RF Synthesizer with Si5351, dsPIC, and a simple graphic user interface

File:   ?\pic\dsPIC33EP_Si5351_Synth\Documentation\si5351_synth.htm
Web:    www.qsl.net/dl4yhf/si5351_synth/index.htm
Author: Wolfgang Büscher, DL4YHF
Date:   2022-01-23

Under construction !


This file descibes a dsPIC microcontroller firmware for an RF synthesizer based on the Si5351 by Silicon Labs. Features:


Contents

  1. Operation
    1. Manual control via graphic user interface
      1. Manual 'VFO' operation
      2. VFO Setup
      3. VFO mode and frequency calibration
      4. Frequency Modulator / Waveform Generator
      5. Display Setup
    2. Remote control / Command interface
  2. Functional description (not really finished yet)
    1. Principle
    2. Homebrew prototype board (with dsPIC33EP512MC502-I/SP)
  3. FM Repeater Setup
  4. Appendix
    1. Firmware
    2. Sourcecode (?)
    3. Block- and Circuit diagram
    4. Finding a suitable LC Display (1.8" TFT)
    5. Links (external)
    6. Disclaimer

1. Operation

1.1 Manual control via graphic user interface

The RF Synthesizer's 'graphic user interface' consists of several display pages. Use the rotary encoder to navigate between pages or input fields. On most pages, graphic buttons can switch to the previous ("[>]") or next ("[<]") page.
In less frequently used 'menu' pages, scroll down to the 'Exit' item, and press the rotary encoder button to exit.
There are two basic modes for the rotary encoder / pushbutton:





Screenshots of some display pages implemented in the RF synthesizer firmware


The buttons to switch to the previous or next page are usually located in the 'title bar' of a display page. The colour colour scheme may be different than shown here, depending in the display setup (menu).

'Previous' or 'Back' button:
When located on top of the screen, switches to the previous display page.
'Next' or 'Forward' button:
When located on top of the screen, switches to the next display page.
'Hamburger Menu' button:
Usually opens a page-dependent menu, where less frequently used parameters can be checked or modified.

If (one fine day) a small TFT display with serial interface and integrated touchpanel is available, all graphic buttons shown above can of course be operated via touchscreen.

1.1.1 Manual 'VFO' operation

The RF Synthesizer was originally intended to be used as a 'lab equipment', not as the flashy frontend of an SDR transceiver. Last not least due to the memory constraints in a PIC, manual operation of the 'VFO' ('Variable Frequency Oscillator', a term originating from the early days of radio) is simplistic:
With the pushbutton, you select the to-be-modified digit, and turn the encoder knob to increment / decrement the frequency. Lacking a numeric keyboard and a touchscreen, there's no direct decimal input (yet).

1.1.2 VFO Setup

On this page, 'multipliers' for the displayed frequency versus the synthesizer's output frequency can be defined (more on that in a later chapter about 'driving an FM repeater' with this synthesizer).

Other fields on the 'VFO Setup' page:
TX IF offset / MHz
Use this field if the first synthesizer output (typically used to drive the 'transmitter', thus 'TX') shall not directly emit the frequency entered as 'VFO' frequency ("transmit frequency"), but add or subtract and offset. For example, in a homebrew single-side-band transmitter, the SSB modulation may be generated on a fixed 'intermediade' frequency of 9.0 MHz. A double-balanced 'mixer' is fed with the modulated (and band- pass filtered) 9 MHz signal on one port, and the synthesizer's output signal on the other port, to generate a signal on the 'final transmit frequency' of say 28.5 MHz. As usual, the user-friendly 'VFO' frequency would be 28.5 MHz. So, for this enter 9.0 MHz (or -9.0 MHz, depending on the 'local oscillator' offset, "below or above the transmit frequency") in the 'TX IF offset' field.

RX IF offset / MHz
Almost the same as above, but for reception, using the second output channel from the Si5351.
For a radio receiver, common 'Intermediate frequencies' (that shall be added to, or subtracted from, the user-friendly 'VFO' frequency) are 455 kHz (for old AM radios), 10.7 MHz (for broadcast FM), but also much higher intermediate frequencies in double superhet receivers and UHF / microwave receivers.

Since not all parameters that should have been on the 'VFO Setup' screen (without vertical scrolling), some VFO-related parameters are on the screen described in the next chapter.

