Options for remote antenna switching?

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  • Updated 7 months ago
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Hi All,

F6500 user here, logger 32.

Is there a simpler (and cheaper) product to achieve remote antenna selection than the 403A box?

I don't need 8 x 2 switching, just 4 or 5 x 1 would be fine. I plan to site the switch at the base of the tower around 10m from the shack. So, Ethernet, WIFI or long-range bluetooth would be ideal, USB at a push...and obviously band-data controlled directly from SSDR (or DDUTIL/Logger32 if I really have to).

I'd need full QRO switching rating. I like things over engineered and never close to the bone.
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Steven G1XOW

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Posted 3 years ago

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Chris DL5NAM

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James Kennedy-WU5E

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I use the 8x1 and it's rock solid
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Bob G W1GLV

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Same here. The switch has been in use for about six months, no glitches works great.
I trigger it directly from the 6500 using USB band data. The reason for this hookup is when SSDR is closed, all antenna inputs are grounded automatically. Remote control  is not cheap.
The nice part of using 4o3a products is they are engineered to work over the internet.
(Edited)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Have successful experience with both the Array Solutions and DX Engineering remote switches. They are manual though

Green Heron Engineering has GH Everywhere add-on wireless units that could be added, and offer their own remote switch.

It is integration that is the tricky part. DDUTIL does support the Denkovi USB board which could become a band switching connection. http://denkovi.com/productv/31/usb-ei...

The 4o3a 8x2 AntennaGenius eventually will be a direct SmartSDR interfaced produce, but presently a dedicated program needs to be running.

One wonders if 4o3a will offer a smaller switch and whether they will offer wireless versions?

Presently there doesn't seem to be a simple clean small switch that rolls into the SmartSDR Ecosystem.

This could well change fairly soon though.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Andy - KU7T

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I really like this solution (DDUTil + USB relay board). Ideally, I would not have to run a separate computer in the shack, but I guess this is needed today.

So, when you say the relay board is supported by DDUtil, how flexible is it?  Can I control a SixPack 2 x 6 plus a 4 square controller (routed through one of the 6 coaxes on the six pack)?

Andy
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Bob G W1GLV

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4o3A has a 8X1 switch which works very well. No glitches with mine.
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Tom N5MOA

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With v1.10.16, an  Array Solutions RatPak-Six, with the RatMaster controller, follows my 6500 via USB connection perfectly.

I followed the directions in the USB cable interface guide

http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/usb-cable-interface-guide-pdf/

for the BandMaster lll
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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well how about this.  if you want to go full low budget, you can use an ameritron rcs-8v, then use a sainsmart relay connected to the USB interface as a band decoder and you have a fully automated solution for very reasonable pricing.  Its not ethernet controlled, but it should work.
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Jay Woods

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Chris, I have four Antenna's and two of them are Yagi Beams do I need to assign each band to a different Relay or can three bands be set to one Relay.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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A great question.  For simplicity the developers set these up that each band needs a set of relays.  The workaround is if you run out is you can add a second board.  I had hoped that multiple bands could trigger 1 relay but it made the interface confusing so a choice of simplicity was made.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Al thats a good idea, I would hope something like this would not be needed, I may bring this issue up in Alpha for discussion with folks that are far smarter than I  ;-). 
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Chris,
Normally on my PCs I don't worry about the USB or Ethernet ports.  If they are damaged you can always replace a card or add a card to the PC buss for both types of ports.  But on the radio if you damage either the USB or Ethernet port, it is not field serviceable and since there are not buss slots in the radio, FRS can't just add a card either.  So the repair can be more expensive as well as require a trip back to Texas for the repair. 

I added a fiber link to the ethernet connection for that reason and it also eliminates RF from getting back into the radio.  Double benefit.  Here is my fiber link info in case you are interested:  http://www.nn4zz.com/FLEX6700.htm#Ethernet_Lightning_Protection

So I agree, it would be nice not to need the extra protection but at least for me it seemed like a worthwhile investment.

Al / NN4ZZ 
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.11.12
Win10 
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Ya makes sense.
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Rick- K2RB

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The Green Heron remote switch works great for me.  Control it on the computer and it is really seem less.  Have almost a year with no issues  Rick, K2RB
(Edited)
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Mike va3mw

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I use PSTRotatorAZ which runs on my PC at my remote base.  It listens to the TX frequency on the Flex and I have that configured to change all my antennas by using home brew switching.  If you are looking to save some money, this works very well and is highly configurable.  My antenna switching is far from simple as I have switches feeding switches.

