May VHF & a few NODERED dashboards

Another VHF contest. Again not too motivated to operate but brought the special event call DM60UEA (60 years of Amateur Radio in Angermünde) onto the air on 2 m & 70 cm. Made about 250 QSOs, people had difficulties with the call even if we were CQing. Oh well …

I spent most of the time not on the radio but rather programming NODERED. I had set up a Raspberry Pi as a NODERED server and now programmed a few dashboards to make it possible to remotely rotate all our antennas just using a web browser. We’ve been able to rotate computer-based using the superb PSTRotator software for over 10 years already. Drawback was: only one connection at a time making coordinating between operators almost impossible and inconvenient (starting/stopping software, trying to avoid blocking each other). Furthermore PSTRotator only works on Windows and my approach to the remote setup is to make it OS independent, i.e. being able to control everything no matter if using a Windows computer, a Mac, a tablet or even a smartphone.

Available stuff from other hams was a useful start (there’s a very active NODERED Ham Radio group on the forums). I had to reverse engineer a few things as there were no existing flows for our use case (our rotators are network connected and use TCP/IP instead of the more common serial interface for remote control). But after I recognized how all that stuff works it was no problem to implement. Likewise for our NETIO power controllers. I found flows to control the Elecraft KPA500 and KAT500 as well so connected both with their serial interfaces to the RPi, too. The KPA500 flow still has some potential for optimization (a few ideas in my head already, hi) but it will do as is for the moment.

As always lots more ideas for additional stuff, lets see when I’ll have time again to dig a little deeper. 😉 Here are a few screenshots of the dashboards available now:

Dashboard for our VHF rotator. As we have a 2 m yagi as well as a 10 m beam on the same mast I implemented two different azimuth maps to make it easier to turn to the right direction. Both are linked, of course. Rotator can be switched on & off from the dashboard and besides remote operation is used from the HF shack now. The rotator is in the VHF shack so no need to change between the rooms to rotate the antenna anymore. 😉

Another dashboard for the smaller remote mast with 2 & 4 m antennas.

Dashboard for our AZ/EL rotator (which used to have the antenna group for EME). Besides there are power on/off buttons for a few things accessed remotely.

A combined dashboard for the HF rotators. The right one shows beamwidth as well but currently no rotator connected as we have to repair the control unit. They can be power controlled from the dashboard, too.

My remote dashboard to switch stuff on & off and see what the amp and tuner are doing, here just transmitting on 10 m.

This entry was posted in Contesting, Equipment, Software, VHF. Bookmark the permalink.