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I will answer any QSL Card or LOTW. For Mail QSL Cards, please send $1US & sae and I will send one out ASAP. Im trying to get away from EQSL and switch over to LOTW exclusively but if you only have EQSL send it to me, it may be a while before I send it back verified though.

QSL cards, Please do not send me U.S. Stamped return envelopes, just your return address (SAE) is fine. Unfortunately, US postage stamps do not work going out from Canada .

If you wish, please sign my WEB log under the WEB tab.

Running three radios as separate stations via remote control, usually when I am not at the QTH, and sometimes from within other areas of my QTH.

Station # 1 - IC746Pro - HF thru 6 meters & 2 meters Vertical

Station # 2 - TS2000S - 6 meters , 2 meters and 70cm horizontal

(though the TS2000 is also capable of HF, currently I'm only operating it on 6 Meters and up)

Station # 3 - TS790A - mainly for 23cm horizontal but occasionally experiment with 2M and 70cm Vertical

 

Update: June 2017, station now moved to a new radio room.  All the main radio gear now in one room, including repeaters and APRS digipeater. Though the room decor is not totally finished, we are 100% operational in the new radio room.

Below: Jan 2018 New Addition of Heil PR40, Shock mount, PL2T arm and cables for IC746 and TS2000

GRID: FN14BB

Hello all from Colborne Ontario and Thanks so much for stopping by my QRZ Page. If you are interested in operating your amateur station by remote control, as inexpensively as possible, you have come to the right place. See down the page for details and check back periodically for updates. Previous active calls VE3YUF (now used for packet digipeater) and VA3VEC 

 Enjoying HF, VHF & UHF SSB weak signal skeds. Catch me on 144.205 Mhz after 08:00 (Eastern) when Im not working, or when Im working and have time to chat via remote. Currently using the Kenwood TS2000 , 2M SSB antenna is 17B2 and 350W amp. On 432Mhz,  running 100W, usually listening on 432.100  with 719 Cushcraft antenna and on 1296.100, running 60W using a 45 Element Looper.

6 Meters catch  me in around 50.125 usb and upwards during the ES season,  if the band is open.

I was originally Licenced in 1991 under the call VE3YUF (which I still have and use for packet / APRS) . See the VE3YUF QRZ page for details.

June 2017 : New Panadapter Tap boards added to My Hardware Rigs.  You can spend thousands of dollars on Flex Radios and/or other SDR's , or you can add an IF tap board to the proper IF stage of your hardware radio and obtain SDR/Panadapter capabilities for a fraction of the price. See Below, TS2000 panadapter on 2 meters zoomed in on 144mhz spectrum, using NooElec Dongle and operating SDR Console during January 2018 - 2 meter VHF contest. The RF hump (Light blue area) is from my two preamps.  IF Tap Board courtesy of KD2C Dave Calo.  

Below: IC746pro, tapped at 1st IF stage (64.455Mhz), Radio on 40 Meters, using NooElec Dongle and operating SDR Console. IF Tap Board courtesy of KD2C Dave Calo.  Thanks for providing this great product Dave!

Below, Entire 20 Meter band activity during field day 2017. You can clearly see the activity on the CW (centre) and SSB (right) portion of the 20 meter band. The large signal showing up on the very left is a short wave AM broadcast on 12 mhz. 

The beauty of this capability on a hardware rig.....Its like having two receivers in one. Sit the hardware radio on your favourite frequency on that band and monitor anything within that band on the SDR. HDSDR also allows for hardware radio frequency tracking if you want the radio to tune to the SDR frequency with a simple mouse click/  MUCH more to come on this as its a project in development.

Antennas and Towers

Currently there are 6 towers at our site.  See the main two below. See VE3RTY for Repeater Tower and setup & VE3YUF for APRS digipeater tower and setup info. This is a constantly changing and evolving project so check back for updates.

 

Below: House 50Ft tower - 17B2 Cushcraft 2M SSB antenna, 719 Cushcraft 432Mhz SSB antenna, Triband 6m/2m/70cm vertical. 1296 beam is a 45 Element Looper which I have on a temp mast, at the bottom of the stack. Plans for a second 17b2, 719 will place the looper at the top of the tower stack shortly. Coax Fed 80 Meter Windom and rx antennas also below top of tower.

 

VHF/UHF/SHF beams

 

 

and coax fed windom 10-80m off tower

<---HF & 6 Meter Tower

 

Main HAM Shack setup - using TS2000 for 6m , 2m, 70cm SSB

Shack Consists of the following:

Main HAM Shack Setup:

Icom 746 Pro Remote Radio 1 100W 160-2M all mode 

Icom IC2KL / AT500 500W Amplifier & Tuner, fully automatic band switching.

