At the AGM on 3 May 2018, Mike ZL1AXG outlined the work programme ahead for RemoteDX Inc:
Equipment finalisation and testing
Equipment is now complete in the “fridge” (remote enclosure). Finalisation of the software testing for SCADA control will continue over winter for a spring installation of the Remote site.
Remote site antenna installation and siting of remote enclosure
Negotiation of a site agreement and installation of antennas and the enclosure will be a spring activity (dependent on the Mt Climie upgrade).
Broadband network upgrades
Relocation of the Johnsonville Link site to a new location and shift node to Ngaio to being direct point-to-point backbone link
Upgrading of Ngaio to backbone status (addition of direct point to point links to Climie backbone and Johnsonvile link sites)
Changes in software configuration at Colonial Knob to provide for point-to-point communications to Mt Field, Mt Climie and Johnsonville link sites.
Installation at the Mt Climie site of a number of nodes (local access node, and point-to-point backbone links to Wairarapa, Colonial Knob, Mt Field, and Ngaio. This will include installation of a RemoteDX pole, a pole mounted switch, and trenching for POE feed.
Some software upgrades to Mt Field to provided point-to-point backbone link to Colonial Knob and testing site locations for a link to Mt Climie.
Small teams of RemoteDX members will be needed for the Johnsonville and Ngaio upgrades, and a large team (over 3 visits) will be needed for Climie installation. Branch 69 will manage installation at Mt Field. Many upgrades can occur over winter, but the Mt Climie visit will be scheduled on fine warm weekends in Spring.
The RemoteDX Inc inaugural Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 3 May 2018 from 7.30pm at the Tawa Community Hall.
Reports were received and accepted along with the annual accounts. A new committee was appointed comprising:
Mike Woods ZL1AXG (Chairman)
Doug McNeil ZL2AOV (Secretary/Treasurer)
Bernard ZL2BD (Member)
Frank ZL2TTS (Member)
Yan ZL4YY (Member)
Gordon ZL2ARN (Member)
Following the AGM, Mike ZL1AXG and Bernard ZL2BD gave a presentation on progress over the past 16 months and a demonstration of the remote transceiver operation over mesh nodes. Supper was also served.
The agenda, reports, and financial reports can be found here:
The mesh network is in the process of being upgraded in two ways:
All nodes need upgrading to the latest software AREDN v22.214.171.124
A backbone needs to be developed to reduce mesh traffic, by isolating sub-nets.
Mesh users around Wellington have been asked to provide access to nodes to allow the upgrading to take place. Most nodes are now operating on the latest AREDN release.
We have found that over the air upgrades are not always reliable, so it is best to do these in situ. Note that if you wish to purchase a Ubiquiti node, most are no longer compatible with AREDN or BBHN (no longer under development). The AREDN team will release a new version of the software in the new year that should be compatible with the newer Ubiquiti products.
The backbone links between Mt Field and Mt Climie, Mt Climie and Kaiwharawhara Hill (Ngaio), and Kaiwharawhara and Johnsonville (ZL2TBU) will be moved to 5.8GHz off-mesh links over the summer. Colonial Knob backbone connections to Mt Climie, Mt Field and Johnsonville (ZL2TBU) will remain on 2.4Ghz due to restrictions on use of 5.8GHz at Colonial Knob. However, it is planned to move these off mesh to reduce traffic loadings and improve throughput.
The committee had a working bee on Saturday 30 September and can now report that the temperature control system is complete (just the cowlings need to be painted and mounted and the filtration system installed). In addition, the station is running off batteries with the solar charging system under test.
We spent most of the time upgrading Ubiquiti nodes to AREDN v3.16.1. Further work to recover dead mesh nodes and to run out software upgrades on the Wellington mesh network is planned over the next fortnight. There will be a further working bee over Labour Weekend to upgrade the network and begin to install a backbone (non-mesh) between significant nodes, so as to partition the network and reduce unnecessary hops.
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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org):
Remote site development
Broadband network 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.
The 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.