Sorry for not replying to this question sooner – I just got back to working with my Hamshield after setting it aside for a while to work on other projects.
To me, the value of Hamshield is its open source code and hardware, its programmability, its form factor, and its resulting flexibility for use as a building block in Arduino projects that need to incorporate ham band communications. I have a particular project I am working on that uses the Hamshield to receive and decode AX25 packets from a Beeline GPS (used for tracking in high power rocketry and high altitude ballooning). The Hamshield will replace my Kenwood TH-D7e, which has a built-in APRS TNC, that is temporally standing in, but is not ideally suited to my project. When I incorporate open source building blocks, being able to modify the code is very important to tailor the block to my specific application. This is why I am using the Hamshield.
There are several things I would like to see that would help improve this use model for Hamshield.
A1846S Data Sheet: Making the data sheet and programming manual for the Auctus A1846S IC would be a big help. Like many, I have not been able to find a copy. I do have a copy of the RDA1846 Programming Guide, but it does not completely cover the 1846 programming; it is very incomplete. I suspect there is a supplier agreement that does not allow distributing the programming guide, but it is hard to see how the Hamshield would compete with volume users of the 1846. Just writing an API that re-creates every command of the 1846 does not provide information on how the chip functions, and would be a lot of work for little value added. A lot of chip “breakout board” Arduino libraries do just this, and it seems like a lot of work to go through just to replace one programming interface with another.
Code Documentation: I really do appreciate all of the applications that are currently available for the Hamshield. The quickest way to learn how to program something new and as complicated as the A1846 is to start with something that is close to what you need. The biggest help would be more complete documentation, i.e. comments in the code. I can almost always figure it out, but it takes much longer to reverse engineer the functionality from undocumented code.
Community Support: The last item is having a strong community of folks developing on the Hamshield platform so that there is a broader base of knowledgeable people who can provide support for each other. Its not reasonable to expect one or two people to provide all of the support needed to make the Hamshield successful as an open source platform. But I think having the first two items would go a long way to help open up the platform to a larger number of developers and thereby grow the user and support community.
I am really looking forward to getting back to working on my Hamshield project. I just ordered a second Hamshield to help me troubleshoot the AX25 packet receiver for my application.
Hope this helps