July 2016
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A Linux based remote control system

We are extending LANs out to transmitter sites for many reasons; backup audio, control and monitoring, security systems, VOIP phones, etc.

I am casually (very casually) toying around with creating my own Linux based remote control system.  The ongoing Windows 10 upgrade debacle continues to not end, I can’t help but think that there are many potential clients who could use a reliable transmitter/studio remote control and monitoring system based on a stable operating system.  Hmm, sounds like a sales pitch 😉

Anyway, I have run across several Ethernet board manufactures that offer a variety of boards with 8-12 contact closures and a variety of analog and digital inputs.  Most new transmitters have some sort of web GUI which are great for transmitter control and monitoring.  As we all know, there is more than just a transmitter at any given transmitter site.  In addition to the transmitter, I would like to control and monitor things like tower lights, interface and control of coax switches, temperature monitoring, generator status, the old non-web interface backup transmitters, STL signal strength for those old 950 MHz links, etc.

Since Google is my friend (when they are not storing my search data), I came up with this: Internet-ethernet-12-channel-relay-board

That particular PC board is made in Bulgaria, which is home to this: Mount Buzludzha

What I like about these particular boards is the DRM software (DRM has, apparently, many different meanings) which will run on Linux or Windows.  There are also iOS and Andriod applications that can be used as well.  It appears that the GUI can be customized for various uses.   This seems like it is written in Java, so perhaps I could have some Java expert customize it for radio use.  It looks like up to 32 boards can be controlled by a single instance of the DRM software.  Alarm reporting would be via SNMP trap and email.

I don’t know, there is one particular cluster of stations that needs new remote control gear at almost every transmitter site.  Perhaps a little alpha testing is in order?  It could be fun…

Anyway, just a thought…


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14 comments to A Linux based remote control system

  • Scott Cason

    I have a transmitter site with three Nautel GV series FM transmitters, One 10k Harris backup and associated HD Importers and Exporters. If you need a test bed, let me know.

  • Chris

    Supports SNMP, has a decent web interface, and the Android app is a bonus!

    Looks like a fairly good product and the next time I’m in the market I’ll definitely have to try one out!

  • Tom Taylor

    Great idea but don’t waste your time on anything using Java. I’m a drinkin’ man because of Java. I left my wife because of Java. I kick the dogs and kids every time I get duped into a Java upgrade and then spend the next 10 days making stuff that used to work fine work again.
    Did I mention I’m not a Java fan??!!

  • Paul Thurst

    Tom, Yeah, you are right, of course. I guess I would need to either get into the mini web server and re-write whatever is serving up the web page, or come up with something better than java to use for a dedicated linux program. Still, fun to play around with.

  • David Traxler

    Take a look at the Raspberry PI. It runs Linux, has some digital and analog I/O built onboard plus the I/O is expandable. For software development, Python seems like the language of choice these days. But, there are other languages that run on the PI also.

  • Dave Dybas

    Beware of Java based GUI’s ….The early Burk Web Interface used them and it was sluggish and quirky… Maybe Java has improved but my dealings with it haven’t been all that good.

  • Hi Paul, not sure if you’re much of a Python person but we use it a whole ton at WAYO-LP for interfacing with all sorts of things… We have a ton of Python scripts for interfacing with all sorts of different things, like our cheap Chinese RFID door controller, etc.

    The ‘requests’ module in Python can be used for sending any sort of HTTP request and sounds like it might work pretty well with this board. I might have to grab one to try it out, seems like a pretty cool piece of hardware!

    I imagine you’ll be putting these in a private network with VPN access… The security on these embedded things can sometimes be lackluster, as I’m sure you’ve discovered.

  • DH

    I’d be greatly interested to hear about your findings on a Linux based setup. I’d also love to read more about what others are doing with Linux in broadcasting.

  • Dale Sharp

    I would be interested in doing something like this.

    I have alot of monitoring of the transmitter and links and even the promotional freezers being monitored by nagios.. with trending done by cacti

  • Chris

    Checking the product page for it: It only requires a browser that supports JavaScript. Java is a completely different beast and doesn’t appear to be required or even used.

  • Alan in DC

    Paul, you been in touch with Fred Gleason at Paravel Systems (the guys that came up with the Linux-based Rivendell automation suite)?
    I don’t know how helpful it may be, but he may already have investigated this and might have some insights and shortened development paths to offer up.

  • I am replacing all of my burk units with sicon-8s for this reason. I love the ability to script my sites to do what I need when any one of a 1000 potential things happen. Being able to send my self notifications and log my sites then have those logs archived in to a central location is amazing. Then you add in the ability to control the sites via web interface for the board ops and you’re golden. I love this approach.

  • Andrew Bullock

    I’m experimenting with Arduino, https://www.blynk.cc and a Node-Red front end currently in measuring and logging of phase and ratio values on a 2 tower DA, and whether the tides are affecting the tuning.
    Surprisingly the AM isn’t killing it, but some C on the ADC inputs sure helped it!

  • Aaron Read

    Hey Paul – I recently stumbled across the Denkovi stuff, too. I just installed their two-relay PCB as a control for my satdish heater. Read more here:



    I also ordered two of these…

    …to mate my Burk ARC Plus Touch with two Henry Engineering SAM’s for alarm monitoring in the newsroom and studio at RIPR. I’ll let you know how that turns out but based on my experience with the two-relay board, I expect it’ll take some trial-and-error to puzzle out the exact OIB’s to use but other than that it ought to work well.

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