Collins S-Line Station Update – Making Space 16 - November - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: Collins S-Line Station, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack
add a comment
With my present shack stacked on a single 30 inch wide assembly table, and boxed in by two big storage units, I’m struggling to find space to set up the Collins S-Line station.
My station is tucked in the end of a room originally intended to be a wine cellar/storage area. A bit grandious of a feature for an otherwise normal walk-out ranch.
Here is a rough sketch:
The area is confined by large storage units, the positions of the doors, windows and an electrical sub-panel that has to be kept clear of obstruction by fire code.
Obviously if you look at my station photographs there is only enough room for what I have set up at any one time (the Alpha 78 is presently in storage having been replaced with an Expert SPE 1KW and the Palstar AT4K is stored while I use a Palstar AT-Auto antenna tunner):
SO here is the direction I am heading – where the present gear (and a future Flex-6000 series radio) go into a rack where the smaller storage units was, and a two tier station goes heind me wher ethe larger storage unit was.
Roughly something like this:
Obviously I need some family cooperation to move the two storage units somewhere else in the house. Sensitive negotiations are underway !
Shack RF – The Unwelcomed Return 21 - October - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Operations, K9ZW Shack
add a comment
Many of us have experienced the mischief of RF in the Shack. Computers that freeze or act badly, distortion on our audio, shack components that lock up or other RF induced issues if we’re only have a bit of problem. RF nipping or burning fingers, electrical things damaged or burt cables if it is really bad.
Stray RF in the shack is also considered not good from the health angle, as RF exposure is never a good thing.
Some of the causes can be loose connectors, lose of grounding, component or cable failure, cable interaction, overload, or other harder to identify issues.
Currently I’m experiencing some RF operational problems, mostly centered on certain 20m frequencies.
They started when I switched to the Palstar AT-Auto Antenna Tuner and SPE Expert Amplifier.
So first order of business will be to swap each of those out to see if it goes away.
Since it is specific frequency areas, I’ll be looking at the cables, including cable lengths next. Also how they all ended up physically.
I’ll be double checking by grounding system.
Sometimes the physical proximity of shack components (stacking or what is side by side) can cause some issues, so I’ll look at that.
If I am still facing issues then, I’ll decide if it is ferrite beads on all the computer cables next.
Of course I can minimize operations at the 20m frequencies that are acting up and continue to leave the issue for another day. With the rare exceptional Autumn weather calling for outside work, afraid it will be left for another day.
Bit of Vintage Ten-Tec – Paragon II 14 - October - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Shack, TenTec, TenTec Paragon II, W9EVT
add a comment
Kind of a long story, as my friend George W9EVT had this radio left on consignment from an SK’s estate. The first ham to check it out blew it up. Not 100% certain what the chap did or how, but he killed it good.
After getting it back George W9EVT was left wondering what to do with the radio, and said to take it along if I wanted to fix it.
Not that Paragon II’s are very valuable and likely the repairs could exceed the value of the rig.
Sending into TenTec repair was easy. Within a few days I had an estimate and I gave my go ahead for what ended up being basically the value of the radio in repairs. Blown finals and related components and sorting out the other mischief from what must have been something like hooking the TX to the RF output of an amp, or powering it up key-down into a dead short, or worse….
Delayed slightly as the tech working on waited for parts and then had jury duty to work around, the radio is back good as new.
A junior sibling to the Omni IV/V/VI of the day, the Paragon II seems to be a much overlooked radio.
More on this rig later this winter when I get a weekend to give it a good run at making QSOs.
Collins S-Line Station Interconnects and Connects…. 10 - October - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Learned, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: Collins, Collins 30L1, Collins 312B4, Collins 32S1, Collins 516F2, Collins 75S1, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack
add a comment
For those of you who grew up with separate Receivers and Transmitter what I am working through is likely going to get a “Duh K9ZW, what did you think?” response, as I am learning all about the interconnects and connections of a Collins S-Line Station.
Black-Box radio users are accustomed to hooking up the power, the microphone, maybe a headset, the ground, and the antenna. If running an amp, tuner or SWR meter there is only a very few additional connections additional.
Not so with an S-Line Station. While possible to run the station with fewer interconnects the classic set up when a 30L1 Amp and 312B4 Station Control are added, the full complement is a whopping 18 cables!
There are four low-power RF connections using RG-58C/U terminated RCA-to-RCA. Yes those RCA connectors like a budget speaker system uses.
Then there are ten RCA-to-RCA patch cables, plus one RCA-to-bare-wire to connect your CW key.
Your microphone will need to terminate with a PJ-68 plug if your setup is a “S-1″ like mine.
You will need an odd RCA-to-90 degree N-Connector RG-58C/U cable if you want to skip the amp. May as well get one and have it on hand in case I want to operate sans the Amp.
Otherwise you need a N-connector-to-90 degree N-Connector RG-8/U cable between the Amp and 312S4 meter. To get from the meter to your usual station connections (Antenna Switches, Tuners and such) you will need a 90 degree N-Connector to usually a PL-259 RG-8/U type cable.
If you add that all up, it is actually 19 cables, but the odd RCA-to-90 degree N-Connector RG-58C/U cable is a spare if you want a no-amp configuration.