1.1.3 VFO mode and frequency calibration

If the Si5351's 25 MHz 'Reference frequency input' isn't fed by an OCXO or GPSDO (Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillator or GPS-Disciplined Oscillator) but just an ordinary crystal, or low-cost TCXO (Temperature Controlled..), the constant frequency offset (error) can be compensated by entering the true reference frequency on this display page. The dsPIC firmware will use it when calculating the register values for the Si5351 (PLL feedback divider or Fractional Output Divider, depends on the output frequency range and the fact if the output is being frequency-modulated or not).

The 'VFO Mode' may be set to..
"A,B Independent"
Both synthesizer output frequencies are independent. One doesn't "follow" the other.

"Split: B = A + Shift"
Intended for Amateur Radio use. Traditionally, transceiver often had two 'VFOs' (A and B), and for 'Split' operation (common on shortwave), the second VFO could follow the first with a fixed offset (the "Split" frequency).
Thus, in this mode, only VFO 'A' is freely tuneable, and the 2nd synthesizer output produces VFO A's frequency PLUS the value entered in the field titled 'Split or Shift / MHz'.

The 'Split or Shift' frequency field is typically set to the offset between receive and transmit for FM repeaters (like 28.0 or -28.0 MHz for narrow-band FM repeaters in Europe). More on FM-repeater-specific details in a later chapter.

1.1.4 Frequency Modulator / Waveform Generator

To test receivers, transmitters / PLLs / etc, or sweep RF filters, the synthesizer has a built-in waveform generator for..
  • sinewave
  • sawtooth (when set to very low frequencies, usable as 'sweep' generator)
  • rectangle (planned, but not implemented yet; least important..)
In addition, the first RF output can be frequency-modulated with an analog signal ('audio', 'voice', or the demodulated output from an FM receiver when used in an FM repeater) fed into one of the dsPIC's analog inputs - more on that in a later chapter.
The maximum frequency deviation and the modulating signal frequency can be freely selected via rotary encoder on the 'Modulation' page:

FM deviation / Hz
This is the maximum excursion of the frequency-modulated RF signal to either side (below and above the 'center frequency').
For example, with the 'TX Frequency' set to 145.500 MHz, and the 'FM deviation' set to 4000 Hz, the momentary RF frequency will swing between 145.496 and 145.504 MHz.
Note: The resulting 'occupied FM bandwidth' will not be 8 kHz, but more ! Carson's rule for FM bandwidth says that 98 % of the RF signal power will be in
  BT = 2 * ( deviation + modulating frequency ),
where
  BT = total bandwidth (in Hertz) for 98 % power,
  deviation (aka 'delta f') = value in the above field,
  modulating frequency : value in the field below,
    or (when not modulated with a sinewave but e.g. voice):
    highest frequency contained in the audio signal.

Modulation frequency / Hz
Only has an effect if the 'Modulation Source' is set to 'Sinewave', 'Sweep/Sawtooth', or any future synthetic waveform generated by the dsPIC firmware itself,
but not if the source is e.g. 'Received Audio' or 'Filtered Audio'.

Parameter #1
This is a 'freely useable' integer parameter, which may be used as a constant (but editable) input for the frequency modulator. The main purpose was for software testing, while developing methods to frequency-modulate the Si5351A by rapidly reprogramming the PLL feedback divider or 'Fractional Output Divider' (aka 'Multisynth' in Si5351 datasheet parlance).

1.1.5 Display Setup

The 'Display Setup' can be invoked through the 'Menu' button on the main page (e.g. 'VFO' in the RF synthesizer, or similar page in other applications).


Screenshots from the 'Display Setup' page
Items in the 'Display Setup' menu (there may be more than descibed here, in future versions):
'Display:'
Can be used to rotate the screen by 180° (in certain devices also by 90° and 270° for two different 'portrait' modes).
For the RF synthesizer firmware (and most 1.8 inch display adapter boards), 'Normal' means landscape format with the display connector on the left;
'Upside down' means landscape format with the display connector on the right.
In other projects (using the same software driver modules for a different purpose), there may be more options selectable for this parameter.

'Colours:'
Select one of the built-in colour schemes.
There are bright schemes like 'Black/White' (black characters on white background), warm-toned schemes (e.g. 'Cappucino'), darker schemes, etc. Using a darker scheme (like 'Cobalt') is the only way to dim the display, because there is no backlight control signal on most low-cost TFT panels.

