This page is for information about remote operation of ham Radio stations. There are many approaches for remoting Ham equipment. For my first project, I set out to use my Elecraft K2 station from the Internet. The primary reason is that I am able to build antennas at the location of the station, but not at other locations where I am often located.
While there are commercial solutions for remote operation, such as Remote Rig hardware, I was not initially interested in these. My goal was to implement a remote station at no cost above that of the radio equipment. I normally operate using Phone (SSB) or CW modes and was looking to ue either of these at the remote access location. For the operator that is only interested in the Digital modes (such as PSK31), remote access may be as simple as using Remote Desktop software.
The Remote station
I now have a full remote capability with an Elecraft K2 that I can use for SSB and CW (keyboard only). I have been using the remote K2 for several months, recently working some contests and some CW DX. I use the N1MM for CW although the tuning is very slow. Ham Radio Deluxe works much better interactively, although I don’t currently have a way to send CW when using this program.
Once there is an audio path for use on SSB, using Digital Modes (RTTY, PSK) is simple. All you have to do is load your digital mode software. I have been using DM-780, the Digital Mode application that comes integrated with Ham Radio Deluxe.
Runaway Transmitter Timeout for Remote Ham Stations
One issue in assembling a remote Ham Station is the FCC requirement for a timer that will terminate a transmission if it “hangs.” I have been operating remotely when my Internet connection died a couple times, and was relieved that I have a timer in place to save me if this ever happens while transmitting. The FCC requires US Hams that use remote stations to have a timer that will terminate a “runaway” transmitter within 3 minutes.
Many of the newer radios have timers built-in, so if you have one of these, you are in luck. If you do not have a rig with a built-in timer, you can easily assemble one. I used an Arduino computer board and an automotive relay (very inexpesive and can handle 30 amps) for my timer. Total cost was about $40. I wrote code for the timer and am willing to make it available (with NO warranty of any kind – my lawyer says I must say that), if anyone is interested.
“Real” CW in a Remote Station
The thing I really would like to do is be able to send hand-keyed CW when using the remote station. This is my next major project. I have been working out the approach for awhile (a LONG while, like most of my projects), and I think I have an approach that will work. My plan is to use Arduino boards with Ethernet interfaces at each end of the link. The trick will be to tolerate the latency of the Internet. My plan is to send timing information over a serial link, then form the characters at the Station end. Let’s see how this works out. Should be interesting. You can follow my progress/frustrations on my Main blog page.
Remote Desktop Software for Remote Ham Shacks
I tried several programs. I have to give kudos to TeamViewer. It provides full remote desktop functions and includes things like remote rebooting. I have been using TeamViewer for several months. I just works – no lockups, no hiccups. The computer at the Station end registers with the TeamViewer server whenever it boots. This makes it easy to connect from anywhere. No static IP addresses required. This is one great software suite and for noncommercial use, it is free of charge. I tried messing with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop – what a mess that was (I was using 2 different versions of Windows on the Station and Client ends).
Remote Ham Stations You can Rent
There is a recent development that lets you rent stations that are already setup and ready to go. You can rent anything from a modest 100 watt station with wire antennas to a super DX station in Hawaii with many antennas in high towers. There is a subscription fee and then a small per-minute cost to use the station. the cost varies based upon the capabilities (and corresponding costs) at that station. You can read more about this at RemoteHamRadio.com