Remote control web server for SmartLink

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I have been operating remote for years using VPN and various Remote Desktop solutions

Now tha SmartLink is almost a reality it's time to start thinking about total remote control of the station

For me the ideal remote control would be web browser based with a secure login like SmartLink has
Ideally it would present all the features of DDUTIL but in a Web Browser format

The web control panel needs to have the following

1. DIGITAL Power Meter Readout to the Antenna (awe already have power from the radio but not from the Amp)

2. DIGITAL SWR

3. Rotor Control. - something like PSTRotator Web Panel

4. Amp Control. - like DDUTIL as you need to be able to turn Amp on and Off remotely

5. STeppIR Control like DDUTIL. As you need more contro than just following frequency.

Perhaps Marcus could add this to SSDR for iOS

Or' Condruit could add it to PSTRotator

But. Realistically SmartLink is only 1/2 the job Without FULL Control of the peripherals you still need to use a RDP solution.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Posted 2 years ago

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Ken Hansen

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This seems very station-specific, but I suppose if the new PowerGenius Amp can provide power out and SWR info, that gets you a long way towards your goal.

I envision a solution built on modules, all integrated with something like a raspberry Pi to tie the data sources together and present the web interface you're looking for.
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Stan - VA7NF

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Quite agree.  I'm setting up our club station for multiple remote users (club members) and the remote screen is a need.

Authorization/validation may be tied into SmartLink establishing a connection with a radio and the remote page tied to that operating location.  

Antenna selection, in our case, with at least a 4 X 8 switch

The above falls apart regarding DC power control (we have 3 150AH batteries on a Samlex 3 station charger) as SmartLink validation cannot happen if DC is OFF.

Also we may need a database of authorized users and their class of license.

Remembering "You can't build software solutions to management problems".
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John - AF3K

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Howard - Love the idea of a web interface for station control.  

One of the best I've used is the one developed by Lee/WW2DX and Ray/W2RE for their RemoteHamRadio.com service.  They have done a good job avoiding feature clutter and on doing the important things well in a fairly bulletproof way. 

For me, it would be awesome having RemoteHamRadio-like web based software functionality as a standalone thing and a) working with Flex stuff, and b) available so individual Flexers or groups of Flexers could define their own groups of shared stations.
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Ken Hansen

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Remotehams is a great interface, controls some antenna, Amp, accessories - sponsored by elecraft.
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John - WA7UAR

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I'm a 6x00 owner and have been a subscriber on RHR as well. Would it be a distraction if FRS was also a sponsor of RHR in exchange for their efforts to integrate Flex rigs/amps into their remote control ecosystem?
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k0eoo

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I agree with all; to run remote without VPN or RDP we need our peripherals remoted as well.  DDUtil already hooks into all the peripherals most of us use so it would seem to be the shortest path to achieving that goal.  It would be nice if Flex would work with Steve to make that happen....  Wishful thinking I'm sure.
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Mike - W8MM

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I agree that remoting peripherals is a mandatory step in achieving true remote operation.

In my case, the only real issue with my using a Maestro at my office has been solved with SmartLink.  I'm already able to connect my office desktop computer running SmartSDR by using SoftEther to bridge UDP broadcasts from the radios to enable the chooser.  Doing the same for Maestro with an extra RaspberryPi was a step too far for a satisfying return on effort.

Now, with SmartLink to connect the radio to Maestro, I can revert to a conventional (non-bridged) VPN structure (router managed) for access to my home-based server on which I can run PSTrotatorAZ in server/client or Web mode as well as Bird VPM3 virtual power meter software that has capacity for dozens of Bird 5014 USB power/swr sensors (like a two-socket Bird 43).  I can also run relay controls for enabling/disabling VHF/UHF kW PAs, etc.

That's quite a plate-load for any single web server program to keep ahead of.  But, trying to do all of the above on a single iPad would complicate operations trying to flip back and forth among a remote admin app, SmartLink for iOS, PSTrotator web page, etc.

There's a big opportunity here, but one that has many heads of the Hydra to contemplate.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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My issue with the current version of RHR is that it is optimized for blind radios like the K3 It totally lacks the visual interface of modern SDR radios. SSDRfw and SSDR for iOS are years ahead of the blind interfaces of RHR

I do like the RHR Implementation of the rotor and they do give you a DIGITAL POWER Readout

I do not know if they have full control of SteppIR.

I personally have no need to rent time on other people's "Superstations" when my home station is likely better than many of them.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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RHR doesn't like steppirs and avoids them as far as possible. 
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John - AF3K

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No argument here! I also much prefer SSDRfw, SSDR for iOS, and Maestro to anything else. For things that aren't currently supported within SSDR I prefer a web based interface to an RDP interface.
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Gary Wise

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Thank you to all of the Remote Gurus on this board. With your help I was able to remote my station. Using Howard's list here is what I'm doing now:

Laptop running Windows 7 and two monitors, SmartSDR on one and Teamviewer on the other.


1. DIGITAL Power Meter Readout to the Antenna - Elecraft W2 and the Elecraft software.

2. DIGITAL SWR - As above

3. Rotor Control. - N1MM+ Rotor control software (gives visual feedback on rotor position)

4. Amp Control. - DDUTIL to KPA-500 & KAT-500

5. Antenna Switching - Using Denkovi USB-8 boards to control modified Ameritron remote antenna switches.

6. Radio power switching - Denkovi USB-4


But all this requires a hamshack computer on 24/7, with control via Teamviewer.

Doing all of these functions in SmartSDR would be great, but I suspect would be a lot of programming time.

73 - Gary W4EEY
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Nice Job Gary

While you and for that matter I can clearly operate remote if one effectively schleps a laptop and 2 monitors with you, it's not how I typically need to travel to remote locations

FYI - my current station has operated via RDP Viewers like TeamViewer and Paralllels (which is better) and VPN remotely for years

Today I not want to carry all that weight
I normally carry an iPad Pro and a MIFI Box that fits in my shirt pocket that uses foreign SIM for traveling.

So I am looking for a web based solution which combines SSDR for iOS with a web browser control panel.
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Does yours look something like this, Howard?  No VPN, two ports forwarded using Verizon cell connection from the RV 600 miles away in Sisters, Oregon to the house near Seattle.

For one of the other questions, nearly all modern ham gear has its own GUI.  Just put it up on the screen like when you're at home using Team Viewer or others. This is Remote Desktop.  Speed meter runs around 300 Kb/Sec. (bits, not Bytes) with waterfall at 50% and spectrum at 2 frames/Sec, which is all I need.  Full duplex audio adds another 150 Kb/Sec. using the uLaw lossless codec.  Sometimes I turn on a camera to check for smoke.

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Varistor

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How do you do CW via TeamViewer?
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Bob - W7KWS -

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This looks like the same picture because it's still the base at home but this time it was captured on my Verizon LG G5 cell phone.  It's the only equipment I need to operate when I want to leave the laptop at home and go light weight.

(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Bob

If you search this community you will see that we have been posting RDP without VPN versions such as TeamViewer, LogMeIn and Parallels almost the same as you are now posting since about 2011

Currently like you all my local control is done via Parallels RDP on my iPad except that band data runs seemlessly viaDDUTIL.

I am currently in France again more than 6500 miles from my base.

Rather than clutter everything with lots of apps, I use DDUTIL which controls my SteppIR MonstIR, SPE2K-FA, LP100 wattmeters, Rotor and Macros DC and AC Power is thru a web app. However to run the radio I used SSDR for iOS. Much cleaner interface for travels.

