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Setting up my Remote station


#21

I must explain that although this was indeed my first SOTA chased with my remote station, it was not with my yagi, because I have just found today that I inadvertedly left the broadband folded dipole connected to the radio instead of the TH5-DX yagi.

From last weekend up to yesterday, I was starting to feel really disappointed with the performance of the remote system and I was fearing that something was wrong, as I wasn’t copying the Northamerican stations the way I used to copy them when I was in my village QTH with the TH5-DX yagi and my Kenwood TS-940S. I didn’t know what was going on and I was at sometimes blaming the IC-706 receptor, at some other times the Remoterig conversion and transmission of the audio signal through the internet and some other times the combination of both…
While discussing all these feels and experiences with my ham radio colleagues through whatsapp and right before going to bed last night, I suddenly had like a light switched on inside my head and I immediately guessed that I might have left the multiband folded dipole connected to the radio instead of the TH5-DX yagi.
As soon as I finished work today at 13h utc, I headed to my QTH in the village and I could confirm that my guessing was right. The RG-213 coax cables for the yagi and the dipole are pretty much the same and there’s only a difference in the length of it inside the shack. When I left everything connected last weekend, I was so much in a rush with so many things I wanted to do in the briefest possible time in order to get back home in time for lunch and not upsetting my wife (again) due to ham radio related activities, that I made the mistake of leaving the wrong antenna connected. Fortunately, the problem has been very easily solved today and I have enjoyed this afternoon-evening chasing my first NorthAmerican SOTA activators from my rental appartment in Pamplona and my remote station in the village.
This is my chaser log of today. The QSOs where my gridsquare ends in ET have been made with my Kenwood TS-940S and the endfed wire in the balcony of the rental appartment in Pamplona. The QSOs where my gridsquare ends in CQ have been made remotely with my IC-706 at 50 watts and the TH5-DX yagi beamming to NorthAmerica.

This is the 1st stage culmination of a long time expected project and all I can say to you is that I feel inmensely happy and rewarded.
Dear NorthAmerican activators, be prepared to hear my callsing often calling you again as in the old good times, despite not having the TL-922 Amp. connected yet.
Perhaps it’s not needed and given that you will get here with 5-10-15 watts or so, I guess my 50 watts should be enough to chase you most of the times.

73,

Guru


#22

Has anyone done this using a 4G modem?

I’m trying to set up a remote station myself and seem to have hit a problem.

The location for the radio is remote and doesn’t have internet, so I’m trying to use 4G.

Unfortunately the carrier that I am trying to use (O2) uses Carrier-grade NAT (or CGN). The manufacturer of the RemoteRig units (which I am using to provide the internet/data connection between the radio head and body) states that CGN will not work and “you must have a public IP address”.

The advise contacting your ISP but a call to several different technical support departments at O2 has left the “expert technical support advisors” baffled. In other words, they don’t even know what CGN is or the difference between a public IP address and a private (shared) IP address!!!

Apparently most mobile broadband suppliers in the UK now issue shared/private IP addresses. This appears to have left me slightly stuffed.

Has anyone else run into this problem?


#23

You need to use some kind of proxy (with a reasonably static and public IP address) to unravel the NATing that happens with this kind of broadband connection.


#24

I tried for a while to have Access to internet for my Remoterig in the village with my mobile phone and It didn’t work because the public IP had changed by the time I got back to the appartment and switched my Control Remoterig ON, so they couldn’t talk to each other.
Regarding internet service at remote locations, I have it with a local company owning a repeater on top of a nearby summit, which is a SOTA. They installed a parabollic antena in my House pointing to their repeater at the mountain top and internet flow goes smooth Up and down since then at a reasonable monthly price of 24€. In case you can’t find a company offering this kind of terrestrial internet service in your area, I would try satellite internet. I contacted one supplier and they offered the money back if not satisfied after one month. They speak about latencies of 700ms Up to 1s but I don’t think this should be a big issue for the average SOTA chasing type of QSO.
Feel free to ask any question you might have about this and I’ll be pleased to help you whenever I can.
73,

Guru


#25

Thanks for that guys, that gives me a couple of ideas to explore.


