We have several station upgrades planned for this fall. Our planned upgrades include the following:
- Enhancing our FlexRadio 6700-based Remote Operating Setup to include additional remote control client options, better networking via the Internet, and better integration with our microHAM system – you can read about this completed project here.
- Upgrading the second radio in Anita’s (AB1QB) operating position from the current Icom IC-7600 to a new Icom IC-7610 SDR-Based Transceiver
- Adding a new shared Elecraft KPA1500 Solid State Amplifier to our station. The KPA1500 will be shared between the Icom IC-7610 and our FlexRadio 6700-based Remote Operating Gateway.
We always begin our station projects by updating our station design documents.
Our Remote Operating enhancements will include the following:
- Updating our FlexRadio SmartSDR Software to V2, which provides operation of the radio over the Internet
- Using the SmartSDR CAT Cable features to create a direct interface between the FlexRadio 6700 and the microHAM Station Master Deluxe associated with the SDR
- The addition of a Maestro Control Console to our set of PC-based remote operating clients
The figure above shows an updated architecture for our Remote Operating Gateway, including these enhancements. The planned Elecraft KPA1500 solid-state amplifier will simplify the software associated with remotely controlling and monitoring the amplifier, tuner, and wattmeter components in our previous remote operating setup.
We have been quite impressed with the performance of our Icom IC-7300’s radio receiver. As a result, we have decided to upgrade the second radio in Anita’s operating position to an Icom IC-7610. We expect the IC-7610’s receiver performance to be as good as or better than the IC-7300.
The Icom IC-7610 also provides a very nice external display capability, allowing us to take the best advantage of the radio’s pan adapter. We believe that the IC-7610 will integrate easily into our microHAM system. It should be a “drop-in” replacement for our current IC-7600. We hope to see the IC-7610 shipping before the end of this year.
Our final upgrade will be to add an Elecraft KPA1500 Solid State Amplifier. This amplifier provides a full 1500 watts on all bands 160m – 6m. The new amplifier will bring the Icom IC-7610 and our FlexRadio SDR-Based Remote Operating Gateway up to full legal limit power. This will be especially helpful on the 6m band where both the IC-7610’s and the FlexRadio 6700’s excellent receiver performance will help us to take the best advantage of the extra power for Meteor Scatter and other weak signal work on 6m.
Our microHAM Station Automation System can accommodate shared amplifiers. We will utilize this capability when integrating the Elecraft KPA1500 into our station. The shared amplifier setup will also allow us to eliminate one of our bandpass filters. The KPA1500 amplifier integrates autotuner and wattmeter functions into the amplifier and provides a direct Ethernet interface for remote control and management. These enhancements should eliminate the need for several of the remote control server software applications that we are currently running on a PC in our shack. Also, we can manage all of these functions from a single client application on a remote client PC. These simplifications will make our remote operating gateway setup more reliable and easier to use.
We plan to share more on these projects in future posts here on our Blog. The FlexRadio Maestro and all the other components we need for Remote Operating Gateway enhancements have arrived. We will complete this part of our project in the very near future and post more here.
Also, the local control interface to the new Elecraft KPA1500 amplifier appears nearly identical to that used by our current Elecraft KPA500 Amplifier. This means that we can begin our shared amplifier upgrades using the KPA500. We do not have a firm date for the IC-7610 to ship and that portion of our upgrade plans is likely to be our last step in the project.
Special thanks to Dave, K1DLM, who has helped us with ideas for several aspects of this project.