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Rack Mount – Preparing for the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700 15 - June - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Operations, K9ZW Shack.
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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!



Installing SlippNott Upgrades at K9ZW 9 - June - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Recommends, K9ZW Shack.
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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



K9ZW 2013 Tower Repair Service List 25 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
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When a complex project is undertaken, I find it a huge benefit to do a sort of checklist.

This way I get my thoughts down on paper and can mark off tasks as they are accomplished.

Linked as a pdf is my Summer 2013 Tower & Antenna Repair-Service List: K9ZW 2013 Tower Repair Service List

Once complete this part of my station should be in good shape for a few years.



Putting it all on the Air – Pondering Station Design for K9ZW 23 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack.
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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.



Spring Antenna Service 28 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in A Good Read series, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack.
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This winter and early spring have not been kind to outdoor equipment.

This weekend finally the weather broke and it has been nice enough to spend some time on the antennas.

Original plan was to do a lower, inspect, service & repair in a few weeks, but some obvious impact from exceptionally high winds has made it prudent to start now.

The two log periodics are on the same mast, and winds have tweaked the larger (T-8 10-20m) about 5-10 degrees from the upper smaller (T-28 1.3ghz-6m) most likely by slipping the larger boom.

My T-8 predates the “Slipp-Not” brackets that Tennadyne offers and a set will be on order (I make pick it up at Dayton).  This should reduce the chance of one antenna slipping in relation to the other.  Beam Width coverage is wide enough the little tweak is more an offense to me than it is to performance, so it may wait until the next lowering.

My Tri-Ex/Tasjian Tower has feedline stand-offs that I user large UV resistant o-rings as the cable retainers in the forked ends of the stand-offs.

Wind and time took out the second from top o-ring and the wild winds caused the feedline to be hooked about the clamp.  It is amazing to think how wild of wilds would be needed to raise that much triple-coax-feedlines-plus-rotor cable around enough to whip it about – must have been a monster wind.

The cable is not hugely at risk, but it would be better to get it back in place.  Again I will have to decide if I deal with it now or in a few weeks.

When the tower is lowered and tilted over I use a set of scaffold I bought from work – a handful of rings from a manufacturer long out of business that don’t connect with any other brand (not that you should).  Useless for work but just what I needed and makes an ultra safe work platform.

WHen it comes down next the coax seals will all be inspected and renewed as needed, each cable gets a visual and wipe down, plus gets a check with the TDR for any electrical problems.

I have upgraded lightning protection that will get installed.

A decision to be made is whether to swap out the rotor (a Ham-IV) for a freshly overhauled Ham-IV or whether to leave well enough alone.  Plan was to swap in the fresh overhaul and then have the long serving unit overhauled as the spare.

Decisions will hing on whether I can disengage the displaced cables for now (I lower the mast but haven’t tipped it over yet) or whether I need to hand crank the tip-over now.

It is also time to get the buried feedline in to do a second HF antenna on most bands.  Originally I was going to make the vertical just another setting on the remote antenna switch, but I am now thinking it should be on the second feedline to the shack so two can be used at the same time.  The Flex-5000A could use the dual antennas now and the Flex-6700 will take the diversity capability to a new level if I get my antennas sorted out correctly.

At least it is warmer out once I figure out the plan!



Station Design and Documentation Tools – Scapple & Scrivener 26 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, K9ZW Uses.
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Documenting an amateur radio station is very easy when you have one radio running barefoot (no amp or other gear), yet gets very complex quickly with each additional radio/operating station or accessory exponentially adding complexity to the documentation effort.

I am experimenting with using two writer’s tools to plan and document my station:


Scrivener – a multi-file cross-file editor and project writing system.
Scrivener Link:   http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php



Scapple – a freeform graphical relationship editor.
Scapple Link: http://literatureandlatte.com/scapple.php

Both are by the British firm “Literature and Latte” and are truly much more powerful than needed for this task, but as I use them for other writing tasks it only makes sense to keep using them.

Literature and Latte Logo

Literature and Latte Link:  http://literatureandlatte.com/

These tools can be configured so very many ways, but what I am doing in Scrivener is putting every piece of hardware and software information I can gather, including my individual settings, into Scrivener “Characters” which can be grouped into operating positions (and reused where appropriate when shared or duplicated).

I’m dumping in spec sheets, operating & technical manuals, receipts, crib notes – basically everything I can gather to do with an item.  Scrivener considers that my “research” and acts like a database/filing system for all that data.

Then the mission critical is brought up into the actual station notes as Chapters & other divisions.

The Scrivener file is a type of archive that can be accessed in various ways, and is inclusive of all the research as well as the product documents.

The Station Notes export document is a flater document distilled down to what I’ve included as actual station notes.

Sounds more complex than it is, and I will do research data entry item by item over a period of time.

Did I mention you can incorporate pdfs and media files in both the research and the product document?

Awesome tool really intended for script writing, novel writing, and other complex major work projects.  I’ve just coopted it to adapt to a technical hobby use.

Scrapple comes into play as the tool to make up the connectivity and other relationship drawings to outline the Station Notes.  I know I could do these sketches on CAD software, but this is slick and easy, and rolls seamlessly into my Scrivener work.  Presently Scrapple is OS-X only, which is fine for my use, but leaves me looking for a similar resource for the Windows Based Scrivener work I do for work.

If there is interest, I can post some samples of the various levels of work to share.

Maybe using these tools (which are the huge total of $60.00 worth of software, which is amazingly inexpensive for their power & utility) is like taking something like a Ferrari to the supermarket.  Yet it is nice to know the product of the exercise will easily meet and exceed every foreseeable Station Notes use.

As a spoiler I do have point out YMMV, as I had already invested the time to learn the basics of Scrivener – without this time spent I would have an extra hour or two of learning curve.





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