'Display Test:' (optional)
Used for troubleshooting, e.g. when adapting the LCD driver for new TFT panels. See chapter 'Finding a suitable LC display'.

'LCD ID:' (followed by a hexadecimal value)
Used for hardware debugging. The hexadecimal value is (usually) a 24-bit identifier read from the LCD driver chip. If the hex value is 007C89F0, the connected display is equipped with a ST7735 driver.

'Encoder:'
Select the type of rotary encoder here. So far, possible settings are one, two, or four Gray Code steps per detent ("notch"). For details, see the functional description in a later chapter.
'Invert Dir:'
If, when turning the encoder, the navigation bar moves into the wrong direction, change this setting from 'No' (encoder direction not inverted) to 'Yes' (inverted) or vice versa.

1.2 Remote control / Command interface

To keep the firmware simple, the 'command interface' for the UART uses half-duplex mode, just a single wire, and a single I/O pin on the dsPIC.
Commands can be sent from the PC using an ordinary terminal program like 'TeraTerm', and a simple passive interface between the dsPIC's I/O pin (internally remapped to both the UART's TXD-output and the RXD-input, thus the need for half-duplex operation). Command lines must be delimited by carriage return and/or new line character ('\n' or '\r' for those familiar with "C").
With a few exceptions, the dsPIC firmware will also respond with a line of text, or multiple lines of text. In the examples listed futher below,
  <enter> simply means 'press the ENTER key at this point'.

At the time of this writing, the following 'commands' were supported:
  • h<enter> : Show help. At the moment, this only prints a short message pointing you to the URL with the documentation. Since you are just reading the documentation, you certainly won't need the 'help' command, or already found it by trial-and-error.
  • s<enter> : Send a screenshot of the synthesizer's graphic display.
    After sending this command, convince your favourite terminal program to store anything it receives from the serial port in a binary file.
    Example in Tera Term:
      "File".."Log".. Filename: screen1.bmp,
      Option: [v] Binary (check!)   [ ] Append (uncheck!).

    It's important that the terminal doesn't replace any received character (byte) by some other character, because otherwise, the recorded file will not be a valid windows bitmap file.
    There's a catch due to the HALF DUPLEX operation: Because RXD and TXD are connected together, anything you send from the terminal will be echoed back (from the RS-232 port's TXD directly to RXD), and after starting the file recording, be stored in the file's first byte.
    For this reason, after receiving the 's' command, the PIC firmware will wait for you (to start recording to a file) and send a single letter 'B', not followed by pressing ENTER.
    Because the terminal program isn't aware of the 'echo' from TXD to RXD, it will store the 'B' character in the first byte of the logged file.
    For screenshots sent in the form of a Windows 'BMP' file, the first TWO bytes always contain 'BM'. Thus, after reconfiguring its serial port from 'Receive' to 'Transmit', the synthesizer simply omits the 'B', and starts sending the bitmap file at the 'M'.
    With 160 * 128 pixels, 16 bits per pixel, roughly 390 kbits per screen (including some overhead for start- and stopbits), and 115.2 kBit/second, sending a screenshot takes less than four seconds.
    After that time, turn off the 'file logging' in four favourite terminal program (in TeraTerm: "File".."Show Log Dialog".. "Close", which closes THE FILE, not just THE DIALOG).
    Taking screenshots this way is akward, but it can even be done remotely (without the need for a digital camera pointing at the screen), and in fact all screenshots you see in this documentation were made that way.

2.2 Analog input for audio modulation

To frequency-modulate the RF output with audio signals (or even to generate narrow-band FM for ham radio transmitters), one of the dsPIC's analog inputs is used to digitize the audio signal.
The ADC input voltage range is 0 to 3.3 Volts (directly at the dsPIC), so an audio signal must be properly biased with a DC offset of approximately 1.6 Volts (half analog supply voltage), and amplified to a peak-to-peak voltage not exceeding 3.3 Volts.
Use the built-in 'oscilloscope' to check the bias ('flat line' centered, proper audio levels, "not too weak and not too strong").
The analog input, digitized with ~50 kSamples/second, runs through some digital signal processing, and (after at least some low-pass filtering) is finally sent to the Si5351 about 15..16000 times per second (more about this bottleneck in a future chapter about the principle of frequency-modulating the Si5351A - not the Si5351B, which is trivial to 'modulate', but unavailable).

