recommendations for a wifi controlled input antenna switch

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I'm running my Flex 6500 remotely using Open VPN on my router and switching on the 6500 power supply and 6500 using wifi controlled relays. This remote operation capability is just phenomonal, using either an IPAD or a windows laptop.
Before I run remotely, the antenna needs to be connected to the input of the radio before I leave home. With the warmer season fast approaching and the possibility of lightning , I would like to install a wifi controlled coax antenna switch between the antenna and my radio. This would allow me to connect the radio to the antenna only when I wish to operate. Thank you for any ideas ...
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spopiela

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Posted 2 years ago

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Jim Gilliam

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I use two coaxial relays which are controlled with a WiFi AC controller. It supplys 120 vac to two small 12v wall warts. When the two relays are not energized, one shorts the antenna to ground and the other is open. When the relays are energized the grounded relay opens and the other connects to the antenna. I do this for lightening protection at my cabin in Big Bear. We get many close encounters and I have yet to have a failure. Sure there are more elegant ways.


Jim, K6QE

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spopiela

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Jim,
Based on what I have learned about WAN switching of an antenna, it can get very complicated and/or expensive. I have a simple setup and want a simple solution. I assume your wifi wall warts are doing the work for your setup and are not very expensive. I'm using two at the present time to work remotely with my 6500. One turns on the power supply and the other pulls down a relay to turn on the 6500. Would you please describe the two relay setup that you have at your cabin. Please include part descriptions ..
Thank You
Stan
N1THL
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Bill Axelrod

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I use a 4O3A Antenna Genius which connects to the Flex via wired network in the shack.  Now sold by Vibroplex.

73...   Bill K3WA
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spopiela

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Bill,
Wow! The 403A is overkill for my Shack... maybe someday. I should have mentioned that I am using an OCF dipole for 80 thru 6 meters. Occasionally will use a 6 m dipole..
Thanks for the reply

Stan
N1THL
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WV9L

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They have a 4'port coming out soon on Vibroplex page
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spopiela

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Jim,
Sounds like a nice easy project using your approach. I also found a 4 by 1 coax switch and wifi bd for 40 bucks. https://www.tindie.com/products/hbouz...
I guess my only concern with this approach is the possibility of the relays changing state during Tx due to coupling of Rf into the circuit cards. The radio transmitter would probably protect the output side...
Thanks for the reply.
Stan
N1THL
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Bob Craig, K8RC

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I'm building a 2 feedline version of this,.using type C coaxial connectors instead of push-on UHFs.

http://www.remoterig.com/forum/index....
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spopiela

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Bob,
This approach using physical separation just might help an antenna/radio survive a very-near strike.... my home is not located in an open area, so I'm hoping that if my lightening arrestors activate and bleed off any buildup of charge and voltage , the strike will hit a higher nearby tree. If I'm not operating at the time, the coax switch would add a bit more isolation.
Thank you
Stan
N1THL
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Bob Craig, K8RC

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I decided on this approach because my QTH is atop the highest hill in Hamilton County, OH. My fan dipole is supported by a couple of the tallest mature trees. I lost a similarly tall tree in the yard to lightening a few years ago.
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WV9L

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Remoterig makes one that supports CAT control of switching up to 5 antennas, and grounds out when not in use. I had one when i ran a TS-480HX setup with the RRC's. Been thinking of getting another one since the release of USB functionality on the 6500 now.
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spopiela

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Honestly, I would think that Flex would provide some antenna switching capability using the USB port.
I guess I'm a novice when it comes to interfacing with the Flex using utilities that other component hardware manufacturers may have. I currently use some basic add-on utilities or apps using my 6500, that don't connect to another piece of hardware. They work great. The problem with Flex hardware interfaces is the same as Windows and all the hardware pieces that windows has to interface with. People rave about the Apple computer and the ease of its use, but it's not due to Apple products, but rather that Apple controlled and controls it's hardware and software interfaces. Flex is doing the same thing as Windows. They can't control the inevitable onslought of hardware interfaces.. so the hardware provider pulls an interface solution rather than Flex pushing an interface solution . The ability to switch an antenna is so fundamental to a Ham radio! I have to go through a mishmash of confusion to get to my solution!! I'm not blaming Flex. Windows is still the computer solution for me. Flex is my radio... !

Stan
N1THL
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Bob Craig, K8RC

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I disagree. Switching requirements are so diverse that there is no "One size fits all".

Example:
I cover 160m-6m with two antennas, a fan dipole and a discone.
My best friend uses six: a tribander, a 18m/12m yagi, a 40m/30m yagi an 80m dipole, a 6 meter vertical and loading the 100' tower for 160m. Needless to say, our switching requirements are quite different.