#26

However, this issue of the public IP change is also happenning to the current router and I guess to all standard routers unless its owner pays for a fixed public IP.
To overcome this issue, Remoterig lets their customers like myself (and you if you own one), use a fixed IP at XXXXXXXX.ddns.remoterig.com
When you get connected for the first time with your remoterigs while using at your remote location your initially known public IP (before it changes, which it will), those 8 X’s will become a series of random letters and numbers you’ll have to copy from a specific location of your Remoterig RADIO called Own host name and then paste the whole address onto the Remoterig CONTROL box called Sip contact (Radio RRC IP/Hostname)
I think this should also work with an internet connection through a mobile phone, but I haven’t tried it.
73,

Guru


#27

I’ve realised that I owe you an update with a final change made in the way I currently have everything connected.

As for the antennas, I currently have the TH5-DX tribander yagi in parallel with an inverted vee broadband folded dipole. This one:
imagen

While I currently can only transmit on 20m due to having the 2 antennas in parallel connected to a MFJ antenna tuner for lowest SWR on that band, I still can use such antenna array to remotely receive on all the other bands.

I thing my next toy for the remote station will be a remote antenna switch. It will allow me to use the remote station for TX on several other bands.

73,

Guru


#28

Thanks Guru,

That guided me through a couple of settings that I didn’t quite have right.

For example, although I had set up the dynamic DNS through RemoteRig, I hadn’t put the information in the right place.

I need a bit more time to look into Andy’s suggestion of using a proxy.

I do have a plan though…I suspect that I will probably eventually lose my temper, have a minor tantrum, then give it to my partner (a computer engineer) to deal with. That’s what normally happens when computers don’t work in this house!!!

The advice from my partner is to set up a VPN (which apparently costs a couple of quid a month, so not really an issue). I’m not sure how that varies from Andy’s suggestion of using a proxy?

As you’ve probably guessed by now, computers are really not my strong point!

Unfortunately I have to go away with work for a few days now and my partner is flat out with paid work (which obviously takes priority), so we won’t get a chance to fiddle with it until early next week.

Progress towards getting this project up and running does seem to be extremely slow & frustrating (and also quite a big learning curve for me), but I do seem to be taking small steps in the right direction. I’ll get there eventually.

Thanks for all of your help so far guys, I’ll let you know how we get on.


#29

Hi Guru,

Glad you got the system going well. I was going to suggest CAT6 cable would be better. I ran a remote test with CAT5 and CAT6 cable with 30 m of cable. CAT5 was marginal on the rig and did not work with the computer. CAT6 was fine for both.

I recently replaced my TFD which was a larger version of your B&W.
No ATU required on 1.8 to 50 MHz but I lost at least 10 dB of signal above 3 MHz and more below.

I replaced it with a 5 MHz half wave which I feed with 300 ohm ribbon at 30% rather than 50%. I use a 4:1 balun and a remote auto tuner. This performs well from 3.5 MHz to 10 MHz. It is quite usable on 14 MHz and 18 MHz but has some notches in the pattern as well as gain lobes on these bands. I started using this design on activations and found it so useful that it is now the home antenna. I have also trialed a half size (10 MHz half wave) version and had good contacts on 40, 30, 20, and 50 MHz. Didn’t have propagation on other bands to test it.

If you are looking for an efficient multiband simple wire antenna I recommend it. You lose 5 seconds retuning when you change bands but that’s a small inconvenience for 10 dB gain over the no-tune antenna.

One day I will change the 300 ohm TV feeder for open wire line for the home station.

Good luck.

73
Ron
VK3AFW


#30

Nobody has yet mentioned the 20 year old technology that actually solves this problem once and for all, namely IPv6. No need for NAT, VPNs or any such crocks: everything can have a global address and it all just works.

Unfortunately ISPs have been slow to adopt it and deliver it to their customers, citing amongst other things lack of demand. In the last few years IPv6 deployment has started taking off a bit more seriously, and it is no longer just a niche. Several ISPs do now deliver it and customers may well be using it without even knowing it.

All of the major operating systems have supported IPv6 for years, and will usually prefer it over legacy IPv4 by default.

The applications need to be aware of it too, but it’s not difficult. Anything new that does not support IPv6 ought to be regarded as unfit for purpose.

it’s possible (though perhaps unlikely) that your ISP connections are giving you IPv6 connectivity already. Does RemoteRig support it?

If you don’t have native IPv6 connectivity you can get it through a tunnel (e.g. Hurricane Electric). Yes this is a crock like VPN, but at least it is genuinely a temporary one which can go away when the ISPs get their act together.

Martyn M1MAJ


#31

But back to the real world Martyn, are any UK networks currently offering IPv6? I’m not sure there are but my experience is limited in recent times to just using Three who are well entrenched in the swamp that is IPv4+NAT.