2. Functional description


ToDo: Add this chapter...

2.1 Principle


ToDo: Add this chapter...

2.2 Homebrew prototype board (with dsPIC33EP512MC502-I/SP)



Si5351 Synthesizer Prototype by DL4YHF, top side with LCD.

For the prototypes, a synthesizer board designed by Adafruit, already populated with an Si5351 was used. It can be seen in the lower left corner in the image above. The violet coloured boards are not original ones, but Chinese clones (which to my regret was noticed too late).
Compared with the original board by Adafruit, the oscillator populated on the clone drifted quite a lot by temperature, so the cheap 25 MHz oscillator was replaced by TCXO type 'TG2520SMN 25.000M'. This turned out to be an excellent and very affordable choice (less than 2 Euros at Mouser; no 'steps' as observed with other digitally controlled TCXOs, and stable enough even without GPS synchronisation, when generating narrow band signals in the GHz range.)
Mounting the tiny SMD TCXO 'dead-bug style' in place of the stock oscillator was a challenge but worth the effort.


Si5351 Synthesizer Prototype by DL4YHF, bottom side,
with the dsPIC33EP512MC502-I/SP (very homebrew-friendy).


The block diagram, with all the dsPIC pin functions, is shown in the appendix.

3. FM Repeater Setup


This chapter is intended only for sysops of Ham Radio FM Repeaters, in experimental setups using the frequency modulated synthesizer output to drive a VHF- or UHF transmitter.
Neither the dsPIC nor the Si5351 can receive RF signals or even demodulate them, but the Si5351's second RF output can be configured to 'follow' the transmit frequency with a freely adjustable offset. So the Si5351 can replace the 'local oscillator' for the VHF / UHF receiver's first mixer. Similar as for the first RF output, the Si5351's 2nd RF output can be configured to generate just a fraction of the final RF frequency, as typically used in 'frequency multiplying' configurations (more on that later).

Since the Si5351's output phase noise increases on higher 'harmonics', don't use a 'filtered harmonic' near e.g. 439 or 1298 MHz to drive a transmitter directly. Instead, let the Si5351 generate a low output frequency (frequency-modulated with a fraction of the FM deviation on the final transmit frequency), and either a PLL with a narrow loop bandwidth (to remove any spurs), or an narrow-band L/C filter between the squarewave output of the Si5351 and the PLL or classic multiplier chain.
For example, the synthesizer may may drive a frequency multiplier chain (or a PLL-based frequency multiply with a fixed divide-by-2^N feedback) for a frequency-modulated UHF transmitter in the 23 cm Amateur Radio band:


   _________________              ___________    _______________
  |   Synthesizer   | 20.28 MHz  | Filter    |  | F.-Multiplier | 1298 MHz 
  | "VFO": 1298 MHz |----------->| 20.28 MHz |->|    (*64)      |--------> ...
  |_________________| +/-62.5 Hz |___________|  |_______________| +/- 4 kHz


In this example, the 'TX freq multiplier' would be set to 64.00. The dsPIC firmware is aware of the external frequency multiplication, and will..
  • not emit 1298 MHz (it cannot.. the Si5351 allows up to 160 MHz) but 1298 MHz / 64 = 20.28125 MHz;
  • make the FM deviation only one 64th as 'wide' as you entered,
    here for example 4 kHz / 64 = 62.5 Hz
    (Reason: The multiplier chain, or PLL-based frequency multiplier, will not only multiply the carrier frequency but also the FM deviation by the same factor, in this example 64 times)

The input to the external frequency multiplier (or PLL with div-by-64 feedback) would be something near
  1298 MHz / 64 = 20.28 MHz.
When measured with a spectrum analyser, the strongest unwanted spurs in the Si5351's output near 20.28 MHz were about 57 dB below the wanted 'carrier':


Output spectrum of a frequency-modulated signal from an Si5351A(!) near 20.28 MHz.
The origin of the strongest 'spur' 573 kHz below and above the 'carrier'
has not been discovered yet. It may have been a switching-mode regulator.


To be continued ...
    still waiting for a divide-by-64 IC capable of a few GHz input to arrive,
    to build a 'clean' UHF sinewave generator for a proof of concept.

