WebDX-This is so cool!

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Uncategorized
RemoteHamRadio_logo
 
Every once in a while, a new technology comes along that can drastically change the way we do things.
 
Well, for ham radio and “little pistol” stations, that technology has arrived in the form of a new service called “WebDX”.
 
WebDX is a service from the folks at RemoteHamRadio.com  RemoteHamRadio.com or “RHR” as its often called is a collection of remote enabled ham stations on both the West and Easts coasts as well as one station in Scicily.
 
RHR is a subscription service where you can pay as little as $330 a month to use some very robust contests stations-any time you want, from anywhere you want.
 
WebDX has just been rolled out where you can access and use some very nice stations although not as massive as the top tier contest stations for a fee of fifteen to forty nine cents a minute. WebDX has a web interface using the Google Chrome browser. With this interface, you can remote access and control any of the WebDX stations, including turning the rotor and making voice and CW contacts.
 
This service is ideal for those that do not have access to a station of their own, particularly those in HOA/CC&R restricted areas, those in assisted living situations or students and young DXers who have yet to build their own station.  I can think of a few friends that often travel for business and miss some good DX as they are stuck in their hotel rooms. Well, with WebDX, they can access any of the remote stations and make contacts anywhere where they have access to the Internet.
 
Now then, some purists and old timers in our hobby might say “That’s cheating!”.  They think, If I had to build my own station and work my DXCC contacts from my home, why shouldn’t they?   There is no question that times are changing. Elecraft, Remoterig and WebDX make it so that you can enjoy your hobby no matter where you are and no matter where your living situation has you. Its not about enjoying the hobby the same way that its always been done but about enjoying the hobby within your means and within the FCC and DXCC rules.
 
Here in Silicon Valley where I live, the average house costs $900,000 and is a small 1/3 of an acre lot. Most young people simply cannot afford a house with any space around them. Nearly every house built in the last thirty years is in a HOA, has deed restrictions or is under CC&Rs. Thus they are prevented from putting up a decent station. That’s the beauty of RHR and WebDX. For as little as fifteen cents a minute, you can use their stations.
 
I’m part of a group of amateurs that has been building and mentoring the K6DGE Club Station at Dorothy Grant Elementary School in Fontana California. We have a tower and antenna and three HF rigs in one classroom. Its taken a lot of time and effort to get this station going. Now with services such as WebDX, you can literally be on the air in minutes without having to build the station.
 
I’m very happy to read of RHR’s new Youth Program where they are offering their service at no cost to our Youth that meet certain qualifications. How cool is that!   
 
WebDX may not be for everyone. If you have acres and stacks of your own antennas, you are all set. You are living the dream!  However, if you are like many of the younger DXers and Contesters starting out and you wish to enjoy the hobby now, for a very small cost, you can!   I think this is a terrific development within our hobby and a technology that I welcome and embrace. I was critical of Webshpere recently because there is no radio involved it its use or application. RHR and WebDX are much different. This is real ham radio and this may be the wave of the future. You can ride the wave or you can let it pass you by.
 
You can learn more about RemoteHamRadio and WebDX at their website: http://www.remotehamradio.com
 
What do you think?
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Comments
  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    I think anything that gets people on the air is great. I am one of those young(ish) DXers in Silicon Valley you speak of, and my lot is 1/10th of an acre. I’ve been using a station I built at my Dad’s and operating it remotely, and it’s been a lot of fun. Hope recent proposed DXCC changes don’t squash the fun. RHR is not for me at the moment (I want to use my own station) but I wish them lots of luck.

    • Dave Gomberg says:

      I looked at these guys some time ago, their pitch is a bit misleading. They do have a $.15/min service but it isn’t much better than a Buddiepole from the balcony of your apartment. They do have great stations, but they are $3 per minute, figure $10-50 per contact. At that rate, you could go thru a fair piece of change achieving something meaningful.

      • n6pse says:

        Dave, its true that the fifteen cents per minute stations are mostly dipoles on the East Coast, however the forty nine cents per minute stations have Yagis and amplifiers. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

  2. n6pse says:

    Hi Mike, I too hope that the DXCC rules governing remote station use do not change. I think remote stations can be a real benefit to many such as yourself that cannot create a robust local station. I do think the remote should be in the same entity to count for DXCC which most are. Lets see what happens.

    • Mike KJ4Z says:

      Wanted to add, the technology behind RHR looks really cool. It’s obvious they spent a lot of time and money getting it off the ground. I’d kill for just one of those stations! Ham radio should be about pushing the envelope, IMO, and this is the sort of thing that we ought to be encouraging. As you say, let’s sit tight and hope for the best.