#32

Yes, but of course it all depends what you measure. If you look at network prefixes advertised to the global internet routing world, the UK scores very high indeed. If you look at what is being delivered to end users it’s not as good, but getting better.

I think several landline providers now deliver it by default. Unfortunately my own ISP (Virgin Media) is really dragging its feet, and I can’t easily change provider because it is cable and fast.

I’m not sure about mobile broadband providers. That ought to be one of the easiest arenas in which to roll it out.

Adoption has been pitifully slow because by and large the NAT hacks do a decent enough job for most people, even though they transform the Internet into a client-server network when it was always intended to be peer-to-peer. But we need to stop adding more and more workarounds and put pressure on network operators to provide the technology that works.

Martyn


#33

I was thinking of mobile providers specifically. I’m not aware of any UK mobile provider offering IPv6 support.

Like you, my ISP is stuck at IPv4. The adoption of IPv6 makes me smile because I spent 3 months or so this year extending the networking code in our semiconductor models to support IPv6 and IPv4, management insisted this was essential but then were surprised when I asked for internal networking infrastructure that supported IPv6 so I could test things and use IPv6 as it was “essential” :slight_smile:

I’m sure there will be ways of setting up these remote rig boxes but in my simple world I’d use a RPi and some scripting / port forwarding to bring the remote equipment into my own home network. Then I’d be much less reliant on services provided by 3rd parties which may suddenly stop. One of the best things I bought was a simple VPS in a data centre. For a few Euros/month I get a full root, static IPs (4 and 6), data centre reliability and bandwidth and best of all I can use it for plumbing together stuff between wherever I am and my home PCs.


#34

Hi Ron,

I’m not really having any issues with my current set up, so I’m not worried about the Ethernet cable. In the remote location, where I have the radio and antennas, is where I have the longest CAT5 cable from the router to the remoterig and it’s just 8m long.
In the rental appartment where I have the control, I pick up the wifi from the router at the appartment hall with the Netway repeater I have with me in the shack (which indeed is a desk in a corner of our nicely sized bedroom) and from the repeater a CAT5 cable of about 0.5m goes straight to the remoterig. For a total of 8.5m of CAT5 cable and not having any issues so far, I won’t give much thought to the CAT5 vs CAT6 matter.

The broadband folded dipole is a compromise antenna and works on several bands with low SWR not too much worse than a half wave dipole up to 40m, but definitely worse.
For lower bands (80 and 160m) its performance decreases hugely.
See this chart taken from
Notes on the Terminated Wide-Band “Folded Dipole” by L. B. Cebik, W4RNL:


The seller, didn’t say any of this, of course and I only found out after having purchased it and used it on 80m.
That’s why I home made a couple of monoband bazooka dipoles, which I currently have also hung from the same tower together with the rest of antennas in my village QTH and that’s why I’m planning to get a remote antenna switch to be able to select between:
1- TH5-DX yagi for 10, 15 and 20m (4 active elements on 10m and 3 el. on 15 and 20m)
2- The broadband folded dipole to be used on 6m, the WARC bands, on 40m when it hears better than the bazooka dipole (sometimes it happens depending on the local QRM and the orientation of the transmitting station) and I could also use it on 60m, but my IC-706 doesn’t have that band :frowning:
3- Bazooka dipole for 40m band.
4- Bazooka dipole for 80m band, which I can also use on 30m. I could even use it on 160m (I’ve done it before with pretty good results) but I would need a remote antenna tuner for that and we are not there yet…
Thanks to the two SO-239 antenna connectors in my IC-706, one for HF and 6m, the other one for VHF, I can get the remote antenna switch hooked to the HF+6m antenna connector and my 2m vertical on top of the tower to the VHF antenna connector and thus I’ll be able to remotely chase SOTA on nearly all bands.
Later I’ll have to tackle the remotely controlable rotator question. I’d like it to be through Remoterig interface and I believe it’s possible.
Given that it looks like you’ve already been there done that of setting up a remote station, if you have some experience about remotely controlled rotators to share with us, I’ll be very pleased to read them.
Thanks in advance and 73,

Guru


#35

Hi Guru,

Well it seems that you have it all working well. Great job!

