Pocket RXTX – Remote operation from your Android smartphone or tablet
Today I ran across a fun little app on the Google Play store called Pocket RXTX that allows you to remotely control your rig using Ham Radio Deluxe’s IP server right on your Android phone or tablet!
The app can be downloaded for free on the Google Play store here.
Pocket RXTX is the brainchild of Dan Toma YO3GGX. He has really done a great job writing this app even though it is officially in ALPHA status. Here is how it works:
The app can connect directly to a few different Yaesu radios such as the FT-817, FT-857, and FT-897D using a Bluetooth interface. Additionally it can connect to online SDR’s over the internet so that you can listen to various servers (currently there is only one available, but I’m sure that will change with time). Lastly you can use Ham Radio Deluxe’s IP server capability to remote control just about any rig that is compatible with HRD it looks like. I am running HRD 188.8.131.52 currently with my Icom IC-7600 and it worked fairly well.
Since I demonstrated Pocket RXTX with my Icom IC-7600 and HRD, my review will be based on connecting the app in that manner. Basically there are just a few steps to get this working:
ON THE PC SIDE RUNNING HAM RADIO DELUXE:
*Note this setup will be for starters on your LAN. Be sure your Wi-Fi radio is enabled on your Android device and you are able to communicate with your computer running HRD.
1. If you allready have your radio connected to HRD, start your radio and then start HRD.
2. At the top of the main window click “Tools” on the menu.
3. From the Tools menu click “IP Server”. You should see the following window:
4. In the PORT section type in 7809.
5. Check the little box that says “Start server when HRD starts”. This will make sure that the IP server is available when HRD starts and you do not have to manually start it.
6. Note the Addresses section to the right. Most computers will only have one IP address in this field. Write down this address and then the port number (7809) you will need them for the setup on your Android device next.
7. If you are running a software firewall on your computer, you will need to allow in access for traffic using TCP port 7809. Please allow the exception in your firewall software.
8. Click the START button if the server is not running yet.
9. Click OK to exit this window.
ON THE ANDROID SIDE RUNNING POCKET RXTX:
1. On your Android device install the Pocket RXTX app from the app store. You can just open the app store on your phone or tablet and then search for Pocket RXTX.
2. Install the app. Follow the instructions to install the app.
3. Open the app on your Android device and you will be presented with the first time setup screen. Using your finger scroll to the right until you see a picture of Ham Radio Deluxe on the screen. Next tap “START” button.
4. Now you will need to input your settings for HRD. To do this click the menu key on your Android device (some phones have soft-touch buttons for the menu, others have on screen menu buttons”.
5. Choose “SETUP”
6. You will be presented with a simple screen on your Android device. Input the IP address and port that you wrote down earlier here and click the “SET” button.
7. Next click the little blue power button and your all set!
To pipe the audio through you will need to setup Skype for that. Since there are plenty of other tutorials out there on the net that discuss how to do that with HRD, I won’t cover it here. But basically if you search for “Ham Radio Deluxe remote with Skype” you will find someone who outlines just how to do it.
Also, in order to remotely control your rig from anywhere other than your home network you will need to set up a port forward rule in your router. Again there are plenty of sites that will show you how to do this. Since there are many different brands of routers out there, the setup is different for each one. A good ‘ol Google search using the make and model of your router followed by “port forward” should yield you the info you need to get the job done.
The operation is pretty straight forward. I really like the big onscreen buttons as they are easy to push without clicking something else by accident. The layout is really well done, and has most basic controls such as:
- VFO dial for selecting frequency.
- Large frequency readout.
- Mode control (USB/LSB/AM/CW…etc.)
- RF Power control.
- Band button to quickly switch bands.
- A clock that syncs with HRD.
- VFO A/B selector button.
- S meter
- And antenna tuner button (for those radios that have them).
I tried out these controls and all of them seemed to work fairly well. There is a “Function” (Fn) button that is used in conjunction with some buttons near the top for storing frequencies in memory which is very nice. Not only can you just store the frequency, but the mode, power level, and other settings as well so that you can recall your favorite net frequency with the touch of a button.
PROBLEMS RUNNING ALPHA SOFTWARE:
I did experience a few problems running this app. After all this app is in ALPHA status of testing. Sometimes I had problems connecting to the IP server with HRD. After quitting the app and then reconnecting a few times, it finally connected and worked. Also at times the frequency would just cut out and show some weird band or something that I was not on and then 1 second later it would display the correct frequency.
I was able to connect to the online SDR, but it was really choppy sounding, perhaps this is because of network latency. I think Dan is located in Romania, so I am going to assume that is where the SDR (currently there is only one online) is located. Since that is pretty damn far from Indiana USA, it could be a latent connection if the routers that pass traffic between the SDR over the Internet and my house are on slow networks or something.
The skinny on PocketRXTX:
Basically I love what Dan has done with the software. Even though it is in ALPHA, it feels more like a BETA. It is fairly refined and does work with some occasional glitches. It wouldn’t be 100% reliable yet for remote operation, but it’s getting there. For my review I give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I cannot wait to see the progress that this app makes in the next few months, I think the reliability will increase and more people will use it.
I made a brief video showing it functioning on my base rig (the Icom IC-7600) with my Nexus 7 Android tablet and my Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. Enjoy ;-)
I highly recommend experimenting with this and giving it a try. It is a very cool app and it was fun to tinker with. If you have tried it out, why not share your experience in the comments below? Everyone else would love to read your thoughts!
73! de Nick N9SJA