Sunday, April 21, 2019

CW Key via USB Port for RemoteHam.Com Operation


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Note:  As presented this project requires a FCC Amateur Radio license.  Amateur Radio is about experimentation.   Even still you must be versed in the band plan, stay away from local repeater stations, stay in accordance to FCC Amateur Radio rules in FCC Section 97, and probably a few other things.  Also, you will be a guest on a remote ham radio station owned by someone that is nice enough to let you enjoy their (often very impressive) rig.  Adhere to the guidelines they post when you log into their station.  It's their station; they make the rules.  Be a good guest and everyone has fun!  That said, let's continue....
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We have been wanting to experiment with remote ham radio operation for awhile now.  This weekend band conditions were poor so I was dreaming of having a more expensive and better amp/antenna setup.  This was a great excuse to give RemoteHams.Com a try.  After signing up and installing the Remote Client software I was presented with 100s of rigs to choose from all over the World.  I was amazed.
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I somewhat randomly selected the rig of N4GYN.  This was great because I was greeted by Ray and after a brief online chat he verified my license and gave me permission to transmit!
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Ray's station lets you operate phone using a headset plugged into your PC's USB port.  The headset part for phone is easy; most any USB headset will do.  However, we only had an interest in operating CW (Morse code).  Ray's rig lets you do that from your PC keyboard by just typing in what you wanted to send.  But, we wanted to use a traditional key.
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Here's how we did it:  You can set this up for paddle or straight key operation.  Since we had a cheap straight key not being used we went with that.  What you see in the image at the top of the page is the straight key wired into a USB to RS232 serial port adapter like so:
with the Remote Rig setting as:

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On our very first CQ we had our very first remote station manual CW key QSO with NA5N who was 3W QRP from Colorado!!!  If you are wishing you had a better station or you have QTH restrictions consider giving RemoteHams.Com a try.
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Special thanks to KB5RF, KK5PJ, K5TMT and a few others.  73!