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Reviews Categories | Antenna Switching, Phasing, Controllers | microHAM Station Master Help


Reviews Summary for microHAM Station Master
microHAM Station Master Reviews: 8 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $429.00
Description: Station Master™ is unique controller on the market designed mainly for small or moderate, multiple antenna, single rotator/SteppIR stations. Provides radio control, antenna switch control, band pass filters switching, selective SteppIR tuning, computer controlled rotator interface, interface for automatic power amplifiers, sequencer for receiving antennas and many additional features.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.microham-usa.com/Products/sm.html
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K3PA Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2014 07:17 Send this review to a friend
Amazing  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
An amazing product. I use the Station Master for nearly all station automation, including:

- Antenna selection by band (multiple choices per)
- Remote segment tuning of some antennas by subband (auto switched inductors for 80 & 160M, etc)
- Azimuth control via "virtual rotator" for my 80M four square
- Azimuth control via "virtual rotator" of my four Beverages
- QSY control of my ACOM 2000 amp without having to transmit
- Automatic selection of multiple antenna tuner networks (to use my F12 tribander for WARC bands)

Rotor control is also available if needed, but I prefer my Green Heron for that purpose.

One amazing little box that does everything. It seems expensive, but it is money well spent for all it does. When sleepy during a contest, this level of automation is priceless.


 
OE1EMS Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2013 16:16 Send this review to a friend
Great!  Time owned: more than 12 months
@OE4A we have 4 of those boxes 3 of them are controling 3 operating places and rotor control and one is used for for rotot controll only!
We are very happy with it!
Configuration is easy and allows all most everything!
@E7DX we used this boxes for more as 2 years
since E7DX is more complex as OE4A and we have
more operating postions and needed more flexible system we came to the limits of Station Master!!
We replaced Station Master which is realy good
piece of hardware with Station Master Deluxe!

There was not a single problem with Station Master
during last 2-3 years we using it! Great support
from OM7ZZ and his team!
For small and average big stations SM is right
box sor sure! Even for remote operation is very helpfull!

73s
Braco E77DX/OE1EMS
 
ON4VP Rating: 5/5 Oct 21, 2012 20:52 Send this review to a friend
Very versatile, nice finish  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
A few years ago I got myself the small USBIII device and these was the first time I was introduced to the microHAM devices on the market. The USBIII always performed outstanding so when I started to look for further automation I checked the microHAM website for other products.

I bought the Station Master at the same time I ordered the MKII. The reason: seamless integration between the two devices and fully programmable thanks to the microHAM router software.

The microkeyer II is connected to my Icom IC-7600. I have the iLink between the MKII and the Station Master. My Station Master is controlling the Expert SPE 1K-FA and Acom2000a amplifiers and my G-1000DCX rotator and the Ameritron RCS-10 remote coax switch.

The Microkeyer II serves as CAT for the Icom and is used as DVC (voice keyer) and CW keyer. For those I've connected a ps/2 keyboard and my paddle.

The microHAM devices are fantastic to use but bear in mind that you will need to read the manuals very carefully and read them again, and again to fully understand the potential of all features. Once setup you will be rewarded. It makes working dx or a contest so much more fun and not to forget that while setup correctly you will protect yourself against human made errors while in the heat of the battle.

The microHAM products are a bit expensive but in return they offer you a lot of fantastic features in a quality housing and with good software and support I think you pay a correct price for this fine piece of equipment.
 
KB1NXE Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2012 20:44 Send this review to a friend
Suplemental Info  Time owned: more than 12 months
I recently started using an additional feature of this station assistant. It offers a true RS-232 serial port on the rear panel. I connected it to my TailTwister rotator controller with Idiom Press RotorEZ board installed with the RS-232 option. This allows me to simplify wiring in the shack - which anyone would (should) love. Works like a champ! Set up the Auxiliary Port to a Virtual mapped port in the Windows OS. Point my rotator control application to the new virtual port. Works just like I had it connected to a serial port on the back of the PC.

All this through a single USB connection.

Why ask for more?

