Remote access to my rotor ...

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  • Updated 3 years ago
I am looking for an easy way to control my rotor remotely while using my K6TU Remote via VPN. My current way is to use one of many Remote Desktop programs such as Parallels Access and run PSTRotor on my shack computer. The problem is that this consumes too much valuable bandwidth and slows down my K6TU connection, which is already marginal.

I am using a Yaesu G800DXA rotor with the E.R.C. Rotor-to-USB interface.

Does someone know of a way to acces my rotor across the VPN, or run PSTRotor on my office computer with a simpler interface than a complete Remote Desktop solution?

Are there inexpensive Ethernet to USB adapters that will allow me to access a USB serial device across the Internet as though it was local?

Thanks.

Ken - NM9P
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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KM4CQG

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Ken

Green Heron has a program that works with the Yaesu Rotor. I have the MDS RC1 and can only use it via TeamViewer to remote my station.

Ian
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Ken,

So using K6TU you are obviously on a tablet right?

The solution I would take is this:

Write a program that runs on your shack computer that can move the rotor and report its position. This program should open a network port and listen for connections and accept a simple command interface like:

? returns the current rotor direction
### points the rotor that direction

Once you get it working you could add more features later.

Then from your iPad you basically use a TelNet program to connect to your shack program and type in the commands.

This would be a starting point. The issue is the USB interface. While there are devices that would allow you to port the USB over the LAN the problem is that you need to know exactly how to talk to the USB device and generally the packets are not easy to construct.

I'll take a look at the info on that rotor to USB but does your rotor controller have an option for RS-232? If so then I would take the easy way out and get a TCP/IP serial server (www.moxa.com) that connects to the serial port of the rotor control.

With this device in TCP server mode you just run a telnet session from your iPad (there are apps for it) and specify the IP and port and you are connected. From there you type in the RS-232 commands to move and query the rotor.

Mark
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Rob Fissel

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Ken,

PSTRotator has the option to run a web server. I have the same setup with the ERC btw. Link here, and scroll down to Web Page Remote Control:

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

Works fine over a VPN as well. I use my iPhone to control the rotator while using K6TU remote on my iPad. If you already have a web server for some other service on your network under port 80, pick any other random port and port forward from your router to the computer running PSTRotator. Questions, let me know. 
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Rob Fissel

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EDIT: Also noticed you're looking for a way to run PSTRotator on your work computer. Set up TCP server setup. I run a full version of PSTRotator on my work computer over the VPN back to the shack, no issues. 
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Excellent on both counts.
Yes, I am looking for a way to turn the antenna from the iPad via the VPN, and also a way to run PSTRotator from my remote laptop via VPN.  two different methods, depending upon where I am.

I will read up on PSTRotator's web server.  This may be exactly what I am looking for.

Thanks,

Ken - NM9P
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Rob Fissel

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Nice, Ken. Like I said, Web Server works great to turn from my iPhone/iPad web browser. TCP server works well when I use PSTrotator at work. I set up PSTrotator at home on the shack computer as the TCP server, port forward as needed, and set up PSTrotator in TCP client mode at work. Just like I'm sitting in the shack!
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I use this its probably your best bet.  wan based VCOM ports also a solution.
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Ali - 9K2WA

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I am using GH Everywhere client in my remote notebook connected to my station PC via SoftEther VPN to control two 2800 Yaesu rotators and few switch boxes plus power on my Flex radios as well works great.

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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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of course you need to spring for a rather pricey rotor controller.....
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Thanks rob sorry for the misunderstanding I was referring to the Green Heron, I have been using ERC and PSrotator for years at K6LRG, probably one of the earliest remote stations out there..   ERC and PSR used together are a very good and cost effective rotor control solution.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I like it. I will try the TCP and web servers this evening.
I have the ERC-DX which came fully assembled in an aluminum box and has a six pin DIN jack on one end and a USB jack on the other end. Cable included. It plugs right into the jack on the back of the Yaesu G800DXA. No fuss, no muss, no assembly required. Cost was about $106 US, shipped. Not bad. Some Other Yaesu models would need the retrofit kit or something. But I really like this rotor so far. Indeed PSTRotator makes it a really fine package.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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UPDATE:  I set up the web Server on PstRotatorAz and it works like a charm through the LAN and/or via the VPN connection.  I set up a bunch of preset keys for the web server and it seems to work really well with my iPhone.  I will try the TCP Server/Client later with my office laptop.  

