WA0TDA Remote Base Ham Radio

Operate an amateur radio station from anywhere with an Internet connection.

May 2022 Status – WA0TDA online, W0ZSW online, W0EQO online

Mouse pad & mouse

Spring HF propagation is knocking at the door here in Minnesota!  Check the 160 and 80 meter bands before sunrise and after sunset – you will be surprised at how much better you hear stations before the noise from summer thunderstorms and the absorption from the ionosphere’s D layer both increase as the daylight grows longer & longer.

WA0TDA & W0ZSW are back online.  W0EQO is back online after antenna repair. 

WA0TDA has returned to service after an outage.  The WA0TDA IC-7200 had suffered a receiver failure, and the station was off the air.  An Icom IC-7300 has replaced the old radio.

W0ZSW was offline on November 12 due to the failure of a power supply feeding a network switch, thus causing a loss of internet to the host PC.  Please be sure to let me know when something isn’t working, as I don’t always notice these kinds of failures if the stations have been checked early in the day and found to be working.  I can be contacted at wa0tda@arrl.net.  Thanks!

W0EQO Update:  Station W0EQO is now in rural Park Rapids, MN.  This location in the North Woods is not far from the headwaters of the Mississippi and has a low noise floor. It is operating at 60 watts periodically due to a problem with RF in the shack.  Digital mode operation is NOT allowed as this is likely to trigger the RF problem and cause a loss of internet control.  SSB/CW should be okay.  We are considering ways to address the RF problem.  It is worst on 40 m, so no 40 meter operations are allowed at this time.

Both Twin Cities stations are subject to intermittent outages because of thunderstorm activity.  Antennas will be disconnected to protect the equipment. 

Software interface radio

    1. New RCForb software

Thunderstorms can happen year around in Minnesota.  There may be sporadic outages at WA0TDA & W0ZSW as the antennas will be disconnected to prevent lightning damage to the stations.   You can check out the lightning map at: https://www.blitzortung.org/en/live_lightning_maps.php?map=30

Once the danger of lightning is past, the stations will be returned to service.  

Use the latest version 0.9x software or it will not work on Windows!  Download the new client software to use the remotes here.

Dear HF Operator:

Welcome to the HF Remotes!  This website has information on the following
stations:

W0EQO – Northern Minnesota in the tall pine forest near the headwaters of the Mississippi; Icom IC-7300 radio equipped with speech readout feeding a 300 foot dipole antenna fed with 450 ohm ladder line and a current
balun.  160 through 6 meter operation. Grid square is EN27mc in Hubbard County, MN USA. Callsign admin is WA0TDA.  Station hardware admins are N0CIC & WA0TDA.

W0ZSW – Metro Minnesota Twin Cities location at WA0TDA QTH; Icom IC-7300 radio feeding an off-center fed dipole antenna.  80 through 6 meter operation.  Grid square is EN34mw in Washington County, MN USA. Callsign admin is KA0PQW.  Station hardware admin is WA0TDA.

WA0TDA – Metro Minnesota Twin Cities location at WA0TDA QTH; Icom IC-7300 radio feeding an inverted vee maypole antenna system fed with underground coax. 160 through 6 meter operation. Grid square is EN34mw in Washington County, MN USA.  Callsign & hardware admin is WA0TDA.

All of the above stations can run up to 100 watts and all are SSB and CW capable. All are subject to occasional maintenance outages or weather outages.

Please contact wa0tda@arrl.net to report a problem with any of them.

The quick start guide is for anyone who wants to install and use the RCFORB HF remote base client software from Remotehams.com with a minimum of time and effort. That would be most of us! A quick start guide shouldn’t be
wordy, so let’s just use some simple steps to get you up and running.

IMPORTANT:  Register with Remotehams.com using YOUR CALLSIGN as the username, or this will not work!