4. Appendix

4.1 Firmware

The firmware for the dsPIC was originally developed for a dsPIC33EP64MC502 (available in homebrew-friendly DIL-28 housing, order it with "-I/SP" after the device name).
Later, when running out of Flash and RAM, a pin compatible dsPIC33EP512MC502 (with 512 kByte Flash + 48 kByte RAM) was used instead.

  Download the compiled firmware for the Si5351 synthesizer / experimental FM repeater control / Frequency Modulator (*.hex file[s])

Since a few prototypes populated with a dsPIC33EP64MC502 still exist, the zipped firmware archive linked above also contains a firmware compiled for the 'small' chip. If you plan to build your own, use the dsPIC33EP512MC502 because sooner or later new functions will only be available for the dsPIC33EP512MC502 (maybe including a custom bootloader that eliminates the need to use a PICkit for a firmware update); but unfortunely, and in contrast to modern CPUs like ARM/Cortex, these chips don't seem to be shipped with an already programmed bootloader. So, since I neither sell kits nor do I run a dsPIC programming service, you will need to 'Flash' the firmware into the dsPIC yourself - at least once.
For the brave-hearted, the zipped firmware archive contains a very preliminary 'How-to compile or download the firmware' into the dsPIC. If you already have a PICkit 3 or 4, or a 'Curiosity' development board with a built-in PICkit ("PICkit-On-Board"), you already have everything you need to download the firmware yourself.
There's a "standalone" utility named IPE (Integrated Programming Environment) available at Microchip which should make this a bit easier than trying to 'flash' an imported hex file with MPLAB X.


4.2 Sourcecode ? .. not yet

A lot of effort has been put into the development of the firmware, and to find the best method to frequency-modulate a standard Si5351A. To avoid 'theft of intellectual propery' by you-known-whom (as happend more than once to other of the author's projects), the sourcecode for the dsPIC firmware is only available on request, and only if there's a good reason why you need it.
If you're just curious about how to frequency modulate an Si5351 with an audio signal (sufficiently clean for narrow-band audio transmission as commonly used in Amateur Radio), the heart of the firmware (si5351.c) may be available here).