Unless Flex were to provide a LARGE number of accessories for the various situations , a solution from them is impractical

I would rather see them concentrate on the radios.
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spopiela

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Bob,
I agree. I always go into a rant with interfacing computers or in this case an SDR to the outside hardware world. Flex has included a few hardware peripharels on their web site and I'm sure there will be more. A simple coax antenna switch that I could control with the radio by connecting with the USB port would be just awesome...
Stan
N1THL
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Stan,
Here is the setup I use to switch between antennas from 80M through 10M on several different towers.  The Bandmaster III switch is interfaced to my 6700 via the USB port on the radio.   The BandMaster then controls two 6 port remote switches.   As you change bands on the radio, the BandMaster  follows and selects the correct antenna.  When the radio is off all of the antennas are disconnected and you can have them either grounded or open.  

I used to use DDUtil to control the BandMaster and after the new USB feature was added I changed it to be connected directly to the radio and it has worked great.   The only data the BandMaster needs is the frequency so the radio USB port and software is well suited to do the job. 

There are of course a number of other antenna switches and various ways to connect them for more or less complex antenna setups.  

The USB interface details for the BandMaster are on my web page:  http://www.nn4zz.com/FLEX6700.htm#Setup_and_testing




  
Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.8
Win10
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spopiela

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Hi Al,
Nice setup. As I add antennas, I'l move to something like this. Like the use of the Flex radio frequency to select the antenna.
I'm still looking for simple solutions for remote WAN connection of an antenna or using the radio to connect an antenna when I'm using it remotely.
Thanks
Stan
N1THL
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WV9L

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Take a look at this:

http://www.remoterig.com/wp/?page_id=...

The also have another model for higher power and more antennas. Usb interface to the RS232 would have you up and running. They are very nice.
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spopiela

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I saw that you mentioned it before. Is it possible to connect this switch to a Flex 5k over USB and not have to add it to the home router system? Since I will use it only when I use the radio, I'd rather not cable it to the router and control it through the router.
Thanks
Stan
N1THL
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Carl, WA2ETU

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I use a Top Ten Devices, Inc. Band Decoder that works via USB port to select the correct antenna for the band I am on.  This device controls your relay system that is not part of the Top Ten device.
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WV9L

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Stan,

It has serial interface so i think it would work fine. Im thinking of trying it on my 6500. Worked great on my prior remote station over LAN.
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Rick Taylor

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I use an Arduino Uno micro controler board to drive relays that powers a Yaesu Fas-1 switch at the antenna farm.  My shack computer is connected via usb to the arduino and I use a Terminal window to send single letter commands to it.  I use teamviewer on my macbook pro to communicate remotely to the Shack computer.  

It also controls my beverage antennas and preamp.  Its cheap and works great.  Arduino clone boards sell on ebay for under $10.  If you need more features later you just reprogram it.

George on Amateurlogic.TV used an arduino board and rc servo to remotely control a knob style coax switch.  I think it was episode 70.
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spopiela

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Thanks, a great project...
Stan
N1THL
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Varistor

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You should consider very carefully whether or not the assumption of one antenna per band will be valid for you for the foreseeable future. All the advice that was given to you so far makes that assumption. That is, the advice given boils down to "get a band decoder that automatically selects the antenna for you".

You don't need large antennas, but you do need different antennas so you can deal with different propagation conditions. A very simple example is adding a multiband vertical to your OCF. If you were to build a switch based on the advice given so far you will not be able to switch simply on a per band basis.

If you really want to do this right, you need more than a band data to switch interface; you need a solution that lets you chose antennas that are available for the band selected. Consider Hamation (sold by Array Solutions), 4o3a, or Green Heron's GH Everywhere. My personal vote goes to GH Everywhere as it supports a lot more switches while Hamation is an entirely closed ecosystem. GH Everywhere is the only wireless solution for the moment.

For example, for my station, let's say on 20, the screen will show the following:

1) Stack control panel (1 button for each antenna) + rotator control for the top antenna
2) OCF South (40-10)
3) OCF USA (40-10 cloud burner)

On 40, the controls are:

1) 4el yagi + rotator control
2) 4 Square control panel
3) OCF South
4) OCF USA

In both examples the antennas that do not apply to the current band (e.g., 4SQ on 80 or the 160m phased verticals) are not being shown and you cannot select or control them.

Obviously you don't need this level of complexity, but the point is that the setup allows for multiple antennas per band, which is not possible if you only have a switch that follows the band data.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Agreed, antenna diversity is very helpful, especially on the lower bands. On 40 meters, I am constantly switching between my dipole and vertical. There is often a big difference in signals, especially for DX. But even stateside the vertical has times when it can be 2 S-units different from the dipole.

I don't have anything automated yet, but I have a Log periodic, OCF dipole, and Inverted L at the tower, and a vertical at the other end of the yard, a 6-meter squalo on the roof, and options for another dipole elsewhere.

Someday I will automate the switching.

Ken - NM9P