W7RH 160m Remote Off The Grid Experience

The W7RH remote is completely off the grid with the nearest commercial power over 8 miles away. The site was choosen for it's remote location and low noise levels. To this day no separate low noise receive antennas are used with receive and transmit using just the directive vertical array.

Being remote has it's own set of problems. The biggest issue is how to have a good Internet connection in the middle of nowhere. After years of operating with 4G LTE the site went to Starlink LEO satellite communication formally in February of 2022.

Initially lead acid batteries were used for energy storage. While affordable they required scheduled maintenance which was hard to do all seasons in four wheel drive backroad country. In the Spring of 2021 the power system was upgraded to 21kWh of LiFePo4 cells. This large amount of energy storage allows the remote to have many creature comforts on overnight stays. It also makes the site somewhat unique as there is only one other remote off the grid station that I am aware of that can run 1kW transmit power from solar and batteries.

My early years of Ham Radio were very diverse and I enjoyed just about all the facets of the hobby at a young age. In the Winter of 1973 the late Craig Moore WA7ILC, introduced me to 160 meters. I was present during a CQWW 160 CW contest. I didn't know it immediately, but I was exposed to the serious world of 160 meter Contesting and DX'ing which remains my greatest interest today.

Far from the big city lights and subject electronic noise we located a remote parcel in Northern Arizona. In the fall of 2005 with the help of my wonderful wife Johnna we began construction. This encompassed perimeter fencing of 6.5 acres for the antenna corral, installation of a shelter, a complete off grid solar and wind power system with mobile 4G internet. The station as it is today was completed in the fall of 2007 when all five of the verticals became commissioned. The station was designed to be sustainable by just one person as there a few folks around to help in this remote area of Arizona. The goal, maximum performance from short vertical antennas, and to be competative in the single operator low power category. In all aspects this has been acheived. During the Winter 2007-2008 season over 120 countries were worked using 100W at that time. This is no small feat from the West Coast of North America. It has many unique details, trials and tribulations. It also is by far the most rewarding project I've completed. Chances are very good that if you work W7RH and it is not a contest operation, the operator himself is at the keyboard of the computer screen as seen on these pages, with the comforts of home in Las Vegas.

The author worked for over two decades in the Amateur Radio industry in sales, service and customer support. Retired as a Systems Engineer for a government contractor after 20 years in February 2017. In the following pages I will describe the basic installation, setup, network layout and control of the remote station. Links to specific manufacturers and vendors will be provided.


Bob Kile, W7RH

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