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Devices for remote operation

Hi all,

I do somewhat believe in you get what you pay for. Over the years of watching the forums I've seen many different "devices" used for power cycling, remote reset, etc.

We hams love to innovate and everyone finds their own best solution. Here is what has worked wonderfully for me:

Digital Loggers. These are easily available on Amazon. I use their DIN Relay and their Outlet switches. Most of these devices are intended for server rooms so they are little more expensive but for me, worth the cost. They support an easy to use script. In fact I have, using my Din Relay, two scripts: A) Connect and power on. This script connects antennas using my custom disconnect/connect motor system and it powers on various devices like the PGXL, TGXL, etc. B) Disconnect and power off. Does pretty much the opposite. But I can control the switches individually. For example if I want to reboot my PGXL I flip a relay on the DIN Relay. It kills power to a 220V relay. I flip the relay again and the PGXL gets its power back and reboots. I have fallen so in love with these digital logger devices that I have one in my comm closet to reset the internet modems and routers each night at like 3am. I also use them to restart my cable TV boxes on a regular basis.

I can also call these scripts that are in the digital loggers devices from software I write. So I have a control program that can with a single button press power down and disconnect my system.

The digital loggers devices are login/password protected so I don't worry too much about exposing the device to the internet. This way I can connect via my phone and restart or power down.

In December I had a knee replacement and I knew I would not be doing stairs to get down to my shed where the devices are. But with all this control I have not needed to venture down stairs.

It has taken me many years to go from a desk based ham station where I had audio patch cables and no ability to operate unless I was right in front of the station to now where I have a MacBook Pro and I can operate anywhere I have either LAN or WAN. And by operate I mean all modes including CW, FT8, and voice. And I can completely control my station.

With my recent surgery this has paid off well. During healing I have been able to operate CW and FT8 without any worry of being near the gear.

I know that I am not alone with this. I know Mike has a cool remote setup and many others do as well. I know that hams are often cheap and do things with as minimal cost as possible. I've tried that route and after much frustration I found the extra expense of the Digital Loggers gear to be well worth it considering my time and effort to make the station robust.

Mark WS7M

Comments

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Very cool Mark. I would be interested to see a diagram of your setup if you don't mind posting one here.

  • Craig_KØCF
    Craig_KØCF Member ✭✭✭

    I am also fascinated by this. I have been using internet-activated outlets by Meross, but have to use IFTTT to control them from Visual Basic Scripts and my Stream Deck. It is far less than 100% reliable.

    I would really like to know what scripting engine you use and see samples of your scripts. I have been exploring the Digital Loggers Web Switch Pro this afternoon, and I think that CURL would work with VBS scripts to control it. At least, I hope so. That seems to be fairly simple.

    More details would be much appreciated, Mark!

    73, Craig KØCF

  • David Decoons, wo2x
    David Decoons, wo2x Member, Super Elmer Moderator

    I went down the Node Red path a few years ago, being in and out of the hospital a LOT. It stemmed from waking up my wife at 3 a.m. to reboot my Flex.

    I started using a KASA switch on the power supply but soon upgraded to a DLI Web Switch Pro. I am using CURL from Node Red to control it from any web browser. I’ve added control of the 6600m, Power Genius, Tuner Genius, Antenna Genius, RT-21 rotor control. I have also integrated a 32 button Stream Deck into Node Red so everything can also be controlled from the Stream Deck in addition to web interface.

    I have the Stream Deck able to be plugged in my laptop when remote to provide remote control when remote.

    73

    Dave wo2x

  • AF3K
    AF3K Member ✭✭

    Mark,

    Thanks for sharing your setup. Couldn't agree with you more on the Digital Loggers products. I've had one of their DLI web switch PROs working flawlessly for over a year now.

    73,

    John, AF3K

  • David Decoons, wo2x
    David Decoons, wo2x Member, Super Elmer Moderator

    Here’s a short video showing the Stream Deck integrated with Node Red for remote control of shack.

    73Dave wo2x

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭

    Hi all,

    Dave your node red stuff is beyond belief. I will never say that my setup comes close.

    For those of you interested I will post a diagram and some pix. The scripting is mostly done inside of the Digital Loggers Device. Their recent versions have a very nice LUA based script with timing and the ability to turn things on and off. The script is so good I have been able to automate my antenna disconnector using the scripting language alone.

    Yes the scripts can be triggered via curl. I have written a few Xojo Mac programs to control the various devices without issue.

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭

    Ok here is some more info. Sorry but things are not as neat and tidy as I would like.

    Simplified station diagram:

    110V and 220V come in from the power panel at the lower right and they go directly into my 3 port antenna and power disconnector. Nothing fancy. Two knife switches cut the 110V and 220V power including grounds when the disconnector disconnects things. Picture below.

