Swiss Remote DX Amateur Radio Station at 1'660m

Frederic (HB9CQK) and me are working on a Swiss mountain remote DX-Station project since Sept. 2018. We have many challenges such as strong wind, ice, thunderstorms, snowfall, big temperature differences, Windows 10 updates, etc. Since 2019, we made a lot of remote-station expierence and we are still learning news with such a great Remote Site.

Goal of the solution:
The aim of our Remote DX-Station is to operate a remote radio site via the Internet, where there are almost no "man-made interference" (e.g. PLC, power supplies, solar power system, DSL-lines, etc.). Ideally, the location is slightly elevated and has a 360° all-round view.

Flexradio 6700, OptiBeam OB9-5 extra heavy duty Beam for 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m, and 20m, OptiBeam OB5-6 (6m), 54m Wire-Antenna with a Stockcorner JC-4s Tuner (30-160m), Expert 1.3k Amplifier, Prosistel PST61D Rotor, EA4TX Rotor Control, Balun Designs, Lightning Protection, Airspy HF+ with Spyserver SDR, KiwiSDR, Nport 5410 for Expert Remote-Control, and a public WebSDR Server (HF) with a Wellbrook ALA1530NL Loop and WebSDR Server (UHF/VHF) with a Diamond X-50N (2m/70cm) Antenna for the HAM community.

On May 17, 2022 we installed the new OptiBeam OB9-5 extra heavy duty version in hopes that this beam will now stay in tact for longer than just one year. Since 2019, 3 beams have been lost due to the extreme weather conditions at this location at this height.

May 2022

Our free WebSDR- and Kiwi-SDR Servers for the HAM-Community
WebSDR Server (HF) with a Wellbrook ALA1530NL Loop Antenna
WebSDR Server 2m/70cm with a Diamond X-50N Antenna
KiwiSDR Server with a Wellbrook ALA1530NL Loop Antenna

Have a look at the
Live 360° public WebCam
Frédéric HB9CQK provides additional information.
Article in German about our Remote DX-Station from Jörg (DD8JM)
Since summer 2020, we have a 100 (Down) /100 (Up) Mbit/s fiber optic Internet connection at 1'660m!

Below an example: 20m in SSB, taken on Sept. 3, 2021 (22:00 UTC) from SDR receiver K3FEF in Milford, Pennsylvania, USA with a G5RV antenna. Distance: 6366.42 km (3979.012 miles). Rigi: OptiBeam OBDYA12-5, Flexradio 6700 with 1kW (Expert 1.3k), Jabra wireless DECT business headset conneted via USB with home computer (Windows 10) and SmartSDR v3.2.39.

Final Equipment

Flexradio 6700 High End Transceiver,
OptiBeam OB5-6 for 6m,
OptiBeam OB9-5 extra heavy duty beam for 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m, and 20m,
54m Wire-Antenna with JC-4s Stockcorner Tuner,
Expert 1.3k Amplifier,
Prosistel PST61D Rotor,
EA4TX Rotor Control with Raspberry Pi3,
Airspy HF + with Spyserver each on a Raspberry Pi4,
WebSDER Server for HF,
WebSDR Server for 2m/70cm,
NPort 5410 serial port Mulitplexer to control the Expert 1.3k amplifier,
Lightning Protection,
Remote 230V Power ON/OFF device,
Remote Web-Relais to Switch ON/OFF our devices,
1:1 5kW Chokes from BalunDesings,
LPF-1 Low Pass Filter for OptiBeam and Wire Antenna,
Active Antenna Splitters ELAD ASA15 and ELAD ASA16 Active Antenna splitter for our SDR-Receivers

Audio 20m WebSDR K3FEF USA - Jabra Headset strong

Audio 20m WebSDR K3FEF USA - Jabra Headset WIDE

Audio 10m WebSDR in Brasil - Jabra Headset WIDE

Bad news:
Our great OptiBeam OBDYA12-5 suffered a broken boom due to very heavy ice/snow load combined with high wind speeds (2. Feb. 2022). It looks like no regular antenna design can survive the exteme WX conditions that we encounter on Mount Rigi. However, the 6m 5 element OptiBeam ist still doing fine and the 54m longwire although torn apart by the broken antenna was an easy fix and works OK. The OBDYA12-5 was a fantastic antenna and we already miss it a lot. We hope Tom from OptiBeam will be able to create an antenna for us with a much stronger boom that has a chance to suvive these storms, although we are very much aware that this will not be easy. Sadly below you can find the "final pictures - RIP" from our OBDYA12-5.

February 2022

December 2021

October 2021 - Drone Flight

Drone Flight - 11. October 2021

Drone Flight - 360 View at 1'660m

October 2021 - OptiBeam Repair & Maintenance

11. June 2021 - Installation of new Cabinet

17. June 2021 - Installation of new OptiBeam

17. June 21 Installation of New OptiBeam OBDYA12-5

6. Aug. 20 - Installing JC-4s Tuner with 54m Wire

26. June 2020 - Rebuild after Winter-Storm

First Installation 28. August 2019

Installation of OptiBeam OBLY14-5 at 28. Aug. 2019

2. Jan. 2020 - Drone Video of the old OptiBeam

View from the Mountain at 1'660m

Winter Storms in February 2020 - Rebuild in June 2020

Three strong winter storms (Petra, Sabine and Bianca) totally destroy all our antennas.

Our remote station had already survived several severe thunderstorms (including one that un-rootet a large fir tree close by), so we thought we were safe. The trouble started with storm Petra. There was already ice on the antennas and storm Petra came with heavy snow and strong winds. It broke off two elements of the the 6m beam and bent the top tube. The 40m EndFed wire was torn apart. The pictures below show the state after storm Petra.

The next storm (Sabine) was even stronger than Petra, but it did not do additional damage because there was little snow on the antenna at that time. Snow and ice have an incredible effect on the wind load. The following picture shows the antenna after storm Sabine. The HF beam recovered nicely once the snow and ice was gone and was still working OK.

The last storm Bianca did the rest. There was again a lot of snow and ice on the antenna. The top tube broke apart and everything came down (see the picture below from the morning after).

Due to the current world-wide Corona health crisis we cannot replace the antennas immediately. However, we have already fixed the EndFed antenna and the KiwiSDR is back online for you. We have replaced the FlexRadio 6500 with a FlexRadio 6700 and added two AirspyHF+ SDR's that are able to monitor the bands 24/7 using WSPR and FT8.

Installation 29. August 2019

Almost 2 years ago we carried out first talks with representatives from Rigi Railways Inc. about the possibility of renting a no longer used mast 1660 metres above sea level and using it for Amateur Radio. In autumn of 2018 we installed a temporary G5RV and two Colibri SDR receivers to find out if this location could be used for amateur radio. We found that we had some noise up there, but it was A LOT better than what we encounter at the home QTH of HB9RYZ and HB9CQK! Planning went ahead and Frédéric HB9CQK and myself decided to get our HAM Dream finalized.