RH96 Control Head Remote Kit - First Look

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KE4NYV

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Some might have seen on the "Remote Control Head" thread that I am working on a kit that will extend the RH96 with a single CAT5 cable. The prototype boards came in today, I built up a couple of sets and I am pleased to say they work great!

The system is simple. Two small PCB (circuit boards), one at each end, the radio end and the control head end. Both boards interface to the various connectors on both devices ie. power, data and speaker audio. These signals are transferred between the boards via a standard CAT5 twisted pair network cable. The power is fed from the scanner end, where it can power both the scanner AND the control head. Once I can get some feedback, I might make provisions on the scanner board end for a single power input, with a "jump port" back to the scanner. This would only apply to the mobile version ie. BCT15, 996(XT), ect. The whole point is to simply the connections, reduce the cables and make it easier to use.

In the pictures below, you might think its a mess with all of the extra cable. This was only for the test, the final kit will come with 12" interface cables to go between the boards and the scanner/control head. The only cable that will not be short is the control head cable that comes with your RH96. This cable can be easily wrapped up, such as shown in the pictures.

In the picture, I am using a fairly short CAT5 cable of 10 feet, but so far, I have tested up to 50' without a single problem. I did'nt even notice an attenuation of the speaker audio. I would venture to guess I could go longer, maybe even twice as long.

Here are the pictures:















Feedback please!

Thanks!
 

garys

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Nice! I can see using this when I take my 330 or 396 mobile. Much simpler cabling and bringing the audio up near the control head is a nice idea. Any idea of cost?
 

KE4NYV

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Nice! I can see using this when I take my 330 or 396 mobile. Much simpler cabling and bringing the audio up near the control head is a nice idea. Any idea of cost?
Target price is $35 or less including the 12" interface cables and 10' CAT5 cable.
 

KE4NYV

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Now that I have boards in-hand, I am playing with the ergonomics of it more and more and I think it might be worth looking into a way to double-stick the control head board to the back and go with even shorter jumpers to make it all in one and not have the board hanging off of the head. That is just another thing to have to manage during the install.
 

KE4ZNR

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Great Job Jason! Always good to see someone take something like this to the next level! You should submit the final product to Make Magazine to be published! Let me know if you are ever in central NC and brews are on me!
Happy Monitoring (and Modding!)
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

PCTEK

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Very Nice Indeed

Very good idea and very clean product. Makes me wonder why Uniden could not have incorporated this into the RH-96. I'd like this for my 396XT. Will you be able control the volume, power, etc from the remote head?

If you are planning to build these for distribution, let me know, I'd like a set. Do you plan to mount these boards in a small plastic case?

Again, great work!
 

KE4NYV

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I'd like this for my 396XT.
It should work perfectly with any of Uniden's supported models, meant to work with the RH-96.

Will you be able control the volume, power, etc from the remote head?
Everything, except controlling power of the main radio. This is a feature not supported by Uniden. I did however think about going into the head and tapping from the main power knob to remotely control a relay on the other end, but that would require a mod to the head. I don't think people would like to void their warranty. At least most would not.

If you are planning to build these for distribution, let me know, I'd like a set. Do you plan to mount these boards in a small plastic case?
If I can find a small enough case that will work, I might consider it. For the most part, I was going to leave it up to the end user to mount it.

The thing that I know all too well is about production cost on small items like this. Adding two small cases AND the milling to each case will significantly increase my cost and I would be forced to go up in price. I really would like to stick to my target price of $35, unless people are willing to pay closer to $50 for the set, then I might be able to make that happen easier.

Again, great work!
Thanks!
 

garys

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Now that I have boards in-hand, I am playing with the ergonomics of it more and more and I think it might be worth looking into a way to double-stick the control head board to the back and go with even shorter jumpers to make it all in one and not have the board hanging off of the head. That is just another thing to have to manage during the install.
Double sided tape is a good idea, at least on the head end. What are the dimensions of the boards? If I get a set of these, I'm going to have to put them in a project box or something.
 

KE4NYV

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Double sided tape is a good idea, at least on the head end.
That is the idea. I actually did a sample affixing and it looks good, but I need to make a few changes. I have some pictures that I will post when I get some time tomorrow.

What are the dimensions of the boards? If I get a set of these, I'm going to have to put them in a project box or something.
The board size is going to shrink on the head end. When I attached it, the board was just a little big for my taste and could be sized down quite a bit. First thing, I think I am going to replace the 2.1mm coaxial power jack with a third 3.5mm (1/8") jack for size reasons. This of course means that the labeling will have to be very clear. I don't want anyone accidentally plugging power into one of the other two jacks.

