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Author Topic: Advice on new station setup...  (Read 2517 times)
NZ5E
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Posts: 75




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« on: April 21, 2010, 07:48:35 PM »

I have been inactive for several years but have recently caught the radio bug again.  The first thing I discovered was that my callsign has expired beyond the 2 year grace period so I will have to retest.

My home is located in a poor location for radio work but I have a 180' tower that I previously used for my VHF business repeater system (received a VHF repeater pair during the FCC Refarming Initiative).  The location of the tower is about 110' higher than the average terrain so it would be like having 300' of tower at my home location.  The tower is currently being used by a local internet provider as a relay point for which I receive free broadband internet at my home and at the tower location (static IPs).

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss252/N1048D/Tower_640x480.jpg

I want to setup a station at the tower location to operate internet remote base from my home and from my Motorola Droid cellphone.  I have already ordered some of the components and need to decide what bands I am going to operate to know what antennas to install on the tower.  I will be removing the VHF folded dipole array from the top of the tower and I will ask the internet provider to lower two omni antennas down from the top about 5'.

The tower is Rohn 25G and I want to be conservative regarding windload.  I am considering mounting a HyGain DB-1217 configured for 10 and 17 meters at the neck of the tower and either a 2 or 6 meter horizontal yagi from 6' to 10' above the DB-1217 for the SSB portion of the band.  I am also thinking of mounting a 40 or 60 meter double bazooka in an inverted-v configuration at about 130'.

Is there much local ragchew activity on 2 and 6 meters (SSB) outside of band openings?

Which would you pick, 2 or 6 meters (SSB)?

Has anyone configured a DB-1217 for 10 and 17 instead of 12 and 17?

Any suggestions on remote controlled rotators and remote controlled HF antenna switches?

Anyone using their radio to automatically switch antennas when changing bands?

Yaesu FT-857D or Icom 7000 (Don't want this response to get out of control Wink)?

Any other suggestions?
« Last Edit: April 21, 2010, 08:10:39 PM by Terry L. Browning » Logged
NZ5E
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2010, 08:16:10 PM »

Why can't I post an image?  I tried the different formats, but all that works is a hyperlink.
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N3OX
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Posts: 8853


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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2010, 08:47:05 PM »

Don't think picture posting works here.  Photobucket works.

I maybe don't recommend the Yaesu FT-857D as a remote base rig.  There are a few important functions you can't access via the CAT control.

One important issue is the ability to switch in the attenuator and turn the internal preamp off.  Kinda need to be able to do that on 40m with this radio.   As far as I can tell, this is an absolutely insurmountable problem.  There's just no CAT command to toggle ATT and IPO, even in the vastly expanded set that people have discovered.  You also can't manually change filters, though the radio "remembers" your last SSB and CW choice.

I have another problem with mine : the connection to the computer is via the rear panel which is only accessible in "DIG" mode... and "DIG" can be set to be USB or LSB ... but not remotely!  You can get around this by using the actual mic jack for audio input, I suppose.  I get in trouble because I use my rig at home mostly, and just play with the internet remote, so I have to choose which of USB or LSB I'd want to use on the DIG setting, and I have to remember not to leave the 300Hz filter on when I want to operate remotely.

I don't know about the IC-7000 ... you might dig into the possible commands and maybe look at rig control software, see if anything conspicuous is missing that would make full remote control a headache.

I use Ham Radio Deluxe for rig remote control, sometimes with the remote on HRD, sometimes using Windows Remote Desktop to control HRD.  I have the Ham Radio Deluxe parallel port manager set up to do antenna switching: I put some FET switches controlled by the parallel port in the control box of my Ameritron RCS-8V antenna switch, and I built a parallel port controllable matching network for my big vertical:

http://www.n3ox.net/projects/stepperswitch

This all works locally too... I tune the rig, HRD reads the frequency and switches antennas for me.  So far my remote is just a toy, but the antenna switching is all nice and seamless.  I could add more relays to click in my flag RX antenna for 80/40/160 which would help the inability to set the preamp and attenuator from afar. 

There are lots of computer controllable rotors out there: that's one next step here though again I plan to homebrew.  I also need to get something going so I can operate remote CW.

73
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
K9KJM
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Posts: 2416




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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2010, 10:02:57 PM »

180 feet of Rohn 25G is pretty much loaded to it's max just standing there, So you will not be adding many more antennas to that!    Maybe a nice dual band VHF/UHF vertical at the top for FM,
And just start out with a simple crossband repeat operation. Consider the Kenwood TS2000 with its "Sky Command" remote control.
If you decide to do VHF SSB, Maybe a few horizontal loop antennas mounted on the side of the tower just above tree height.
How far from your home is the tower? Measured in feet or miles?

