Note that this is a very specific installation and probably won’t be identical to anybody else’s but maybe there will be some universal information imparted here. The PC’s at both ends are running Windows 10 build 1803.
Part 1 – Win4IcomSuite and WSJT-X
Part 2 – Remote Operation with Port Forwarding and Remote Desktop
Part3 – Audio for monitoring with RS-BA1
Part 1 – Win4IcomSuite and WSJT-X
At last, the very popular Suite by Tom Blahovici, VA2FSQ, has been released for Icom radios, Win4IcomSuite. Why is this a big deal? Win4IcomSuite has builtin com port sharing which gives us the ability to use more than one application with CAT. If we use Icom’s RS-BA1 third party apps are stopped from using CAT simultaneously.
Win4IcomSuite will be abbreviated WinSuite from here on. Installation took me two attempts but once I followed Tom’s official instructions to the letter it works flawlessly.
The first attempt became unstable after a few weeks and I set everything aside. The instability manifested itself in choppy audio ( short dropouts ), freezing of WSJT-X, and decoding stopping. Four things changed before I tried my successful second installation attempt so I don’t know for sure which change made the difference. First the router was replaced and upgraded. Second Tom came out with a new version of WinSuite. Third, Icom came out with a new version of the USB drivers. Fourth, OmniRig had not been used on the first attempt but was used on the second attempt. I suspect OmniRig was the change that made the difference.
With attempt No. 1 I couldn’t get OmniRig to work but I could get WSJT-X working without OmniRig so I settled for that. Tom sent me an email suggesting doing it that way would cause instability:
I Noticed you mention you were having issues with instability with WSJT….
On my website under documentation, 3rd party software, it shows that you should use Omni-Rig not hamlib. The issue is instability with HamLib.
Make sure you use the latest Omni-Rig definitions for the 7300 and 7610 which are IC7300DATA and IC7610DATA. These can be downloaded form the Omni-Rig site.
I didn’t understand Hamlib and OmniRig. Finally a sketch by John, KC0RF, helped my comprehension.
Hamlib is integrated within WSJT-X and provides definitions for many, many radios including the IC-7610. WSJT-X also provides a setting to bypass the Hamlib definitions in favor of OmniRig. OmniRig does the same thing as Hamlib but OmniRig’s definitions for the IC-7610 apparently are more stable. I found this to be true.
Following John’s sketch it seems the logical starting point would be to get the radio talking to WinSuite. Get WinSuite working with the IC-7610 over the USB without running 3rd party software ( WSJT-X ).
Referring to Tom’s instructions, prepare the IC-7610 by pressing the MENU button, then on the screen press SET>Connectors>CI-V and make the settings look like this:
On the next menu page set the CI-V USB baud rate to 115200. Notice there are two CI-V baud rate fields. Only change the one that says USB. Tom says:
“You should use 115200. That way you can use the scope too.”
Now start up WinSuite and go to settings if it doesn’t come up automatically. Tools>Settings…> Hardware & User Preferences>
In this menu the COM Port was added and the correct baud rate. The IC-7610 rate we just set is 115200 so that is what is used here. COM 3 is chosen after looking at Device Manager ports and choosing the first Silicon Labs port. Click Connect and the button changes to Disconnect if all is well. If so, click Save.
Upon clicking Save the radio panel window should appear.
Congratulations if this comes up. As a test, click on a band button and see if the radio changes bands. If an error message comes up instead of this screen try the other Silicon Labs port. This completes the first step which was to get WinSuite working with the IC-7610.
Referring to John’s sketch and to the WinSuite manual the next step is to configure virtual com connections. WinSuite recommends the application called com0com.
Arbitrarily COM14 will connect to WSJT-X and COM15 will connect to WinSuite.
Next step is to connect one end of the virtual com port cable to WinSuite. Go to Tools>Settings.. again. This time click the tab for 3rd Party SW/HW. In the Aux/CAT Port 1 fields enter COM15 and the baud rate, 38400. Click Connect. If all is well the button will change to Disconnect. Click Save.
Now bring up WSJT-X and go to settings (File>Settings>) and click the tab marked Radio.
OMNIRIG MUST BE INSTALLED AND CONFIGURED BEFORE CONTINUING OR NOTHING BELOW WILL WORK.
The setup for OmniRig will be inserted here. -Ed
Here is how WSJT-X should be configured.
IC-7610 is supported in WSJT-X release 1.9.0-rc3 and later. As of this writing we are running 1.9.1. Select OmniRig Rig 1 for radio. Other fields will be grayed out because they are for Hamlib which we have just ceased to be using when we entered OmniRig in the radio field.