Henry 3KA HF Console Amplifier 1500W PEP out nominal (or more) not remote tuning but a great pile up breaker!

Kenwood TS2000S Remote Radio 2 6 -70cm all mode

TE Systems 0552G 25Win (max) 375 out on 6 meters

TE Systems 1452G 25Win (max) 350W out on 2 meters 

RF Concepts RFC4-110 - 10W in 100W out 70cm

Kenwood TS790A Remote Radio 3 2m all mode, 70cm all mode W/ 23cm Module installed

23cm -1296mhz 60W Amplifier

Heil PR40. Shock Mount, PL2T and Cabling

SM20 Icom

Kenwood MC60 x 2

Kenwood MC85

Main HAM Shack FM Only Radios:

Icom ID800H Dstar Dual VHF/UHF Band FM

Yeasu FT100DR Dual Band C4FM & FM

Yeasu FT8900R Quad Band FM 10, 6 , 2 70cm 

Base Antenna Setup:

KLM / Mirage KT34A Tri Band 4 Element Beam

Coax fed Windom 80-6 meters

Imax 2000 10-20 Meter Vertical

A505S 5 Element 6 meter Beam

17B2 17 Element 2 meter SSB Beam

719 - 19 Element 70CM SSB Beam

45 Element "Looper" 23cm Beam

GP15 x 2 Triband Vericals - 6 meter, 2 meter 70cm Omni

JTB4 x 2 (copy of GP15) 

Henry 3K-A Console model HF Amp. The plate transformer alone weighs in at 100lbs. Entire unit more than 150lbs. at 3600V this amp will put out more than legal limit!

REMOTE CONTROL of HAM shack - 3 radio stations

 I have been working on remote control of my shack radios since 2012 - 2013, adding control equipment as I learned more about how to do it. It all started because of a presentation Eric Meth VE3EI (SK) put on at our local club. Eric will be dearly missed

As stated above, the idea of remote control of the station started to make sense when at our summer cottage after seeing a presentation at our local club a few years back, and the thought of installing another station at the cottage just seemed to be redundant with the technology available today, thus was the starting point of my project. Im remote controlling 3 rigs and two rotators. Why control more than one rig you may ask? In my case I was looking for multiple antennas and polarity for HF, 6M & 2M FM (IC746pro) and 2M, 432 & 1296Mhz SSB (TS790A & TS2000S) It just made more sense to me since I had the rigs when I started on the project, and it gives me the ability to operate 12 antennas remotely.. If you are going to go remote control you likely want to operate one rig to start to keep it simple.

What is required for remote control? Two or Three items to remote contol, depending on what bands and modes you wish to operate, and what your home station consists of rigs antennas etc. My list is............

1) Rig (Cat) Control

2) Rig Audio Control In and Out (if the remote control program doesnt handle audio such as in the case of HRD5, or your rig doesnt have the capability)

3) Antenna Rotator Control*

*(if you are into 6 Meter, VHF/UHF ssb and weak signal work this is a must, but if you are using a dipole on HF, rotator obviously will not be required)

External equipment and software needed (that I use)

CAT Control --> Home Shack control computer - Pentium 4 -  6 Core using Windows 7 64 Bit and high speed internet (im pretty sure Windows XP or above will be fine)-  Ham Radio Deluxe Version 5 (last release of version 5) **I strongly recommend using a UPS on the Shack Computer, that way you dont have to run home to reset the system when the power goes out! Also in the BIOS in your computer I recommend setting to automatically reboot on power restore for the same reasons. My Remote Computer - using Small ASUS Netbook (see pics below) tethered via my smartphone in the truck, using Pentium Duo Core Laptop at cottage. I can also control the station via smartphone alone with theTeamviewer  App. Can log into the remote server computer from anywhere with high speed internet as long as Teamviewer  installed on that computer.

Update Jan 2018. Now here is something worth mentioning. I recently acquired a Rig Runner RR4005i. This allows me to remote control the 12V power to the TS790A and the IC746Pro. The TS2000 already will turn on and off via HRD. 

Below: The remote control screen to control up to 40 Amps of 12V connections on 5 separate nodes.

Below: A lot of power in a small package. Fed from a 30Amp supply on the top shelf, this box runs the IC746 Pro and the TS790A. More to come on this in sure!

