2024 - Best devices and software for remote stations

Started by ws7m, Feb 18, 2024, 11:36 PM

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After much searching and learning, here is a list of great items for remote stations:


Amplifiers & Tuners

Control and communication



The gear listed above is certainly pricy and far from the cheapest route you can go. But in my experience the time, energy and cost of continuously going to/from your remote site can easily make you wish you had spent a little more.

The devices above have proven themselves with long up times, reliability and ease of use. They simply work!  The digital loggers devices have built in scripting that allows you to automatically restart things if networking goes down.

An avid remote radio user once told me, that the more things you have in your remote shack the more things you have that can go wrong.  That is certainly true, but if you follow that logic you would have just a radio and nothing else. In today's ham shack that is likely not enough.

So a modification to this theory or rule is to ensure that anything you add, can be remote controlled.  Provide a way for automatic power cycle and if possible provide a way that when turned off that device is bypassed.

Mac - What!? Why!?
I can hear it now.  The grumbling that you don't like Macs and you would never own one.  But here is the thing. Over 3+ years now I converted my ham shack to be Mac based and with the addition of the SmartSDR and SDR Control for Mac, the solution solidified into the most reliable setup I've ever had.

The Mac software packages are far superior to the Windows equivalents.  They work remote fantastically and are very full featured.  Each includes a RTTY and CW decoder and built in FT8/FT4 functionality as well as full remote CW.  In keeping with the KISS principle, the Mac software apps allow you to do more with less software.  So that means less to go wrong!

So why is the Raspberry Pi4 listed!?  It's not a mac?

It is listed because it works.  The raspberry Pi5 is a disaster in the making as they changed some of the fundamentals that many things depended upon.  But the Pi4 is a solid device and you can set it up for VNC which allows you to place the radio and computer together and connect to it remotely.

I still do not believe it approaches the Mac, SDR app, Flex solution in any way but it does work and works well.

An Ideal Remote
Here are the things that make an ideal remote station, again this is my opinion:

  • Flex 6400 or 6400
  • PGXL - Optional
  • TGXL - A great tuner with a built in 1x3 switch
  • DIN Relay - To control the various things

At home you would have a Mac, running SmartSDR Mac. As long as your networking is setup right you will be able to restart all the remote devices, connect and run all the remote devices from virtually anywhere in the world.

This is, in effect how my personal station works. It is setup pretty much like the above and I can run it from the office, from an airport, a coffee shop or even on my phone.

I put a DIN Relay, a WiFi access point, a 100w amp, and an IC-705 in my car.  When everything is alive I can run it from my laptop without even being in the car!

Go the route you wish on your remote setup. But if you are like me you will soon learn what works and what doesn't and with enough frustration you will move towards the things that work and stay way from the cheap things that do not work.