The high count excludes a ground and three electrical plug-ins! And there is a cable from the 516F2 Power Supply to the 32S1 transmitter as well. If we were really counting we should include the Twisted Pair from your POTS Telephone Line to the 312B4 if the Phone patch were hooked up. That I think brings us up to 25 cables plus the spare one for that no-amp reconfiguration!! Whew!
As I had on hand but half of the needed cables, I’ve gone internet shopping to fill out the cable set I actually needed. Have sorted out adding the cables I need with again Mark KE9PQ supplying the additional newly fabricated cables I need and some spare/optional cables I wanted.
I should mention not all connections are on back plates, with several of the RCA connections inside the radios on the chassis. The units have a nice pass-through to allow the cables to get inside.
The 90-degree part on N-Connectors is to do with the limited space inside the 312B4. Straight N-Connectors will work if the coax is flexible enough.
While I’ve not yet put the Collins S-Line station on the air, I am having fun learning about another time’s technology in Amateur Radio.
A bit of Station GAS at the K9ZW Shack 21 - August - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: Collins 32S1, Collins 75S1, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, KC9JGD, Swan 350, Swan XC117, W9EVT, WA9KMB
add a comment
GAS is sometimes defined as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or other descriptives to describe how one somehow keeps acquiring more radio gear.
I’m a learner when it comes to tube radios – boat anchors – and had been looking for a small transceiver to get started.
From Kurt WA9KMB I was able to acquire a Swan 350 with its XC117 Power Supply. A couple pictures of this type of gear I grabbed off the web are:
Again thank you to the hams who put pictures up on the web, appreciated as I didn’t grab the Swap.QTH.com photos before they came down.
The Swan is pretty basic and radio that is noted to need to be steadied by being allowed to fully warm up. Kurt WA9KMB certainly keeps his gear in fine shape and has helped encourage me in getting my feet wet with tube rigs. Making the acquisition work smoothly was an opportunity that my eldest Tom KC9JGD had to pick up the radio & power supply in the course of his travels.
My good friend George W9EVT has for a few years been encouraging me to acquire a Collins station. I’ve been putting this off as I know less about Collins than I would need to know to make such an investment. I know the method to George’s plans to see I get a good start with Collins gear, as in the course of other trades/swaps and just out of his kindness he has seen to it that I have a start with a Collins 75S1 and Speaker. Again borrowing a photo, here is what this receiver looks like:
I’ve been trying to find a matching 32S1 (2 or 3) Transmitter with its power supply, which look like this:
So far I have not found a 32S that either was high risk (untested, or “all sales final” with weak descriptives like “loads on the one band I tested, but I didn’t put it on the air…” or higher priced minty collector radios.) Patience I guess.
GAS has also lead to a couple tool acquisitions – nothing expensive actually, just a new Dymo Labeler that will emboss metal tape labels and a very neat tech’s pocket screwdriver (I bought a couple to give one each to the boys).
Now to get on the air with the Swan….
Trial Phase at the K9ZW Shack – Expert 1K-FA Amp and Palstar AT-Auto Tuner in Place 19 - February - 2012Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Shack.
Tags: AT-Auto, AT4K, Expert 1K-FA, Flex-5000, Flex-Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Shack, Palstar, SPE Expert, W9EVT
add a comment
Did the gear shuffle, putting the SPE Expert 1K-FA Amplifier and the Palstar AT-Auto Antenna Tuner in place at my operating station.
Everything went into place well, with only some fussiness with my dual computer monitors frustrating me briefly. Enlisted Victor KC9NWB, my 16 year old youngest son, to diagnose the computer graphics card. He correctly thought that the card and monitors auto-sensed themselves into an adjusted configuration that took only a few key clicks and a restart (even though it should have needed a restart) to fully correct – thanks Vic KC9NWB!
Added Anderson Powerpoles to the power cord for the AT-Auto and it fired right up.
Gingerly I fired up the Expert Amp, leaving it in Standby mode.
I’ve decided to initially run both items in their Frequency-Sensing Automatic Modes, and to deal with interfacing their CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) connections to the Flex-5000a and PowerSDR Software as a second phase for later in the week.
It was lickety-split and I was ready to make first transmissions as the 1.895 kHz 160m Everynight Net preamble was being read.
First reports from KD8KW were very favorable. In-between the two rounds of the evening’s 30+ member 160m roundtable, I did pop over to 14.260 for a 20m contact with K7UGA, the Arizona Special Event Station celebrating Arizona’s Centennial and using Sen. Barry Goldwater (SK) K7UGA call.
Returning to 160m was very quick and when I explained that I was on new gear more reports of booming easy to understand signals were received.
Band conditions and a call to late light dinner put an end to the first test session, which even though a session limited to a handful of QSOs on two bands, was an easier success than I had expected.
Hoping to give the revised station configuration a good workout this week and next weekend. More after I put a hundred or QSOs on the configuration.
Then it will be a matter of interfacing the CAT capabilities, followed with a stab at removing the station.
If it works out I would like to try to run at least some QSOs remotely from elsewhere in the house and perhaps from other locations over the internet. Would be a really thrill to be able to log a few QSOs while traveling if it can be made to work!