Amp move partly complete

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  • Updated 12 months ago
So I'm always in a state of flux trying to make things better.

On Monday I ran nice new coax from inside out to a shop near my EF wire feed point.  Once again I'm an HOA ham so no bit Monster Stepper IR yet for me.  I wish... but no go.

On a side note if you have not looked, check out QRZ.COM and look up ke5ee.   Man... Talk about a "super" station... Unbelievable.  He's got more invested in that 200 foot stack of stepper IR antennas than in my entire house I think!

Anyway back to the point.  I decided to move my new Palstar tuner and my SPE amp out into a shop which is very close to the feed point of my EF wire antenna.  It's exactly 25 feet away to be precise.

So I ran the wires Monday.  I moved the tuner out on Monday afternoon and setup the network cables.  I ran new SAP shielded network cables and powered new gigibit switches from DC 12V instead of their wall-warts.

I could not go fiber because of having to route cables through two conduits.  But everything went through ok. 

So tonight I moved my amp out there and wired it in.  Right now my little SPE 1K FA is running on 110V but I have 220 just a few feet way.  My issue is I want to be able to switch it so I'll need to get the switching in place then convert it back to 220V.

Anyway my concern was the long run for the control cable needed for the PTT.  Well shielded cable plus lots of RFI chokes seems to work perfectly.

Currently it looks like the this picture.   I have a cabinet to put them in but it is not built yet.  Just behind it on the left is a remote power switch.


I wrote my own amp control software:


I use a Moxa remote IP to serial port.  When I connect to that the amp powers on.  Then I can control the features I need using this small app.

The vertical bars to the right are an almost instantaneous RF power reading from the amp.

It is this software that I am porting to be usable via a web interface.

For now however I can run this via my desk computer or my laptop sitting in my chair upstairs.  It is pretty much transparent.

Interesting enough that after moving the amp and putting the tuner so close to the antenna most RFI is gone.  My home intercom used to buzz at high power.  No more.

Anyway I think these are things that keep me going in Ham Radio.  Always trying to make something a little better, little cleaner.

Mark
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Mark WS7M

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Posted 12 months ago

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Mark Erbaugh

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Are you using a USB port on the Flex to control the amp? Have you seen the new remote antenna switch coming from SPE? Would that help in your setup?
(Edited)
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Mark WS7M

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Hi Mark,

No... I have only ethernet running from the op position out to the shed, well also a DC control wire but no USB.

I wrote a program shown in the second picture that connects to the Flex and monitors transmit frequency.  It updates the amp over RS-232 to the transmit frequency.  That same program also allows me to take it on/offline and change some settings.

But all of this happens over ethernet.  On the back of the SPE amp is an RS-232 port.  I use a Moxa IP to 4 port serial device to convert data I sent via my program to RS-232 data the amp can understand.

This is one reason I don't use DDUTIL.  I wanted my amp to be controlled over the LAN.  DDUtil can do that but only if I use a networked serial port.  But my experience personally with DDUtil was it didn't do exactly what I wanted.

Mark
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Mark Erbaugh

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Thanks for the information. Your posting is making me think about moving my SPE 2K amp. Does your program control the drive level of the Flex? When using a USB port on the Flex and the amp is place in operate mode, it sets the Flex to a user defined output level.

For remote control of the amp, I considered writing a program to run on a Raspberry Pi that would sit next to the amp and would monitor the Flex over the network and adjust the amp via USB.

Did you consider locating the Flex near the amp?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Mark

I use DDUTIL to control my SOE 2K-FA and my SteppIR mainly because it gives me full control of the Amp including remote power on and off and setting power levels. I found that the USB from the Flex was far too limited for safe remote control as it only gives Band Data
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Mark WS7M

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@Mark:  Yes my little program sets drive level.  Not as elaborate as DDUTIL but the little screen shot you see barefoot and amplified drive.  I can set those numbers to what I want and when I put the amp in op mode the amp drive is sent to flex.  Take amp offline the barefoot drive is sent.

This little program does what you are considering for the Pi (and I am sort of writing for the Pi too).  It connects to flex.  Figures out the TX freq, sends that to the amp whenever it changes.  Then I have the flex drive level stuff.   I also added some tune stuff since I was at one point using the tuner in the amp but now I have a Palstar so I don't use the amp tune right not.

I did consider moving the flex out there but I am running balanced mic and also key and speakers.  So I would have had more wiring to do.  I know I can use net audio but I like the raw audio out of the flex.

I pretty much use my amp full time.   I like running my finals in the 6500 at 15-20 watts rather than 100.  So I let my amp carry the load.   Most of my operating my flex is outputting 15 watts, my amp is set to half power so the output to the palstar is registering about 500 watts.  If I don't need that much rather than take the amp offline I just reduce the drive on the flex.  Sometimes I run the flex at 3 watts out.  This gets about 170 watts from the amp.

@Howard... All I can say my friend is you guys with your monster antennas!!!  I totally get why DDUTIL works for you.  I just don't have that much stuff yet.  Maybe someday!
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John - K3MA

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I use a Flex 6500, HF-Auto and SPE 1.3K.  All the hardware is located in a unfinished room in the basement close to the grounding and antenna feeds.  I operate from the upstairs office on a PC, the outside deck on a iPad.  I travel often and operate with my laptop.  The point being that I operate as if I am remote even when I am home and with your setup you can do the same.  Simply move the Flex out to the shop and operate the entire station remote from either a computer, iPad or Maestro via the ethernet connection.  You could connect the amp direct to the Flex USB and it will band switch automatically.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Do you leave ur Amp running 24/7 or how do u power it on/off
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Mark WS7M

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@John, that is basically what I'm doing.  I ran my entire setup last night from my chair in the great room while watching Better Call Saul.  Made about 15 contacts during the commercials.

I'm probably going to leave my flex inside because like I said above for my "station" position I have direct wires for keyer, speakers, etc.   But yes I can do iPad and usually laptop.

My only trouble point now is controlling the amp.  When I have access to my little control program I'm good to go.  So in another thread I talked about how I'm converting that little program to work as a small webserver.  I can currently access that webserver from anywhere.  When I finish the SPE code then I'll have a web page to turn  the amp on/off and set levels.  All of the web stuff including support of a VPN is done on Raspberry Pi.

So at some point my little amp control program will simply go away to be replaced by a web browser interface.