Remote Antenna Switch

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  • Updated 1 year ago
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I have an Ameritron RCS-8V Remote Coax Switch. Now that the Flex can output from the USB ports, I would like to use some sort of USB relay board from eBay or Amazon to replace the rotorary switch in the remote control box. I want to be able choose an antenna while remote using the Maestro or PC.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. I can handle any electronics but very limited on programming.

73
Bill
VA3QB
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Bill / VA3QB

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Posted 2 years ago

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Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Hi Bill,

The Sainsmart relay board works well and is genuine FTDI so it is supported by the USB cable feature of SmartSDR. 

https://www.sainsmart.com/sainsmart-4-channel-12-v-usb-relay-board-module-controller-for-automation-...

Since the RCS-8V doesn't have a BCD input this is your best option. You can program it as a BIT cable and each relay will be closed for a particular band. You can use this in place of the rotary switch control box. Connect the common to +12v (relay board must have 12v as well) and each of the relay control wires to the N.O. contacts. Then set it up in SmartSDR as a BIT cable and assign the bands you want to switch on for each control wire. Dead simple. 
(Edited)
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Paul - K6HR

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Get the Sainsmart board. I paid $27 for the USB 8ch board. It works flawlessly. Replace your rotary switch with this and you'll be happy about it.
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Chris DL5NAM

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This boards also exist with LAN connection (~50-60$), then you can switch remote via Internet and no need any PC at remote site. 
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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The Ethernet boards are certainly nice but won't auto band switch like the USB ones will.
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Chris DL5NAM

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Ria your right, but if you not use your station remote for contest, and if you have more then one antenna for a band it will be a good solution. It's a click more. Using here 2x 16 relay boards and a Arduino to switch my MicroHam Double ten antenna switch.
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Gary Wise

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I recommend boards from Denkovi.com over Sain. Faster shipping and better customer support.

I'm using them with DDUTIL and with Denkovi's control software. I didn't realize they could work with the new cables. I have a hamshack pc running Teamviewer and SmartSDR connecting via a VPN (Thank's to Ria's Raspberry Pi Script).

73
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John - K3MA

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But they do not use official FTDI so often get conflicts with other devices that have official and signed drivers.
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Bill Axelrod

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Bill,

     I use the Denkovi boards.  Around $23 US.  Link is http://denkovi.com/usb-eight-channel-relay-board-for-automation

73...   Bill K3WA
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Rory - N6OIL

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Would this also work for the MFJ-4726? I don't have any data on this just the ops manual.
Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I suppose you can make anything work. It may take a bit of reverse engineering but MFJ switches are typically not complicated and the more complicated ones have BCD inputs for transceiver control. So if all this switch does is ground or power individual lines to activate the relays then yes, you can use either the Denkovi or Sainsmart relay boards as BIT cables. 
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Bill / VA3QB

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Keep in mind that when I'm remote there is no computer in the shack running. So what ever setup I use it must run directly off the Flex itself.  I have 4 antenna's. A Windom, triband beam, 6 meter beam, and a 40-80M inverted V antenna. So there is more than one antenna per band.

Bill
VA3QB
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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You can still use the built in USB cable feature but if you want to use a particular antenna on a band it's not so straightforward. You'll have to reconfigure the BIT cable each time you want to do so.
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AC9S

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Following the advice in this thread I ordered a Denkovi 8 position switch which arrived yesterday.  A question for Ria, Bill, or whomever:  What typed of USB cable do I use to connect the Denkovi to the USB ports on the back of my 6700.  Since the Denkovi is an FTDI device does the cable connecting it to the 6700 need to be an FTDI cable or just regular USB?  Please pardon my PC ignorance.


Thanks -  Keith - AC9S

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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The denkovi boards just need a regular A to B USB cable. The FTDI chip is on the board.

Ria
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AC9S

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Thanks Ria.


Keith - AC9S

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Bill Axelrod

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Keith,

     I used the FTDI USB-Serial cable offered on the Flex Web Site.  Not the cheapest - but tested and known to work.  
I will email you the Flex tutorial.

73...   Bill
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AC9S

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Hi Bill,

I must be missing something.  My Denkovi board has a USB connection.  I only see two cables on the Flex site.  One terminates in 8 pigtails and the other in a DB9.  I don't see how either could connect to the Denkovi.

Thanks - Keith - AC9S


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Bill Axelrod

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Keith,

     I forgot my self.  I use regular USB to USB cables from the Flex to a USB Hub.

     Regular USB to USB to the Denkovis.  Have four of them that switch filters and antenna relays.  I use three of the Flex cables USB to DN-9 to drive my two SteppIRs and 75 meter antenna tuner.

73...   Bill
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AC9S

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Thanks Bill.   I think I'll also hook my Steppir up directly to the 6700 with a USB DB9.  I'll pick up USB A to B in the morning and check out the Denkovi.