  3. ky6r says:

    While my own personal goals are to make DXCC HR and HR #1 using only my own station and home brewed backyard antennas, I fully embrace this new technology. I just put my own disclaimer on my QRZ.COM page – and that “bragging right” is good enough for me. I’ve been a computer programmer for 33 years – including “cloud computing” – and while I love the “old DXCC traditions”, I also love new technologies too. The real award goes to those who enjoy the hobby!

  4. Donna AG6V says:

    While my present lot and finances would allow the building of a tower, I choose not to for several reasons:
    (a) It is a lot of money going to out of state vendors (e.g., tower makers) that I would otherwise donate to local schools, athletic programs, etc
    (b) Based on my past usage rates, my personal tower would be in use about 20 hours per month and this is not a good use of natural resources. I would much rather share a more fully utilized station: better for the ecology.
    (c) With RemoteHamRadio, the skills of operating a physical radio are still involved, the skills of finding the DX, knowing propagation, working the pileups, etc are still involved. I think the skill of climbing a tower is not central to the hobby — besides, how many of those with their own tower actually climb it and do maintenance themselves?
    —–
    As for the negative comments about “unfair QTH” when using a remote station, no two station locations are ever equal, no matter how hard the effort to equalize: see the discussions about the different QTHs of WRTC in Boston,
    —–
    DXCC from within the same entity: yes.
    Remote limitations on distance from home: no – a person could just get a mailing address 200 KM from the various RHR sites to get around that rule.
    —–
    I think we need to actively state our positions to the DXAC and the ARRL itself.

    73.

    • Mike KJ4Z says:

      I do plan to write actual snail mail letters to the DXAC members for both my home area and my remote QTH, as well as to the ARRL president, asking them to reconsider a rules change. I wonder if an informal “remote operators interest group” would be helpful, so we can coordinate our responses.

      • Donna AG6V says:

        Mike – That’s a great idea about a “remote operators interest group”. Would show the ARRL and DXAC that we are active and want to participate in the rules that govern our hobby. While Paul N6PSE’s blog is a great resource and chat area, I think a website along more conventional lines would be appropriate: listing the DXAC members, ARRL links for contacts, and links to the proposed changes, comments from the group.
        Your website or mine?
        Think Paul N6PSE would support it via a comment to his followers?

      • n6pse says:

        Donna, I will be writing to my DXAC representatives and let them know how I feel. I will also be commenting here on my Blog from time to time. Lets all let the DXAC know how we feel about DXCC and Remote Control rules.

  5. Bob Devine says:

    I feel that Remote operation is a wave into the future and is here to stay. It brings those without the monetary or physical capabilities into the Ham Radio fraternity. With out the youngsters we will have no HOBBY. It takes youth for it to grow.

    I have worked all DXCC entities from my city lot with my SteppIR and Alpha amp (antenna the main reason). I am now going after other awards…band slots etc. However, that being said, I now look after my DAD, who is 94 years young, and with remote ham radio it enables me to get on the air while I am there the 3-4 days a week caring for him. There is no way I could put up any type of antenna etc at his QTH and enjoy my hobby. It enables me to be active from his QTH. This technology is great and can benefit all in any way that they choose!

    It also appears to me that the DXAC or someone is purposely going after REMOTE HAM RADIO and trying to take them down. Why? Is it jealousy! Also, they are inadvertently attacking the Amateur Radio businesses…especially a great outfit like Elecraft. They are not mentioned but between the lines you can get the idea! Most, if not all high end Transceivers, can be remotely controlled and are made that way for a reason! Elecraft, to me, is the best and commonly used by the majority of Remote stations. They are made to enable people to get on the AIR!!! I wonder what impact this changing of rules would have on them?

    Another interesting point is:

    How will they police it? Here will be bad enough but overseas? Common grandpa’s lets get serious. Open your eyes! You can not even enforce your own rules here in the states now let alone with this?

    In conclusion, like I stated above, Remote Ham Radio is not for everyone but is AVAILABLE to everyone. Even the DXCC Grandpa’s! You use it to enjoy the hobby where you might not be able to! It is the future and is here to stay! Technology is the future!

    • n6pse says:

      Bob, very well said. I’m glad that you are able to enjoy your hobby while you are taking care of your Dad at his QTH. Let’s all let the DXAC know how we feel about their proposed changes to DXCC remote control rules.

