I operate a remote station in Arkansas from California via the internet. This allows me to talk to family and friends just as if I am local. An Icom IC-706mkIIg allows remote tuning on HF, VHF and UHF from my location in California. It is used for talking on local Arkansas repeaters, HF (SSB, CW, Digital) and MARS frequencies.
A computer in Conway on a high speed internet connection is connected to an Icom IC-706MkIIg. Remote control is software via a RS-232 link. Audio in and out is via the sound card. VOX is used to have the rig go into transmit with control to turn the audio off and prevent transmission.
Remote Server Flow
Operation in California is a split-band link using the Yaesu FT-8800 receiving on VHF and transmitting on UHF with antennas up on the roof of the townhouse. This setup gives me a 10 – 15 mile range that I can be from the house and still have communications. This area is perfect as it covers most of my local driving from the harbor to downtown Ventura to Fry’s electronics.
Remote Setup In Arkansas
A link is normally established using the voip. The software automaticly comes up and logs in when booting up. Another advantage of Ventrilo is that it will reconnect should there be a drop in internet service. LogMeIn (http://logmein.com) is used to provide remote desktop operation of the Arkansas computer which allows me control of the computer, software configuration, audio and radio. Ham Radio Deluxe is brought up on the Arkansas computer to control the IC-706MkII and voice IP is handled with a service called Ventrilo. This service is normally for gamers, but has proven to have excellant audio quality and reliability.
CW is achieved by using a terminal program with RS-232 connection to a MFJ-1278 tnc in the cw mode. Typing via the terminal sends the code while I do still use my ears to copy. PSK31 and other digital modes can also be done by shutting down the voice IP software and bringing up the digital mode software that uses the sound card for transmit and receive. The HF antenna is a G5RV dipole the works 80 – 10 meters. There is a dual-band 144/440mHz vertical for VHF.
Another interesting aspect of control is with my iPhone. VNC software is installed on there so even when I am not at home, I can call up the remote and change the configuration as desire.
Remote Desktop on iPhone
Now, how do I QSL myself when I make a contact from my home station with remote station while in the same room?
Mobile Remote Base
I decided to drive to Arkansas and visit friends and relatives. The drive was going to take three days. So, before I left I wondered if could I run the remote base mobile as everything could run off of 12 volts? The answer…. yes!
I installed the FT-8800, PTT interface and a HP laptop behind the seat. Internet connection would be via a broadband wireless card. The system is separate from the mobile radio so I could still listen to the link as well as operate locally using the dual mode on my mobile radio. The only real issue was that I could not find the adapter for the universal DC cable, so I used a small AC inverter to run the laptop. Not as efficient, but still worked fine.
It was enjoyable talking to K5JU and others while mobling down the road. The link stayed connected 90% of the time including hours before dropping. The primary problem was if there was not a good link on the wireless, the network latency (audio delay) could get huge like when I tried to check into the Razorback net and had a 30 second audio delay. Disrupted the net as the audio I sent was transmitted way past when they opend for checkins which meant I doubled. However, other times were very acceptable. Ventrilo shows a ping which is a good indication of how well the network is communicating.
I am interested in working with other hams around the world who would like to set up remote i’net stations and sharing our sites. Please contact me if interested.