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Cheapest path to remote operation

Discussion in 'Software Defined Radio (SDR)' started by W6TC, May 28, 2020.

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  1. W6TC

    W6TC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I only have a dual band Elecraft K1 that I am now looking to upgrade to an all band transceiver .
    The location of the shack in the garage is right next to a forced vent water heater that's really noisy. Not too bad with headphones on and operating CW but not conducive to SSB.

    I am looking at have the transceiver in the garage but wanting to operate remotely from the study.
    The Xiegu G90 looks good but there is no remote option for it yet.

    Which of the rigs will allow me to achieve what I am after without breaking the bank??
    YD1RRU likes this.
  2. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can use a Raspberry Pie to remote control just about anything.

    A RPi3 B+ is less than $50. Case and power supply included. :)

    Have Fun.
    NQ4T likes this.
  3. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Hermes Lite 2 is a direct sampling SDR HF all-band transceiver project.
    The HL2 has no front control panel, just an ethernet jack. So it's pretty much designed for remote operation over the network. Connect via one of many OpenHPSDR applications from your personal computer. Only 5 Watts, but around half the price of the Xiegu.
    YD1RRU likes this.
  4. WA8ZYT

    WA8ZYT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kenwood 590, USB to computer, free Kenwood software, BOOM! Done!
  5. K2MFW

    K2MFW Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Use Chrome Remote desktop.
  6. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Icom advertises remote control software for many of their transceivers.

    I know next to nothing about this software, just that it exists. It looks like near future Icom transceivers will include WiFi and/or Bluetooth for wireless remote control by computer.

    I remember a "headless" Icom transceiver that had no front panel and was intended to be operated by a computer. There was a traditional control panel available for it as well, either separate or as a bundle. I found it interesting but I don't see it offered any more, probably ahead of its time and didn't sell well.
  7. HA3FLT

    HA3FLT Ham Member QRZ Page

    If somebody takes time to learn the details, opportunities and limitations of any kind of remote controls including what the factory made TRX's provide, will not want to set up such a system for some meters in a building at all. Although, I don't know the exact distance - it can make a difference. E.g. the useful distance of a USB connection is fairly limited.

    When you want to operate a transceiver, you need a bidirectional connection for sound, CAT control, and a unidirectional connection for the keying as a minimum. All of these functions have a common enemy: the delay, and the unevenness of delays, because lags radically reduce the usability of the rig. Also, you are going to loose instantly the ability to handle the radio physically. No VFO button, RF/AF knobs, etc. Yes, you may buy some of them or substitute, but... it's not the same.

    On a local Ethernet or a USB connection, CAT control and perhaps the keying will not suffer, will not be uneven and delayed, so even if you don't have a physical radio in front of you, the operation may remain enjoyable. Keying is still a complex problem, but I can't write down here everything. The biggest pain is the sound transfer. When you send sound through a digital connection, it should be converted from analog to digital then back from digital to analog on the other side.

    Unfortunatelly, it doesn't mean how fast your computer is, it is hard to keep the delays both side in such a low range without dedicated hardware that does not affect using the radio. It is still true if you have a radio that provides the sound on the receiving side, which is already converted to digital inside (IF DSP), and works as a sound card, converting it back on the client PC still needs time and effort. This part of things is almost the same for a direct conversion TRX, but it gives such a nice functionality you will forgive the delays and luck of physical handles... Also, you may face some unexpected limitations, what the TRX may transfer at the same time on a USB, what the software you have given by the manufacturer can or cannot do - it needs a lot of investigation before buying.

    Surely, there are opportunities, however, none of them is cheap or easy. 1. You may buy dedicated hardware for the task like the RemoteRig RRC's. 2. You may buy or build more or less complete hardware+software solutions, but they mostly need a lot of work to put everything together. There really are low-lag solutions both for Linux and Windows. 3. If you are in the lucky situation you can buy a radio based on exactly these considerations, setting up the system might be much more easier, but it still gives less than sitting physically in the front of a transceiver.

    So, if we are speaking of some meters of distance, there is nothing better than the good old analog connection for the sound, the keying, and the serial port, also a USB connection can be elonged by hubs a little. For the physical handling, there are a few HF radios like the TS-480 that has a detachable front panel, and it can easily be used from a longer distance (I don't know the limits but I remember it is well specified), but it's not an advice, I just mention it.

    The Raspberry Pi is an interesting thing, you may buy a direct I2S sound card (not USB) for it, which can be very fast, but the burden of building a system with the appropriate software is yours, since you can't use the factory-made software of TRX's. Linux, Windows, software, delays, virtual ports, sound settings, keyer, CAT... they usually only worth it if you really need to operate a station remotely from miles or more.

    Hopefully, I'm right, but somebody will surely correct me if not.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  8. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you operate with a PC (or Mac, etc.) in front of you, an ethernet connected SDR (such as the Hermes Lite 2, but also Apache, Flex, HPSDR, can be operated remotely with low latency (a few dozen milliseconds) from anywhere you can get a wired network connection with decently small and consistant ping times. Only one cable needed. You might need locally keyed audio if operating far enough away the the ping times are longer (from cross-state or cross-country, etc.)

    Note that a Hermes Lite 2 SDR transceiver is not much more expensive from some remote rig control boxes.

    I'm writing some experimental software so I can operate my HL2 remote from my iPad.
  9. HA3FLT

    HA3FLT Ham Member QRZ Page

    "A few dozen of milliseconds" is already at or beyond the verge of full usability of a transceiver, especially on CW, it is not an easy game. Even big manufacturers released such transceivers way over 50 msecs (not on the network, inside the radio), which is more or less a line not to be crossed. Also, we should know, is that the delay of the signal path in the receiver, or the total switching time from receiving to transmitting.

    You should be very careful when comparing things. First radio? A second radio with less features but able to be controlled remotely? A new radio equally used both locally and remotely from other places? I thought the first one.

    Hermes Lite 2 is an important project to learn and develop, I like the whole openHPSDR story, but with its 12-bit ADC it should have fairly moderate receiver parameters. Also, a full-featured TRX probably provides some important functions and better comfort that this one hasn't, or at least you should build and add them yourself, if you can. Also, physical controls are missing by default, and it is still an overkill for a few meters distance, if I understand the use case well.
  10. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    dont forget the antenna switch or rotor control depending on your antenna situation.
    There are cheap wifi controllers that can (with some programming and circuitry) work great.
    I built one that controls a remote antenna relay 95' away from my operating position.
    I'm running Icom remote software (which isnt cheap) into a 9100. It operates all their remote operated rigs and is windows based
    This and the wifi antenna switch allow me to use a cheap used laptop to access radio and switch antennas anywhere
    some rough details on my qrz page
    There is also a remote control software by a fellow ham in Quebec that works good as well

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