4.3 Block- and Circuit diagram

There's no nice circuit diagram yet, since due to a lack of time, the author's transition from Eagle to KiCad hasn't taken place yet, and new projects will definitely not use Eagle anymore.
For the moment, there is just this snippet from the main module's C sourcecode (!) with an ASCII-drawing of the most vital parts:
// CPU Connections / circuit principle
//
//                 ||                GND
//  +3.3V O--*-----||------*----------*----,           Analog input for audio/
//           |     ||     _|_         |    |            frequency modulator, etc.
//           |                        |    |         Analog input.. |
// I2C-bus   | Rotary Encoder         |    |      Encoder-    for   |
//   to      |  Ph.A  Ph.B            | ..(3)...... button    RSSI/ |  PICKIT
// Si5351:   |   ___  ___             | :Debugger : ___       discr |   (1) (Mclr/
// SCL SDA   |    |    |              | : and ICSP:  |         |    |    |   debug)
//  |   |    |    O    O              | :(PICKIT) :  O    ?    |    |   .-.
// /|\ /|\   |  \    \                | :.(4)..(5):   /   |    |    |   | |100
//  |   |    |   \    \               |    |    |    /    |    |    |   |_|Ohm
//  |   |    |    O    O    |XTAL|    |   \|/  \|/   O    |    |    |    |
//  |   |    |    |    |   /|\  \|/   |   /|\   |    |    |   \|/  \|/   *----,
// ,'   |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
// |    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    |
// |   | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |  | |   |
// | ,----------------------------------------------------------------------, |
// | | 14   13   12   11    10   9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1  | |
// | | RB5/ Vdd  RA4/ RB4/ RA3/ RA2/ GND  RB3/ RB2/ RB1/ RB0/ RA1/ RA0 MCLR*| |
// | | RP37/     RP20 RP36  OSC2 OSC1   PGED1 PGEC1 AN3/ AN2/ AN1 /AN0  __  | |
// | |I2C:SDA                                      RPI33 RPI32         /  \ | |
// | |                  dsPIC33EP512MC502-I/SP (SPDIP-28)              \__/ | |
// | |I2C: SPI1 SPI1  SPI1          RP42/ RP43/ RPI../  RPI46/ RPI47/       | |
// | |SCL/ CLK/ MOSI/ MISO/         PWM3H/..L PWM2H/..L PWM1H/ PWM1L/       | |
// | | RB6  RB7  RB8  RB9  GND Vcap  RB10 RB11 RB12 RB13 RB14 RB15 AGND AVdd| |
// | | 15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28  | |
// | '----------------------------------------------------------------------' |
// |   |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|  |_|   |
// |                        |    |                                  |    |    |
// |    |    |    |    |    |   _|_   |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
// |   \|/  \|/  \|/  \|/   |   ___  \|/  \|/  \|/  \|/  \|/  \|/   |    |   _|_
// '----'    |    |    |   _|_  _|_   |    |    |    |    |    |    *-||-*  |   |
//        ..(7)..(6)..(5).......      |    |    |    |    |    |   _|_   |  |1k |
//        : SCK  SDA  A0   /CS(3)-<-- | -- | ---'  Debug- |    |   GND   |  |___|
//        : 1.8" TFT Display   :      |    |        LED            +3.3V O    |
//        : with SPI interface :   Single- |        _|_            GND   |    |
//        :  VCC GND RESET LED : wire UART |       |   |           ,--------, |
//        :..(1).(2)..(4)..(8).:  (uart.c) |       |1k |           |MAX809T | |
//            |   |    |   _|_        Single-wire  |___|           |(3V    >|-*
//            |   |    |  |6.8|       CAN-bus (?)   _|_            | Reset  | |
// +3.3V o----*  _|_   |  |Ohm|     ("C1TX"+"C1RX"  \|/ ->         '--------' |
//            |  GND   :  |___|      on one pin?)   -+- -> (red)       |      |
//            |_____________|                       _|_               _|_     |
//                     :______/_______________________________________________|
//                            \ /LCD-Reset (*) from /CPU-Reset, MAX809
//
//   For the recommended DC 'decoupling' capacitors and the super-important
//   'CPU Logic Filter Capacitor' ("Vcap"), see DS70000657J pages 31 .. 32.
//
// (*) "LCD-RESET" doesn't need to be driven via GPIO. The display's ST7735
//     was happy with A SINGLE RESET after power on, as shown above from the 
//     'Reset Generator' chip, MAX809T .
//
// ICSP and debug adapter pins ON PICkit3(!)
//      1 = MCLR/Vpp  2 = Vcc
//      3 = GND       4 = PGD/RXD
//      5 = PGC/TXD   6 = LVP (nc)
//   For IN-CIRCUIT PROGRAMMING (without debugging), the "remappable" UART pins
//   may be useable on RB3 and RB2. During normal runtime, they
//   could be used to exchange data with the PC over a serial port (RS232).
//
// Simplistic 'microphone preamp', also acts a protection for the
// PIC's analog input (because the preamp is powered by the PIC's Avdd,
// the analog input voltage will never exceed the analog supply voltage):
//
//                                      ca. 1.7 V DC at the collector
//                            ___      /           ___ 
// 500 mVpp in          R3 ,-|___|----*-------*---|___|-----O Avdd (+3.3V)
//                         |  100k    |       |   R4 3k3
//    C1 | |   R1 ___ 3k3  |         |/  C    |    ___  2.8 Vpp out + 1.7 V DC
//  O----| |-----|___|-----*---------|        '---|___|--*--O --> RA0/AN0
//       | |      ___      |      B  |\| E       R5 1k __|__ C2
//    470 nF ,---|___|-----'          -| BC547         _____ 10 nF
//          _|_   R2  56k             _|_ or similar    _|_ 
//
//     Lower cutoff frequency (from C1, R1) : ca 100 Hz
//     Upper cutoff frequency (from C2, R5) : ca 15 kHz
//   The dsPIC samples the input at f_sample = ca 50 kHz, so that's ok;
//   most of the lowpass-filtering will be performed by the DSP anyway.
//   The proper DC bias can easily be checked with the built-in "oscilloscope".

