Thursday, April 5, 2018

Remote Station Operation

Here are two articles, with diagrams, that I wrote recently for use in the RV Service Net newsletter.  Any feedback and suggestions are welcome.


Many regulars on the RV Service Net recall that John, W4BXI, served as the second hour net control station on Thursdays, operating from his home at Fort Payne, AL. After moving to Asheville, NC, he now lives in an apartment that has no provisions for HF radio operation. John’s friend Carl, W4UOA, (at Mentone, AL) established a new remote interface to his own station for John to try from his new home. Carl has used other configurations of remote access to his station over a number of years.

Initially John used a single laptop PC, equipped with free software from RemoteHams.com to connect to Carl’s station. After getting familiar with the software interface (RCForb client), and finding it satisfactory for continuing his presence on HF radio, John resumed operation as a net control station. W4UOA is an excellent station for John’s participation in the RV Service Net.

Over a short period of time, John discovered other stations that are using the same RemoteHams software. This provided an opportunity to access other receiving locations, to hear stations that are too close to W4UOA for good reception during the early morning propagation on 40 m. John accessed the Richmond, VA, club station W4FJ that is available for receiving and transmitting, for club members. John also added receive capability provided by his RV Service Net friend Dan, KC4GO, of Casselberry, FL .

Around the same time John asked if my station in Baton Rouge, LA might be able to provide transmit / receive operation using the RemoteHams software. Previously I sometimes provided receive audio from my transceiver to John via a web interface (Google Hangouts), during his time slot on the RV Service Net. I set up the needed RCForb server software on my Windows PC that operates my Flex-3000 transceiver. This enabled John to use another remote station farther to the southwest.

The diagram below shows the current group of remote stations (in 4 states) that John uses from his operating location in North Carolina. Although these remote stations make it easier to hear reports from the many stations that check in, they don’t replace the excellent help provided by relay stations who are often located in even better locations for hearing and talking to the widely-distributed participants.

Click above to enlarge.

In a separate article I will provide additional details about how the RemoteHams software connects to radio equipment and the Internet.

John Krupsky, WA5MLF


W4BXI and friends have tested various software and hardware approaches during the past several years for remote operation of ham radio stations. We are currently using software from RemoteHams.com. In a single software package, RemoteHams includes both rig control (along with CW keying, memories and DX spotting) and audio transport. Some previous approaches have required the use of separate audio transport (e.g. Skype) and control software.

The RemoteHams software was designed to interface with the Elecraft K3 transceiver, but currently supports many other brands and models. A single, universal interface is provided for control of any supported transceiver.

For anyone thinking about remote station operation we suggest installing the free RemoteHams (RCForb) client program and using it to listen to any of the online stations listed in the RemoteHams directory. You can find many on this Online Map. The client software runs on Windows computers and Android devices. The RCForb client enables the remote operator to receive and transmit (depending on permissions granted by the station owner) and to select frequencies, modes, power levels and other parameters that are configured at the remote station. The diagram below shows the components at the location of a remote operator. The Documentation section has a good “getting started guide” along with client and server manuals. 
 
Click above to enlarge.

The diagram also shows a RemoteHams server that is used for:
  • registration and authentication of licensed remote operators
  • publishing a directory of online stations that can be used with the RemoteHams software
The server is contacted each time a remote station’s server software or a remote operator’s client software is started, but is not involved in the client-server traffic.

A remote station is not required to be listed online. Many owners of remote stations choose to operate on a non-listed basis, but can allow their friends or club members to access their station with a non-listed link.

To set up a station for remote operation requires interfacing a (supported) transceiver to a Windows computer that is running the free RCForb server program. The diagram below shows the components at the location of a remotely-controlled station. Transceiver interfacing for operating the many digital modes (PSK, FT8, etc.) provides the same capabilities needed for the RCForb server program.

If you decide to explore this mode of operation, we recommend consulting the server manual in the Documentation section and the Support Forum section of RemoteHams.com for additional documentation and tips from other users. The RemoteHams software also provides remote operation of supported amplifiers, antenna tuners and rotators.