Anyhow, In many cases low ground height is usually not a handicap for HF, Only VHF/UHF.
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AD6KA
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Posts: 2232




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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2010, 10:17:49 PM »

"I want to setup a station at the tower location to operate **internet remote base** from my home and from my Motorola Droid cellphone."

Just how far away is this tower & "remote base" you plan to build
from your home that you'll need the Internet/cell phone? Seems like you will
have to learn a lot of stuff and overcome a lot of obstacles first before you
can do this with a cell phone app.

OK, now this link is for an *Internet only* control of a remote
HF Base, but it is a GREAT 63 page Power Point presentation which
should give you ideas/info & introduction on how the computer interfaces with
the radio, amps, rotators, antenna switches, what have you.

It's not Cell phone stuff but ya gotta start somewhere. You *did* ask
"Any suggestions on remote controlled rotators and remote controlled
HF antenna switches?" and "Anyone using their radio to automatically
switch antennas when changing bands?"

Introduction to Remote Control
of your Amateur Radio Station
via the Internet:
http://www.rmvhf.org/hamcon09/RC-AS-Int_Talk_0609.pdf

I bet you would get some information from
some other Forums such as: Remote HF Station Control:

http://eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/board,24.0.html

"I have a 180' tower on a hill (located 110' higher than the average terrain) that I previously used for my business VHF repeater.

"The tower is currently being used by a local internet provider as a relay point for which I receive free broadband internet at my home and at the tower location (static IPs)."

I *really* don't want to sound mean spirited, but if it's *your* 180 foot tower, which you are letting them use to make good money, shouldn't you get more out of the deal than just free broadband service? Who owns the land that the tower is located on? And when you signed the deal with the ISP company, was there any fine print in the legal boilerplate preventing you from doing what you are planning on doing?  I'm no engineer, but it seems like there are a lot of problems to overcome before you can start installing rotators & yagis. How are you going to power this base station? Will the ISP let you tap into their AC line? (Or was it yours for your VHF repeater and did you sign or not sign away the rights to it? What about a building for your radios, computers, amps, interfaces & stuff? What about interference/RFI issues? (Yah, I know, wayyyyy different frequencies involved, but......microwaves (I'm assuming it's a microwave relay, could be wrong) do weird stuff to radio equipment and computers.

This sounds like an extremely involved and complicated project from whichever angle you look at it: technically, legally, financially...

Good luck OM, hope you end up with a killer remote station!
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NZ5E
Member

Posts: 75




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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2010, 06:01:02 AM »

180 feet of Rohn 25G is pretty much loaded to it's max just standing there, So you will not be adding many more antennas to that!...

I calculated the wind surface area of the Hy-Gain DB-1217 and an 8-element horizontal yagi for 2 at the top of 6' of mast to be about 8 square feet which is well within the Rohn guidelines for my tower.  Of course, you also have to factor in the rotor, the 7/8" Heliax, and the internet antennas for total windload.  Being conservative is the reason I am only going to put one or the other above the DB-1217, 8-element 2 meter at 6' above the DB-1217 or 3-element 6 meter at 10' above the DB-1217.  From an electical standpoint, I am also concerned about the 6 meter antenna interacting with the 17 meter elements of the DB-1217 since 6 meters is about 3/4 wavelength of 17 meters.

...How far from your home is the tower? Measured in feet or miles?...

The tower is about 2.5 miles from my home.  I can see the tower from my home, it is line-of-sight if that is what you are asking.

...Anyhow, In many cases low ground height is usually not a handicap for HF, Only VHF/UHF...

For DX, the low angle of radiation for 10 and 17 should provide a significant advantage.

Taking the height factor to extremes though...Around 1997, I had the ADF receiver taken out of my Piper Archer, but instructed the avionics shop to leave the wire antenna which ran from the tail to a feedthrough above the cockpit.  I mounted the head of my Icom 706 on the plate in the instrument panel where the ADF receiver was and cut the former ADF wire for 1/4 wavelength for 17 meters.  I fed the wire through an MFJ mobile antenna tuner and worked 6 and 17 meter aeronautical mobile.  There was a significant signal gain during the first 200' of climbout, but no change in signal level after that to 10,000'!  I mainly attributed the signal gain during the first 200' to clearing ground clutter.

I also had an aircraft certified VHF business band antenna mounted on the Archer.  From 6,000' and higher, I could easily hit my repeater from 200 miles away.  I had both the Icom 706 and Motorola business band connected though the audio panel so I could key the microphone on the yoke and talk/listen through my aircraft headset.
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NZ5E
Member

Posts: 75




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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2010, 06:04:51 AM »

...I maybe don't recommend the Yaesu FT-857D as a remote base rig.  There are a few important functions you can't access via the CAT control...

Thanks, your reply was the type information I needed to justify the extra expense of the Icom 7000.  I will also check into it further.
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NZ5E
Member

Posts: 75




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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2010, 06:56:57 AM »

...Seems like you will have to learn a lot of stuff and overcome a lot of obstacles first before you can do this with a cell phone app...

For the purpose of working my way up to the full blown remote control station, I have successfully used a Tigertronics SignaLink USB as an interface between my laptop and a GMRS radio connected to a dummy load to communicate within my office over the internet with my Motorola Droid cellphone running Skype.  Passing the audio back and forth was no problem, but I realize I will have to write the software if I want to perform rig control with the Droid.

Thank you for the links to sources of information regarding internet linking and remote control.  As I have time, I am reading everything I can find.

...I *really* don't want to sound mean spirited, but if it's *your* 180 foot tower, which you are letting them use to make good money, shouldn't you get more out of the deal than just free broadband service? Who owns the land that the tower is located on? And when you signed the deal with the ISP company, was there any fine print in the legal boilerplate preventing you from doing what you are planning on doing?  I'm no engineer, but it seems like there are a lot of problems to overcome before you can start installing rotators & yagis. How are you going to power this base station? Will the ISP let you tap into their AC line? (Or was it yours for your VHF repeater and did you sign or not sign away the rights to it? What about a building for your radios, computers, amps, interfaces & stuff? What about interference/RFI issues? (Yah, I know, wayyyyy different frequencies involved, but......microwaves (I'm assuming it's a microwave relay, could be wrong) do weird stuff to radio equipment and computers...

The tower is located behind my father's house next to a 50'x75' metal shop building which was a farm shop before he retired.  My repeater equipment was located just inside the wall of the shop and that is where I will put the amateur equipment.  In other words, electricity and housing for the radio and computer equipment are already provided for.  I have an ethernet cable running into the shop from the tower with a static IP address so I won't have to deal with NAT issues for the rig control software.  I also already have a spare desktop computer to dedicate to this project and about 150' of extra 7/8" Heliax (besides the 7/8" Heliax that is now running to the VHF folded dipole arrray that I will reuse for the 2 or 6 meter antenna) to run up the tower to a remote HF antenna switch.

...This sounds like an extremely involved and complicated project from whichever angle you look at it: technically, legally, financially...

Operating full remote control, remote base from my tower excites me enough to get me interested in tackling this project.  Otherwise, I would probably not even go to the trouble to retest.  I have so many of the ingredients already, it is almost a shame for me not to do it (or at least that is what I will tell my wife Wink).

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NZ5E
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2010, 07:29:23 AM »


Is there much local ragchew activity on 2 and 6 meters (SSB) outside of band openings?

Which would you pick, 2 or 6 meters (SSB)?

Has anyone configured a DB-1217 for 10 and 17 instead of 12 and 17?

Any other suggestions?

Also is there much activity on 60 meters (which of course I have never operated)?

Instead of putting up something similiar to a G5RV and working a lot of bands, I had rather try to achieve monoband antenna performance on a few select bands utilizing my tower setup to full advantage.  The 2 or 6 meter antennas would be an obvious candidate at 180'.  The 10 and 17 meter bands were my favorites from before and the 40 or 60 meter bands would give me propagation during periods of low sunspot activity.  Any opinions on my band selections?

Another thing I may do is try to load the tower for 160 meters.  The thing I am going to have to stop and think about is that the tower is already over 1/4 wavelength for shunt feed arrangements.  I already have a rather extensive ground setup.  I followed the Polyphaser recommendations when I installed the tower.  I followed the single-point ground scheme with multiple buried ground rods fanned out in 4 directions, spaced at twice their length, connected with copper straps, and treated with chemicals for dissimilar metals.  The best I remember, I only put 3 ground rods spaced at twice their length at each of the guywire locations.

I would like to get a couple of questions answered here regarding the current activity on the bands and move my questions to the Remote HF Station Control Forum.
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WB0KSL
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2010, 01:52:29 PM »

I knew we should have left the ADF wire on the Cessna, but my brother said it was just drag....  What kind of noise gremlins did you run into with an airplane HF installation?

John
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20547




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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2010, 03:02:49 PM »



Quote
Also is there much activity on 60 meters (which of course I have never operated)?

Instead of putting up something similiar to a G5RV and working a lot of bands, I had rather try to achieve monoband antenna performance on a few select bands utilizing my tower setup to full advantage.  The 2 or 6 meter antennas would be an obvious candidate at 180'.  The 10 and 17 meter bands were my favorites from before and the 40 or 60 meter bands would give me propagation during periods of low sunspot activity.  Any opinions on my band selections?

Another thing I may do is try to load the tower for 160 meters.  The thing I am going to have to stop and think about is that the tower is already over 1/4 wavelength for shunt feed arrangements.  I already have a rather extensive ground setup.  I followed the Polyphaser recommendations when I installed the tower.  I followed the single-point ground scheme with multiple buried ground rods fanned out in 4 directions, spaced at twice their length, connected with copper straps, and treated with chemicals for dissimilar metals.  The best I remember, I only put 3 ground rods spaced at twice their length at each of the guywire locations.

I would like to get a couple of questions answered here regarding the current activity on the bands and move my questions to the Remote HF Station Control Forum.

Are all the guy wires on the tower broken up by insulators?  If not, using it as a shunt-fed vertical might be a real disappointment.

60m has quite a lot of activity that can be heard by anyone who installs a simple dedicated 60m dipole.  Nothing really on during the daytime, but beginning before dusk and going into the late night it often has amazing propagation.
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NZ5E
Member

Posts: 75




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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2010, 07:00:23 PM »

I knew we should have left the ADF wire on the Cessna, but my brother said it was just drag....  What kind of noise gremlins did you run into with an airplane HF installation?

John


Actually the Icom 706 (first generation) was fairly quiet in the Archer and noticeably quieter than in my Toyota Tacoma pickup.

I traded the Archer for a Maule M-7-235 but only ran business 2-way in the Maule.  I now have a Mooney Bravo but don't want to drill holes in it for antennas Shocked.  I did look the other day about running a 2 meter whip out the drain hole in the rotating beacon cover on the belly of the Mooney.  Seems like I read somewhere that belly mounted antennas actually perform better on aircraft but are more prone to damage.  The Mooney would be fun because it has built-in oxygen and I occasionally fly it up around 18,000' which would cover quite a distance on 146.520 FM.

One detail about running aeronautical mobile in the Mooney would be that I normally file IFR even when the weather is "severe clear" for added safety.   Communications with ATC are frequent enough that it would limit how much I could actually operate.  The XM radio service that I have along with the XM weather is constantly interupted by chatter from the aircraft radios.  If I have passengers, I normally isolate myself on the audio panel so the passengers can listen to uninterrupted music.
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NZ5E
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2010, 07:29:19 PM »

Are all the guy wires on the tower broken up by insulators?  If not, using it as a shunt-fed vertical might be a real disappointment...

Another thought I had was to use the tower to hold up a quarter wavelength of wire for 160 meters and utilize the roof of the 50'x75' metal shop building as the primary ground plane.  The wire would probably be at about a 30 degree angle from vertical running from the center of the roof to somewhere near the top of the tower.

60m has quite a lot of activity that can be heard by anyone who installs a simple dedicated 60m dipole.  Nothing really on during the daytime, but beginning before dusk and going into the late night it often has amazing propagation.

I may substitute a 60 meter double bazooka for the 40 meter inverted-v at around 130' just because I have never operated the 60 meter band.  The whole idea here is that there has to be something in it that excites me for me to go to the trouble.  Right now the internet remote base aspect and utilizing my tower excites me.  I could have never justified the trouble and expense of putting up 180' of tower for Ham Radio, but now since I have the tower, free internet, extra desktop computer, several Astron power supplies, extra Heliax, and many other things left over from my active days, might as well...
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AB8CL
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2010, 06:32:38 AM »

My three recomendations are,  Skype, LogMeIn, and Ham Radio Deluxe.  Skype call to the remote gets you audio both ways.  LogMeIn gives you remote Desktop to remote PC.
And finally HRD at the remote site gives you rig control. Simple solution that works.

73
Keith AB8CL
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NZ5E
Member

Posts: 75




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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2010, 07:23:49 AM »

My three recomendations are,  Skype, LogMeIn, and Ham Radio Deluxe.  Skype call to the remote gets you audio both ways.  LogMeIn gives you remote Desktop to remote PC.
And finally HRD at the remote site gives you rig control. Simple solution that works.

73
Keith AB8CL

That's exactly the route I am currently taking.

You always run into several details with a project like this one.  The old desktop computer I planned to use has Windows ME which I found to be very unstable and it did not have an ethernet card and only an 800 MHz processor with 256 MB RAM.  I am going this afternoon to purchase a replacement for a failed internal harddrive for a Dell desktop that I have which had Windows XP Professional and it has 1 GB RAM, a 1.6 GHz processor, USB 2.0 ports, ethernet card, etc.  The Dell should make a good dedicated host computer for this venture.
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