Interesting graph for the FTD antenna. I wonder where you found that? It actually looks a little better than I experienced with mine. Mine uses stainless steel wire which is noticeably more lossy than copper. These traveling wave terminated antennas must always be 3 dB down compared to a doublet of the same size and this increases below the “cutoff” frequency. With mine the stainless steel must add a fair bit as the resistivity of typical stainless steel is 43 times that of copper. If the copper loss were 1.2% then replacing it with stainless steel would give 3 dB loss, according to my back of the envelope calcs.

Of course having an antenna that is 6 dB down may not matter if you are a chaser in a quiet place. And the lack of a tuner is a bonus for a remote station.

I did not get beyond a long cable for “remote” operation. The site I could use has no buildings or power so until (if) I get those it remains an experiment.

My rotator is old. Remote operation would require a special interface which I’m not considering. Sorry, I can’t help there.

I think I would rather go for a horizontal dipole, maybe broad band or trapped to cover 80/40/30 and a vertical for the rest. Indeed if NVI were not a consideration I would go for a commercial all band HF vertical.

You have a fine array of antennas available so it should be a very effective chaser station.

Thanks for sharing.

Good luck.

73
Ron
VK3AFW


#36

Nowadays, almost everything is on the web.
You’ll find it here:

When I bought my Broadband folded dipole and found it wasn’t performing as good as I wanted/needed at that time, it was 2007 or so and I was mainly involved in CW contesting at that time from a new QTH we had just bought in Aranjuez-Madrid, being my goal at that time the setting up of a competitive contesting station. The broadband folded dipole was not usable at all for contesting on 160 and 80m. I could use it on 40m and higher frequencies.

That’s why I decided to make the monoband bazooka dipoles for 40 and 80m. They performed great for that contest activity. As for receiving DX and for transmitting, they are far superior and they gave me big satisfaction at that time.

Now that I’m not contesting anymore and I’m involved in SOTA, I find that, sometimes, the Broadband folded dipole hears better than the bazooka dipole on 40m because it seems to receive quieter, picking up less noise than the bazzoka dipole.

However, this is a difficult, not always fair comparison because the orientation of the one antenna is the opposite of the other one. While the broadband folded dipole is NorthEast-SouthWest favourable for EU, the bazooka dipole is SouthEast-NorthWest favourable for NorthAmerica. That’s why I often hear the weak signals from EU SOTA activators on 40m with my broadband folded dipole better than with my bazzoka dipole, but when I want to be putting a stronger signal to break the pile-up and chase the activator, I better transmit with the bazooka dipole because it performs better on TX, while I keep the broadband folded dipole for RX. On the other hand, I have sometimes managed to copy and chase Northamerican activators on 40m with my bazzoka dipole, while they were not copied at all with my broadband folded dipole.

The best is having choices, the more the better and it’s a lot of fun playing games with switching different antennas for TX and RX to finally hit the target.

Don’t forget that a vertical will always pick up much more QRM/QRN than a horizontal yagi or simple dipole and that makes the difference between copying a weak signal from a SOTA activator and not.

Best 73,

Guru


#37

h
Hi Guru,
Having two aerials with different orientation is excellent. I agree an HF vertical will be noisy. I don’t think one would be viable here but in a rural area with distant neighbours and no industry and maybe off-grid power then I think it could be good.

Keep up the good work.

73
Ron
VK3AFW


#38

Yes it’s true. For any question you care to ask, on the web there will be answers. Most will be wrong or, at best, misleading.


#39

If you are able to have a laptop or other computer at the remote station, then you may have success with setting up an OpenVPN server at home, and a client at the remote end, configured to maintain a permanent connection to the home server. As the traffic to build the VPN is Outbound from the mobile network, it’ll avoid the carrier natting issues.

This would give you a VPN tunnel you could route the Remote Rig traffic through. A bonus is that if the Internet ISPs block any of the ports Remote Rig uses, it won’t matter as the ISP will only see the Port used by the VPN and you can set that to anything which works, I often use 443.

If you used the PC for Digital Modes you could also use Remote Desktop to connect to the PC for digital operations.

Martin


#40

I presume this is essentially what Andy was trying to tell me with his earlier post?

You need to use some kind of proxy (with a reasonably static and public IP address) to unravel the NATing that happens with this kind of broadband connection.

This is basically the solution that I am currently looking into.

This is a bit of a steep learning curve for me and most of this networking stuff goes straight over my head, so I’ve dragged in my partner (a computer engineer) to help me get this working.

Apparently many routers have the capability to setup an OpenVPN network built into them, negating the need for a separate computer, which is what my partner has suggested that we do.

I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I’ll post back here and let you know how we get on as & when we have any developments.