to link multiple search ranges which until then just couldn't be done easily.

The last time I bought some of the required 68HC11 chips they were around $35 each. (Around 2007)

Rich

I still have three of them with the CE-232 installed but I don't use them that way any longer.
 

PiccoIntegra

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The source for the 68HC11 was never released. Sure you could come up with something from scratch but why reinvent the wheel?
I'd rather see something that could directly tune the receiver like the OptoScan456 does. I do think an Arduino based solution could be concocted to do just that. Nowadays, my older scanners are regulated for discriminator output for software decoders. It would be handy to have software control over the scanner. The CE232 doesn't easily provide that.

While the DOS software does work well, a more valuable use of time would be to re-write the control app as a modern Windows program.
There is one Windows app still available called Pro-Turbo. But the guy wants $100!! I'm having a Marshal Lucky moment here (not safe for kid's ears)

Writing a modern day app wouldn't be all that difficult, unless you want the original scripting functionality included. A little too daunting to be worth all that trouble.
 

SCPD

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I like the idea of updated Windows compatible software.

Bear in mind, Bill created this over 20 years ago (completed summer of '92). He didn't have the parts we have today. Here are some reasons for updating the microcontroller:

1. RS232 speed is 9600 - very slow by today's standards.
2. The HC11 has only 512 bytes of EEPROM.
3. The HC11 has only 1024 bytes of RAM.
4. The HC11 requires a separate programmer.

An Arduino would cover all these. Duplicating the "bit bang" logic to follow the LCD would would be a pain, but very do-able. This would be a very fun project - but as already said - the audience is very limited. I think most existing CE232 owners want updated software to work with their 1990's vintage rig.

My immediate interest is in supporting the CE232 as-is for computer control. If I understand the document correctly, you must send a sequence of key presses. This sounds worse than it really is. The key commands are two bytes each. That's 20 or so bytes to enter a frequency. Compare to the RF command on old Uniden models which is about 11 or 12 bytes.

There's the up-front work of sending a 768 byte personality to the radio. Not a big deal.
 

PiccoIntegra

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I could be wrong, but I don't think there is a way to manually tune to a given frequency via the keypad on the PRO2006. There is a Monitor and Direct button, but they're related to the search feature. You'd have to store the frequencies in a bank, and manually tune to them via their channel number.

I also don't think there is any advantage to running communications any faster then 9600. You can only poll the LCD data so fast anyway. I doubt the refresh rate is all that high. The keypad presses also have a settling time of around 90ms with each press, give or take a few. There is a fudge factor involved with some receivers in regard to their timing.
 

SCPD

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90ms per keypress; that's a whole second to enter a frequency. You'd lose the first 1,000 ms of speech on a voice call. Ugh.

What processor does the 200x use?
 

PiccoIntegra

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I'm not sure what the processor is. It's a GRE stamped part number. The LCD controller is labeled PD7225G, and here is the datasheet.

Section 4 of the developer doc has the timing info listed there. There is a fixed constant in the MCU code, but it doesn't specify what that is. But it recommends 50ms for LCD data, and the key presses are radio specific.

I just check the default time constant for the 200x personality file, it's 105ms. I do remember testing this a few years ago, and 90ms was the fastest, stable limit for my radio.
 

eyeball57

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Some fellows in Canada made a program called Pro Turbo. It was a windows version of SW for the CE 232. It had a bunch of great features like loop recording. It would record 20 minutes send it to a file then start another 20 minutes then erase the first and record over..... This was in case you walked in on a transmission that concerned or interested you but you missed the beginning. Like TIVO for scanner kind of. I thin it would also record and save to a LOG file. One of the developers passed recently but, the other is still with us. Worth looking for.
 
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