    There is a small 12V power supply which is always powered that provides power to the DIN relay and the network switches and fiber. If lightning takes out the DIN relay and/or that power supply it is not a big deal. I have replacements in stock.

    When connected, 110V comes through the antenna disconnector and into the DIN Relay into two of the relay channels. One channel provides 110V switchable power to my Astron linear 12V supply for the station. The other 110V channel supplies power to a 24V supply for the motors on the disconnector.

    12V which comes from that supply goes back to the DIN relay and supplies 12V to four channels. One each for FlexRadio, TGXL and Antenna Genius. The final channel goes to the 12V relay to provide switchable 220V power to the PGXL.

    Another DIN relay channel provides direction control for the antenna disconnector.

    Here is the allocation of the 8 channels on the DIN relay:

    1 - TGXL switchable 12V power

    2 - Antenna Genius switchable 12V power

    3 - Unused switchable 12V power

    4 - Antenna disconnector direction (connect or disconnect)

    5 - Switchable 110V power for Astron 12V supply

    6 - Switchable 110V power for 24V motor supply

    7 - Switchable 12V power for PGXL 220V relay

    8 - Flex remote

    The scripting language in the DIN relay is LUA based and very easy to use. To control an outlet you use a statement like:

    outlet[4].state = off

    There are delay functions, time functions and a host of other functions like you can ping external IPs to see if network is alive and make decisions.

    In the DIN relay I have two primary scripts: Station_On and Station_Off.

    StationOff turns off the various devices. Flex remote goes off, I delay, I then turn off 12V power to each device, turn off the 12V station supply then I run the disconnector to the disconnected state.

    StationOn pretty much is the reverse. Connect, and power things on in sequence with delays.

    The antenna disconnector, as you will see in the photo below is a prototype, built on a large piece of wood. There are two linear stages, each with a motor that can drive it forward or backward to limit switches. The motors are smart motors that know to drive certain distances on inputs (from the DIN relay)

    In this prototype design the antennas and power (via knife switches) are disconnected and separated by about 4 inches. I fully understand that to really provide better lightening protection more distance is needed and grounding is needed. But this was a rough prototype.

    I think nothing will survive a direct hit to the antenna. This is designed to provide some limited protection from nearby strikes. During 2020 and 2021 it did it's job. I had it disconnected when a strike occurred in my neighbors backyard about 600 feet away. All of my gear survived. That is all I'm going for with this contraption.

    I apologize for the rats nest. I had every intention of making it very neat and routing all wires and securing everything but summer went fast then in winter I had knee surgeries so it stays as it is until I can get back down there to rework things.

    For me this setup achieves the following:

    1) I can restart the flex using Flex Remote or togging the 12V supply

    2) I can restart the TGXL, PGXL, or AG using their control relays. The PGXL disconnects 220 and reconnects it

    3) I can pull 12V power when needed

    4) I can disconnect antennas and power to provide some limited lightening and static protection.

    As long as I can remember I have wanted to have a remote station. I hated being tied to an operating position. For years that was how it was. You went to your radio with the knobs and dials and you played radio.

    As networking started to come along I built a circuit to send audio over TCPIP. I had a Kachina radio and I could do some very limited in home remote. It was very unreliable.

    Now here we are in 2022. People have fully remote stations and for me it is a dream come true. My station is modest but I love the building, wiring, software writing to get all of this to work.

    I decided in 2020 to go Mac based for ham radio. As many of you know this is a challenge but more and more people are making their software work for Macs. Along comes Smart SDR mac and when combined with a few little programs of my own I have full control of my Flex station from my M1Max based MacBook pro!

    This December I had a knee replacement and knew I'd be laid up for a while and limited to my main floor. This setup described above has kept me doing all the ham radio I could without having to ask someone to go and reboot a device.

    Then in early January an accident at physical therapy ruptured my patella tendon. So I'm further laid up with a full leg cast until first of March. So again the station controls I put in place will be very helpful.

    I can operate CW, digital and voice without issues using SmartSDR mac. Since the Flex has an API I wrote my own CW sender. Yes CWX works but I wanted a little more. This is what I love about Flex I can write my own stuff and make it do what I want.

    Hopefully this gives you a small overview of my setup. There is definitely room for improvement. I don't have stream deck or anywhere close to the displays that Dave has. His setup is certainly very cool. But I went for the KISS approach to keep the number of needed devices to a minimum. I can attack displays using software which I'm slowly doing.

    Mark WS7M

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Great work Mark! The "rat's nest" is not all that bad. I find that if I start off neatly wiring everything, I spend more time un-doing and re-doing the wiring instead of getting working. Once it works the way you want it, then think about making it neat.

    Or do like I do and leave what works alone... 😁

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭

    To be honest, with it in the current rats nest format I have zero RFI even at 1500 watts so I am reluctant to start changing things. LOL

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