Will this technology change anything?

W5XD at delphi.com W5XD at delphi.com
Tue Apr 4 19:43:18 EDT 1995

There have been threads on cq-contest about remote controlled stations
before. I've noticed that, at least here in the Austin, Tx area, ISDN
connections are available at prices that well off folks could afford.
Clearly the trend is that dial up 64KB connections will be affordable VERY
soon--my personal guess is that it will only take two or three years for
these to be common.

So I have questions/comments on the topic. My intent is to find out if
anyone is thinking about this and what the effects on ham contesting will be
(or could be, or should be...)

My intuition is that the audio from at least two maybe three HF rigs could
be compressed into a single ISDN connection and leave plenty of room for the
more mundane control tasks for a radio station like PTT, frequency control,
etc. Seems like the best setup would be for HF rigs to be split between
their front panels and back ends such that a complete station looks sort of
like this:

               |----------------|                    |----------------
Operator  ---- |Rig front panel |                    |Xcvr back end   |--antenna
          ---- |AF speaker/etc. |MUX ----ISDN---MUX--|                |
Logging        |                |                    |rotator control |
Computer  -----|----------------|                    |amplifier

If commercial rigs would do this AND support a standard protocol over
the wire, then any operator could connect to any station and get on the

Questions. Is there any reason this would have to be less effective
than having the operator at the RF station location? Is ISDN bandwidth
too slow to do what really needs to be done? What about the delay?
Even speed of light propagation over a terrestrial ISDN link will give
noticeable delays for anything needing a round trip--like hearing the
CW pitch change when the operator turns the receive dial. Is this a
fatal flaw?

ISDN is dial up--i.e. the station has a telephone number. Could air
time be sold? That is, I buy the rig front panel and an ISDN connection,
Joe SuperstationOwner takes my credit card and gives me the station
phone number, and I'm on the air....

Politics? Antenna restrictions are a serious problem for hams. (It 
happens I don't personally have this problem, but I am sure I will
the next time I make a career change requiring a move.) Seems like 
making air time conveniently available would HELP rather than hurt 
amateur radio. 

OK, OK. So selling air time is clearly against the current rules in the
USA. Over the next few years the technology necessary to remote 
HF stations just like "being there" is extremely likely to be
developed. How are we going to deal with it? Superstation owners
just let their buddies dial in? Finance them like repeaters
get financed? What's going to happen in the Carribean? I'll bet there
are countries that would allow amateur station air time to be sold.
ISDN will take longer to appear there, but would anyone like to
wager how long it will be before, say, the ARRL DX contest is 
won by someone sitting somewhere in the USA?

My motivation. I just want to talk about this topic. A posting
to cq-contest does not obligate me to actually do anything about

Wayne, W5XD
w5xd at delphi.com

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