I’ve decided to create a new category dedicated to the CTR2 Node-RED interface. This will give me a place to describe the new features that Node-RED brings to the party that aren’t available with the Nextion display.

I started playing with Node-RED as a possible replacement for the Nextion display user interface I had originally designed for CTR2. The primary driver was my desire to reduce the overall cost of the CTR2 system. If you have a Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 laying around, or just want to use you station PC, your user interface is basically free. Although I don’t have one, I think you could also run Node-RED on the new $15 Raspberry Pi Zero W2.

The browser based Node-RED interface gives you a multitude of ways you can interface with every radio in your station. You can run CTR2 from the browser included on your Raspberry Pi as shown on the lead photo, from any other PC in your station, from you smart phone, or on any computer in the world for that matter. To demonstrate this I setup a CTR2 demo using a spare Pi 3 and my trusty PCR-1000 receiver as described in this blog post. You are welcome to contact me for login credentials if you would like to try it out.

Is Node-RED the best solution to interface with CTR2? That depends on your needs. I like having the dedicated Nextion display next to my paddle to control my radios with minimal back and forth effort. I like to be able to touch a signal on the FFT graph and have the radio tune to that signal. Node-RED requires more “mouse and keyboard” action. You can tune to a signal in Node-RED by clicking on the tuning slider below the FFT display but it’s not as intuitive as touch-tuning on the Nextion display. However, if you’re needs include remote monitoring and control of your station, Node-RED has a definite advantage. Unfortunately you can’t use both the Nextion and Node-RED at the same time so I’ll probably add a power switch to the Nextion display so I can choose which interface I want to use before I start CTR2.

I’ll be adding more posts to this category in the future to describe the Node-RED user interface in more detail so stay tuned!

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