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Poor CW when Chasing via Remote

I’m sure some activators have noticed that at times my code is very hard to copy. I apologize and I appreciate the patience that’s been granted me when it’s not coming through quite right.

The reason is that I occasionally chase activators using a remote setup from my office to my home, which is about 10 miles away. But of course who knows where the signals are traveling as they go from my office router to the home router, from Cox Communications to Comcast…clearly sometimes the spacing isn’t translating properly. Some activators have described it as “choppy”.

Anyway I’m sorry, I know very well that when you are activating it can be frustrating to try to decipher messy code. Most of the time, I run out to my car and make the chase from my mobile rig, but sometimes it’s nice to avoid the sweltering heat in the parking lot and make the QSO in my nicely cooled office.

My home setup uses a wire in the attic and isn’t very good. Most of my chases using it are on 60, 40, or 30m with stations fairly close to Arizona. For the remote I’m using a Flex Maestro, which allows me to use an actual paddle to send, and on my end of course it sounds perfectly fine. On the few times I’ve used a microphone, it seemed to work fine, but the cw often doesn’t. Reception is very smooth and the waterfall works quite nicely. I think the packets used to send cw are arranged with different spacing and there are several points along the way where various equipment might add delays or buffering or other weird internet stuff (obviously I’m not an IT guy!) One fix is to use software to send the code instead, but I prefer using a key over typing function keys.

I’m curious whether anyone else uses a remote setup to chase? I know of at least one other who does. Has anyone else experienced issues with remote cw? By the way both internet service connections are high-speed cable.

73,Keith KR7RK

3 Likes

hi Keith,
I have no experience with remote setups but want to use one for my situation, where my home station is often 60km away and I’m getting spots etc about activators out there who need me to call them!
One thing I would try is using SSB mode but sending audio tones. If they (or just voice on SSB) get through the network without appreciable problems, that tends to mean the network is doing well. however the remote operation experts will no doubt have suggestions based on experience! Far preferable!
Hope you sort it out before long.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

1 Like

Hi Keith,

I have and I still do from time to time. I wrote this thread about it:

73,

Guru

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I used to do exactly the same thing back when “going to the office” was a thing. My office is also about 10 miles from home.

To deal with the latency issues I use macros to do the sending. Works for me and keeps the code clean.

I finally landed on using Mumble and Murmur for my remote audio. Works good and fairly low latency!

73,

Josh WU7H

Some two years ago I saw a short presentation on remote operating. I’ve never done it but CW requires very low latency, obviously. I wonder if you could talk to the techies at your ISP and explain your problems. They might be able to help - probably someone other than their help desk ;-). Maybe also keep a log of the latency “ping” levels necessary to produce good code and don’t bother if that day you see high latency? I wonder if it changes depending on usage levels at your ISP?

Hi Keith without a lot more information of how the networks are working (which Comcast and Cox wont tell you), we can only guess where the problem is.

As you are using Flex equipment, you should call or email the guys there - they are network gurus as well as radio nerds! They will almost certainly know what to do to fix the problem.

If they cant help (which would surprise me) - my “guess” would be that the data is not being prioritised well in the Comcast and Cox networks and that may be part of the problem.

You say you have limited IT expereience (i.e. you are not an IT “guy”), so what I am about to suggest might be gobble-de-gook to you, but if you are not already doing it, I would suggest you set-up a VPN from your office to your home. You can think of this as a gaurded IT network running within the other networks and as such, it “might” be protected more from other traffic slowing down the CW keystrokes or changing their spacing. You’d need to ask Flex what VPN they support from the Maestro. Alternatively you might be able to set up a VPN in your office router - but if you are an employee at the office, not the owner, your IT support guy would need to be consulted about changing anything in the office router - hence it’s easier if the VPN can start within the Maestro.

73 Ed.

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I have never done SSB on my remote chasing. CW is not affected much by latency if you macros. I pre-program the exchange to 559 which is the default. If the operator is weaker or stronger I will key in the appropriate signal report. I have done many a chase this way using the RemoteTX.net which uses a Raspberry Pi to communicate with the internet. The interface even operates my yagi rotor. I have listened to the sent CW and it sounds OK - albeit with a few milliseconds lag time.

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I have thought about this previously and wondered whether it would be better to use a remote keyboard (even a phone ) then the morse is generated at the transmitter site and it doesn’t matter if the latency is long, each letter is sent perfectly by the system at the tx.

It’s just theory so far though!

I’m in the same boat with FlexRadio Maestro remote CW issues. Having moved from a farmhouse to a city center apartment half a year ago, I can no longer have a shortwave antenna at home. My FlexRadio 6500 has found a new home about 500 meters away at HB9GIN’s QTH, and I access it remotely via SmartLink. At my old QTH (where the Maestro was in the same LAN as the radio), CW with a paddle connected to the Maestro worked fine. Now, through the Internet, it’s a disaster, and people often don’t even recognize my callsign.

The Internet connection doesn’t seem to be the problem; 1 Gbps FTTH here and 100 Mbps VDSL at the radio side. No packet loss, low latency and jitter when measured with ping. No difference whether the Maestro is connected via LAN or WiFi.

I’ve stopped using the Maestro, and use my iPad with the SmartSDR app and CWX via keyboard instead. While I’d prefer the paddle as it gives quicker and more fluent CW exchanges, there are no problems with the transmitted CW when I use my iPad – rather than sending latency sensitive on/off events through the network, it seems to simply send the characters, and the radio encodes the CW itself.

The Maestro has given me grief even before my move. At one time, the audio suddenly became choppy and the UI sluggish. I sent it to FlexRadio, and they replaced IC2 (PCM2912A USB Audio Codec). That fixed it for a while, but the problem returned a few weeks later. I’ve since swapped the IC again myself, but due to the CW issue, my Maestro is now in pemanent storage. I think it’s not one of their best products, at least not the first revision which I have.

BTW, here’s a way to get access to the Windows installation on Maestro (not that this would fix the CW issue; just helps debugging network issues etc.): https://www.la1k.no/2020/01/29/flexradio-maestro-hacking-part-2-revealing-the-backdoor/

73,

Manuel HB9DQM

Keith,

This is my second year chasing SOTAs remotely. At home I use a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ connected to my KX3 and the RemoteTx.net cloud server. At work, I spot with my iPhone and chase with my iPad Mini 4 and a headset. I routinely work both CW (with macros) and SSB. I have made SOTA contacts from my car (I pull over first) and even in the checkout line at Walmart using my iPhone.

Derek WF4I

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That seems to handle everything I would want. And the way they deal with cw is excellent. I will look into it. The demo and screenshots make it look very attractive, not only in functionality but also cost!
Thanks!
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH