KN2M Remote Station
Hi. This paragraph is about the KN2M remote station. About 20 years ago, I lived in a city QTH with a really nice motorized crank up tower and a home brew multiband yagi on a 40 ft boom. Infact my old friend W2PV, the late Jim Lawson, was the inspiration for the antennna. It was of my own electrical design. My neighbors hated my antenna and my operation. I had to move to another home. I am sure they had a party when I left. In order to keep on the air, I found a country property with enough land and have two 140' Rohn 45 towers. The station was started in 1991 and the towers are basically unchanged but almost every feature inside is upgraded or modified to be remotely controlled. The station has stacked yagis on 10, 15 and 20m. Each antenna is independently rotated and selected. There is a 4 element 40m antenna and a triband yagi. Lightning and winds are a constant problem. The location is very harsh in the winter and we have frequent unrelenting winds over 80 mph. All the yagis have been replaced over the years due to wind damage. In fact, early attempts to keep up the 40m antenna met with quick failure from wind damage twice in the first year. Now, all the antennas (except the Skyhawk) are either my own electrical and/or mechanical design. I worked with M2 Antennas for the construction. At this time, using antenna construction software that I wrote, I have to say there have been no mechanical failures of the newer yagis. Each feedline has lightning protection at the base of the tower and there are two main underground hardlines connecting the tower switching houses to the main house. Lightning protection is also located where the hardlines and each and every control line enter the house. Since it is 500' from the station to the 40m yagi, I do not control the ring rotors directly from the station but with remote power supplies and separate relays in small buildings at the base of each tower. The buildings also house RF switching between the hardlines to the various antennas so everything is pretty much out of the weather. All together, there are several miles of underground control wires, coaxial cable, ground radials and a perimeter ground around the house. About 10 years ago, I started experimenting with remote operation of the station. We have two station positions, a left and right. My wife, N2HIW, is also a ham operator. She was photographed at the right station as "Miss April" of the CQ Calendar a few years ago. The two positions are isolated with bandpass filters and are interlocked so that two transmitters can not select the same antenna at the same time. The left station is set up for SO2R with a Yaesu 5000, an IC781, an Alpha87A and an AmpMaster. This station is primarily used for contest operation. The right station has a FT1000MP, an IC781, another Alpha87A but this station also has a TenTec Orion on a separate desk. This station computer has a fixed ip address with my computer router, along with the KN2M packet cluster (kn2m.d2g.com). The Orion has been my remote transceiver for remote operation since day one because it was the first completely controllable transceiver by computer. I have experimented with Icom but, decided against it as they remain the only manufacturer that does not provide computer code for RIT function and I love to operate CW. We may move to the Flex system in the future. For now, the station uses N4PY software. I use separate audio software, like EyeBall Chat or IPSound or Skype to transmit the audio. I added control software for the Alpha87A and I hired a software engineer to write windows code to control the Alpha Digital switches. At first, all I had was a simple multiband dipole antenna and no antenna switching. Then I added a single triband antenna. All this sounds pretty average so far and not too spectacular. The best feature of the station and the point that makes me say this is about the most complex remote station in the world is that all of the antenna switching, including control of the stacks and listening antennas are remotely controlled. In addition to the eight rotatable yagis, a SteppIR DB18 (non-rotatable), we have a 4 Square for 80m, several delta loops and dipoles for transmit. On receive, there are beverage antennas, a K9AY loop and a DX Engineering 8 position steerable receive antenna and a switchable preamplifier. Each and every antenna that can be used locally is controlled by remote computer function or normal manual controls. Typically, we keep the manual controls at the left station. The interfaces took some time to work out and I had help from my friend N2EJT for the work over the years. Some of the interfaces were accomplished using Alpha Digital Antenna Switches (DAS, no longer made), like phasing the yagis or switching the 4-square. In other cases, we designed and built advanced logic interfaces to adapt position controls, like on the DX engineering steerable array or the K9AY loop. The biggest problem is an occasional lockup on the station computer or the cluster machine. We now have a telephone answering machine that will restart the computers if either computer goes down. We have backup power at each computer for about 30 minutes. My preference for remote operation is CW. I typically use the keyboard in the N4PY software to send CW. I know many times DX stations are confused by the rate I come back to them and keep calling me. It is slower than a hand key for some operations. If you find me on the air with SSB, I am likely at the station, but if CW there is a good chance I am running remote operation. I also have a SteppIR vertical at my new city QTH in Buffalo. This is a very neighbor friendly antenna and I find that is a super DX antenna for having fun when I do not want to put the remote station on the air. When on vacation, if I have an internet connection, I can put the station on from anywhere in the world. 73 and good DX.
I have some videos working on the towers and putting up the SteppIR DB18 on YouTube. You can find them in the link below.
The DB18 is compared to other antennas on 20m and 40m also. On 20m CW HL2DC is calling CQ. I had just worked Lee barefoot. I switch between the stack, Skyhawk and the DB18. The SteppIR is a bit off direction but as you see there is a major improvement in signal between the stack and the other two antennas. Sometimes there is minimal difference depending on propagation. I think most hams have not had the opportunity to listen to comparisons like these.
On 40m CW, Hiro JS1NDM is on in the early morning with a great signal. I am comparing him between the 40m monobander in the photo below and the DB18 below it.
The link is:
I hope you like the videos. Here are some photos of the antennas, starting with the SteppIR mounted at 110': The 40m monoband is above and the Skyhawk is below.
This is another photo of the South tower, showing the ring rotors, the 4 Square for 80m, the Skyhawk and the two 10m antennas. The 10m stack includes the three lower antennas using a StackMatch. The small building holds the custom switching necessary to turn all 8 rings with a single controller, terminals for the control wires and the coax switching. Keeping this indoors really the weather from affecting the connections. We have electricity in the buildings and WiFi.
This next photo shows the North tower with the 15 and 20m stacks. The antennas rotate and operate in pairs or individually.
Last modified: 2012-12-03 23:07:45, 8095 bytes cached
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