 
8P6SH Rating: 5/5 Oct 5, 2012 18:13 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding piece of equipment  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My Station Master replaced existing band-decoders and I honestly wondered if the additional expense would be worth it in functionality and utility. It absolutely is.
In my setup, SM is paired with a uHam MK2R+ along with the usual array of a WX0B 6x2 antenna switch, a four square and a couple 2 vertical arrays. It is currently configured in a basic single antenna switch position per band. (Except that the 160m position is used for my 6m antanna)
I had downloaded the manual before and read it quite intently but when the unit arrived, I was still initially overwhelmed by its complexity.
Installing this unit does require a high level of planning - so for example, my dunestar filters, which for years had been setup for negative keying were converted for positive keying - so that I could maximise my use of the relays for antenna switching. Again documenting what you've done in terms of the configuration is critical.
The switching matrix for the control of the four-square and two-vertical arrays also took some doing but works beautifully.
I have opted so far not to implement rotor control but may upgrade my Yaesu rotors to the DXA's so they are plug and play compatible with the SM.
Installing SM also gave my voltmeter and antenna analyser a full work-out as initially I didn't really trust the unit - but it was always some other problem - a sticky relay on the 6x2 or something like that. After a couple days of getting used to it, I felt more confident and install errors were also minimised.
I did make a rather major error wiring the cable to control the Dunestar filters - where the 160m relay pulled in for 10m, 80m for 15m etc. I was also using existing cables and re-working them which turned out to be more complicated and time-consuming than if I would have done a clean install with fresh hardware and cables etc. Anyway fixing this problem was an easy software fix - as opposed to pulling out the soldering iron.
All in all this is a great piece of equipment. I am confident that as my needs change, this unit has the flexibility to adapt.
Support is outstanding - but i would stress that my queries went out prior to purchasing the equipment. Once it is in hand I think I had far less questions and could play around with the unit.
This unit will be somewhat of a work in progress and I will definitely play around with some of the advanced features like using say a 40m dipole as a RX antenna on the high bands - on paper it certainly provides some options that would seem almost impossible to achieve without this truly smart switching solution.
It also has some specific "gotchas" if being used with one of the uHam keyers so reading this aspect of the manual is crucial.
Looking forward to getting the second unit and many years of solid performance from an amazing piece of gear.
 
NO9E Rating: 5/5 Sep 20, 2012 09:54 Send this review to a friend
Simple setup with right hardware  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The initial hardware setup was quite complicated for me. I cut parallel cables, identified wires, and used Radio Shack bread-boarding for connections. I also had to come with custom cables for switches. Time intensive, fragile, and prone to errors.

I recently visited Microham in Slovakia and Jozef OM7ZZ pointed me to connectors and cables available at:
http://www.winfordeng.com/products/cat_brk.php
http://www.winfordeng.com/products/cat_cables.php

One can purchase small boards with parallel/serial/phone/cat connectors on one side and wire connectors on the other side + cables, all at very reasonable prices. With such boards and cables, the hardware setup becomes trivial compared to what I have done.

SM can lead to false software problems. For instance, logger32 seemed to recognize the rotor sometimes but not always. With leads from Joe and Jozef, it turned out that rotor in logger32 has to be enabled for every band/mode combination, and 20m was enabled by default. Now, pointing rotor to a station with one click is sweet.

 
OH2XX Rating: 5/5 Dec 28, 2008 13:00 Send this review to a friend
Great box  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have just installed my SM and the first impression is very good. It controls now my Steppir+other antennas, amplifier and rotator. My station automation and protection is now on the level I like it to be. SM was a perfect fit for my needs.
 
W8FN Rating: 5/5 Sep 26, 2008 13:09 Send this review to a friend
Complete Station Automation In A Little Black Box!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is one amazing little black box. If you have a complex station with multiple antennas, especially one oriented toward contesting or low band DXing, the Station Master will automate virtually all aspects of your antenna switching and station control. It's essentially a microprocessor-controlled programmable relay bank with many unique features written into the system software. Since the Station Master allows you to define a nearly unlimited set of switching combinations based solely on frequency read from virtually any radio that provides serial port communications, all you need to do is change the radio frequency or mode and the device will automatically switch antennas and control signals for all other station switching hardware as required — no more fooling with complicated arrays of coax switches, or having to remember which antennas can be used on which bands and/or modes. Once you've defined the way you want things to be connected, just QSY and the station will be automatically configured for wherever you go. If you have a SteppIR, the Station Master can even control it as well.

The Station Master connects to a computer for configuration and control via a single USB port and to the radio via a dedicated cable to its serial control port (CAT, Remote, etc.). The device can be configured internally for either RS-232 or TTL interface, depending on the radio it is used with. The Router software that controls the Station Master creates multiple virtual COM ports to control the radio, the rotator and other functions from applications software such as logging programs or rig control programs. Routine operation of the Station Master is provided by a simple front panel interface consisting of a pair of Up / Down selection buttons and a rotary encoder knob with a push switch. An easily-readable two line LCD display shows current status. Even greater convenience is provided when a simple PS2 keypad is connected; all operating functions can be accessed directly from the keypad.

The Station Master's functions can be broken down into five categories: Antenna switching, auxiliary switching functions, PA control, rotator control, and auxiliary serial port control.

The antenna switching and auxilary switching functions are configured as two groups, or "Ports", of ten relays each, which are labeled Port A and Port B. These ports can be set up independently to control different types of hardware requiring different control voltages. If, for example, you have an antenna switch that requires +12V to actuate the appropriate port, this switch can be controlled by the relays in Port A. If you also have receiver bandpass filters that require a current sink (short to ground) to actuate, they can be connected to Port B. All ten relays in Port A are implemented as SPST contacts with closure to a common ground or power source and must therefore be wired alike. In Port B, six of the outputs are wired as SPST contacts to a common bus and the remaining four are implemented as SPST contacts with independent input and outputs. Port A and B control outputs are software defined as members of one of three "classes": Antenna class, Filter class, or Sequencer class.

Antenna class outputs are controlled on the basis of band, mode and transmit/receive status and are used to select among available antennas. For the Station Master, a "band" is an entirely arbitrary user-defined frequency range, not necessarily just one of the allocated ham bands. There is no limit on the number of bands that can be defined, as long as they don't overlap. Multiple antennas can be selected for any band, with the ability to switch among these antennas using the front panel Up / Down buttons or by direct selection by number on an optional PS2 keypad. Antennas can also be defined as receive-only antennas, and the Station Master will not allow transmission when receive-only antennas are selected. A split function using different transmit and receive antennas is also available.

Filter class outputs are controlled on the basis only of operating frequency, and are used primarily to select bandpass filters, switch in stubs, etc..

Sequencer class outputs are controlled on the basis of the selected antenna, operating frequency and transmit/receive status, and are used for timed on/off switching of such things as PA controls and receiver preamps The timing of each sequencer output can be controlled relative to the PTT (transmit/receive) state.

This flexibility allows switching functions of almost unlimited complexity. If, for example, you have an 80 meter antenna that needs an additional loading inductance switched in to cover frequencies below 3600 kHz, just define one of the Antenna lines as control for the loading switch. When you tune the radio below 3600 kHz, the antenna tuning will be automatically switched, with no user action required. If you have a Beverage antenna that needs a preamp, a sequencer output can be defined that turns off the preamp instantly at PTT assertion and delays 50 msec following return to receive mode. If you want to use the Beverage for the receiving antenna on 80 meters, select the Split mode. The possibilities are endless, and the station configuration can be changed with software alone rather than requiring tedious rewiring of dedicated relays or manual switches.

If you have a power amplifier in the station, the Station Master PA control function sequences the PTT control to the amplifier and makes it impossible to hot-switch antennas or transmit into receive-only antennas. Additionally, the Station Master provides Icom format CI-V data and parallel BCD band data to interface with virtually all automatically-controlled amplifiers.

The Station Master provides a rotator control function that is compatible with most popular rotators and allows either control from the Station Master front panel controls (or the optional PS2 keypad) or control from software applications such as logging and rig control programs. Dedicated relay outputs for CW rotation, CCW rotation and AUX (brake or speed control) are brought out to a separate ROTOR jack on the rear panel. CAUTION!: The relays in the Station Master are not rated for sufficient current to allow direct control of most rotators, especially the Hy-Gain / CDE family. If you intend to use the device to control a rotator, it is STRONGLY ADVISED that you provide external relays with a 10-20 Amp contact rating to buffer the internal Station Master relays. The ROTOR port provides a +12V line to power these external relays.

The Station Master provides an Auxiliary serial port that can be configured in three different ways:
1. It can function as a general purpose auxiliary RS-232 port that is available to any application. This mode can be used to provide an additional "real" hardware port for a computer that has only USB ports or simply needs an extra serial port to control some external hardware.
2. The Serial port can function as a dedicated Icom format CI-V control port, providing broadcast of frequency data in Icom format at RS-232 levels even if the attached radio is not an Icom radio.
3. The third mode for the serial port is used for SteppIR control. In this configuration, the Station Master serial port is connected to the SteppIR control box Data Out port via a null modem cable. The Station Master issues commands directly to the SteppIR in native SteppIR format to control frequency and mode (i.e., it can turn on the 180° or Bi-Directional mode for SteppIR Yagis or toggle the 3/4 wave mode for SteppIR verticals). These control functions are also available on the optional PS2 keypad.

This is a staggering amount of functionality in a package that's only 9" X 6.25"X 2.75" (W X D X H). At first look, it may seem pricey at $400, but it you've struggled to keep up with rigging control and switching hardware for even a moderately complex station you'll undoubtedly find that the ability to concentrate all the configuration in one place and change the station setup with a few clicks of a mouse makes it well worth the price. It's difficult to recommend this little box too enthusiastically.
 


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