Remote connection options for the Ten Tec Orion II. Background:
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I have been in search of a method for some time to reliably control my transceiver remotely when desiring to listen and transmit on a remote radio from a quieter location. After some research, and comments received on the TT reflector, I decided to put together this brief tutorial on how I set up my station at the most basic level.
The following slides are just one method of remotely controlling a radio. Many other options are available**. In the end this only cost me ~$110 to complete as I already had most of what I needed around the shack.
Comments and questions are welcome. Most of all, have fun!
Brad Denison, W1NT
**In no way am I affiliated with any of the companies mentioned and this article.
To remote login to your station PC your will either need the Windows application known as remote desktop or some other suitable virtual network connection (remote control) software package.
One of these virtual connections is known as LogMeIn. This is free software and the home page for LogMeIn is shown to the right.
After a few basic setup steps you will be able to see your home PC on a remote PC and control enough functions to power your rig up and control it.
If you decide to try LogMeIn, simply follow the steps shown here to get started for free.
The free version is enough to get on the air from anywhere in the world.
Another virtual desktop connection software package that works well is known as RealVNC. This package requires installation on both the server (host) computer and the client (remote) computer.
After performing the basic setup steps you can connect very similar to LogMeIn.
Again, this program is also available free. I would recommend experimenting with this version first and then, if you choose, transition to the full featured editions.
For all my operation on both LogMeIn and Real VNC I have never needed anything above the free versions.
Common server / client remote control issues:
If the Server Connection fails, the most likely cause of this problem is a router, that does not forward the connection request to the computer with your VNC software running. To solve this problem you will need to set up port forwarding on your router.What is port forwarding?A router can make a single internet connection available to many computers. But when a computer on the internet tries to establish a connection to your computer through the router, the router will need to know which computer handles the request (even if only one computer uses the router).Port forwarding instructs the router to forward a request to connect to your VNC server on the appropriate computer.How do I set up port forwarding?To do this you will need three relevant pieces of information: Your external IP, your internal IP, and the port(s) your remote software requires.
The external IP is the IP address that your computer has on the internet. The client computer will need to contact this IP to connect to your router and in turn your server (or host) to which your radio is connected .
The internal IP is the IP address that your computer has on the router's local network.
Each service on the internet (web, mail, ftp) uses a specific port. VNC programs can use different ports by default.
You will need to instruct you router that all traffic from the internet on this port should be forwarded to the internal IP of your VNC computer. The traffic protocol is always TCP, if you need to select this. How you set up port forwarding will depend on the brand of router. A sample router software setup looks like this:
You will need to replace the values shown here (port 8080, IP 192.168.1.103) with the ones for your internal IP’s.
Once this step is set up correctly your client and host should be able to communicate.
One other potential problem may be that you have a dynamic IP address – i.e. one that changes. If you use LogMein this is no issue, however, it could cause trouble over time on a program like RealVNC. To solve this get the free program called No-IP. With this software running you will have access to your PC via a free domain name that you set up. No matter what your ISP assigns as your dynamic IP it will always be assigned to this free domain name. This domain name is only active when the No-IP software is running on your host PC.
There is a great website out there that can help you. It’s called portforward.com
On this site you will find a wealth of information including a guide to the issues I am covering, especially the ports, the router issues, and the language behind all of this.
If you plan on talking you need to get your voice from your client (remote) machine to your server (host) machine and then to your radio. Again there are multiple ways to do this, however, I chose Skype.
Skype is a free method for calling one computer from another and it works well.
You will want to install Skype on your remote and host machines and add each of these machines to each other machine’s contact list.
Ultimately you will see the remote machine name that you assign in the contacts list to the right.
Spend time calling the host machine and testing the behavior of Skype prior to connecting up your radio. This will help you understand how Skype behaves and what the critical audio settings are.
Make sure you visit this menu for setting up your audio. You will have to play with this menu and your rig settings to make everything sound good so you might as well get familiar with it now.
Take caution with the Skype sound settings that are associated with events. Ask yourself whether or not you want any of these sounds being transmitted while you are in the
middle of a rare one.
Finally, a neat feature is that you may auto accept calls. This will make the call connection as soon as the host computer is called. I find this very useful as it becomes one less thing I have to manage over the remote desktop connection.
Most folks do this for one thing or another already. In case not, there are many ways to interface your radio to your PC.
One example shown here is the USB Interface II. This allows your rig to talk to your PC in a number of ways, depending on what your needs are.
A few simple connections and you will be able to change rig functions from your PC, pass audio and CW among other things.
Once your rig and PC are connected you will need to experiment with the rig control software package that best suits your needs. I chose N4PY’s program to control my TT OII.
Using this computer control program I can control about all of the OII radio features from my desktop.
Again, there are many programs available or you can write your own.
So now we have it. You can control your rig, pass voice and connect to your PC-controlled radio from anywhere there is internet access.
With some minor web research on this subject I did end up finding and using a web based power switch to turn off and on my OII and other shack gear remotely. This was so convenient I even use it to control other things remotely over and above my radio station.
The device is called the web power switch II and it allows you to turn off and on outlets via a web page based control panel.
The sample page on the right shows how easy it is to turn off and on your rig. Just click and you even get instant feedback on the current state of the power strip.
I have cycled this strip many times and have yet to have an issue.
If you prefer CW like I do then you may not need to pass voice all the time. So how do you send CW?
Simple answer is use your com ports to your advantage and a CW keyboard type software. Two examples are shown on the right.
Type and send – it’s that easy.
Setting up your radio for remote control is extremely cheap and easy – even free if you want it to be. All you need is an afternoon of your time and some patience to be up and running.
Enjoy the bands.