Remote Control Radio

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Inspired by the April, 2007 QST article, Remote Control of the Amateur Station, I found this combo works great...

Tested receive and remote control over a LAN and the Internet. RTT was 150mS on the Internet link. Used 8 kHz GSM audio, which seemed best over the slow link. CODECS with faster sampling rates seemed to break apart. Over the LAN, the other CODECS provided better audio. I made my first remote CW contact on Friday (4/6/07) to VE1VEI on 20 meters.

My current configuration:

  • Remote Computer - HRD, IP Sound
  • Master Computer - HRD (server), IP sound or X-LITE SIP Phone/Asterisk PBX, MicroHam MicroKeyer, TS-2000

The HRD manual is very detailed and worth reading. I had to study the N8VB COM port section. These are some key points, which helped me to get over the rough spots.

Contents

Ham Radio Deluxe

I started by making sure local control with HRD worked OK. Unlike the QST article, I found that HRD has a Windows service to function as a serial server. (Probably a new version.) So the link looks like this:

Remote (running HRD) -> LAN -> Server (running HRD service) -> Serial Port -> Radio.

The serial ports are virtual ports, created by the MicroKeyer software. I configured COM4 as rig control and COM5 for the WinKey in the Microham software.

On the Server

On the server (computer connected to the radio): enable the service using the Remote Server configuration button. (Icon labeled Remote on the HRD button bar.) Edit the config file. Note, uses port 7805. Set the username/password. I left all the COM statements commented out. Start the services and quite HRD. The service stays running.

On the Remote

  • Install HRD and connect to the radio
  • Choose Radio (TS-2000)
  • COM Port = Remote
  • Speed = 9600
  • In the next window, Remote Connection Screen
  • Enter Server Name
  • Username/Password
  • Press Connect - you should get the welcome message if the network path is up.
  • Choose the COM port on the remote end
  • press Accept to start the link

The HRD display should show up and you should be connected to the remote radio. Note the COM port speeds have to be the same as the rig. I think the default is 4800,n,8,2, but I changed it to 9600, n,8,1.

Winkey

I have winkey set up on COM5 using the Microham software. Winkey is 9600,n,8,1.

On the server - enable the Serial Server in HRD. (Same screen as the HRD service - tools/program/remote server.)

On the remote:

  • Install N8VB virtual com port program (tools/N8VB) or com0com package, which is newer
  • I used the default COM20 - COM21
  • Reboot (not sure if this is necessary)
  • Start the HRD serial client
  • Add a port - I connected COM21 to COM5 (remote) - 9600,n,8,1
  • Connect remote to server - the com ports should connect
  • Configure Winkey to use COM20, which is the other side of the virtual com port
  • In the Winkey box of HRD, press F2 to enable the CW keyboard. Set up your macros. etc. Now you should be able to do remote CW. Note, the side tone isn't heard on the remote client. I also added some PTT delay in the winkey config menu.

    IP Sound

    IP-Sound - Point to Point VoIP for the rig. Easy to set up. Uses UDP 4444 (src and dst). Choose the sound card under Tools/Properties/Sound. While there, pick the CODEC. Start with 8kHz GSM. Sounds pretty good. Even worked well over the Internet with a slow connection.

    Kenwood TS-2000 - 50F set to 1200 baud. ACC2 connector has AF xmit and rcv, use the PTT on the ACC2 connector. If 50F is set at 9600 baud, you won't get any audio on ACC2. The ACC2 PTT was only important for the ULI board. The MK routes TX audio through the MIC connector on the front of the TS-2K. So the CAT PTT and MIC PTT will work.

    Need two serial ports right now. Audio control/PTT via the ULI and COM1, CAT via COM2 for frequency read out. Solved this problem with the N8VB vCOM Virtual Serial Port package located on his web site at http://www.philcovington.com. Look in the HRD manual for details.

    This guy remotes the tS-480 head. http://www.w4mq.com/

    SIP Phone

    As an alternative to IP Sound, it's possible to link a SIP phone to the radio using the sound card. Some people use Skype, which I haven't tried. Instead, I use X-LITE soft phone registered with my Asterisk PBX. This allows me to cross connect a variety of devices. For example, I can create a menu option in the IVR and access the radio from the PSTN. Or, I can access the softphone via a SIP trunk from the office. HRD (or other software) is still required for PTT and frequency changes.

    The diagram for audio routing is shown here: MicroHam_Audio_Levels

    Network Settings

    To expose my Rig to the Internet, I mapped my HRD server to the outside IP address on my DSL router on ports 7805, 7806 and 4444.

    We tested the remote connection from WA0DYJ's shack, which uses a DSL line and NAT, too. I had to port forward 4444 to his internal computer to get it to work. (That is mapped the outside IP address of the router to the IP address of an internal computer, running HRD, on port 4444.) This exposed his port 4444 to the Internet, too.

    Of course, both the HRD service and IP-sound had to be running on the server.

    56K Baud Rate Note

    You have to configure the TS-2000 baud rate then turn it off and then back on. The baud rate change will only take effect on power on. Once you have the TS-2000's baud rate set, you will need to change the software program's settings to match.