Introduction to Operating HF Remote
In order to operate your HF station remotely you will need:
· Rig(s) that can be controlled by the home computer through an RS-232 or USB connection. Most modern rigs have this capability to various degrees.
· Software that is capable of controlling the rig. For my station, I have chosen Ham Radio Deluxe but other choices are available.
· High Speed internet connection. A static IP address for your home computer is highly recommended and I use the free version of LogMeIn Hamachi² for this purpose.
· Audio interface between the home computer and the rig. Such an audio interface is commonly used for operating RTTY, PSK31, and other digital modes using a computer connected to your radio. I use a SignaLink USB but there are many fine interfaces available or you can build your own.
· Software to link audio over the internet from your remote computer, through your home computer, and then to your rig. I use the free software Skype, but other similar software is available.
· Software to control your beam antenna rotator, if you have one. I choose the software program PstRotatorAz which can be configured to operate remotely from my laptop. Ham Radio Deluxe also includes a remote rotator feature and other similar software is also available.
· Some means of remotely operating your antenna switch, assuming you have one. I have a LDG Dts-6 antenna switch that is designed to accept remote commands from a computer. For this I use a control board based on the Picaxe microcontroller chip and two Visual Basic 2010 software program I wrote, W0JEC Station-DTS Control and W0JEC Server. W0JEC Server runs on my home computer and provides an internet pathway for the control codes exchanged between the W0JEC Station-DTS Control software running on my remote computer and the Picaxe control board connected to a serial port on my home computer. My microcontroller and software is designed to operate my LDG DTS-6 antenna switch but for those of you who do not own a DTS 4/6 switch I have also designed a similar microcontroller circuit and software program that can operate a homemade antenna switch. The software and microcontroller files are free downloads.
· You may also require a means to remotely operate other devices used by your station. In my case, I chose to include an on/off switch for my Hygain antenna rotation controller, on/off/reset for my SGC antenna coupler, and a switching arrangement that would allow me to switch between my Kenwood TS-570S and my Icom IC-718 (including switching the RF output connection between those rigs and the antenna switch according to which radio I was using.) Control of this switching is also provided by the Picaxe microcontroller and W0JEC Station-DTS Control software. This same station control capability is also included in the microcontroller circuit and software programs available on this website for those who do not own a DTS antenna switch.
Adapting your station and computers to enable remote HF operation can seem a daunting undertaking. It can seem complicated and will require installing software on both your home and remote computer, configuring that software for remote operation, and providing for a static IP address for your home computer. You will be building at least one circuit board for the station control hardware and adding switching relays for controlling station accessories and possibly antenna selection.
Since no two ham stations are the same, installing and configuring these programs and hardware will take thoughtful study and some experimentation to get it all working correctly. Some may see this as overwhelming; I see it as an exciting ham radio challenge. Be patient, work carefully. Mastering these new concepts will be a learning experience and the end result will be very satisfying.
The menu selections on the left will take you to web pages that provide further information about each of these topics, including downloads and links where appropriate.