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Looking for ideas and experiences with remote controlled station

Discussion in 'Satellite and Space Communications' started by KS1G, Aug 6, 2020.

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  1. KS1G

    KS1G Ham Member QRZ Page

    I may have the opportunity with 2 other club members to set up a remote station in a better (less RFI, better horizon) location (and it'll be within my VUCC circle!). I'm going through the articles and posts by K8YSE, W5RKN, and a recent thread on amsat-bb. Wanted to ping the collective wisdom here, particularly regarding selection of and remote control of the radio:

    We have a TS-2000X available. Kenwood's remote control software is no longer available for new purchase and good luck finding an RC-2000 remote head. FLRig *should* work, and might be good enough for pre-pass config and SatPC32 does the passband, mode, and doppler management. Anyone have experience w Remote-Rig or (shudder) current Ham Radio Deluxe? Are there other options?

    We *might* be able to borrow a Flex 6500 or 6700. Clearly a better way to go, but then we need at least a 70cm xverter to start. Are the Ebay Transverter-Store 70cm units good enough? (I've had good experience using his gear as an RX-only downconverter w SO-50, AO-27). Or plan on getting a DownEast/Q5 unit (what W5RKN, AB1OC, and the other cool kids are using).

    Any other thoughts and comments/suggestions?

    Thanks in Advance & 73
    Steve KS1G
  2. WE4B

    WE4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can't help with the remote station questions but you're just as cool as those other kids :)
    KS1G likes this.
  3. KS1G

    KS1G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Reviving an old thread with an update. I've been trying different software using my home station (IC-9100, G-5400 + ERC-M for rotator, Windows laptop as the "server") as the guinea pig. Software stack: SatPC32, DX-Commander (set rig controls SatPC32 can't manage), VSPE (share com ports between SatPC32 & DX-C), Virtual Audio Cable (VAC, may not need), Mumble (audio client)+Murmur (audio server). Winkeyer for CW. NoMachine for the remote-access. CLient (currently desktop PC next to the laptop and radio) runs NoMachine and the Mumble client. Still a few kinks to work out on radio control, and I have to manage preamps manually. Audio latency is a slight challenge - about 1/4-1/2 second delay, reminds me of the old days on AO13 and 40 where ops would start slurring if they were listening to their downlink too closely. Means I need a local CW sidetone or CWType or similar to send CW, can't just listen to my downlink.

    Next steps are gain confidence in controlling solely via computer link, then operate from elsewhere in the house. I'll need a means to remote-control preamps if I want to go further afield. And I'd like to fix the audio latency, a separate RaspberryPi running Murmer may be enough, and/or tweaking the audio settings in the clients. Also need to check VNC instead of NoMachine.
    WE4B likes this.
  4. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    this is of great interest to me.
    How solid is the com port & software sharing between sat32pc and DX-c , and the remote access

    I dont know what your needs for controlling preamps are and I'm assuming their external but one suggestion for controlling general I/O, have you considered any of the nodemcu wifi processors.
    I've been using node mcu (not the 32 version) here, one for remote antenna switching with a 2.4Ghz link and another for monitoring house controls.I'll be getting another couple nodemcu's a couple NRF24 2.4Ghz modules to have a wireless link between my remote rotor control and master controller in an effort to remove the serial cable in my K3NG rotor setup.

    please keep us posted
  5. W5PFG

    W5PFG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've had several versions of my remote, fully automated station over the years.

    1. Radio <-> Computer sound interface was very important. I personally find radios such as IC-9100 and IC-9700 to be great in this regard, though I've Rigblaster-like devices in the past.
    2. Having the ability to switch antenna polarity was a huge plus, as well as switch on/off power to various devices. There are numerous devices you can use, mostly similar to a modern PLC.
    3. Very important to me was remote SWR capability. That I accomplished with WaveNodes.
    4. Having remote video can be helpful to look at the antenna array and its orientation.
    KS1G likes this.
  6. KS1G

    KS1G Ham Member QRZ Page

    VSPE works quite well and was worth the modest prices (Fabulatech has a similar product that costs substantially more and I had some issues getting to work which may have been my fault, not their software.] Your radio CAT connection and rotor control both have to be up before starting the VSPE software (you can run it with normal windows user privileges). I usually let SatPC32 be in charge of the radio port; if I need to fiddle with something it cannot handle, I disable computer control (C-), switch DX Commander from SatPC32 to radio, make the change, then re-engage DX-C to SatPC32 and last give SatPC32 control (C+). Easier to do than explain. I don't really need VPSE for the rotor, it's there in case I want something else to monitor it. So the start order is power on radio & rotator box, boot/login to laptop, run VPSE and minimize, start SatPC32 and DX Launcher and apps, start Murmer server and Mumble client, start CWType if I want CW capability. NoMachine starts as a service. Eventually will need to write a PowerShell script for 1-touch startup.

    I've ordered a relay board "hat" for Raspberry Pi, the vendor provides python code and an example web page implementation so I can click run a command from a ssh session or press a button in a web page to turn preamps on/off and change antenna polarization. Initially I'll keep it in the shack, but I might switch to PoE (or Wifi) and put the Pi out by the antenna in a weather proof box. I'm running 12V on spare rotor cable pairs, so I have power at the antenna to drive the PI as well as the relays and preamps.

    Have not decided how to deal with monitoring SWR, a webcam aimed at the radio front panel might be easiest. The solutions I've found (SWR/power meters with USB or serial output) are pricey. I could stick them in the camera field of view. Haven't found an answer to reducing audio latency. Separate Murmer server didn't help. I tried a 3rd party server service (they cater to gamers) that allows short term temporary servers/channels. Eliminates having to open another port on my router f/w. The audio latency is longer, but I found it was easier to ignore my downlink audio with the longer delay. Sticking with NoMachine for now (it works, why mess with it)
  7. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Assuming you are using the internet for control and audio you might want to talk to your ISP regarding the line configuration. For consumer service they are usually configured for primarily downstream bandwidth. Upstream is almost an afterthought. You might want to talk to their business office. You are more likely to find someone who can do anything more than read from a script.
  8. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

  9. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    thanks for this info. I'll follow this on my setup here. I will likely do a wifi swr setup using a nodemcu32 or an arduino chip for measurement of swr and other things then pump it up to internet with a nodemcu

    sad with the latency of audio though
    been fairly busy here, - yearly junk pickup and I got a complete set of kitchen cupboards for the man cave. been waiting to get rid of several shelves that collect everything dirty when I'm building rc planes or woodworking out there.
    Also one step closer to trying this. While depositing some electronic junk to the local bin, I picked up a Dell laptop - it works. Best part I have the install disks for win7pro32 so thats going to be the test computer.
    Now I have a spare desktop for the server stuff and a spare laptop for the remote end

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