Testing of RemoteRig over wireless broadband mesh

Mike Zl1AXG and Bernard ZL2BD getting setup for the RemoteRig test

On Queen’s Birthday Monday, a bleak and dreary day in winter, Bernard ZL2BD, Doug ZL2AOV and Mike ZL1AXG met at Bernard’s QTH to test the use of our RemoteRig units over the mesh network.

Bernard ZL2BD is seated at the Control Station end with the IC7100 control head. Mike ZL1AXG has thumbs up, because the control head is controlling the radio end via the mesh nodes. The mesh units are located on the elevated white boxes.

The Remote Rig devices (Radio and Control units) were configured with the radio end with a fixed IP in the address range of the mesh node.   The control device was configured to acquire an IP address using DHCP and connect to the fixed IP address.

The two mesh nodes can be seen on top of the white boxes with an air gap in between in the photo to the left. The RemoteDX Inc transceiver, an ICOM IC7100,  can be seen on the left hand side of the work bench.

No problems were encountered.  The test was concluded successfully as indicated by the power meter showing power out on TX (see photo). The IC7100 control head controlled the remote txcvr over the mesh in both TX and RX modes and there appeared to be no glitches with the audio feed.

The test was extended to see if the control head and RemoteRig control unit would work through Bernard’s own mesh nodes.  This further test was also successful. Further mesh tests will be conducted over the next week or so.

More work to be done!

Remaining tasks to be completed before the remote station build is complete and field deployment is possible include:

  • finalising construction of the environment control system (Doug ZL2AOV & Bernard ZL2BD)
  • finalising SCADA control software and testing (Frank ZL2TTS)
  • upgrading of the amateur broadband network to cope with bandwidth and security requirements i.e. backbone formation and upgrading of mesh node software on all nodes (Mike ZL1AXG to lead upgrade with a series of working bees)

Progress on the environment control system

Environment control metalwork

Doug ZL2AOV and Bernard ZL2BD posing in front of the Remote Station enclosure with the metalwork for the environment control mounts in hand.

These will be mounted on the door.  Flaps will open using servo motors for the air intake filter and outlet fans.

It was a couple of days work to make these!   Further work is proceeding on the thermostat control and servo system.

QHUG HF Remote Station Design Report

Check out the Documents page from time to time for the latest Remote DX design documentation.  This includes all current documents from the full design report to “as built” reports.  The currently available documents are listed below:

Documentation

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As Built Note 8 _ RF Configuration 190.86 KB 1 downloads

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    Committee update

    Your committee has met early in the New Year (committee meeting minutes are located elsewhere on this website).    It resolved to form three working groups to progress development.  Each working group has representatives from the committee, but we will adding other regular members to working groups as well.

    If you have an interest in the following working groups, please let your committee know  (by emailing info@remotedx.nz):

    • Remote site development
    • Broadband network development
    • Software development

    We recently held a working bee to test out the remote facilities under development.   A report on this will be available shortly.

    The website is undergoing development and will provide access to a greater range of information on what’s going on.

    Welcome to RemoteDX

    remoterigThe Quartz Hill User Group (a committee of the Wellington Amateur Radio Club Inc) operated ZL6QH from Makara from 1997 – 2007.  The arrival of a collection of wind generators on the site saw us departing as a result of the S9+40 interference!

    For several years we searched for a replacement site. Eventually we came to the realisation that we weren’t going to find a site that would host a collection of long wire antennas (with 300m legs).  We have rescaled the vision! We envisage remote sites with a smaller footprint using antennas such as fixed beam antennas on the higher HF bands and four square arrays on the lower bands.

    With the support of our host branch (Wellington Amateur Radio Club Inc – Branch 50 NZART) the Chair and Secretary/Treasurer of the Quartz Hill User Group (Mike ZL1AXG and Doug ZL2AOV) have been visiting branches in the area to gauge interest in the creation of a new special interest group.  There seems to be quite a bit of interest with around 50 people having already signed up to receive email updates.

    The plan is to launch a new incorporated society in November that would take over the role of administering a remote site and support technologies such as the high speed broadband network to transport signals back to town.  This is not about creating a new NZART branch (but we will affiliate with NZART), but rather to create a regional support structure to support remote HF sites.

    This site will give you an introduction to the proposed RemoteDX Inc constitution and update you on preparations for installing equipment remotely with control out of Wellington.

     

    Mike ZL1AXG

    QHUG committee to negotiate access to a site

    The QHUG Committee is making good progress on the remote site equipment.  Recent activity has included:

    • Nearly complete fit out of the enclosure
    • Purchase of a transceiver (IC7100) specifically for the site
    • Approval to negotiate with a potential site owner
    • Testing of software for remote control equipment
    • Completion of base and remote control units
    • Planning for solar panel installation

    Fitting out of the Enclosure

    Inside the Remote Site enclosure
    Inside the Remote Site enclosure

    Bernard ZL2BD has been busy over the summer installing the equipment for th Remote Site in the enclosure.

    The enclosure (a ply box with inside and outside layers of fibreglass) is shown fitted out with:

    • Wellington Amateur Radio Club (www.zl2wb.com) transceiver (Icom IC7410)
    • Solid-state linears and power supplies (donated by Kordia Ltd)
    • Switching regulators to provide 230v DC, 24v and 12v DC for the various items
    • Two solar panel regulators
    • Wiring harnesses to connect to the huge battery bank.

    Progressive testing is imminent – any noise problems will be dealt with as they arise.  A range of jobs remain including:

    • Completing the antenna switching equipment
    • Completing and testing the SCADA software to operate remotely (SCADA = Supervisory Controller & Data Acquisition). Frank ZL2TTS has been working on this.
    • Cooling circuitry – both assembly and installation.  The cooling equipment will be mounted on the enclosure’s front panel.

    This work is not too far off being completed and the QHUG team will then move to a test period to ensure everthing works correctly, before antennas are constructed and the equipment is installed in the remote site.

    Antenna systems overview

    The QHUG remote HF station site has yet to be finalised.  However, a couple of sites are being actively investigated.

    The plan is to install four square antennas on the lower bands (80m, 40m and probably 20m) and to use fixed yagi antennas for higher bands.

    Much of the cost of low band antennas is in buried radial systems.

    Two QHUG committee members have been experimenting with construction of four square controllers (as indicated below)

    An early prototype from ZL1AXG

    Remote switching equipment is also being built.  This includes four square switches and antenna switchs.  Arduinos are being used at remote and base station to provide a physical controller at both ends.  Bernard ZL2BD has designed the hardware and Frank ZL2TTS has been designing software.