73 - Keith

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Bill Axelrod

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Only trick to Denkovi is that you need to wire the common side of the relays also
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Paul Lourd

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Just a newbie jumping in with a potentially dumb question:  What do these relay boards actually switch? Are your coaxes running through the relay itself, or do your coax switches have OTHER relays that these USB relays are flipping? Looking for a very simple 4 port remote switch to mount in my antenna entry box just outside the shack. Thanks...Paul WB2JVB
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Paul Lourd

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Never mind, I think I figured out what you folks are up to!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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It's quite versatile.
It can be used to switch antennas, filters, amplifiers, even colored blinky lights in your shack if you so desire. 

You assign a band or frequency range to each relay and it switches whenever you QSY to that band or range.

Ria
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Alan KB5CUS

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In the Flex USB guide.. The chart  shows Band data for 160 thru 432 using BCD  4 Bits.  For the BIT data ( 8 bits ) , does that mean that the first 4 bits equal the same band data. There isn't a chart showing band tied to the bit data...  So,,,  I'm thinking that something like DDutil may have to be used ...  I never looked at the drop down menu & chose BIT, & don't know if it will even let me select & look at options as to assigning Bits...  (lsb msb)
Thanks....   Ria...
(Edited)
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Bill,

I suggest that instead of replacing the rotary control, you consider supplimenting it with whatever relay board you choose & maintain manual control capability. From time to time manual control is desirable for convenience when in the shack or when some electronic thing stops working. I have a reset button on my relay board. If I need to, this button releases all the relays & the rotary control can then make a selection.


Buy a relay board with double throw relays. Wire the rotary switch's common lead through the common & N.C. contacts of each relay in series so that when no relay is selected the rotary switch is active to select an antenna in the normal maner. When any relay is activated the rotary switch will be disabled & the relay will activate the chosen antenna. Each N.O. relay contact wires in parallel with the corresponding "select" lead from the rotary switch.

By the way, this arrangement helps insure that only one antenna can be actived at a time. Some selection systems rely on the rotary switch's non-shorting contact nature which isn't usually a feature of the relay boards, except for possible software safeguards.

73
(Edited)
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Alan KB5CUS

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I bought the BCD ftdi USB & built an interface but I would like to use the Denkovi 8 ch PCB... When I direct connect to my Flex as USB & chose BCD data will it Directly drive the relays as BCD or do I have to have interface driver software ?   Thanks for any help....  Alan  KB5CUS
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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With the denkovi, I believe they are configured as Bit cables. You have to do so from the "USB cables" menu within SmartSDR.

See the section about "bit" cables in the guide:

http://www.flexradio.com/downloads/usb-cable-interface-guide-pdf/
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Rob G6EIH

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The Denkovi 8 relay USB board works great, it will show up as "BIT Cable 8RLY xxxxxxx", you can then configure the relay switching in the Flex settings menu. The new Denkovi USB boards are also opto isolated and don't clatter on and off at boot time unlike the Sainsmart.
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Alan KB5CUS

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Thanks...  Rob...  Guess I'll place the order for the board......
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Steven G1XOW

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Rob, I actually like the relay clatter, it gives some feedback that something is actually happening...SmartSDR gives no clue whatsoever of either an antenna change, or which antenna is currently selected.
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IZ2ODM

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Hello , I just connected my dencovi with Usb cable to Flex . It recognize without any problem . But :
1) antenna A is tri-bander (20-15-10 mt)
2) antenna B is vertical 3band (160-80-40 mt).

It means that I have 6 band for just two rele' output.

It should means that for pin 1 (for exemple) I Would set aFrequency range instead of Band ,right? Same must be done for pin 2 (for antenna B) . This is mandatory because more frequency in just ONE antenna, right? OK  but frequency range seems does not work...some suggestion? Maybe syntax is wrong for the frequency range or other?

The last chance could be ,  set  frequency (for exemple 20 and 10mt ) rispectly with pin 3 and 4 and put the corrispective rele' contact in parallel with rele cupled with 15mt (left for pin 1). Pleaase some suggestion ...thanks . 73 Roberto IZ2ODM
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Steven G1XOW

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Roberto,

Set pin 1 as frequency based from 14.000 to 29.999 (antenna A)

Set pin 2 as frequency based from 1.800 to 7.300 (antenna B)

Both active high
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IZ2ODM

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Hello Steve and thanks for your help.
Sorry but it seems does not work anyway. In order to be more precise about my setting :

Pin 1--> Enabled , active high , Tx slice freq.range low 1800000000 , hi 7200000000
Pin 2 --> enable active high tx slice freq range low 14000000000 , hi 29900000000.

The only doubt is that active , would be stay on LOW as in this way I can hear and work with my antennas,.... but this is not THE problem . The problem is that remote switch does not change relay at band (freq..range) changing.

Please note that frequencies sintax has ben taken in "automatic" as I wrote 1.800 , 7.20 etc. 
also please note that in case I set "BAND" instead of freq.range it work without problem (but as said I have not output enought to caver all of my band/antenna)

It could be a problem of revision ? Currently I'm under  1.10.16.174.

Thanks for your help and patience and 
73 de IZ2ODM Roby