Wednesday, December 19, 2007
One of the fun but also useful capabilities to have in your shack is the ability to run your rig remotely. I decided to do this for my Kenwood TS-2000 since it's basically a radio wrapped around a computer and has a zillion interface options. Kenwood makes ARCP-2000, a remote display program which frankly isn't worth the $250 they ask for it. Ham Radio Deluxe (aka HRD) is a great program; it's feature-rich, highly configurable, and best of all free. You can run it over a screen-scraper like VNC, Remote Desktop, or even X-Windows. A better solution is to use the HRD remote access system; this essentially allows you to tunnel serial data to your rig and control it via a remote instance of HRD.
Two challenges exist here; publishing the HRD server over the Internet without open router firewall ports, and creating a high-quality and stable audio path.
Dealing with the server question first; I absolutely do not recommend opening holes in your firewall. There are a lot of solutions available which eliminate that need. I use Hamachi which has an additional benefit in that the clients are coordinated via a central server so a static DNS is not required. I simply point my remote HRD instance at the private IP assigned to my home system by Hamachi and I'm connected.
Getting quality audio across the Internet used to be a challenge, but after using Skype this year for business I think it's ready for prime time. I created a separate Skype client ID intended only for receiving inbound calls from me when I'm remote. I set Skype to auto-answer, and point the audio paths to my rig's sound interface.
Detailed diagram of my setup is available here.