Thursday, May 21, 2009


There is a thread that has developed over on the Flex reflector that I think is worth writing about. I have run my flex radios remotely on my local network. It is dead easy to do. For remote duties I use a program called tightVNC. There are others out there. Another popular program is UltraVNC which I have also used. Windows has a built-in VNC called remote desktop that I can not recommend. Its typical MS bloatware, clunky and slow.

The tight VNC server on my ham computer can be accessed by the VNC client on my linux computer in my office so I am able to run all my favorite stuff remotely from my linux box. For audio duties I use IP-sound. I have also used skype to good avail. Many are using 2 skype accounts, one for transmit audio and one for receive audio. This speeds things up considerably.

With these tools and VAC it is dead easy to set up remote operation. If you know how to bore a secure hole in your firewall you can have this remote operation all over the world. I have done remote both on SSB and CW using the keyboard. On CW the lag is enough of a problem that it would be hard to work a DX pileup with the rythm required, but for rag chew not so much and no problem on SSB.

Here are a few comments off the reflector

Re: [Flexradio] Excellent results

with remote operation

Steve Floyd
Wed, 20 May 2009 11:00:11 -0700

I have been using my Flex 5K remote over the internet
with the same excellent success. I use UltraVNC to
access the computer desktop, and Skype with VAC for
audio. Works great from remote locations in Alaska
and the west coast; all with my station in VA. The
audio reports are so good that people cannot tell
that I am operating remote. Great fun!

Internet remote operation of the Flex radios is
becoming an important required feature!


[Flexradio] Excellent results with

remote operation

Wed, 20 May 2009 04:01:46 -0700

Hi All, I was recently in California for two weeks running
my Flex 5000A remotely
(radio back in NJ).
Using a Plantronics HS650 headset into my laptop and
using the hotel's
crowded wifi network I was able to use
the radio successfully. People could
not believe I was
running remote. People stated the audio running remote
better than most station's local microphones. Setup
for remote was Skype for the VoIP audio transport
(two accounts),
Virtual Audio Cable to "patch" the
Skype audio in and out of PowerSDR, and
TightVNC for
remote desktop access.
Latency was very acceptable
except during some evenings when the hotel's
network bandwidth was saturated.
73 Dave wo2x

Re: [Flexradio] Excellent results with remote operation

Edwin Marzan
Wed, 20 May 2009 10:43:06 -0700

I spoke with Dave on his remote setup and it was truly
amazing! If he hadn't mentioned it over the air I never
would have known. I'm wondering if anyone else tried
this with any success. Edwin Marzan AB2VW

Re: [Flexradio] Excellent

results with remote operation

Scott Chrestman
Wed, 20 May 2009 11:30:17 -0700

95% of my operation is remote. Even if I'm home,
I'm typically in my easy chair in the living room
controlling the SDR-1000 computer from my
Dell Mini 9 laptop over wifi with a bluetooth headset
paired to it. I use Microsoft's Remote Desktop
client as it gives me better panadapter-response
than VNC does. I also use Skype for the audio transport.
I monitor the bands almost all day while at the office over
a dedicated IPSEC tunnel back to my house (cable
broadband at home, dual-T1 office connection). I have
even had sucsess in operating "remote mobile", using
the Mini 9 with a Verizon broadband USB card. On my
last trip to New Orleans, I operated (as a passenger!)
the majority of the way. That was the ONLY time that
anyone had questioned how I was operating, as apparently
my audio was dropping out due to the limited upstream
bandwidth. Turning the panadapter completely off resolved
that issue as it wasn't constantly streaming data to update
the screen. I could not live without my Flex-Radio!! 73,
Scott, N5KRC

Many of us will never bother to play with a remote base, but it is fun to experiment and its fun to know how easy it is to be able to access your fully functional radio station from afar. The internet has done truly amazing things in terms of what we are capable of today. In 1998 I took a 3 week trip to China. At that time I was doing some day trading. I brought a little cheap laptop along. I was able to day trade (actually night trade since China is 13 hours ahead) from all over China. It was amazing and I made enough money to pay for the trip a couple times over. Now just as easily I can take my ham radio hobby along and make QSO's and I can listen to a receiver at the university of Twente in the Netherlands from anywhere I can grab an internet connection!

Now N5KRC is running remote mobile!! I bet if Scott reverted to something like tightVNC he would be able to look AND listen as one of the advantages of those programs is to be able to pare down the bandwidth needed on the remote link. It just cracks me up where ham radio has gone and how easy it is to implement the future with these Flex radios. It also cracks me up that the old fossils continue to screech KNOB KNOB.

I was in a discussion on EHAM a couple weeks ago and I was describing the advantages of the F3K including its ability to interface with software like skimmer and DX lab to a guy who was interested in buying a new radio. Some joker made it it his mission to point out that the Flex NEEDED a computer, as if that made it somehow inferior for portable or mobile. My point to him was it was not a disadvantage in the least, but in fact an advantage. With the laptop I had a fully featured radio station complete with all the digital formats log books etc etc. Its the perfect setup for quick and dirty field day for example. Power, antenna, flex radio, paddle, laptop, logging software, beer, hot dog, chili, lawn chair way too much coffee... all completely integrated. Now I come to find its the perfect mobile radio to boot!! No punching holes in the car or wacky verticals with huge coils and guying systems knocking on tree limbs. No porcupine of 3 dozen antennas sticking out of every surface, and bumper. Just a laptop and a roving internet connection

All of the fun, none of the hassle and its so easy to do. In years past to get a legacy radio to remote base was a real chore. Not anymore.

So when do we get the iPHONE app? Stuck in the airport? Maybe a little 20CW will help pass the time

One last note. I made the trip between the Netherlands and FL once
again last night on 80M This time I was Q5 on one watt. I also went
down to 160 and listened to a LZ station having a QSO on both my
receiver and the WEBSDR. I never would have found him in the static
on my receiver. We have been having non stopped thunder storms here in
FL for that past 3 days and last night was no exception. After I
located the LZ on my F5K with the WEBSDR assist, with considerable
fiddling with the F5K's controls I was able to copy the LZ station on
my receiver. He was -114dBm and copiable in the middle of May in the
middle of a thunder storm. How fun is that?