Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

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ParaSoar
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby ParaSoar » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:49 pm

Hi,

When using a PNA with LK8000 it's awesome to be able to simulate flying with it. This makes sure you know LK8000 well and therefore enables you to get the most out of it. Maybe even more importantly, you spend less time fiddling in the cockpit so you fly safer.

GliderTools makes an awesome cable just for this purpose: linking Condor to your PNA with LK8000. Though its price is reasonable, it may be a bit steep for some and it can be done cheaper for sure... by hacking your own cable together!

The GliderTools cable uses a prolific PL2303 chip, which is very widely used in USB-to-serial communication. One such cable that includes exactly the same chip is the CA-42 data cable (alternative: DKU-5) for Nokia cellphones. They are available on Ebay for very cheap (I bought one for € 4,17 delivered).

Luckily, this cable has been hacked already and on this guy's blog the features of the cable are explained in detail.

The cable simply has a TX, RX and GND line. The below picture (from the above blog) shows the pin connections.
http://jethomson.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/ca-42_dku-5_pinout.jpg
pin 7 = phone TX data = PC's RxD line << We can disregard this one as the PC doesn't have to receive any data
pin 8 = GND << We need this one
pin 6 = phone RX data = PC's TxD line << And this one for sending the serial data to the PNA and into LK8000

The next trick is connecting it to the PNA. And you might say: doesn't the PNA have a USB in instead of a serial in? Yes, but a lot of PNA's have a 'hidden' serial port. The only thing you have to do to invoke it is to connect pin 4 (of the mini-USB plug) to GND, or in the case of Wayteq and Oudie to +Vcc I believe (not sure). That's why there are 2 different versions on the GliderTools website.

Normal mini USB cables don't have the 4th pin included. The 4th pin is a feature of mini USB cables to permit distinction between mini-A and mini-B plugs (according to Wikipedia, the pinout of a mini-USB jack is here). You can buy one from ebay (just search for 5-pin mini usb). Then cut the cable. If you're lucky, it has 5 strands and one of them is pin 4. If you're not that lucky, you can open the connector and usually the 4th pin sticks out but is unconnected and you can solder it to ground (which was the case with my cable). I bought my cable for € 2,49 which brings the total cost to € 6,66 (super-evil hack?).

So I simply cut the CA-42 cable, then probed the phone plug to find out which colours I needed (in my case, blue was GND and yellow was TxD) and soldered GND to my USB plug pin 5. Then I connected pin 5 to pin 4, and then I soldered TxD to pin 3.

After double checking if I made the right connections, I plugged in the USB cable. It installed itself. Then I just fired up Condor and selected setup > options > NMEA output and set it to COM4 (my cable's com port, if it isn't obvious you can find yours by going to device manager).
I use a Mio M400. I set the device input (setup system > screen 8 > Device A) to COM1 and a baudrate of 4800 (which is what condor uses). It worked perfectly! No extra configuration is needed.

First step, probing connector and writing down wire colours:
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Soldering to the mini USB plug, I made this one before so I used some wire I had lying around, otherwise just solder the cable directly to the plug:
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Picture of the finished cable:
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In action:
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The only thing to do now is to finish it nicely, that means adding some glue and housing to the mini USB plug and to do the hack below to get power to the PNA.

Useful additions: You can pry open the moulded USB connector housing and connect the 3rd wire (white on my cable) to the USB plug's 5V (pin 1 of the standard USB pinout). You can then solder the 3rd (white) wire to the mini USB connector's pin 1. This allows you to charge your PNA while playing. You can then even use this cable to charge your PNA while flying for real (enables you to use those cheap USB charging batteries)!

Note: You can also use a generic PL2303 module from ebay like this one, it is even slightly cheaper but I like the USB connector and cable of the CA-42. Also, make sure it has (the option of) 3.3v levels, 5v levels will be harmful to the PNA.

Also, to upload tasks to your PNA, use Condor2Nav, some great free software that translates a saved task to LK8000 and puts it on your device. Simply connect your PNA with the original USB cable (for data) to upload the task, then switch to this adapter cable and you're ready to fly. Be sure to set LK8000's root path in the condor2nav.ini configuration file, something like: H:\Internal memory . Don't use a path starting with a \ as it's only for activesync connections.

fpaynter
Posts: 345
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:38 am

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby fpaynter » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:14 am

Thanks for the extremely detailed and informative article and photos. I am planning to devote my November 2011 Condor Corner column in the U.S. Soaring magazine to using external PDA's with Condor. Would you mind if I used your material (with proper attribution, of course) for part of the article? You can reach me directly at paynterf@gmail.com

TIA

Frank Paynter (TA)

ParaSoar
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby ParaSoar » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:34 am

Frank, that sure sounds like an interesting article you're about to write up. Of course you can use all photos and text. You have mail.

DarekS
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:25 am

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby DarekS » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:39 am

I made it according to instructions ---> it works!
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bambuko
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby bambuko » Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:42 pm

Thank you for excellent instructions!
Parasoar says "...a lot of PNA's have a 'hidden' serial port..." - is there any way to check whether it is the case on a particular PNA? apart from simply making the cable and trying if it works?

