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

Collins S-Line Station Update – Making Space

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:

K9ZW Present Radio Room Layout

K9ZW Present Radio Room Layout

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):

K9ZW Layout with Flex-5000A

K9ZW Layout with Flex-5000A

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:

K9ZW Possible Radio Room Layout

K9ZW Possible Radio Room Layout

Obviously I need some family cooperation to move the two storage units somewhere else in the house. Sensitive negotiations are underway !

73

Steve
K9ZW

Shack RF – The Unwelcomed Return

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.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Bit of Vintage Ten-Tec – Paragon II

TenTec Paragon II Station (courtesy RadioPics)

TenTec Paragon II Station (courtesy RadioPics)

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.

73

Steve
K9ZW