It's a Freakin' Beacon!!!

Freakin' = "Flexible Reliable Easy Accurate Keying In Notime"
Beacon = "Beacons Every Amateur Can Own Now"

The concept of placing a beacon on amateur radio frequencies is not new. However, many beacons presently in use are either completely home brew, or else they require some specialized skills or equipment to set up and program. There are amateurs who would like to set up a beacon for experimental use, for hidden transmitter hunts, or to announce their participation in some radio event, but who lack the time, experience, skills, or equipment to do so. Until now! The Freakin' Beacon controller was intended from day one to be as straight forward and as general purpose as possible. This no nonsense approach made the Freakin' Beacon easy for us to design and easy for you to program and use. No special skills or equipment are required. Just connect the Freakin' Beacon to any PC with a terminal emulator, turn it on, and type in your message. The unique command set uses capital letters as instructions to the beacon, and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation as "sent" characters. That's it! Just type in the character string, which is stored in non-volatile EEPROM inside the PIC microcontroller on the Freakin' Beacon, and you are ready to go. Then plug the Freakin' Beacon into the key jack of your beacon transmitter and let 'er rip.

The Freakin' Beacon comes in two models FB1 and FB2. FB1, the smaller of the two beacons, is for those of you that need a unit that is easily integrated into a small package for such things as Fox Hunts, hiking, or placing inside your beacon transmitter case. The serial interface cable is connected for programming and then removed. This makes FB1 a good choice where size is a consideration. FB2 is the larger of the two units. It has the DB9 on the board and connectors for keying and PTT. It is perfect for putting in the shack in whatever style case you choose. Plug in 9 to 15 volts, your serial cable, and you are ready to load your message. Just use the terminal emulator in your PC, such as HyperTerminal, and follow the easy to use instructions in the Freakin' Beacon manual. In a few short minutes you will be sending your beacon message the way you want it. Tired of the same message, need more or less information, just connect your serial cable, open your terminal program, and change it. It is just that simple. Using a beacon on the air is now simpler than ever. When you receive that first QSL card from the other side of the world from your 100 milliwatt beacon on ten meters, hear your own home beacon while mobile on vacation, or make the club members work a little harder to find your well hidden transmitter beacon you will appreciate the ease with which these beacons are built, programmed, and used.
Take the Freakin' Beacon into the sky with your next balloon research experiment or rocket project. FB1 weighs in at 17 grams and is 2.2" x 1.75" nominal. For the station operation or where the larger unit better serves your purpose FB2 comes in at 43 grams and is 2" x 4" nominal.

QRSS! You asked for it, you got it. Requests started coming in for a QRSS version of the Freakin' Beacon. It only took the challenge to get the QRSS mode working. Read the manual to get the information you need to put this beacon controller in the QRSS mode. It is as simple as typing in the instruction and speed and now it sends super slow.


The designer of the Freakin' Beacon, Bill - N4ES has made sure that your requests for GPS synchronized beacon will become a reality. For those of you with FB1/FB2 Freakin' Beacon controllers and access to PIC programmers, here is the code for GPS beacon sync operation. I've got the SB1 on the air on 28250 MHz now. Here is your chance to be one of the first to put the new SB1/SB2 GPS synchronized beacon on the air! See the below listed files. Use the HEX file to program your own PIC. Use the BAS file to look at the code with any text editor or make your own changes if you have PicBasic Pro. All unnecessary FB1/FB2 commands and characters were removed from from SB1/SB2 to fit the GPS menus and functions. Every byte of program memory in the PIC was used! I never said I was an efficient programmer.

Setting up the SB1/SB2 is really easy. After the message entry, you drop to a table of GPS time slots, one every 5 seconds for even and odd minutes. The default is to trigger at 0 seconds for both even and odd minutes, with the default message of WvvvZ. The W command says "Wait for a GPS trigger." A 1 shows the slot as set and a 0 shows a slot cleared. Use the s (set) and c (clear) commands to set the desired time slots. Type s or c and your are prompted for the seconds (5 second steps only) to enter. For example, enter 15 to set the 15 second time slot for even minutes. Add 60 for odd, so enter 75 to set 15 seconds for odd minutes. The table displays again after each command so you can instantly see the settings. It is a lot easier to do than to explain.

My prototype has been tested with my Magellan handheld GPS and with my $19.99 Axiom Sandpiper II from eBay. Any GPS that outputs the $GPRMC message at 4800 baud will work.

Connect the FB1/FB2 (SB1/SB2) to the PC with the supplied connector or cable for setup. Then, connect the FB1/FB2 (SB1/SB2) to the GPS USING A NULL MODEM and gender changer, since both devices were designed to connect to a PC. You could also make a second cable for the FB1 (SB1) with the TX and RX reversed for use with the GPS.

The Freakin' Beacon series just became a whole lot easier to use. Now it is just plain simple. Peter Jennings, VE3SUN, has written a small program to make getting your message into the Freakin' Beacon simple. Peter's application is located here on this site and his own VE3SUN site. A trip to Peter's site will give you a good visual and written explanation of his application. To download Peter's application, fbeacon11.zip, file from this site CLICK HERE

If you would like to know more about the Freakin' Beacon then read the Freakin Beacon manual (408 KB). This is an Adobe Acrobat file. (Latest update 12/09/03)

If you would like to know more about the Synchronized Freakin' Beacon then read the Synchronized Freakin' Beacon manual (453 KB). This is an Adobe Acrobat file. (Latest update 04/14/05)

If you need the source code for this project then click on the appropriate one for your needs.
Beacon6 PicBasic Pro Source Code,
Beacon6 Assembler Source Code,
Beacon6 Hex Code,

Synchronized Beacon PicBasic Pro Source Code,
Synchronized Beacon Assembler Source Code,
Synchronized Beacon Hex Code.

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