The point of my post is to eliminate the very awkward need to schlep equipment when traveling by providing a web based rather than a RDP control solution to complement the very portable iOS solutions.
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Marc Lalonde

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one solution may that flex let use PC side CAT to send "transparent"
serial data to a FTDI cable on the radio  

so this way you may use SmartLink/SmartSDR  link for control Rotator  ,antenna switch or else
and serial data was not a big overhead to the radio protocol  

PC side have already virtual serial port
Radio side have already the FTDI  serial part  ,so it not very complex to implement the bridge 

 
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Yes, I have also proposed an option of a Smart CAT Port designation as "Pass-through" which could easily be linked from a laptop and allowing any program running on the remote computer to link to equipment at the rig site via the pass-through ports as though they were local.  Many remote station needs could be met this way, with no need for a computer running at the rig site, no VPN or remote desktop access programs necessary.

But as Howard has discussed, there are other remote operation solutions where this would not be as practical, so It would be great if there was something that could serve as a "Remote Functions Aggregator" of sorts, that would collect and distribute sensory and control data from a variety of different devices (rig, amp, rotator, power meter, antenna switch, steppIR antenna, etc.) and fold them together into a common, easy to access web browser interface similar to the excellent remote server that is incorporated into PSTRotator.

It would take much less bandwidth than running something like Parallels Access or Teamviewer, because it would be an HTML app, rather than a total remote desktop solution, and would run on iPad/iPhone as well as laptop/desktop.

It would be really nice if it were something built into SSDR, perhaps as a pop-out panel similar to the TX Control panel in SSDR/Win, or as a pull-in panel on SSDR-IOS.

But, if this isn't an option, it would really be nice if the rig-side remote interface was able to run from a Rasberry Pi, cutting down the need for a large, energy hogging computer running 24/7 at a remote shack.

Just my 2 bits.

Ken - NM9P
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Marc Lalonde

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whit a simple Arduino and a serial port you may control well over 90% of a ham shack 
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I am sure something like that can be done. I have something really simple for my steppir control but I want to expand on it further. Need time to develop, 3 kids aren't easy plus work is killing me these days. 
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Howard,

Nice work given so few years remoting your station. My reasons for the two posts might be similar to yours. I hope the screen shots provide graphic encourgement to others that remote control of a ham station isn't rocket science no matter what equipment is to be controlled.


Here is a Youtube link to K9LZJs remote station. Hank and I did a lot together at the beginning but he has really done a job at his location. Well beyond my stuff.


Everyone should find usefull tidbits from this extreme remote contest station.

https://youtu.be/YLCW4mL8mkQ

Best regards
(Edited)
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philip.theis, Elmer

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Have you looked at what RemoteQTH has done? Look at: https://remoteqth.com/index.php
It's a full featured control scenario based on Web Server design using PHP.
All open source
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Bob - W7KWS -

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A quick look shows what appears to be a broad family of solutions for remoting. Over the years I've used equipment available at the time so my investment in gear has been made. Going forward I'll include RemoteQTH in my list of suppliers. Thanks for the tip!
(Edited)
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Mark WS7M

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Based on this thread I started a small project and forgot to post here.

I have code to control my SPE amp and also my Digital Logger web switches and relays.  This code also knows about my 6500.

I started to wrap that up into a small "server" that publishes web pages on a port of your desired value.  The web pages are configurable and links on the pages execute scripts you can design to do specific things.

In my case the links/scripts turn on my amp, set amp power, etc and I have some links to cycle power to amp an/or 6500.

I have very simple authentication in place which works won't keep the dedicated hacker out but it will keep the casual user from turning on your amp.

You need to punch this port through your firewall for it to work, but once you do as long as you have a dynamic IP service you've got the web page Howard mentioned.

Still a work in progress but I'm hopeful that when 2.x is released it will do what I need.
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Mark WS7M

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Update on my progress:

DDUtil is a great utility and I know many here run it but I never had great luck with it doing what I want.   So for sometime now I've been running my own program that attaches to my Flex and figures out what to tell my little SE 1K FA (the baby amp to the big boys).