Audio In / Out --> Signal Link USB x 3 (one for each radio) by Tigertronics hardware and Skype software installed on remote and local computers and/or cellphone . Some newer rigs such as the Yeasu FT991, and the Kenwood TS590S and Icom 9100 now have USB sound card codec built in to the rig. This means the External Device such as the Signal Link or Rigblaster is not required. I have no such rig (Yet) so cannot comment on the audio operation.

Rotator Control --> ERC Easy Rotor Control x 2 (one for each antenna stack). check out the website for more info at www.easy-rotor-control.com . I bought the ERC Version 4 USB version of the control card. You can also buy a version that works with Azimuth and Elevation rotators for those into EME.  They are easy to assemble, easy to install in any rotor control that has a voltage feedback (displays position of antenna on controller). ERC also supplies a calibration program, rotor control program and they have excellent tech support.  I am using two of the ERC Version 4 cards, one in the rotor box for the HF & 6 meter stack with the T2X hygain rotator and one in the rotor box for the VHF/UHF stack with the Hygain Ham 4 rotator.. Note: Power for the ERC cards requires 12VDC external (since most rotators operate at 24V or more) so make sure the rotor cards are powered by pure DC from a good DC supply like the one you power the radios from, cheap wall adapters will cause the cards to act irratic (I know from experience) and I made up some good DC cords that terminate on the 30A PSU with the radios, and properly fused for the current draw for the rotor cards.

My Project Start

CAT Control - "The beginning of remote control of my shack ":  Rig control is an excellent place to start and this is where I started on the project. It began with getting more familiar with Ham Radio Deluxe Version 5 and all its features. This is a free version of HRD and I cant say enough about it. There are several other programs that will work for Rig/CAT control including Kenwood & Icom software which works great as well from what I have seen . Some of the other remote control programs will also handle the audio porting as well, but you will likely have to pay for the program. HRD5 , Teamviewer & Skype are free, and I was aiming to do the project as cost effective as possible. Ham Radio Deluxe allows you to remote control many features, especially on newer rigs including: change frequency and (In my case with the Icom 746Pro) can control other items such as power level, RF gain, squelch, filter width,  tune the radio tuner, and most importantly save all your favourite frequencies and modes.. In the case of my older radio that I use for VHF/UHF SSB, the TS790A Kenwood, I can only control the frequency in VFO mode, the mode and some other minor features, but not power levels, squelch, RF Gain etc.  Most Older CAT featured radios didn't offer these features in CAT control yet. For SSB though you dont require squelch control and in most cases when I was using my older TS790A on 2M SSB I wanted my power to be 160W through the Mirage Amp hard keyed and driven by the TS790A and its 40 W SSB, so this was not an issue for me. Now Im using the TS2000 and the TE Systems 350W amp on VHF and UHF, the TS2000 has remote control variable power which is great.  I have been using HRD for a fairly long time now, much longer than i was considering remote control . Even now when Im at the home station, most of the time I control the rigs locally in the house using HRD instead of being right at the rigs, it just seems to make HAM radio more fun to operate for me, to have the mobility to operate the station from anywhere..

Audio:  If you have a newer rig (around 2010 or newer) with USB capabilities you MAY not require a signal link for audio in and out via remote- check your manual . Below - picture of the signallink that controls the TS790A audio in and out, also shown is the Hygain rotor controller that has the ERC controller installed (not shown)

Next I started working with the audio porting through the computer to and from the radios .....I use the Signal link USB units made by Tigertronics - www.tigertronics.com , Also Rigblasters are another option that MAY work but i have not tested them to verify this personally . The Signal Link SLUSB units I use are very nice independant units with sound cards built in and plug right into the USB port on the computer. Very cool. You can make up jumper cables for the interface between the radio and Signal Link, or order the unit with the cables already made, and then you simply have to install the jumper wires inside the unit for the specific radio....close it up and its done. The signallink units have audio in and out gain controls on the front, and delay for ssb. I also use these same interfaces for Digital modes, and the cables (depending on the radio and what configuration you wish to use) plug into the back of the radios not to disturb microphones in the front. Also real slick! You can see one of my signallinks mounted above the rotor control box in the above picture of the remote shack.

Above: How Skype looks like in the audio properties once the proper SignalLink Audio Codec drivers are installed. You must manually select which radio you wish to use with receive and transmit audio to properly receive and transmit to that radio. Of course this only applies if you are using more than one radio.

 

There were two different ways I controlled the audio to and from the radio, but now im just using Skype. In September of 2014, they changed the VOIP console on Teamviewer so someone actually has to physically activate (unmute) the audio settings on the remote computer screen, they changed it back on August of 2015, then disappeared again to present (Jan 2018) .You will need to set up Skype on both computers and your cellphone (if you wish to use one), . I prefer to use skype to handle the audio in and out through my cellphone when operating via remote. You create two different skype accounts and call yourself on the home computer. Set it to auto answer on the station end.  I find the audio just sounds like im on the phone when I use it and if I didnt tell other operators I was operating remote they likely wouldnt know, as long as the internet connection is good.. Below you can see the setting for the audio path on the home computer for Skype, this is in the options menu for Skype under audio settings. I am using three radios, so I have to make sure Im on the correct audio path for that radio before I transmit. Again you can simply Label the USB Codecs for each radio to make it easy as I did.

 

Below : When properly detected or installed, the signallink SLUSB by Tigertronics appears as a Sound card USB Codec. I have renamed them from their default name to show which is RX , TX and the radio it ports to. Also changed the Icons on all 6 codecs to show a sound card versus a speaker. As you can see I have three of them, one for each radio.

 

 

Rotator Control: As I mentioned above, I ordered the ERC Ver 4 from ERC in Germany. it took 7 business days to arrive at my door.  All this after waiting 3 weeks for Idiom Press in Oregon to NOT get back to me after 5 emails and 3 calls over 3 weeks. Read more about other HAMS bad experiences with Idiom on EHAM and QRZ, but I wouldnt recommend them for their terrible customer service and the fact Idiom cards are more expensive than ERC. ERC lets you turn the existing rotor into a Yeasu GS232B protocol, and the program they provide is just point and click, or you could use the HRD internal program if you wish. They both work.To control both rotators, I simply switch com ports on the little rotor control on the left from one to the other, no need to open a new window. As soon as it connects to the card it will tell you the azimuth of the rotator.

Station Remote Control  Screen:  I use a 90" screen and HD projector at home and use remote control even now when at home. Here is a few pics of what my HRD setup looks like for the IC746 and TS2000

Remote Control Using Team Viewer :

As you can see in the photo, I have created several profiles , one for each of my computers, and renamed them according to their purpose. I also operate an APRS Igate and Digipeater here and want to be able to turn it off and on remotely, so its also on the list.  You simply click on the computer you wish to control and it will log you in. Once logged in you can operate the computer remotely. Everything is password protected for security.

Now on to operation in the mobile.......

Picture: Radio stack as it looked before I started with remote control in the vehicle. Most of this equipment could likely be removed now as its redundant, though its good for backup & testing. The stack the radios are mounted on are made for emergency vehicles, which I purchased in the 90's and have had mounted in four pickup trucks so far, just upgrading the radios on the stack over the years/.

And what it looks like now.

Mobile Remote Control of shack:  **Check your local laws as its illegal in many areas to operate other than hands free on a cellphone, and this is one of the reasons I operate using the earbud and mic or the bluetooth headset. Using the computer while driving is illegal in my Area **

Nonetheless, even with the restrictions, this is really neat but it does require a  good cell connection , driving distances will switch between many cell phone tower sites as you drive, so this part may not be 100% seamless. The cell booster does help with this.

  I use either my cellphone and/or my laptop tethered to my cellphone. TeamViewer as mentioned allows you to see exactly what is on the screen at your home computer (see above and below), and thus operate several programs at once if need be including digital programs, rotor control etc. HRD does have its own remote control module built in, but this only operates HRD, and not the other programs. HRD also requires some ports on your router at home to be opened, where Teamviewer does not.  HRD 5 also will not operate on a cellphone using an app (I hear this may be available in upcoming HRD 6 versions) but Teamviewer does  so one can just operate HRD on the smartphone running teamviewer as the client and use Skype for the audio in and out of the rig. 

Mobile Audio:  While driving I recommend using the earbuds and lapel microphone, especially at highway speeds. If not most bluetooth headsets will pick up way too much road noise and will sound terrible to the other operators.  Use a bluetooth while sitting stopped somewhere with minimal background noise in the vehicle is fine.  I have experimented with this for a year and believe me I have had great and terrible audio reports with bluetooth, but nothing but good reports with the lapel mic and earphones. Dont forget to mute the mic when not transmitting in Skype or you may false transmit if you have a high background noise as skype and your signal link will act as a vox circuit on your radio back home.

Here is some pics of my radios with the remote gear also in operation in my F150 pickup truck. You can see my smartphone attached to the mobile Cell booster mount running Skype app.on my radio stack for easy screen access, and my Netbook on the centre counsole in the truck connected to the home station computer through Teamviewer. I use velcro to keep the laptop from moving when driving. Also attached are DC cords so mobile use will not drain the batteries in the units.