Other topics that must be considered for the establishment of a remotely-operated station include:
  • Control of electrical power to radio and computer equipment
  • Ability of radio and computer equipment and software to restart if power is interrupted
  • Protection from lightning and electrical surges
  • Remote access to the server computer if changes to the server software settings are needed
Remote control software provided by the radio manufacturers for their radio products may provide additional capabilities that are not available through the RemoteHams software, such as SDR panadapter views. We suggest that you evaluate the capabilities of any remote control solution that control your radio equipment, and decide based on features that are most important to you.

John Krupsky, WA5MLF

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sampling of Group Videos & Screen Shares

While browsing through some files on an older hard drive I found some collected screen shots of some past group videos and screen shares that were common among our group members on morning QSOs. Below is a sampling of these, in order by date, starting in 2009.  The file name of each image shows the date of capture. The newest screen shot is from July of 2017.

Our group sessions made use of three services: Adobe ConnectNow (free for a limited time), Skype and Google Hangouts. Some of the later screen shots show that it is possible to participate in two separate sessions simultaneously on the same computer. In that case it is good to keep track of the microphone muting in each session window.

I added text notations to some of the views. Click on any image below to see an expanded view.























73,
John WA5MLF


















Saturday, September 16, 2017

Audio Recordings from 75 m and 40 m

I made several recordings of received audio on my transceiver in Baton Rouge this morning.
Below are links to the MP3 recordings.






3.740 MHz
The marginal copy on this band is consistent with poor propagation at this time of day for my distance from north Alabama. Sunrise today was at 0649 at my location. Some QSB also experienced.
  1. W4BXI at 0818 CDT, talking via N4NR's station, using the RemoteHams Internet interface. At the time, several stations noticed his audio seemed to have room echo or "in the barrel" sound. I think this was his first time to transmit via RemoteHams.
  2. N4NR at 0822 CDT, talking via RemoteHams interface through his home station
  3. W4BXI at 0823 CDT, talking via N4NR's station, using the RemoteHams interface.
  4. N4NR at 0834 CDT, talking via RemoteHams interface through home his station
7.233 MHz
Here are recordings of several stations at the time of our Saturday morning net.
  1. WA4PUB and K9JWJ at 0914 CDT
  2. N4NR at 0919 CDT talking via RemoteHams interface through his home station
  3. KB4XX at 0920 CDT
  4. W4BXI at 0920 CDT talking via N4NR's station, using the RemoteHams interface

John WA5MLF




Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cable and Wire Color Code

Click for enlarged view.
This photo shows one side of a Bell System job aid that displays the pair numbers corresponding to the 25 tip & ring color code combinations. The white tab can be rotated around the perimeter to display the right-most 2 digits of each pair number for a given range of pairs. The back side provides the same information for the succeeding range of 300 pairs.

For more on the color code topic, see this Wikipedia article.

This may take some of you back to the days when large and small copper cables were dominant in the outside plant of telcos.

John WA5MLF

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bell Ringers on the Map

Below are two map views showing the locations of many Bell Ringers who have participated in the Saturday morning net during the past 8 or so years. Many more have been on the net during its long history.

Click on image to enlarge.
The first image includes the most distant member participants. The colored circles represent the distance in miles from the location of W4BXI, who is near the center of the member geographic distribution. The radius of each circle is:
Red: 100 miles, Yellow: 200 miles, Green: 300 miles, Blue: 400 miles
This view and the next one show that the majority of members are in Alabama or Georgia and most are within the red circle.


Click on image to enlarge.

This second image expands the red circle for a better view of the Alabama and Georgia member locations. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

D-STAR Article in WBCCI Amateur Radio Club Bulletin

The club's November 2016 Bulletin contains the article shown below about D-STAR usage and components. The article is co-written by Bell Ringer Hank Montgomery, K4HM.

WBCCI Amateur Radio Club enters the Digital Era

A Few Radio Links

William Hepburn's Radio and TV DX Information Centre

Here are two that were mentioned in a recent club presentation about short wave listening: