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Author Topic: Power on/off for remote controlled station?  (Read 36965 times)
NZ5N
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« on: December 26, 2011, 08:28:25 AM »

Hi,

I am interested in remote control and have been doing a lot of reading.  It seems easy enough to get r/c going with LogMeIn, Skype, HRD, etc, but these solutions all appear to assume that the remotely controlled equipment is always powered on.  Do most people leave the equipment running all the time, or is there a way to turn the power on and off, not just the transceiver but more importantly the amplifier?  I have seen some USB controlled relay cards, is one of these somehow used to connect and disconnect power to the mains (both 110v and 220v for the amp)?

73, Bill NZ5N   
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KB9BPF
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 12:32:02 PM »

Hi Bill,

I recommend the DLI Web Power Switch.
http://www.digital-loggers.com/lpc.html
Easy to set up, easy to use, built like the proverbial brick outhouse. And the basic model is quite affordable at about $130

73
Brad KB9BPF
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NZ5N
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 12:49:27 PM »

Thanks Brad,

That looks nice, although I suppose it would not work to control the 220v amp?  Maybe it could control a 110v relay that would in turn control the 220v.

73, Bill
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K0IZ
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 05:51:04 PM »

I use N8LP's LP Remote board and software to control my station.  Works super.  Also use X10 telephone responder and control relay to turn on power to LP Remote via telephone.  That way I can do complete shutdown of station if internet should go out.  jOHN, kØIZ
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KB9BPF
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2011, 02:44:26 PM »

I forgot to mention when I recommended the DLI unit that in my setup I use it to control a two-pole 30A contactor with a 120VAC coil for switching 240V power to my SB-1000 amp.

I also have an LP-remote board, but I found the DLI Web Power switch easier all around to deal with for my apllication. (No disrespect to Larry N8LP, for whom I have the highest regard.)

DLI Web Power Switch
Pros:
- very easy to configure and use with web browser
- plugs directly into router, no potentially unreliable computer on remote end of  control loop
- newer models can be set up for scripted control through the serial port, if one is clever enough (I haven't tried yet so I don't know if I am, but there looks to be plenty of info on the web page.)
- rugged enclosure with standard grounded outlets.
- Only $130 for basic model, and probably can be found cheaper on the used market if one keeps an eye on Ebay.
Cons: (compared to LP-100)
- Switches 120VAC circuits only.
- no A-D inputs, so you can't use it to monitor your battery voltage, etc.
- no D-A outputs
- no freq. counter
- none of Larry's wonderful customer support (although I've never had to use DLI's customer support, so I can't compare)

LP-Remote:
Pros:
- A-D inputs so you can monitor battery voltage, etc. If one is clever enough to design and build the interface circuitry, it would even be able to monitor amplifier parameters.
- D-A outputs. Again, if one is clever with interface circuits they could control all sorts of things...
- Direct access to the relays, so you can use the LP-Remote to directly switch 12V levels or anything else within the ratings of the relays.
- Freq counter
- N8LP's great support including specifications for commands, enabling one to write their own control programs in Visual Basic or whatever.
Cons:
- No case, just a bare PCB. Must fabricate own for safely switching line power.
- No web server GUI interface - serial command line input only.
- Relies on either computer or serial device server for interface to Ethernet
- If I recall correctly, the LP-Remote PCB and kit of parts costs about $300.

Eventually I hope to use my LP-Remote as the brains of a homebrewed remotely controlled manual antenna tuner, assuming I am clever enough... That doesn't mean the DLI cannot be used for some basic stuff - my friend KJ9T (who recommended the DLI Web Power Switch to me in the first place) has a low-RPM gearmotor connected to the air variable cap on his big homebrew balanced tuner. A wall-wart power supply from one of the DLI outputs powers the gearmotor. Jim has a webcam aimed at his SWR meter. There's a little delay in response but if he misses the null the first time he just runs it around again until he gets it right. Lots of ways to solve problems depending on resources and requirements.

73
Brad KB9BPF
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NZ5N
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2011, 04:48:35 PM »

Nice explanation, Brad.  Do you transmit only on a single band?  You can't remotely change the band and retune the SB-1000, can you?

73, Bill
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KB9BPF
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2011, 05:53:20 PM »

That's correct, Bill. My current setup using the SB-1000 limits me to one band. However, it's easy enough to add more amps if one has them. Use an automated bandswitch or manually remote-switch the inputs and outputs to select the amp you want. Another good approach is one of the new solid-state amps that can be electronically bandswitched.

All it takes is time, money, and wire!  Smiley

73
Brad KB9BPF

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VE7NAE
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2012, 11:54:59 AM »

Like John K0IZ said, X10 could work, they do offer 220v modules in 15A & 20A versions, and there are third parties that make compatible modules for 30A. They also offer a "universal module" that switches a lower voltage you can use for controlling your own relays, and if you really wanted to go nuts that might be a solution to band switching. I don't care for the company much anymore, but I used their product for a decade to control aquarium lights, heaters, pumps, etc. The communication between the X10 controller and relay modules can be a bit flaky, but it worked most of the time.

A telephone controller, computer interface, and relay modules for the PC, xcvr and amp would probably cost in the same neighbourhood as the DLI switch.
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K9AQ
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 04:47:41 PM »

Many radios, like my TS480 have a setting in Ham Radio Deluxe where the radio can be commanded to turn off when you disconnect HRD.   I also use a DTMF decoder with a Lowell 120 VAC relay to shut down my 120 V power if the Internet connection is dropped.  I run a 600 watt solid state amplifier off of 120 VAC, but this draws too much current to connect through my Lowell. I leave the amplifier turned on but disconnect the bias by programming a button in HRD to turn disconnect the PTT output to the amp.  This lets me quickly turn of the amp when I want to tune my auto tuner at low power.

I have plans to add another relay to control the amplifier AC, but I probably won't bother until I build my next amp, which will be 1KW and running off of 220 VAC.  The power supply for this has a much louder fan that I won't want running all the time when I wasn't at home.

Don
K9AQ
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WV4I
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2012, 07:30:11 AM »

Along the same lines, how are antennas being connected/disconnected remotely to protect against static discharge/lightning/surges, etc..? Referring to when away from physical host station QTH.

Thanks, Link, WV4I (in Florida, the lightning state)
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WA2TTP
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2012, 09:07:13 AM »

"Along the same lines, how are antennas being connected/disconnected remotely to protect against static discharge/lightning/surges, etc..? Referring to when away from physical host station QTH."

I operate a Kenwood TS-480 remote station and to protect it I use a coaxial relay between it and my antenna system. The relay is setup to ground the incoming antenna line when the radio is powered off. The relay is controlled from the 12 dc line on the external antenna tuner plug on the 480. I run it thru a transistor switch to limit the current pulled from the 480 to about 10 ma.
I feel this is enough for static protection but not for lightning. My station is in NY and is used as a remote only in the winter when lightning is very rare but snow static can occure.

I control the station from Ft Myers Fla which I'm told is the lightning capital of the country!
The internet makes for a good insulator!!

Steve,
WA2TTP
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WV4I
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2012, 06:20:59 AM »

The transistor switch is a good idea. I don't even key my amp directly from the radio. I had a suggestion to also drop the relay voltage using a series resistor, as duty cycle/energized time limits seem to be not published? I plan to use a Tohtsu CX-600M relay. The radio is a TS-590S. It apparently has 14vdc avail at the AT-300 antenna port, only when the radio is turned on, so lends itself to controlling the antenna connect/disconnect. The AT-300 supposedly draws 2A, more than enough to activate most relays, and comes from a 5A internal blade type fuse, but still like thru external transistor idea.

Lightning and I'm in Florida. Yep. A means to turn a rotary antenna switch would be better vice opening relay contacts, but have not found a scheme/method to do that remotely.
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KB9BPF
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2012, 02:01:33 PM »

Regarding antenna disconnect when the remote station isn't in use:

I built a relay switchbox that is powered by the Kenwood radio's antenna tuner jack. When the radio is on, the AT jack has 12V applied to it, which I use to switch the antenna to the radio. When the radio is off, the relays switch the radio to a dummy load and the antenna to ground.

Coming out of the radio's antenna jack, it goes first to the afore-mentioned relay antenna switch. Then it goes to a Polyphaser lightning protector which is bolted to the ground buss on the back of my radio desk where where the radio's chassis ground is attached. The next stop would be my SB-1000 amp, but right now I've got it out of line so the next connection is the coupler for my LP-100A wattmeter (which I use to monitor my antenna and transmitter preformance remotely via internet). A very short cable then goes into my homebrew balanced antenna tuner, which in turn has 2.5mH chokes from each balanced output binding post to ground to bleed static off the balanced feedline to the 160M dipole.

When the radio is off any surge would have to get past both the Polyphaser and the two sets of open relay contacts to get INTO the radio. The DLI Web Power Switch and power supply and shack computer are also connected to the ground buss, which in turn is connected to a ground rod just outside the shack. If there is a surge, everything on the desk will rise to about the same voltage level.

Of course the level of protection is not anywhere on the order of disconnecting the antenna feedline and throwing it out the window, and if I had a monster skyhook maybe I would be nervous, but in seven or so years of fiddling with at least remote RX from my relatively modest station, I haven't suffered any damage to my gear. (Knock on wood...) The common grounding also helps reduce RFI in the shack.

73,
Brad
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 02:03:56 PM by KB9BPF » Logged
NA6L
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2012, 08:37:27 PM »

Bill, depending on how may moths you are willing to let fly out of your wallet, here is one option to research.  Although I have not done it,  by reading the manuals it sure looks like the Yaesu Quadra amp will power up remotely when mated with many Yaesu HF rigs.

By looking at the various SW packages it seems like my FT-950 can be remotely switched on and that would also make the Quadra turn on if the amp is set in the remote mode. Another benefit is that the amp automatically follows the  950's band settings and the Quadra will also choose between 4 antenna outputs plus adjust it's power output for each band and antenna to whatever you had pre-programed -- prior to your trip to Fiji (-:

Possibly someone else following this thread could comment about this potential option or you could pose the question on the Yahoo Quadra forum -- I'd also like to know.   

Regards, John NA6L     
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KB2NWQ
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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2013, 07:51:44 PM »

Hi everyone,

I notice that most networked AC switches are rated at 15A.  I've seen some expensive one's with a 30A option.  I'm remotely controlling a Kenwood TS-2000 with a power supply rated at 25 amps continuous to 28 amps surge.   I would like to use a Belkin WEMO, but it's also rated at 15A.  I have to assume that I don't want to use a 15A rating switch.  Is my thinking correct?  If it's correct, what's my safest and cheapest option that would allow safe remote on/off operation with my power supply?

Thanks and 73's,

George
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