As I posted above, to get ready for 2.x I personally like Howard's idea of a web page controller.  In my case I have a very simple station compared to you guys with your monster stepper antennas.  I just have my flex (2.x will make that remoteable) and my amp.  My antenna is a simple EF wire.  I have a Palstar HF Auto tuner but really it will just sit there and tune.  Someday I might use it to change antennas but I really only have one that works.

So I started as I said above on a software based webserver that knew how to control my web power switches and the amp.  I've sort of reconsidered that a little.  Now I'm taking the following approach:

I have a raspberry Pi serving as a VPN controller.  I installed apache webserver on it and started to create a webpage to control things and have the pi host it.

The neat thing about this idea is the pi is pretty stable and is a low power device.  Using php I can do many of the things I want to do including enable/disable of the web power switches.

The interesting one is going to be controlling the AMP.  Currently the way my amp is setup I have to open the remote serial port and it turns on.  It stays on until I close the remote serial port.   So my plan is to have a service running on the pi that does the amp control and my php code will send requests to it to do things like set the power, enable etc.

Still working out the kinks on this but it seems like when I'm done all I have to do is connect 2.x using the remote SmartLink stuff.  Then use a web page to connect to my station controls.

I'll keep the group posted and see how I do.
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Doug Hall

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I have a raspberry Pi serving as a VPN controller.  I installed apache webserver on it and started to create a webpage to control things and have the pi host it.
Mark,

I'm doing pretty much the same thing here, and it is working quite well. I use lighttpd instead of Apache, and Python cgi-bin stuff instead of php. I'm told by the professionals that cgi-bin is not the Right Way but it was quick and fairly easy. I have rotator and antenna switch control via a simple web interface. I haven't tackled the amplifier control yet, and for now I either have to open a remote serial port or use the DDUtil client program.

It's a work in progress, and that's part of the fun. It will probably never be finished, but it is good enough for the girls I go out with.

73,
Doug K4DSP
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I have a crude interface and SteppIR interlock but I'm polishing it up. Working on a front end in Django which has its own web server and is built on python and is responsive. I'm not a master snake charmer yet but it's not too hard.
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Tom O'Boyle

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Did this project ever make it to the public?  
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Asher - K0AU

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Bunch of good questions and ideas here. I especially like Ken, NM9P's suggestion for a serial pass-thrrough. I still have serial devices (Green Hills, Alpha, PowerMaster). And one device - Antenna Genius - that needs direct LAN access to a Windows Client. Did any of this ever get prioritized or implemented?
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Kari Gustafsson SM0HRP, Elmer

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Mikroham has something of a complete remote server ongoing for all kinds of interfaces USB, LAN, RS232... It was shown at Friedrichshafen last year. Estimated release fall 2019.



It would allow all remote equipment controlled over this server.
From their web page:
"REMOTE SERVER, brain of your remote connection, connects not only transceiver, but all your station accessories without additional external boxes. Power amplifiers, rotators, antenna controllers, tunable antennas (UltraBeam, SteppIR), all your microHAM boxes, simply all your current equipment that can be controlled over USB or RS232 or LAN, can connect to REMOTE SERVER. If the built-in 4x USB and 2x RS232 ports are not sufficient for your setup, simply add USB HUBs and USB-RS232 adapters as needed."
(Edited)
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Mike - W8MM

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Asher - K0AU

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Interesting device from MicroHam. Ken NM9P suggested remote serial support, presumably as a CAT pass-through mode talking to the USB port on the Flex6K. Did that idea ever get prioritized? Would solve a lot of integration problems if it worked across SmartLink.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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While I would love to see it, I don't know enough about the internal architecture of the Flex-6000 series to know if it is even practical.  Nothing has been said to indicate it is on "the list."

I do remember hearing that they would like to keep the interfacing to the rig's USB ports as simple as possible so as not to burden the rest of the internal software with peripheral device drivers.

Ken - NM9P