4.4 Finding a suitable LC Display (1.8" TFT with ST7735)

On the author's first prototype, a 'JD-T18003-T01' on a red adapter board with SD memory card adapter, and an 8-pin display connector was used. The following pinout only applies to this particular adapter board:

Pin #Function
1Vcc (+3.3 Volt supply voltage)
2Ground
3/CS (Chip Select input)
4/Reset (connect to low-active system reset)
5Register/Data Select (input, aka "A0")
6SDA (serial data, bi-directional, MISO and MOSI combined)
7SCK (serial clock, input only)
8Backlight (connect to Vcc via 6.8 Ohm)

Any 1.8 inch TFT with an ST7735 'display driver' inside, and an SPI-like serial interface, 3.3 Volt supply voltage, 3.3 Volt logic levels for digital in- and outputs should be fine. Beware of the incompatible pin-outs of many of those 'adapter boards' that often came along with an SD- or Micro-SD memory card adapter on the same PCB (more about the SD memory card support by the dsPIC firmware in a future chapter).

After running out of stock with older 1.8" TFT modules with ST7735 controller, a couple of '1.8" Arduino Module SKU:MAR1801' were bought for a fair price. They also have the ST7735 controller inside (for the 160*128 or 128*160 pixel TFT display). But the author just didn't get the display running properly:
Any attempt to read the chip-ID or framebuffer failed, and all screenshots (made via RS-232 for this documentation) were black. The reason later turned out to be a stupid UNI-DIRECTIONAL driver between LCD connector and the ST7735's BI-DIRECTIONAL serial data line on the red adapter board shown on the fotos below.
Since the supply voltage and the logic levels are 3.3 Volts, the unidirectional driver (an SN74LVC245A with 'DIR' and '/OE' tied to fixed levels) was removed from the red interface board of the '1.8" Arduino Module SKU:MAR1801', as shown in the two photos below (before and after the modification):


Mini TFT (bought as 1.8 inch "Arduino SKU:MAR1801") before modification.
Click on image to magnify.

Remove the bus driver (IC labelled 'LVC245A'), and replace the links with tiny wires as shown in the photo below (or use a differnt display, or do without the 'remote screenshot' feature):


Mini TFT (1.8 inch "Arduino SKU:MAR1801") after modification.
Without the level shifter, this display cannot be driven with 5 Volts anymore !
Click on image to magnify.

The dsPIC's internal RAM is too small for a graphic framebuffer (the originally used dsPIC33EP64MC502 has 8 kBytes of RAM; a framebuffer with 160 * 128 pixels * 2 bytes per pixel would require 40 kB). So to read back the framebuffer, the serial data line (SDA) had to be made bi-directional (the firmware now runs without a bi-directional SDA line, at the expense of the 'remote display' / 'screenshot-via-UART' feature presented in another chapter).

Both the dsPIC and the display are powered by 3.3 Volts in this application, so no problem with the modification.

If the display is sufficiently compatible with the originally used 'JD-T18003-T01' (panel with integrated ST7735 controller, and SPI), the colours displayed by the 'Display Test' (colour gradient fill with white grid lines, and a one-pixel wide white border around the screen) should look as follows:


'Display Test', can be opened through the menu via 'Display Test/Setup'.

If the colours are wrong, or the display image is offset by a few pixels (vertically or horizontally), you've got one of those panels with an 'unusual' connection between the driver (ST7735) and the graphic rows / coloumns for the pixels. Try another of those low-cost TFTs. The Ebay/Banggood/Aliexpress/etc sellers often don't know what they sell themselves, or the info given in their ads is plain wrong. The price of these modules doesn't justify spending days(!) modifying the driver software to get them running.
Again, a 128*160 pixel TFT with an ST7735 and a BI-DIRECTIONAL SDA line should be fine. Be very cautious with the connector pinout, and if the ad / website doesn't give you that information, don't buy.



Website by Hans Summers, G0UPL, with an Si5351A on a breakout board
Adafruit site with another Si5351A breakout board   (unfortunately, when last visited in 01/2022, "Out of Stock")
PIC Notes by DL4YHF   (with a lot of curses about a bulky IDE, and a long journey to get along with its bugs)

4.6 Disclaimer

The author provides this software "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.
The entire risk as to the quality and performance is with you. In no event unless required by applicable law will the author and/or any other party who may modify and/or redistribute this software be liable to you for damages, including any lost profits, lost monies, or other special, incidental or consequential damages arising out of the use or inability to use this package, or for any claim by any other party.

This program is still "under construction", and there are certainly a number of bugs lurking in the code. The entire risk is with you. You may find udates at the DL4YHF website (search for DL4YHF Si5351 Synthesizer) .