Test this configuration by clicking on the Test CAT button. It should turn green indicating WSJT-X is working with the IC-7610 CAT simultaneously with WinSuite through OmniRig.
Mode Field: Set to None or Data/Pkt. At the end of every transmission wsjt sends a mode command to the radio. If this field is set to USB it will switch the radio out of Data mode into USB mode. The Mode command also changes the filter to the default which is F2. Manually change F2 on the radio to 3000 or 3600 and this will be the default wsjt switches to.
Old screensnap. Radio should be OmniRig Rig1-Ed.
Congratulations. CAT is working with WinSuite and with a 3rd party application at the same time. Although it sounds simple it’s really a big deal to have two applications using CAT at the same time and it’s thanks to WinSuite.
Click the Audio tab and set up the audio configuration. For this installation it is USB Audio CODEC.
Part 2 – Remote Operation
Next step is to access the station remotely. This involves setting up the router for port forwarding and setting up remote desktop connection. My port forwarding is discussed in an earlier post, https://w0qlremotebase.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/port-forwarding/
Next is remote desktop. In my experience the Microsoft application Remote Desktop Connection works the best. I have also tried RealVNC and Teamviewer. The biggest objection to the Microsoft application is that it is included only in the Windows Professional editions, not Windows Home. The others are free and work on any Windows version. Microsoft is integrated into Windows Pro and makes better use of Internet bandwidth. The screen paints more smoothly and has sharper resolution in my opinion.
In the remote PC which is connected by a USB cable directly to the IC-7610 open remote settings. On Windows 10 click on Start>Settings. In the Find A Setting field type in Remote and select Remote Desktop Settings. Slide the enable remote desktop button to on.
Next is the client side. This can be any pc running Windows and does not need to be Windows Pro. In fact other operating systems have apps for remote desktop such as the iOS free app Microsoft Remote Desktop for the iPad. It works but there isn’t much screen geography to get everything in. To make a connection from the client pc to the remote type in Remote Desktop Connection into the field by the start icon and select the Remote Desktop Connection desktop app.
Before entering the address take a look at the options by clicking the Show Options down arrow. Click the Display tab. Sliding the Small-Large slider will dictate how much of your home screen is occupied by the remote. I like to leave some room for local apps along one side at home but one can play with it to see.
Next click the Local Resources tab. Near the bottom uncheck the Printers and Clipboard boxes then click More… and uncheck every box.
Click OK, click General tab and click Save. Now we are ready to put in the computer address. Use the I.P. address of your router at the remote, the WAN or Internet address. The remote pc desktop pops up and can be operated just as if sitting in front of it.
Sidenote on pc’s: My remote site is solar powered meaning it runs on 12 volts DC. I could power a standard desktop tower pc through an inverter but that would be a huge hit to the power budget. I could also use a laptop with a car charger and run it at 12 volts without an inverter. Instead of either of these I chose a third option and that is one of the new Intel NUC computers which will run directly on 12 volts. I bought the NUC the same time as the IC-7610. It is a i3 processor, generation 7. It has run flawlessly on 12 volts and can be turned off and restarted remotely perfectly. If your site is commercially powered this would not be a concern.
The installation is really quite clean, simple, and straightforward once one has moved up the learning curve a bit. On my first attempt I was close but oh so far away. It has been stable for almost a week now with no glitches. Still not sure which of the changes contributed the most but as a whole it is working great and I’m making lots of contacts.
Thanks to Tom and John for all the help and hand holding.
Part 4 – RS-BA1
For a digital operation currently there is no easy way to monitor the audio at the client because the audio stays at the remote for processing. That’s where RS-BA1 comes in as a solution. It runs by itself using the ethernet jack on the IC-7610 (as opposed to the USB jack used up to this point) and provides monitor audio at the client over the Internet.
Sidenote: RS-BA1 runs flawlessly for CW and SSB with no third party apps needed. Many YouTube videos confirm this. The issue arises when we want to run digital modes because they are third party software and they want to use CAT control, too. When RS-BA1 starts up it takes control of the CAT channel and excludes any third party software, even port sharing applications. That’s why it was such a blessing when Win4IcomSuite became available. It does everthing RS-BA1 does, some things even better, plus it has built in port sharing for the CAT. However WinSuite currently doesn’t have monitor audio when using it remotely because the audio stays on the remote. Tom says he is working on a way to have audio at both locations and he anticipates a July, 2018 release. At that time using RS-BA1 should no longer be necessary. Meanwhile we need RS-BA1.
Installing and using RS-BA1 is discussed in another post: