Author Archives: k9zw

March 2019 – Lots of little Updates at K9ZW

Lots of little updates:

Skipping Dayton 2019 – just doesn’t fit into my calendar well and I really should be somewhere else when the show is running in May.

Tentative on the W9DXCC in September – I think they are at a new place and I’ve penciled the date on the calendar.  Will make a final decision in summer.

Progressing on the rack project – have started putting gear in place but haven’t wired anything.  More getting the look and feel down at this stage.

New Radio Room is progressing – new floors are varnished.  Waiting on the electrical, underground fiber & phone to be pulled, and lighting to finish up.  Everything has to come out of the original area so I can clean and varnish the original floor.  This is going to have a bunch of two-man tasks, so I’ll need to enlist some help. Also have two more replacement windows on order that need to go in.

Have a 2-meter repeater in Coordination – the 145.110 repeater became a personal project in March 2019, and I’ve applied to the Wisconsin Association of Repeaters (W.A.R.) to (re)coordinate the repeater under my call sign.  Once the coordination is complete a Yaesu Wires-X/Fusion Digital Repeater will replace the old gear.

Wrapped up my leadership involvement in ManCoRad – the Manitowoc County Radio Club became a subsidiary of another area club, and won’t need a separate Secretary/Treasurer.  I’ll be a plain old regular member of the combined club.

Planning the Station Move from our previous Shepherd Lane QTH to the new Branch, WI QTH – as the old house remains on the market it is time to get the tower down and the rest of the station moved over.  I’f like to get a tower up at the new QTH before pulling down the present station, as I do like using it remotely and during my house-checks every other day or so.  Lots of work involved.

Lots of Winter Road damage and wash-outs to fix at the new QTH – there is approaching a mile of private one-lane road on the new QTH property  with a dozen or so culvert-bridges over two unnamed streams that have taken a beating with the massive snow and sudden melt-off.  Presently waiting for it to dry up enough to get at the work.

Island QTH is going to get some sort of Tower this year – I’m in a bit of a redesign phase on exactly what, but now that the Garage Project is done it is time to get something more serious up for an antenna and to get the feed lines buried.

Lots more small stuff of course!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Varnish and Vistage

Been busy working on the radio room and workshop.

the expansion area received a couple of coats of polyurethane this weekend.

First coat going down

Less about pretty and more about durability. Should make the floor much easier to sweep and clean as well.

Did the two rooms this weekend that will have all the woodworking equipment. The rest will get coated in a couple weekends.

With the smell of the coating making the radio room and workshop inhospitable my weekend radio operations moved into the main house via Maestro remote.

Operating from the Snug

We call this room “The Snug” after similar areas in old British pubs. The views are great and the fire makes it cosy.

Haven’t made all that many contacts given the time spent finishing floors and other weekend household chores. Since I’m paper logging less contacts is okay rather than facing a big chore to put the logs online.  I really should drag out a laptop and put QSOs in the electronic logs right away.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Rack Ideas – A Question on Power

In my post on my working on rack configuration ideas, Paul W7PFB bought up a great question – what about the power & wiring configuration?

I’m envisioning three distribution situations, a 240v amp power supply, a 110v AC power supply and a nominal 12v DC (actually 13.8v) dual power supply.

The Amp’s 240v single phase is straight forward, as I have a 240v receptacle where I’m planning to position the rack.

The 110v AC is being handled by the rack power strip, which has as many receptacles on its back as on its face. Including plugging in the two DC power supplies all 110v needs will be routed there.

The nominal 12v DC (which is of course actually 13.8v) is supplied by two Astron power supplies. