Beautiful Portland, OR on a great day
First take: lots of manuals and not a lot of configuration information. As many may know - and I found out later than sooner - the ICOM CV-1 is the firmware in their Transceivers. The C-17 marries the radio to RS232. In some of ICOM's radios, this output is direct and there is no need for the C-17. The Remoterig appliance has turned out to be very robust, however, the configuration experience is not for the faint of heart. I have somewhat of a IT background and found myself going back to the basics. There are pages and pages and pages ... and pages of configuration choices and very little practical guidance. Now to be fair, it appears that the RRC-1258 has been evolving, covering many radios with all manner of options and configurations. “So many choices and so little time”. After wading through all the options, manuals and a few hit and miss choices I finally hit upon the, (or at least "a") correct set of options.
The internet router port control is key to this operation, as there are no less than 6 ports that need to be opened and forwarded through the routers. Success: the link light comes on with and very loud tone that I’m (almost) sure means we are almost connected. Once I arrived at the correct baud rate (19200) we have communications. We are now on our way to “remote city”. The installation of a web cam is a good idea to confirm the status of the Transceiver and the RRC.
Now for the fun part, we had the following parts and pieces to work with:
LDG Auto Tuner
Remoterig RRC-1258 MkII
Internet Addressable Power Switch
Comcast ISP radio side
AT&T U-verse ISP controller side
Mike Magaldi - K6YNP has been a licensed Amateur Radio operator for the past 15 years. Mike recently upgraded to Extra Class and is looking forward to the extended privileges afforded this license class. Mike holds a BA degree in Business Administration from Humboldt State University and has worked in Industrial Sales Management, Project Management, System Engineering Consultant and as a Business Operations Consultant. Mike holds a California Real Estate Brokers license. Currently working in the distressed housing market in Southern California. Mike is a US Army Veteran of the Viet Nam Conflict severed with the 4th Infantry Division 125th Signal Battalion.
I was able to pick up a microphone cable with the required 8-pin round connector and I was on my way. I also needed a couple of computer connector which I found at FRY’s in Wilsonville, OR a few miles south. Back on the road and 2 hrs. 30 minutes later and we’re back at the remote’s QTH.Type your paragraph here.
Compound Bow with Fishing Reel and Golf Ball Weighted Arrow
Next: connect the audio and the microphone and we do not have the correct cable to make the mic connect. We are 2 hours 15 minutes away from the nearest candy store, HRO Radio in Portland. At 07:30 the next morning, heading for Portland, thankful for GPS and the Waze app, travel mug with coffee, we say hello to the HRO crew. HRO in Portland is now housed in a brand new store with lots of friendly help.
Next challenge, getting the antenna 50 feet in the air in a dense forest of beautiful large trees. Somewhere along the line I became the owner of a left-handed Compound Bow, being right-handed, I never use it and kept it as a garage decoration. Since I had never shot a compound bow, I had no bad habits to break so I decided to use it, anyway.
I had heard of Bow Fishing and after a trip to The Bass Pro Shop, I constructed a line feed system with a golf ball attached to the arrow and 60#. fishing line. A couple of test runs and we were in business.
Postscript: For those of you who may want to/have to/need to tackle a project similar to this, here is some additional information which might help, but remember that these setups are specific to the Icom IC-7200 and the system options that I chose in purchase. Budget is always a big consideration in a major project like this, and our situation was no less demanding.
Quote, “just shoot that arrow in between that limb there and the one above it” which turns out to be a target box of about 2 feet square approximately 45 feet up a tree. Couple of tries and we have established the line. Then we fed it down the tree and tie on the nylon line. A pulley was set in place and we were halfway there. Next came the hard tie point on the other end, after beating back the tree limbs and 12 to 20-foot-high brush we were there. We had our antenna up about 45 feet AGL. After feeding the RG-213 into the shop making the correct and weather proof insertion through the wall the IC-7200 was connected.
Project Remote Base Aberdeen
Mike Magaldi K6YNP
There is one issue that remains: I keep reminding myself that I’m operating out of Aberdeen Washington some 1,000 miles away, not Orange County California. All in all, this has been a good experience. Granted, going in I was not expecting the complications of integration that presented themselves. However, it has allowed me to get back into operation after being off the air for 9 months. Thanks to WA6PUG, N7TLL, W0PE and the folks at HRO Anaheim and Portland for their assistance in this endeavor. Like they say “it’s a process”. With a team effort, we rose to the challenge.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions regarding the system (my information is on QRZ.com).
Mike Magaldi K6YNP
Microbit has provided no more than 7 sub sets of configuration parameters for both the radio and control units. There are areas in these configuration table where the choices are not obvious to the novice user. While the manual contains tables detailing these choices some users may wish they had an engineering degree in Information Technology and Transceiver design to fully understand. (but I am not sure that would really help ... but it makes me feel better).
The Microbit configuration has the follow components:
Dynamic DNS Settings
Once the configuration choices are made, you my run into a couple of issues. What is the Communication Baud Rate for your particular radio, for example the ICOM manual states one rate for ICOM's CV-1 and the C-17, Remoterig states another? A little trial and error sometimes works better, however remember you have to make these corrections on both the radio and control devised. Once you have made a change you must “submit and save” the changes this will then reboot the device and you can move on to the next set.
Once you have established both audio and microphone connection, it would be best to operate the system from the control device as a way to check out compatibility while the two devices are directly connected via the CAT 5 cable. As the Microbit manual states under step 15 “it’s time to move the RRC: s apart” at this point you should document all your setting and choices that were made for both the Radio and Control devices.
At the control QTH you must establish the IP setting for the network you are working in, also you need to pay attention to the “Dynamic DNS” settings. This should have been established during your captive secession back at the radio’s QTH. The system on the control side needs to find Remoterig's DNS server (provided by Microbit) in order to communicate with the radio side.
Next, checking out the IC-7200, the numbers on the antenna, all looks good. Then came the first contact, tuning around on 40 meters, I came across N2B running an event station for the “100-year anniversary of Hell Gate Bridge in NYC”. Running barefoot, one call through the small pile up and back came “K6YNP your 5-9 New York”. Impressive!
K6YNP Aberdeen, WA Remote Base
In the near future, we will be installing Remoterig’s web based power switch and high power relay box at the radio side of the system. This will allow for On / Off control of the IC-7200, Remoterig RRC and the later anticipated addition of a linear amplifier with an auto tuner. Also, I plan to interface a SingaLink USB Sound Card via my sound mixer for digital operation here at the control QTH.
N2B Hell Gate Bridge in NYC
WA7PUG and Tractor
After years of dealing with Home Owners Restrictions (HOAs) and CC&R's here in South Orange County, California and being creative with hidden HF antennas like (my best effort a 40m to 10m ZeroFive hidden in a FAKE fiberglass flagpole), I decided to find a new path to quality ham radio operation. This year I upgraded to Extra Class and it was time to get back on the air. It became obvious that it was time for a change in thinking. What is needed to create a quality HF Amateur Station experience?
Good solid equipment
Enough real estate for antennas, such as mono band dipoles.
Antenna height, above 33 feet
Good ground plane (SoCal water restriction do not help)
Solid internet connection
Friends with trees
WA7PUG Doug’s Shop and Antenna Farm in Aberdeen WA.
Web Cam Shot
K6YNP trying to hit that 2-foot square box in the trees
WA7PUG, had just escaped California and moved to Washington State nearly a year ago, and suggested building a remote base at his place in Aberdeen, Washington. After considerable discussion, “Project Remote Base Aberdeen” was born. Doug was having great success with his station there, he and Mike Sear, N7TLL (the dipole whisperer) had constructed a couple of dipoles first an 80 meter at 65 feet and then 20 meter at 50 feet AGL. These dipoles are preforming at a very high level.
After much research, I decided to purchase a Carolina Windom 40 plus from Radio Works out of Portsmouth, VA, which covers 40 through 10 meters. Much of the Carolina Windom’s claim to fame is their vertical radiator which extends down 18 feet from the off-center feed. The Google Earth picture here shows the current layout of an antenna farm in the making.
Installing the Windom was a bit of a challenge, if you have ever been in the Pacific Northwest rainforest, west of the Cascades Range, it becomes apparent that once you get off the trail you are met with dense undergrowth. First thing first, blaze a trail and clear an area to work in. Call in the tractor, machetes and change saw. By noon we had cleared approximately 70’ by 50’ to work in. I was having flashbacks from a jungle gone by.
Remote Base Located Approximately
1,000 Air-Line Miles from QTH
Couple days later I headed home to The OC (Orange County, CA) back with the mass population and what seems like the future. The contrast between Aberdeen and The OC is beyond description. I truly enjoyed the calm, small town, the trees, the space and of course the company of friends. Someday in the near future I’m planning on becoming another California refugee and escape the future here in The OC for life in a small town with lots of water, good roads, substantially less traffic, and lower taxes. Did I mention the part about lower taxes?
Anyway, back to the present. I installed the Remoterig device, along with GoToMyPC.com to communicate with the remote PC and Ham Radio Deluxe installed on the Remote PC. This works well. The system linked up and I can operate the IC-7200 with zero problem. The audio is impressive, however, the microphone will not connect, I have PTT but no mic audio at the remote. Hmmmmmmm.... After installing the Remoterig factory cables, we determined that the wiring instructions were incorrect, and now we are directly connected. The IC-7200 now has two-way communication including the remote antenna auto tuner.
Currently I’m running the control unit here at my home QTH via a Wi-Fi connection, which may be ill advised, as it is adds an additional layer of complication.
40m to 10m ZeroFive Hidden in a Fiberglass Flagpole
Additional Configuration Details
Something that should be known before you star,t systems like Remoterig only communicate the following:
Optional Rotor Control
Optional Remote Power Switching
You will need a program like Ham Radio Deluxe, to operate the transceiver. Also, an application like GoToMyPC.Com is very helpful to manage the PC on the radio end. A nice addition to employ is a webcam to see how the transceiver, tuner and SWR meter are responding.
General speaking, it is advisable to start you quest to build a Remote Base at the communication and computer side of the equation. Antennas, transceiver, auto tuners and other hardware seem to be second nature to the Ham Radio community. Configuration and integration of various manufacture’s components at the IT lever may take more time than expected (took us 4x longer to build the IT side than it did to set up the radios and hang the antenna). Building a solid foundation for the components to communicate is the key to this and many telecommunication systems. In this case, access to computer ports the ISP at the remote base location was relatively easy to deal with as it had a very comprehensive GUI interface for establishing port forwarding. However, the ISP on the control (California) side failed that test. After an hour and 30-minute phone call to the ISP’s technical support (in the Philippines) and several explanations later as to why I needed these ports open, I was finally able to get the job done. Remember, most of the ISP support people you will have to interface with have absolutely no idea what your endgame is or what you are trying to accomplish. Patience is king in these situations. Please see the list of ports that need to be open below.
Before you get started on the configuration, Remoterig requires you to set straps and jumpers. Refer to Microbit manual depending on your transceiver, and even then, it took a couple of tries to make it robust. Next comes the establishment of an IP address via the attached USB cable. Remoterig’s factory set IP is 192.168.1.227 for the control and 192.168.1.228 for the radio side. It is important to usea static IP address for both unitsif possible as the DHCP feature in the router will dynamically change the leases on the IP addressing from time to time. The IP range for the RRC is between 2 and 254.
Next: the marriage of the systems. Remoterig’s manual details a step by step process for setting up and connecting the radio device and control devices. There are 20 ("relatively easy") steps to establish the communication between the 2 units. Initial configuration is done via a Cat 5 cable and a peer to peer connection between the radio device and control device. The radio device is then connected to the PC via USB for configuration of all the parameters need to establish communication.