In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

In One-Hundred Square Feet – the K9ZW Radio Room Redesign – Part I

What started as nothing more than an Amplifier and Computer upgrades to the K9ZW Radio Room has escallated in to a full ham shack redesign project.  It was very quickly obvious that the space & layout changes needed to rearrange to swap my Expert 1KW Amplifer for a new Alpha 9500 was the catalyst for an overdue radio room redesign.

First step after doing some rough sketches was to get the non-radio items that could be moved out the intended increase area of radio space.  It took four of us and some serious electrically power moving dollies to relocate the larger non-radio cabinets out of this former wine cellar.  The effort was successful, nobody got hurt and anything broken can be mended.  It is amazing even in a very clean room what accumulates in over a decade behind cabinets.

Remaining to move out are two knock-apart shelving units – one a very industrial fiberglass unit that presently holds all of our internet connectivity gear and our Sonos Media Server NAS/RAID units.  That unit goes elsewhere.  The remaining Swedish Wood Wine Rack and Spirits Storage unit needs to remain, though within limits it can be moved/reconfigured.

The cellarkeeper’s sink and workpsace is built in and I’m considering it one of the “given conditions” of this room.

Like a good Win Cellar the room is all textured plaster, painted off-white with a white tile floor.  When I first located into one end of the space I added several ceiling lights, a smoke detector wired into the whole-house smoke detector system, lots of electrical outlets including 240v for amps, internet and phone jacks, and the pass-thru for grounding, rotor/switch controls and feedlines.

When the sink area and the wine storage that needs to remain are factored out, I am left roughly 100 square feet of high quality space for my new layout.  Rougly 8ft by 13ft with 7ft 6in plaster high plaster ceiling.

I’m mentioning the surfaces as they are accountically “hard” and I should figure out how to control reflection.

The room is fully lockable, has a fire escape window(barely large enough though), already has a high quality grounding connection, phone line, internet cabling, TV cable connection, 115/240v power, two feed lines to the tower (one is spare), two Cat-5 control cables to the tower (again one is spare), roto cble to the tower (I have to check if I pulled a spare or not) and lighting.

Design goals will be to accomidate for HF the rack mountable Flex-6×00 radios, the Flex-5000, the computer workspace for the Flex Radios, a premium conventional transceiver operating position and a Collins S-Line Station.  An additional VHF/UHF operating station and romm allocation for future satellite operations gear are considerations.

Next step is to collect the equipment dimensions, air/cable/operation space needs for each bit of kit, weights and start sketching designs.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Adjusting Gear and Forward Thoughts at K9ZW

Added a couple bits of kit – picked up a Flex-6300 from a ham who tried it and didn’t really take to a computer driven rig. Worked out for both of us as I avoided the backlog so I could get another Flex-6000 series radio to use up north on weekends, and he can change to a rig he is comfortable with.

It is worth commenting that there are some basic truisms about equipment that include the absolute that “Not every ham has the same style, interests and goals, so by definition no one radio will be the perfect rig for every ham.” “Horses for Courses” as they say.

In working on my Collins Vintage S-Line Station it has become pretty obvious than an antenna coupler/tuner would be an advantage if I wanted to be able to switch-in the S-Line station with my present antenna setup. I found a British Decca/K.W. 107 SuperMatch that will do the job while blending in with the S-Line gear form-factor.

The S-Line Station has been 18 months or more in the assembly, so it is time to get it on the air! This should do it.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Summer 2014 K9ZW Shack Upgrades

Have a bunch of things in the works – swapping rotors for an AlphaSpid unit and a major home shack computer upgrade (details in a later post). Bought a copy of the latest Ham Radio Deluxe to try out.

For the remote station intended for Washington Island use, a SteppIR CrankIR antenna with 80m kit will be put in use, and have acquired a Flex Radio Systems Flex-6300. Initially I’ll push the old shack computer into service there, but have another box that I’d like to put into use there.

Slow evolution, but very positive improvements!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Rack Mount – Preparing for the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700

Search for a rack found either very rough gear, very dated gear (one which I will hopefully acquire for vintage gear later) or hugely expensive racks.

Bought an unused surplus odd comm’s rack – double-ended doghouse thing.  Wrong shape, but built like a tank.

Got my buddy Ray to cut in basically in half, moved wheels to the lower section, and reassemble with stiffeners.  Ray did this with a purposeful 2 inch set back on upper cube to make it more pleasing.

It is reinforced and now ready for gear

Lower will get shelves for amps, power supplies, and tuner.

Upper will get the Flex-6700, a rackable customer i7 Win7 computer, full W2IHY set up, Greenheron Rotor Control  and Array solutions PowerMaster SWR/Watts meter, Rb Frequency Reference, and Flex-5000 (possibly on top of the whole rack if I run out of room).

Looking at another rack I found for vintage/boatanchor gear (SP-600 and similar).

BTW the Collins S-Line Station will go on a desk – show-n-tell sort of thing.

Here is a sketch (click on it for a larger version):

K9ZW Main Rack

K9ZW Main Rack

Should work pretty good!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Installing SlippNott Upgrades at K9ZW

The Tennadyne T-8 used two stainless u-bolts for attachment. In the highest of winds the large double booms of the Log Periodic antenna caught enough wind to slightly rotate on the mast.

To counteract this I decided to upgrade the T-8-to-Mast and Mast-to-Rotor connections with Tennadyne’s improved attachment method, the Tennadyne SlippNott.  (The much smaller T-28 Log Periodic doesn’t have enough surface area to need this upgrade.  U-bolts work perfectly fine for the smaller antenna.)

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

Another view of the original attachment. It had taken six years to pivot perhaps 10 degrees, though no matter how you look at it, it was moving even if very slowly.

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

Original U-Bolt Clamp – Another View

The SlippNott retrofit upgrade uses two machined clamps with roughly one hundred time the surface contact area of the two u-bolts.

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

SlippNott Retrofit – another view

Another look at the retrofit in place.

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

I did the install from scaffold after lowering nd tipping over the whole tower.

Tower Access

Lower, Tilt and Scaffold

Also installed was a second SlippNott providing additional grip of the mast at the antenna rotator rotor unit.

SlippNott rotor installation

SlippNott rotor installation

This one was a fiddle to install given the restriction of the three nested tower sections.

Inside Nested Sections

Tight Quarters

Again it provides a huge increase in clamping action and limits the risk of the newly enhanced situation at the antenna twisting the whole mast in the rotor clamp.

Rotor SlippNott Installed

Rotor SlippNott Installed

A worthwhile project – wish the SlippNott was available when I put the tower and antennas up.

You can read more about them at the Tennadyne website – http://www.tennadyne.com

 

Direct link to the SlippNott page is http://www.tennadyne.com/slipp_nott.htm

73

Steve
K9ZW

Putting it all on the Air – Pondering Station Design for K9ZW

Radio gear is like rabbits – when you are not looking they somehow seem to breed producing more (and more!).

Doing some sketching trying to work in a multi-station format into too small of a space and budget.

Minimally I would like to be able to switch easily between my present main Transceiver (Flex-5000A), the future Flex-6000 (which with its features is a bit trickier to configure into a multi-station configuration) and a “Guest Transceiver” position which will either be filled with vintage gear (the Swan/Dentron station or the Collins S-line Station) or a modern transceiver.

The plan is to use Julius W2IHY’s 3×1/1×4 Switchgear Combo as my solution.

http://www.w2ihy.com/one-3-x-1-controller-two-1-x-4-switches.html is the configuration I will start with.

Looking over Julius W2IHY’s new switch gear at Dayton it is obviously as rock solid as his audio products.  It is easy to admire the build and technical quality, as well as his W2IHY Dayton team.  Great product, great specifications and great people – quite a combination.

Julius was able to fix me up with 90% of what I wanted at the show, and within days of Dayton had dispatched the 3×1 Switch with Rack Mount Ears and a Cable needed to round out my configuration.

The attention to detail in his gear is impressive.  Much of the gear has two relay banks to select from – a high power relay for QRO use (I think I heard 5KW rated) and a high-speed reed relay for QSK & Digital use.  The end user can select between with internal jumpers.

Even the 1×4 boxes come in more than one pre-configuration depending on whether the desired state when a port is not selected is Grounded or Open.  My design needed one of each.  Again I understand I could have opened a box a reconfigured, but Julius has it covered from the get-go.

Julius was even so kind as to do a marked up custom Configuration Sheet for my shack – see: W2IHY Switch Gear Config for K9ZW  pdf data sheet.  Have a look and let me know what you think!

Amazing service!

On the Audio side I will be using Julius W2IHY’s 8-Band Equalizer/Noise-Gate, EQPlus Compressor/Downward-Expander and IPlus Audio Switch.

It may be a couple weeks until I have all the gear in place, and I’ll have a user’s setup report then.

73

Steve
K9ZW