Remote Radio Station

Living in Europe I have had small yards or gardens.  This has made me thing more about Remote Radio Stations.  Also, it might be best to have your receiver in a location where there is less noise on the bands for local switching power supplies.

Remote Radio Station

Remote Radio Station Project by Johnny McCown

Last Revised: 11 Sep 2011

This page contains my goals for a Remote Radio Station.  Living in Germany I have a very small yard, so I would like to build a remote radio station that I could ship to my mother’s house and ask one of my ham radio friends back home to set it up for me.  For now I would like to modify my radio station so I can control it remotely either from other parts of the house (on my LAN) or as I am on vacation/business trips (over the WAN).  You may wonder why I would do all of this, at one time I would say the same thing.  Why get on the radio if you are controlling it by some computer on the other side of the world?  “Where is the fun in that?”  Well I am starting to realize that ham radio is more intended as a way to experiment with new ideas…or at least it is becoming that way for me.

Here is another reason to make remote radios, suppose you have a few towers at your house spaced out on your property. The run of coax all over the property will have a loss in signal strength.  A person could set up a radio at each tower then use some CAT-5 (or WAN) to get the signal from the radio to their ham shack.

It is best to set up a remote station in the ham sack and control it from other computers throughout the house.   Controlling a remote station locally will allow us to make adjustments to the system and also turn off the system in case something goes wrong.  Goals are to have reliable equipment, and provide good documentation.  Once the station is up and running we can/will replace components with homebrew equipment.  After trying remote assistance with my mother over a slow connection I realized that internet connection can be a big hindrance.  Both my mother and I were running Window XP.  Also using computers that are outdated or congested with other software could be a problem.  Linux might be better than Windows in this application, or better yet I could try using equipment that does not require a computer on the remote end to be operated.  I could use equipment that is all IP based, and would only need a computer at the operator end.  I might add a diagram on here of what my plans are.  Please e-mail me if you have any questions or suggestions, I have already received e-mails from people that stumble across my web site.  I would enjoy to hear from you just make sure to put an appropriate subject in the e-mail’s subject line or it might be deleted on accident.

– My current computer is an old HP laptop running Windows XP, it is connected to the FT-847 via RS-232 (serial) using HRD.  I am using Skype to control the audio.  It is important to make sure that Skype only accepts calls from your primary account, and that it automatically answers incoming calls.  Another important thing to do in Skype is make sure that it does not auto adjust the volume; you want to adjust the volume for best quality and leave it at that.

 

–  Radio – HF, VHF and UHF capability (separate Receiver for band monitoring such as SDR) – Currently I have a Yaesu FT- 847

–  Radios can be software defined

– Soft Rock SDR is a nice inexpensive solution if not homebrew

–  Must be able to control equipment by remote computer (using remote desktop) or have IP based equipment

–  Min 100W output and grate receive (consider installing filters)

– I have an old TS-120 (200w radio) that I might change out the IF section with a SDR and use this.

– Be able to do CW over the internet using a key instead of a keyboard.

– Will need reliable internet connection, that is fast enough to ensure minimum delay in IP traffic…this is important for the audio.

 

–  Computer Rack mounted, Win7 (no longer will use XP) if not Linux, low power consumption

–  Skype or other VOIP software

– Set up Skype so you are its only contact

– Have Skype answer all incoming calls (this will only be you)

– Have Skype deny all friend requests

– Set the volume of Skype so it does not auto adjust, set the volume for best quality

– Do not allow Skype to auto update…sometimes this makes changes to your configurations

–  Ham Radio Deluxe or other radio control software

– You will need to set up the server portion of HRD, and set passwords

– It is bet not to have the radio set up for VOX, have it where you have to press the Spacebar Key to transmit…this will help prevent accidental transmissions.

–  International Beacon Project software

–  Plenty of USB ports for connection to radios and other equipment

–  Might need RS-232 (serial) ports for some radios

–  Built in video (do not require high end video, this will also require less power and produce less heat)

–  Remote controllable (remote desktop) using VPN, password protected (over LAN)

–  Router, will be controllable over the internet

–  Audio box from radio to computer, make sure it is isolated between the radio and computer using transformers (might consider one that sends out audio directly to IP using some type of VoIP.)

–  The computer should have good sound cards, one per radio 192 KHz sampling and low S/N ratio for best results!

–  Install scripts that will restart all programs after the computer is turned on.  The computer will aromatically log into the required account for radio operation, and will be password protected.  Automatic login and program start-up will help in case the computer restarts.

–  Will have a Static IP from ISP or using No-Ip.org

–  Need to make sure that the computer does not go into sleep mode or hibernate

–  Make sure that the computer does not auto update, you do not want an update to happen when you are operating

 

–  Antennas

–  MUST – all coax will have lightning protection – protect your equipment the best you can

–  HF directional antenna (small foot print–don’t want anything too big)

–  HF dipoles as long as possible in wave length, multiband OR long wire antenna for lowest freq. used with remote tuner

–  Verticals for 10, 6, 2, and 70cm

–  Multiband HF vertical ground plane (for monitoring of bands)

–  2 and 6mVHF directional antennas vertical and horizontal

–  440cm directional antennas

–  Antennas for Sat operation and EME

–  RF Units

–  Power and SWR meter (LAN controlled)

–  For best operation…will have antenna tuners as close to the antennas as possible.  Consider solar power at tuner or DC over coax.

–  Antenna SW (LAN controlled)

–  Antenna control units (LAN controlled)

 

–  Power

–  Power control unit (LAN and DTMF controlled– this way we can turn off the radio if LAN goes out)

–  Battery charger w/ solar power input

–  Power converter DC to AC

–   Good grounding for signal/RF, lightning, and safety

–  At least 200’ of # 8 used for Signal ground to make a round parameter around antennas, this wire will not be placed in the ground more than ¼ to ½” deep

–  All grounding will meet and exceed NEC regulations

–  There will be a ground rod at the antennas, which will be connected to the ground rod outside of ham shack.  The ham shack’s rounding will be connected to the ground rod outside the shack, which will be connected to facility ground.  All grounds will be interconnected to ensure same potential of all systems.

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