The Author is amazing to work with and is very helpful.

http://www.qsl.net/yo3dmu/index_Page346.htm

Mike va3mw
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Mike va3mw

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I also use remoteqth.com.

Mike va3mw
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Andy - KU7T

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ok, but how to you control it from the flex?  USB from Flex or via computer interface? This is what I am struggling with...

Andy
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Mike va3mw

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Hi Andy

When running a remote station, there are 2 majour things to control.  The normal on and off stuff and the band change 'stuff'.

The on/off stuff is pretty straight forward and there are many solutions.  I do use remotqth server with 16 relays configured.  RemoteQTH also has some pretty fancy hardware to work with band data.  Nice stuff and very well made.  https://remoteqth.com/

For my band change 'stuff', I currently use pstrotatorAZ that drives a web switch.  Since I have antenna switches feeding antenna switches, it is a complicate truth table.  Since I have 3 different 40M antennas, the standard band changing doesn't fit.  PstrotatorAZ talks directly to the Flex 6xxx via a Lan connection for determine its transmit frequency.  Well worth the money.  It also controls my Steppir controller which is installed at the base of the tower via RS232.  http://www.qsl.net/yo3dmu/index_Page346.htm

However, to answer your question, if you have 1 antenna/band and a single antenna switch, you can control this directly from the Flex and a USB Parallel solution.  Many drive a inexpensive relay board.  I don't have the model, but someone might chime in on what they use.  This is a simple way to handle your band switching.  There might be an article in the community on how to do it.  

I hope that helps to answer some questions.  If not, feel free to ask more.

73, Mike va3mw
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Andy - KU7T

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I did some more research last night. I can definitely say that I won't be able to control my antennas directly from the Flex, but will need a computer running locally in the shack. Reason is that I have a GH rotor, a SteppIR, a 4SQ and a sixpack to control. And also, I have multiple antennas per band. I just do not see that more than simple setup being supported in SmartSDR. I do not like it, but it is what it is (VPN is an ok solution).

Having said that, I played with DDUtil and PstrotratorAZ.  I can see that both can take care of the GH and SteppIR and some antenna relays.  I need at least 17 relay outputs (12 for the six pack + 5 for the 4 SQ). I think both programs allow control of 8 relay boards. How do people deal with more output lines?  I know that the final solution will be a "simple" mapping of logical states to buttons in the software and relays in the back, but how do people do this for more than 8?

Andy
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WV9L

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I used to run remoterigs and a TS480HX, before moving to Flex. remoterig also has a 5 port and a 10 port antenna switch. It conects via LAN, and had a nice web interface. With some port forwarding, and DYNDNS (or local LAN address if on vpn) you can change the antennas easily. There is an optional RS232 interface to get CAT data and steer from vfo automatically. It allows uou to set freq ranges for specific antennas (example- ant1: 10m beam 28.3 to 28.5; ant2: 10m vertical 29 to 30). Ive been thinking of trying this switch again, but with my 6500 this time. Just an idea.
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Bill Ham

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I just received the remoterig 10 port antenna switch and would like to control it from the Flex 6500, or my K3.  I mistakenly believed the switch came with software to run it from the computer.  When I run remote I use TeamViewer instead of smart link because of slow hotel internet speeds, so just looking for a software interface to switch the antennas.  How do you hook it up?
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Bob KC9RF

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A cost effective option might be using a Ethernet relay board and Micro bit 1216H web switch for antenna control. I already had a Ameritron RCS-4 Antenna switch and purchased 3 dow key relays used. The RCS-4 was modified with dry relay contacts for antenna switching. Note I'm not using both  antenna outputs of the Flex 6600 full duplex unless I'm not running the Amp.  My QRZ page has the layout drawing for remote. No  PC control required  unless monitoring amp.  
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Bill Ham

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Thanks for putting the control diagram on your web page.
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Bill Ham

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Does your antenna switch track band changes on the 6600 or do you switch  antennas using the micro bit software?
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Bob KC9RF

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I use the 1216H web Page and can use local or remote with port forwarding
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Zack Schindler - N8FNR

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I use an SSB ACS-2004 UHF remote switch. Works great but you must manually select the ports. You control the port selection through the coax and it gets DC through the coax also so you only need to run 1 line. The current price is $475.
 
 http://www.ssbusa.com/switches.html   http://www.ssb.de/download/EN-5055_ACS%202004-N.pdf

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