  6. Bill Levy says:

    I am a firm believer in the future of technology and use this service myself. I know that the old boys hate this but no more than a guy with a dipole dislikes the big gun with a tower and yagi and now the big gun with a tower hates the contest guys with 5 towers and giant monobanders so frankly remote is just a way that the rest of us get even with the big guns and contest guys. So like photography became digital and killed chemical photos and digital has changed our planes and cars so digital is now enabling us to use remote stations. As the crazy left said years ago ” Power to the People!” YAY RHR! de N2WL

  7. Jon K7CO says:

    Long live RHR! I worked 267 countries from the RHR network in 2013. Thank you for your post here Paul. I think those against remote operation for DXCC are similar to those folks who argued against SSB when it came out, they wanted to stick with AM.

  8. Gary Martek says:

    Here is a great idea, how about a premium subscription service from these new remote ham radio telcos, that include having top notch “in-between contest operators” get the DX for you! You don’t have to do a thing but pay say 2.5K for DXCC 100, another 0.5K for each 50 new countries.

    At Honor roll say 330 you pay 5K and 1K for each country above that. For Honor Roll #1 10K. On your way there you get a daily e-mail summarizing what operators worked what and any trouble they had getting the DX for you.

    So, if you do get asked or brag to an actual traditional ham radio station owner/operator you have all the details and buzz words at your iphone finger tips.

    This would be great! If you can afford a 1M house, you can certainly afford this.

    These could include options for paper QSL cards and other things.

    The crack contest operators working for you, hell, they are remote station visitors that can use your call sign, that’s real cool!

    Are any of these remote services making a public offering? I want in!

    • Jon K7CO says:

      Gary, You seem to forget about the joy of breaking through a pileup or the joy in having a pileup calling you. I get gigantic pileups calling me when I am on WebDX, pure fun. Your post did make me chuckle though.

      • Gary Martek says:

        Just be easy with it Jon, I know a “on-line poker player,” who is always broke. Re-reading my post, I’d add a photo-shop rendering service option that puts your face at made up operating desks at super multi-multi-stations. As long as a glitch does not make a face show up eight times in the same photo? That would be hard to explain. 🙂 73, Gary, W7DO

    • n6pse says:

      Gary, my point about the average house in Silicon Valley costing $900,000 is that our young people cannot afford to buy a house. A Young DXer/Contester is locked out of buying land and putting up his own station in these parts. However for as little as fifteen cents a minute, he/she can use WebDX. I think that is a terrific option to those that want to get on the air but cannot.

      • Gary Martek says:

        An ideal situation would be if local clubs or regional clubs could support/own such quality stations so that the rental revenues were going to support a DXpedition or two, sort of like to the old Soviet club stations of long ago, but operated remotely.

        Honestly, maybe, I’m rubbed the wrong way in that some maybe using the situation to create what I referred to as “Telcos.” Our beloved hobby is in fact dying out, any means of life support is appreciated, getting any young people interested in the hobby is sadly a tough one.

  9. n6pse says:

    Gary- I agree that a remote station is a great resource for club stations to enjoy. For a time, I tried to interest my DX Club in a club station but there was too much resistance. I have also been helping to build and mentor a club station at Dorothy Grant Elementary School (www.K6DGE.com) Its been a great project. Imagine an elementary school with a teacher that is a ham and she brings in mentors. She has three HF rigs in her classroom that the kids can use. Its amazing!

    • Mike KJ4Z says:

      Hi Paul,

      Was this NCDXC? What was the objection?

      Personally, I would still rather remote my own station back in TN than use a club station here. I really want to do my own thing. But I think a club station would be an awesome resource for those without that option.

      • n6pse says:

        Mike, yes this was the venerable NCDXC. For a time, I tried to interest board members in a Club Station that would be remotely enabled for club members. Most of the board members had strong objections. Their sole reason to be on the board seemed to be to vote no on any idea or suggestion that came along…… My service to the board was a waste of time and I have moved on.

  10. Donna AG6V says:

    Folks – there was a comment about having the revenues of a potential club super station going to fund DXepeditions. And another comment about getting more young people involved in the hobby. Possibly you are not aware that RHR gives time to new licensees ==> they are doing their part to get newcomers into the hobby. They are funding activity from their own pockets.

  11. Roy WA4DOU says:

    To me, amateur radio is a forum for exploration of the mechanics of radio communications, not a medium for just general communications. I suppose I’m representative of the purist. Regardless of the modesty of a station I might have or simple antennas, openly used or clandestine in nature, my interest is solely via my own station, not yours, not remote, etc. If I did warm up to remote operation, it would have to be my own station. No incentive in amateur radio would interest me if I had to acquire it via any means other than my own efforts and my own station. I lived in many beehives in my life before home ownership and I can have effective antennas anywhere, given just a little thought.

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