On second thought, maybe I will go with a mini coaxial power jack for size reasons.
 

XTS3000

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Am I missing something here? With the RH96 all you have to do is plug in the remote head to the radio with a single wire (supplied with RH96) & external speaker if needed/wanted. That's pretty straight forward hookup. What advantage would someone get by hooking up the RH96 via eithernet cable? Now instead of 2 wires (RH96 and speaker) for the normal RH96 setup, your setup requires an additional audio wire feeding the 396T board & ethernet cord.

Normal RH96 setup requires 3 cords (speaker, control, power), your setup requires 7.

What am I missing here?

BTW, great job on the circuit boards - 100% professional!
 

garys

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That is the idea. I actually did a sample affixing and it looks good, but I need to make a few changes. I have some pictures that I will post when I get some time tomorrow.
Having the option of attaching it to the back, top, or side of the head will help. When I use the RH96, it's for temporary use in a vehicle, so I want as few things dangling as possible. I also don't want to permanently attach anything to the vehicle. Of course other people will be doing a permanent mount, so their needs are likely to be different.

The board size is going to shrink on the head end. When I attached it, the board was just a little big for my taste and could be sized down quite a bit. First thing, I think I am going to replace the 2.1mm coaxial power jack with a third 3.5mm (1/8") jack for size reasons. This of course means that the labeling will have to be very clear. I don't want anyone accidentally plugging power into one of the other two jacks.

On second thought, maybe I will go with a mini coaxial power jack for size reasons.
Mini coax is better, if you don't want to stick with the existing one. Even with very clear labeling, you know what's going to happen.

Another thought. How about hard wiring? Well, that's if you plan on selling the board with cables. Provide hard wired power and data cables, and a 3.5mm jack for the speaker? Just thinking, and probably not all that well.
 
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KE4NYV

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Small enough to mount inside rh96? and/or 15x/996xt? I'd cut a hole for that.
I am sure I could get the size down, but I'm not sure there would be the room inside for it to fit. Milling the hole in the head is a whole other matter. Supporting end user milling would be a nightmare.
 

KE4NYV

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Awesome. This could actually motivate me to out and buy all of the parts and scanner. Great to see someone with such an ambitious project.
You won't have to buy any parts with the kit, I will make sure everything needed is included. You just have to supply the scanner, the RH96 head and the remote extension cable that comes with the RH96. That is the crucial connection from the scanner to one of the boards.
 

KE4NYV

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What am I missing here?
With the current "requirements" of the RH-96, you must run the data cable from the radio to the head, run additional power direct to the head and if you want the speaker near the head, that requires an extension as well. When running these in a car, it quickly becomes a pain to run three cables. With this kit, you supply all of these signals at the scanner end and they are all carried over the CAT5 cable to the other end where they are essentially broke back out for the head.

The only connection not made at the head end, directly to the head is the speaker. You would plug the speaker directly into the board. Of course, you have the option to omit this feature and plug a speaker directly into the scanner, just make sure the scanner is not so far away that you can't hear it :D

I must clarify somthing, the CAT5 network cable is NOT for ethernet, there is zero ethernet being used here. I am simply using a readily available cable, with decent data and audio carrying capabilities. The twisted pairs allowed me to use one wire in each pair for ground, thus "shielding" each signal. Not perfect, but it is working well in my tests.

BTW, great job on the circuit boards - 100% professional!
Thanks, I have been designing PCBs for about 8 years now for my company as well as freelance, so I hope I know what I am doing by now :D
 

Uplink

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Wow, this is impressive!!! Simplifies cable runs for sure.

Great price, Motorola would charge at least a hundred bucks for something like this if it were for one of their 2-way radios.

What's the longest Cat5 run you have tried? This would be great for the house too, would shorten antenna coax runs by putting the scanner in the attic or something, or you could control a scanner thats in the office while your tinkering in the garage etc.

Great job!!!!!!!!! :D
 

bpsmicro

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I'll probably take two sets!

One benefit to *not* making your own box is that people who like to <ahem> "customize" things like this can wire in earphone jacks and LEDs and whatnot, without jacking up the price for everybody else.

Brad.
 

garys

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I must clarify somthing, the CAT5 network cable is NOT for ethernet, there is zero ethernet being used here. I am simply using a readily available cable, with decent data and audio carrying capabilities. The twisted pairs allowed me to use one wire in each pair for ground, thus "shielding" each signal. Not perfect, but it is working well in my tests.
What, no proprietary, extra cost cable? They'll drum you out of the electronic device designer union! ;)
 
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