 

Cellphone Booster for Smartphone. I purchased the Wilson 4G-C Cradle in 2014. It comes with external magnet antenna and the booster unit the phone drops into. Its adjustable for various phone sizes. Unit is powered by a USB cord 5.5V. Accessory kit is also available for base station use which will come in handy at the cottage. Accessory kit also comes with extension mount as shown in the picture below. I can report an improvement in signals on 4G, and will be testing this product and report back with my findings later. looking for an LTE product that will do same

 

Cost of the Project (over and above regular station equipment)

Signallinks $120CDN each x 3 = $360

ERC cards $ 66 euros or around $100 each x 2 = $200

Mobile Cell Booster and Accessory kit $250CDN

Our total was around $800 CDN to make the station completely remote control on three station tranceivers, two rotator controllers with a cell phone booster to provide better cell coverage in the spotty areas while operating from the mobile.  Most HAMS will likely only want or need to control and operate one tranceiver so this will keep the cost down.  If operating remote from another location with available high speed internet, with computer laptop the smart phone and / or cell booster cradle will not be required .

upgrading rigs, antennas, rotors or computers etc this will cost more if required, but the rest (in my case) were existing equipment and the software programs are free!

There will likely be more to come as this is, and will be, an ongoing and evolving radio project. As mentioned I want to thoroughly test the cell phone booster at the cottage and either add another radio for my dipole antenna and HF vertical or buy a remote antenna switch for port 2 on the Icom 746 Pro.

 

LED Christmas lights.

2017/2018 Season is over! - As of Feb1st 2018, we will be packing up the lights for storage for the season.

Won the Township Lighting Contest 2014, 2015, 2016,& 2017

The first comment people usually make to me is " I wouldnt want your electric bill ", my answer to that..... Ah, yes you would!. With LED lights the electrical bill is not really any more than it would be without them running as they are super efficiant, over 90% in most cases . This year I expect around a $10/ Month increase on the bill. Peanuts for the light show! Once you pay the initial cost of the LED lights, the savings start there.  Of course I usually buy my LED lights when on sale , around and after Christmas are the best times for the deals. Ill be out looking for next years additions from December through to Mid January..

One piece of advice, the best and longest lasting LED Light strings are the sealed type, thats the light strings where you cannot remove or replace the LED lamps, or where you must remove the lamp after removing the cover such as Ecosmart Ultra Weather Resistant.  Why?  Because water will eventually work its way into the cheaper built LED lights.  These retail light strings are fine for indoors and under canopies and porches, where protected from water , but in the open,  once water gets into the light socket(s) its only a matter of time before the lamp terminals start to corrode and fail..Ive learned that sealing up the non sealed types with first Marine Silicone and now Liquid Electrical Tape does help. I only buy the non sealed lamp strings when there is no other manufacturer that has the colour scheme im looking for. Its a lot of work to seal these 70 lamp strings with Liquid electrical tape, I spent many hours and days doing just that this season (2017/2018)

2013/2014 Season - 1500 LED lights 

2014/2015 Season - 5000 LED Lights  

2015/2016 Season - 12K in LED lighting. 

2016/2017 Season -18K in LED lighting. - unfortunately I was nursing a back injury at the start of the season and the roll out was a little slower than I would have liked, so we didnt get out as many lights as we would have liked, but there is always next year. We won the township contest dispite of this once again.

2017/2018 Season - 20K in LED Lighting. I did not get too excited about this year, spend most of my time replacing or repairing water damaged strings. Now sealing up the non sealed type with Liquid Electrical Tape from Home Depot (GB) and so far the results are great. This takes a lot of time but in the end will result in longer life therefore decreased expense.

 

The Story of Rolo the Cat - 2008 - Sept 28th 2016 (SK)

A small tribute to my favorite cat of all time, and what a great cat he was! He loved to lay on top of my radios, ride in the truck, sometimes as a copilot, and best of all, he loved to travel with us down to the cottage. Quite honestly he acted more like a dog than a cat. Unfortunately we lost him Sept 28th 2016 due to an unforseen illness. I was on route to the vet with him the morning he lost conciousness and was in severe shock when we arrived at the vet. It was a tough decision to put him to sleep. Of course he will never be forgotten. He was creamated and will forever be with us now where ever we may be, cottage or here at the station. May he rest in peace for all time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please see the VE3RTY page for info on the two repeaters operational at the site. See VE3YUF for information on the APRS Digipeater on site.

73 for now

De Sean

VA3HD

8662234 Last modified: 2018-02-19 17:09:10, 34159 bytes

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