VK5SW's Remote Radio Setup
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Computer (HRD) RR Modem Modem RR Radio Antenna
Control End Internet connection Radio End
The global reach of the Internet has changed our lives. It has definitely impacted the hobby of Amateur Radio. Remote radio operating is possible nowadays because of computers being connected together via the Internet. The system I use here is called 'Remoterig' (RR). This Swedish company uses a Remoterig 'black box' as the 'dedicated computer/modem.' One at the Control end and the other at the Radio end. Various configurations are able to be employed so that you can operate remotely. ie. there are a variety of ways of going about it.
This image shows the Remoterig 'Control and Radio black boxes.' Information about the Remoterig system can be found at Remoterig.com
At the control end, in my case, I use CW and also a computer running Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) for the digital modes. This computer using HRD and the Remoterig module at the control end are connected to the Internet as is the other Remoterig module at the radio end. Of course, the Remoterig at the radio end is also connected to the Ham Radio transceiver. The Remoterig software needs to be configured to suit your system of operation. This is done via a computer Internet interface. The Internet connection at the radio end at our Getaway property in the Australian Bush is a wireless 3G/4G connection. External Internet (mobile phone) antennas are needed here to receive the Internet signals from the nearest town, ten kilometres away. The Internet connection at the Control end here at home is now via a fibre optic cable. The distance between the control and radio locations is about 150 kilometres but the distance doesn't really matter. The location of the property at the radio end is fairly isolated so the background noise level on the radio is strength zero. Since the radio end is unattended, an SMS Relay switch is used to turn the radio on and off when I'm at home, 150 klms away. The relay switch and wi-fi modem are connected to a 12 volt battery and left turned on all the time. The radio draws around 3 amps on receive, so the SMS switch is used to turn on both the radio and Remoterig when operating and then afterwards, switch them off again. This particular SMS switch has 4 separate switches. By using your 'smart' mobile phone, the SMS switch is turned on or off when you send the appropriate SMS message to the number of the Sim card within the SMS switch. A few seconds later, an SMS message is then sent back to you to let you know that the relay switch has been turned on or off, as the case may be. The following pictures show the original SMS Relay switch which I used for a few years but this switch used the 2G Network which has recently been turned off here in VK5, so I am now using a new SMS Relay switch which uses the 3G Network. A picture of the 3G SMS Relay switch which is now in use can be seen here.
With most modern radios, within the menu settings, you can find the 'Time Out Timer' or 'TOT'. For remote operating, I understand that this should be set to 3 minutes. This is a safety feature for remote operating (eg. in the event of losing Internet connection) whereby the transmitter having been turned on for 3 minutes will automatically switch off - from transmit to receive.
The following images give you some idea of my remote radio setup. This configuration which I use is only one of those available.
The Control End
For the full sized image, click on this picture.
Remote operating from the home Qth. (Control End)
The Radio End
150 klms away - fairly remote so solar power is used.
By clicking on this picture, if interested, 5 full sized images of the property (Radio End) can be seen.
The location of the Ham Radio station in the South Australian Bush.
The wireless Internet antenna The SMS switch external antenna
(You could probably use a single antenna with a 'splitter.')
The blue SMS switch is shown to the left of the radio, an Icom IC-7600.
The Remoterig and wi-fi Internet modem can be seen in the foreground.
These components are powered by a large 12 volt battery which is charged by a solar panel.
It gets very hot here in the summer so I elevated the SMS switch and the Wifi modem
to improve air circulation around them. The radios are the IC-7600 and IC-7300.
Also, the SMS switch works more reliably when mounted vertically, as shown.
It may look confusing but of course only one remote radio is used at a time.
This SMS relay switch has 4 separate switches. Individual 30A, 12V relays are
connected in series with the SMS relay switches to turn each radio on and off.
Every thing is powered by the large lead acid, deep cycle battery seen on the left.
I approached the setting up of the Remoterig system in a leisurely fashion. I tend to do things in a hurry and I know what it's like to put pressure on yourself to finish something and then when things don't work out, you feel frustrated. Firstly, I printed off the instruction manual. There are over 200 pages. I read the manual over a long period of time and only did the work when I felt inclined. I kept coming back to it after reading more of the manual.
With a reliable Internet connection, remote stations like this can be operated from just about anywhere in the world. The faster your Internet speed, the more reliable the radio connection. I would like to say that I am no expert with this mode of operating. Like most, I have learned by trial and error. Having the control and radio locations far apart, means that I have had to travel long distances when time allowed to correct this system when there were problems. I found that small problems would surface which I could not correct until I could get to the radio location. The problems were not always with the system as such but also with things like the antenna cable to the wi-fi modem or the power to the wi-fi modem for example. It has taken me some time to get this system working reliably. Power Line Interference at my home Qth is often strength nine but the background noise level on the remote radios is strength zero. For me, this is one of the greatest benefits of remote operating. There is plenty of room for antennas at the radio location too.
YYou may also like to have a look at another unattended and remotely controlled Amateur Radio station, click - and
I should think that you could do this sort of thing with a satellite Internet connection too and the military would do something similar.
If you would like to set up a remotely controlled Ham Radio station, I recommend that you purchase a copy of the ARRL's - 'Remote Operating for Amateur Radio'.
You may also like to download and print this PDF - Remote Control Your HF Rig via the Internet By ... - ARRL
If you are an ARRL member, you might be interested in this page - http://www.arrl.org/link-remote-control
For those who have a wireless Internet connection at the radio end, this may be helpful although it may seem strange. Using the yagi Internet antenna shown else where in this article, the Internet connection had always been unreliable. The reason being that the Internet signal from the yagi connected to the wireless modem was so strong that the download speed was excellent but the upload speed was slow. By replacing the high gain yagi antenna with a less high gain Internet antenna, the download speed was slower but the upload speed was faster. The Internet connection is now near perfect where as before, as mentioned, it was not reliable.
Worldwide Remote Control of Amateur Radio Stations