Remote Control HF Rig Over Mesh PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Kinter, K5KTF   

How to setup a remote control of a radio across the mesh

Items needed:

  • Radio (Yaesu FT-897D used in this example)
  • Phone Patch (Kenwood PC-1A used here)
  • Mesh Node
  • ATA VoIP Adapter (Grandstream HT286 used here)
  • NTE6408 DIAC (could use NTE6409, 6411 or 6412, depending on the on-hook voltage presented)
  • Short chunk of telephone cable with RJ-11
  • Short section of small coax with 1/8" mono plug
  • Cabling to connect phone patch to radio (setup specific)
  • VoIP system (I used the Asterisk server already installed on K5KTF-USB with an extension setup for this use).

Details of my system, which may vary from your own setup:

I used 2 mesh nodes, K5KTF-USB which is a USB modified node, so I can connect a USB-to-serial adapter cable (PL2303 compatible) that already had the drivers and modules loaded to use the usb-serial cable. I used a separate node, K5KTF-FT-897D, for the VoIP connection. I may at some point move the serial connection over to FT-897D, once I get a spare serial port level shifter to have the CAT cable and the VoIP all one one node.

Also, I already have a VoIP system, Asterisk and Chameleon voice mail, already installed on K5KTF-USB, using callsigns as extensions (K5KTF=5583, NG5V=6458, CTECC=28322, etc), so a directory is not needed. Know the callsign/tactical, know their extension.

First we connect all the hardware:

Whatever phone patch equipment you get will determine how it is connected. In this example. I acquired a KWD PC-1A at the most recent Belton swapfest for $10. I saw 3 or 4 of these floating around up there for about the same price, so they are probably not hard to come by.

I wired my Turner Plus Three into the patch box, using just the 4 conductors (Mic/GND, PTT/GND), and tied the patch box to the radio's mic and external speaker jacks.


Next is the short telephone cable from the ATA to the patch box. The RJ-11 into the ATA, then strip, tin, and tighten to the 2 screws on the back of the patch box. Attach the DIAC to both screw terminals across the phone line. This will "auto answer"  the phone line by going into conduction when the ring voltage hits it.

One more cable, the CAT5 from the ATA to the mesh node LAN port.

Time to start configuring software.....

Setup the phone mesh node in 1-Host DMZ mode, and assign the ATA MAC address to the DHCP reservations to assign the IP for the adapter.

Now log into the ATA and set its settings:

  • SIP SERVER = the VoIP server's main wifi IP (10.x.x.x)
  • Extension number (on my VoIP system, I assign extensions based on callsign, so for this use it is K5KTF897=55583897)
  • Authenticate  ID: Usually the same as the extension number
  • Authenticate Password: whatever is setup on the VoIP server for that extension
  • Name: How you want the CallerID/etc to appear
  • NAT IP: The 10.x.x.x IP of the DHCP reservation done earlier (the adapter tells the server to reach it at this IP)
  • ONHOOK VOLTAGE: This depends on the DIAC you use. This should be set one setting below the breakdown voltage of the DIAC
  • Polarity Reversal: if this option is available, set to yes, to help the ATA hang up when the line is hung up on the other end.
  • Other settings (time zone, etc) set as you see fit. If you do not know what a setting does, leave it as default

At this point, you can test the VoIP by using a softphone or a VoIP phone and dial your radio's extension.

Here we will setup the mesh node with the serial port to connect to the radio.

Install the ser2net package (if doing this on a USB-modded node, also make sure the USB-serial  and PL2303/equiv packages are installed and modules loaded (insmod) ).

Edit the config file. You only need one line for this to work

Make sure you set the port speed to match your radio. I have a LDG AT-897Plus auto tuner installed, and it uses 4800baud, so all my CAT functions are at that speed. Verify what your specific system uses.

I wrote a script that runs at boot time to set my serial port to 4800 baud each time.

You have to add a line to firewall to allow the ser2net to talk. Just set internal and external ports to localnode

Now start ser2net by typing   ser2net {enter}. If you want, you can set this up to run every time the node reboots by crafting a script in /etc/rc.d.

Last but not least, the remote client. Here I use a Windows PC (actually use both my Win2000Pro desktop and Win7 on BOTH).

Find and Install the Perle TruePort virtual serial port driver (google). On install, it asks to setup ports. You only need to install 1, name it whatever you like, and finish. Then open Device Manager in Control Panel, and you should see 2 new devices,

Either in the Perle manager software or in Device Manager, open the settings for the TruePort adapter

Set either the 10.x.x.x IP or the node name under Host Name., then click on the COMx Port on the left.

Set the Connection mode to LITE, Initiate connection, and the port to 5001 (or whatever port you set earlier on the radio node). Apply and OK all the way out.

Then in Device Manager, open the COM port properties Port Settings, set as appropriate

After all settings are set, OK all the way out.

Download and install Ham Radio Deluxe (free or paid) and 3CX Softphone.

Upon starting HRD, it will ask for radio type, com port, and port speed. Set appropriately, and it should connect if your radio is on and NOT in a memory channel setting.

The softphone requires its own extension settings setup on the VoIP server.

With HRD running and attached, use the softphone to dial the radio's extension. It should auto-answer and you should hear audio. HRD has a TX button, and (I havent fully tested it myself just yet) should take the audio from the phone and put it out over the radio.

If you followed all the steps and find I missed something, email me and I will be glad to fix it here (doing this from memory from 2 days ago :-)  )

Happy Meshing!

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 14:27