Get the WA0TDA RCFORB Quick Start Guide in PDF:
http://tice.us/wa0tda/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The-WA0TDA-RCFORB-Quick-Start-Guide.pdf
Note:  Always choose the newest version 0.9 version of the client software, NOT the version 0.8 as is recommended in the guide or video.  The old 0.8 version will be deprecated due to the removal of Adobe Flash support in Windows.

Screenshot of download page

Choose ONLY 0.9 software!

I have made two YouTube videos on the use of the RCForb software.  This one
is for the free Windows version:
https://youtu.be/V3Sw2aC6Gcs

Note:  Always choose the newest version 0.9 version of the client software, NOT the version 0.8 as is recommended in the video.  The old 0.8 version will be deprecated due to the removal of Adobe Flash support in Windows.

This one is for the Android version, which you can buy from the Play Store for under $10:
https://youtu.be/1zZOK34pj9M

If you are a blind user, be sure to check out the K8HSY guide:
http://handiham.net/index.php/2016/08/02/remotehams-users-manual-for-blind-hams/

The Handiham Radio Club also has a useful website:
http://handiham.net/

Good luck and have fun with the radios!

73,

Patrick Tice
wa0tda@arrl.net

Attachments area

Preview YouTube video Handiham Remote Base HF Stations

Preview YouTube video Ham radio with your smartphone! RCForb Android App Explained

Software radio interface now includes POWER button on all three stations

The POWER button on version 0.9x of RCForb software

The POWER button has been activated on the  station interface in version 0.9x of the RCForb software. Please turn the IC-7300 power off when you are finished using the station.

The radios, all Icom IC-7300s, support power on/off while maintaining handshaking with the host PC, so we have added the optional POWER button to the client software interface.

Please use the POWER button to turn the radio on when you begin a session and off when you are finished.

Please report outages

screenshot of RCForb software keypad

Although we check the stations often, we don’t always know immediately when something goes wrong.  If you find that wa0tda, w0zsw, or w0eqo have gone offline or are unresponsive, please let us know as soon as possible.   We also appreciate knowing if the antennas don’t tune properly or if anything else seems wrong.

Thanks for your help!

73 – Pat

wa0tda@arrl.net 

WA0TDA recovered from Sunday morning outage

Mini-PC

Mini PC: Host computer for WA0TDA HF remote

The WA0TDA IC-7200 is back online following a multihour outage caused by Windows Update.   The update began in the background on the host PC, at first leaving the station accessible at login, but unresponsive to control.  I have seen this in the past and knew that the station would no longer work correctly without manually completing the pending update.  This is simple – just approve the update by selecting “update & restart” from the power button, then manually restarting the RCForb host software.

This was completed, and at first seemed to be okay, but after a few minutes of operation, the station lost connectivity due to ports closing on the network.  Killing and restarting the RCForb software fixed that, but all told the station was offline longer than expected.

Everything was working as of 10:00 AM CST.

 

USA License Required for Operation of USA-Based Remotes

Pat, WA0TDA, wearing headset and holding licensing manuals.

From time to time I get requests for station transmit privileges from operators outside the United States and its territories.  It doesn’t matter where the control operator is located,  but there is a USA requirement that the control operator must hold an FCC-issued Amateur Radio License with the appropriate privileges.

For more information on the requirements, please follow this link to the ARRL website, which does a great job of explaining it and answering your questions.

 

W0ZSW & WA0TDA back online following maintenence

Both W0ZSW and WA0TDA are back online following Windows Update on both station host computers.  When updates are loading in the background, sometimes things don’t work properly; the antenna tuner might not function, the sound may not work correctly, and some other functions seem slow or don’t work at all.  Please let me know if this happens so that I can address the problem as soon as possible.

Short-term outages may also occur when the Eero mesh network used for internet routing at this location performs an automatic update.  These are unscheduled but seldom last more than a few minutes and the stations will generally be up and running without further intervention.

You may contact me at my callsign at ARRL.net if you notice any issues.

73 – Pat

RCForb software buttons image

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