Radio PC remote access
If you have a PC running datamodes or SDR software or simply controlling your rig it can be really handy to be able to access it over the internet. There are many ways of doing this but here’s a quick and easy method using Google Remote Desktop. This can be used from another PC, a phone or tablet and will for example allow you to make FT8 QSOs using your phone. Some of you may remember me demonstrating this some time ago at the club, back when we were able to have physical meetings.
There are two requirements – you have to have (or sign up for) a Google account and you can only used a Chrome-based browser to access the PC. Many browsers, including the latest Microsoft Edge, are based on the same Chromium code so it is far more widely compatible than at first appears.
To get started, on the PC you wish to control go to remotedesktop.google.com and log in with your Google account details. Now click on the Access My Computer link. You’ll then see a screen like this:
You can see I have a PC called hampc already set up. What you need to do is click ‘Setup remote access’ under the heading ‘This device’. Things do get a little confusing now. You’ll see a popup offering to install an app (aka program). This isn’t necessary. If you click on the blue download arrow near the centre of the screen it will install Google remote desktop as a browser extension on the PC you will access. Using Edge on my PC I had to allow access to the Chrome store and approve the extension. Using the extension seems to work fine, even if the browser on the PC is closed down. You will be asked to supply a PIN, which has to be entered on the viewer device when logging in.
All you have to do now is go to the same website – remotedesktop.google.com – on your phone, tablet or PC and log in with the same account details (if it isn’t already logged in – it may be if an Android device). You should now see your ‘radio’ PC as a remote device. Click on it, enter the PIN and Bob’s you uncle!
One thing to note is that as an additional security measure the remote PC has a small message window up all the time saying the screen is being shared and there is a button to disable sharing. That can be moved around and isn’t visible on the device remotely accessing the PC anyway, so it doesn’t get in the way.
Here’s a screenshot from my phone, showing WSJT-X running on my PC. There is a greyed out curved tab on the right. Tapping on it brings up an options menu where I had selected the full-screen view on my phone:
While using remote access you will hear audio from the PC but not from the radio (unless the PC is set up for radio sound to come out of the speakers). As an example, you can run FreeDV on the PC and hear the decoded audio on the remote device. (NB I haven’t tried audio going the other way so have no idea if it works.)
Have fun trying this out!