Thanks for all the input.  I had the solution all along and just didn't know it!  You learn something every day!  Great group!

Ken - NM9P
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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FIne business!
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Rob Fissel

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Always love a happy ending, Ken!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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On my iPad with K6TU I control my Yaesu rotor via DDUTIL and Parallels Access. DDUTIL is always running on my base PC to control my SteppIR and Amp.

Basically once setup the antenna and amp are rarely touched so I can put the Remote Desktop in background.
(Edited)
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WA6FXT Mike

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I've asked FRS why don't they allow the use of USB to RS232 via the 6000 Series USB ports. Linux has well mannered USB com port drivers and Linux has methods of allowing the SmartCAT access to USB com, with good security I might add. This would allow the use of the 6000 Series radios AND control your accessories without having to run stuff on a local computer.

Mike
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WA6FXT Mike

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Enzo,

Yes, the driver exists in Linux; however, FRS needs to install the driver and ensure it cannot be subverted as a back door into the radio's Linux OS.

Walt,
My method doesn't put the shack device under radio control. As a Comm Port "virtually" connected to the SmartSDR PC, the controlling application is running via the SmartSDR PC.

Mike
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Walt - KZ1F

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Well, maybe after they get done putting their name on a tcp/ip controlled Linear they will make an FRS rotor control that only talks to the 6000 and a tcp/ip controlled logging / contesting program that is directly controlled by the radio.

I agree with Howard on this you really need a 24/7 computer running. A small mac-mini like fanless pc can be had for under $200. The one thing about ddutil is it's a Windows OS swiss army knife. One 'giant' applet that controls a whole multitude of devices specificly for Flex radios. As I was explaining, in my case, a jar for controlling a DCU-1 rotor controller. Simple common interface instantiating a DCU-1 specific implementation. Ditto for the Amp / ext tuner. In that way it can be useful as devices get swapped in and out and driven by anything running on any OS. But, that's me.
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Winston VK7WH

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I have had one of the fanless mini PCs running reliably for several weeks now (i5 16gGb RAM 250Gb SSD) using 2 x Wemo Makers and home brew interface boxes for PC and Flex on/off functions with return confirmation of status. I will be installing a third Wemo to switch 12V supply remotely. Simple and works like a treat.
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Walt - KZ1F

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I should reiterate one other thing. One of my other goals is removing ANY requirement for Microsoft Windows.
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WA6FXT Mike

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Walt,
I'm not communicating well, here...

My idea does NOT have FRS controlling anything accept the USB - RS232 device. All control is via the computer running the control application. (HRD, DDUTIL, etc...) and is OS independant. In this example, as with most current 6000Series installations, this on a Windows PC.
When I say SMartSDR PC, I mean the computer, currently running SmartSDR, either in the shack or on the road.
The only difference is instead of plugging the USB RS232 cable into your SmartSDR PC, it's plugged in the 6000Series radio. DDUTIL would still connect to a Virtual CommPort under SmartCAT. It's just not the one connected and running SmartSDR.

Does that make sense?

When we have a Linux or OS-X based SmartSDR type application and Virtual CommPort application that could connect to the USB RS232 cables connected to the 6000Series radio via the FlexAPI (Yet to be written) Comm Interface.

Mike
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k0eoo

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I don't see it mentioned in the replies to your question Ken, but DDUtil has a very nice client you can turn on and run on your remote PC that controls the Steppir, Rotor and one of your amps running on your Radio room PC....  I use it with my 6500 and it works very well...
(Edited)
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WA6FXT Mike

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That assumes you have a PC running at your station 24/7.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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If you are running remote you pretty well need a PC running 24/7 or you need a way to start the PC remotely

BTW. I use DDUTIL to remotely control my rotor Amp and Steppir.
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WA6FXT Mike

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Not if the control is via comm ports attached the radio's USB Port. Then you only need the radio and accessories running.
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Peripheral controller

Here is a solution that has been discussed before and seems like it would be a good one. 

  • There would be a network attached and dedicated micro-controller running at the radio location to control all peripherals
  • It would essentially be "ddutil in a box."    
  • It would have an embedded web server you could address locally or remotely to provide setup and runtime display information.  Also firmware updates would be supported via the web server. 
  • It would not be running Windows, only a basic OS, the DDUtil-like software, and web server. 
  • It would be remotely rebootable  (needs to be bullet proof and able to be recovered remotely)
  • It would connect to the radio via IP / ethernet and/or the accessory connector (I2C, etc)
  • It would have all of the needed I/O protocols and hardware connections (serial, parallel, BCD, CIV, etc) to drive tuners, band switches, amplifiers, antennas (SteppIR), etc
  • It would have USB ports where you could connect a FlexControl (in case you want to run a second one locally controlled by this software in addition to one controlled by SSDR if you are running on a PC)

Eventually when all peripherals are network attached this controller would become obsolete but would not impact the 6xxx radio software since the only connection is via IP.  All of the DDUtil-like software is on the micro-controller. 

See this idea for additional information on the approach.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/band_data-3xef1?topic-reply-list%5Bsettings%5D%5Bfi...

This would be a great project for a third party person or group but not trivial.  And it would have to be affordable (another challenge).  So it may never happen.....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.17.74
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.17.156
Win10





connect to the radio 
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WA6FXT Mike

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Al,

Your solution is just another PCrunning 24/7 in the shack, outside the box.

Think "Inside The Box".

BTW - Maestro could be setup to control accessories, if it allowed third part apps to be run.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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4O3A already makes a number of different IP based controllers to run ham radio peripherals such as rotors


http://4o3a.com/index.php/products/st...
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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H Howard,
The Ranko /  403A products are close with a dedicated u-controller and a lot of features.  Have you considered trying out the Station Genius 2.0 ?  It sounds like it would support your amp and SteppIR.  Is there anything else that you use DDUtil for that it wouldn't do?

http://4o3a.com/index.php/news

For me, It would need to support a second FlexControl like DDUtil in the short term.  Once Maestro has the enhancement to be a mega-Flex control (maybe V2) then I wouldn't need that feature.  Another option would be for SSDR to support more than one FlexContol but I doubt that will happen. 

After the 2015 Dayton dinner I checked out his product line.  I've read the manual for SSC XL (older version) of the station control.   It's available at this link:

http://4o3a.com/index.php/products/station-automation/ssc-xl

But I didn't see a manual  for the new 2.0 version.  Maybe I missed it.  I also looked at his other station integration products again.  It would be interesting to hear from someone with a Flex and 403A setup  to see what products they chose and how they setup their station. 

Ranko's products are definitely headed in the right direction for the future (dedicated micro controllers and IP connections).  It will be interesting to see how his Flex SO2R box and amplifier work.   

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com   
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Hello Al

I currently use DDUTIL to control my SreppIR MonstIR, SPE2K-FA Amp, Yaesu GS2800 aRotor, LP100A Digital Wattmeter, 2 Wavenode 4 channel watt meters , antenna switching, and most important Genovation Macro Control Keypad.

So it has tons of stuff to do.

I use DDUTIL remotely via Paralleels Access terminal emulator. Not ideal but it works.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Howard,
I guess the Genovation control is one of those features still not available in any of the products.  And for me it is the Flexcontrol capability.

DDUtil sure does it all...but Ranko and Enzo are headed in the right direction. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.17.74
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.17.156
Win10
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IW7DMH, Enzo

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Hello Al,

I am working from 4 months at such a kind of device. I started with a simple automatic band-data switch then I added additional features that other friends asked me in a WhatsApp group.
My device has open source firmware, multiplatform control software, and doesn't need a personal computer. In the respect of your check list it has no web server control, and it can't be restarted from remote but it is able to restore itself from a full blackout.
It uses UDP protocol and in some way could solve the Ken issue: in the firmware you just have to adapt the code for the different rotator protocol.
Other features are: 2 physical RS232 ports, Remote CW Keyer and Remote VOICE Keyer. The voice Keyer needs the DAX program so, for this particular feature, the control software has to run on Windows paltform.






I am going a step forward in these days and I am testing solid state relays for remote AC-Power control. Next (and last) step will be refining the firmware code adding some kind of watchdog system.

73' Enzo
iw7dmh
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Enzo,
Congrats!  It looks nice and hits on all the main features needed.  In my station today I use DDUtil to control several peripherals

  • BandMaster III for antenna control via a serial connection for band data
  • Prometheus amplifier via serial connection for band data
  • A second FlexControl connected to the PC but under DDUtil control
  • Eventually will add an Alpha 4040 automatic tuner (if / when they ever ship)

Eventually when Maestro has the enhancement to be a mega-Flex control and work concurrently with SSDR I'll no longer need the 2 FlexControls.  So at that point my needs for peripheral control are diminished.  

I don't currently control my Yaesu G02800 rotators remotely but maybe one day.  At this time I just dial them up as needed from the control boxes. 

Good luck with your project, keep us updated. I think it could be a very nice addition for many folks now and something I'd consider in the future. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.17.74
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.17.156
Win10
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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PSTRotator can run multiple instances and control multiple rotators. The ERC box is just a bit over $100 shipped for the model for your Yaesu controls. I think you would enjoy controlling them remotely via the web interface or the TCP client. Even when running locally, the combo has added a new dimension to my station.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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The bottom line solution for me so far was found in the program I already had...PSTRotatorAZ.

It has two methods that will work.  

1) A built in web server that allows me to use a simple web browser to control the antenna orientation.  It allows about 12 presets and is effective on my cell phone when using a VPN into my station.  (A relatively simple matter using my ASUS Router, or using SoftEther.net on my shack computer.)  There is probably a way to do this without needing to use VPN, but I haven't played enough with the web server to do it yet.

2) My favorite way to do it from the office is with the PSTRotator TCP Server/Client.  This allows me to open a port on my home router and run PSTRotatorAZ on my shack computer in TCP Server mode, and run the program in Client mode in my office on my laptop or other machine.  When run this way, it runs exactly the same as if I were running in the shack.  The compass rose and bearing indicator, map double-click controls, and other functions are the same.  And it  seems to run instantaneously.  I don't notice any lag in performance, nor does it seem to take up much bandwidth.  It doesn't require connecting via a VPN to do it, I only need to remember the port number.  Once configured in PSTRotator, it functions on the remote computer as though it were running locally.

Both methods require the ham shack computer to be running and PSTRotator to be active on it.

Another option I would like to see would be to allow a serial device to be connected to the 6000's USB port and allow it to serve as a "pass through port" that sends signals from an ethernet port to and from the rotator interface from a program, like a virtual remote COM port, served through the flex radio ethernet connection.  If that were true, I could use a program on my remote computer and address it to send to a COM port through the 6000 which would then activate the ERC controller on my rotator...no other shack computer needed.

I can dream, but for now, these two solutions are getting me where I want to go.

I will explore DDUtil this weekend and may determine that I have yet another option that has been on my computer all along!

Thanks for the input guys....
Ken - NM9P
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k0eoo

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I run PSTRotatorAZ when I'm running Log4OM as my logger, seems to work very well and also controls the SteppIR .