Chris

later edit:
if in doubt google is your friend... :D
I have found (and installed on my PNA) PHM Device Manager and it tells me that I have:

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Still non the wiser whether any of these ports are what I am looking for :?: , but it is some progress.
In the meantime I am waiting for the cable from ebay

and finally ... the answer is:
It doesn't work, because my no-brand Chinese PNA is not TMC (Traffic Message Channel) enabled and therefore my usb socket is usb only, without hidden serial port.
It least it only costed me £1.99 (price of serial adapter on ebay) to discover it :)

Benjy
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:52 pm
Location: London, United Kingdom

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby Benjy » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:26 pm

ParaSoar wrote:Note: You can also use a generic PL2303 module from ebay like this one, it is even slightly cheaper but I like the USB connector and cable of the CA-42. Also, make sure it has (the option of) 3.3v levels, 5v levels will be harmful to the PNA.


Hi Parasoar!
Well done! Excellent deatailed toutorial!
The lines above is not cristal clear for me :wink:
So you saying that the the CA-42 cable has a 3.3v output? So if I connect that with the pins is not gonna kill the PNA? And I can charge it when is connected to the PC.

Benjy (BJY)
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ParaSoar
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby ParaSoar » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:03 pm

Benjy, thanks! Glad you like it.

The CA-42 cable has 3.3v levels. That means that the binary 1's and 0's in the data that is sent via the cable are represented as either 0v or 3.3v. So the cable sends 3.3v to say the next bit in the data is a 1, and 0v to say that the next bit in the data is a 0. The PNA understands this.

If you send anything higher than 5v, the chip in the PNA that receives the data might get damaged because the voltage is too high. There are ways to bring the voltage down (simple voltage divider with resistors for example) but it's better to make sure that you have a 3.3v cable to begin with.

So if you buy the CA-42 cable, you have nothing to worry about. Only if you decide to get a PL-2303 module from eBay, you have to pay attention to this.


Charging is something different: with charging you supply +5v to the PNA to charge its internal battery. If you want to charge the PNA when you plug the CA-42 cable in, you will have to open the housing of the cable at the USB connector side, then connect a wire from the +5v USB connector pin to the third wire in the cable. You can then connect the third wire of the cable to the mini-USB connector's corresponding pin.

You can find the so-called 'pinout' of both the standard USB connector as the mini-USB connector online. Basically, what I described in the above paragraph is simply a way to get the +5v pin of the USB connector you plug into the PC to the +5v pin of the mini-USB connector you plug into the PNA.

A small note for anyone trying to use the CA-42 cable: when I recently re-installed windows 7 my cable wouldn't install itself any more. The Nokia drivers didn't work. I then installed the PL-2303 drivers directly from Prolific and it worked like a charm.

Benjy
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:52 pm
Location: London, United Kingdom

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby Benjy » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:55 pm

Thank you Parasoar!
You helped me a lot. We need guys like you!! :D I am just waiting for my CA-42 Cable to arrive.
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Eurofighter
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 7:42 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby Eurofighter » Wed May 30, 2012 7:45 pm

Do you happen to know if it will work for a wayteq/oudie/vertica ?
Thanks

TiGuy82
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:10 am
Contact:

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby TiGuy82 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:10 pm

GliderTools is giving a discount on Condor USB Cable for Vertica/Oudie until December 24th:

http://www.glidertools.com/products/con ... eq-oudie-/

dudescuman
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:49 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby dudescuman » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:53 pm

I can use another data cable? This Ca-42 I can't find easy.
Can I use another data cable for telephone?

It is possible to convert this cable to connect with la logger Colibri?

thanks

ParaSoar
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby ParaSoar » Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:21 pm

Yes, you can use any cable that converts USB to TTL 3.3v. The CA-42 cable can be easily found on eBay, and it is sold under different names as well (google will find you the different names).

For connecting your PNA to your Colibri, you need a different converter, one that translates TTL 3.3v to RS232 12v. It's easiest to buy this from GliderTools. They are pretty cheap, making it yourself will cost you much more in materials and time.

dudescuman
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:49 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby dudescuman » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:21 pm

To connect PNA to Colibri can I use rs232 to usb converter (like in the picture) and a adapter from usb to mini usb?

http://serialio.com/images/products/USB ... med-wm.jpg

Thanks

ParaSoar
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby ParaSoar » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:08 pm

No, that will not work. The colibri sends out data using the RS-232 protocol. The voltages of this signal can be changed, and then the signal can be fed into the Mio M400 using pin 4 of the mini-usb connector. This is a 3.3v TTL serial port. As bambuko suggests, this might normally be used for Traffic Message Channel communications.

RS-232 to USB adapters are only used for communication with a computer, the cable is seen as a virtual COM port. The windows drivers are responsible for that. If those drivers are available for WindowsCE (that's on your M400), it might just work. But it would be silly even to spend the time to check that out if there are such good established and proven solutions (the GliderTools module).

dudescuman
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:49 pm

Re: Extremely cheap Condor > PNA (LK8000) adapter hack

Postby dudescuman » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:42 pm

Ok. I made this cable. What settings should I do? In device manager I saw that this is port 9 for cable and I set in Condor port 9 and WayteQ condor port 9 in 4800 and 9600 but it did not work.

I have a wayteq x960bt. I've checked the port usb connection (4) with PHM Device Manager and set port 4 in seeyou set the connection of usb mass storage and ms avtivesync... but still not working


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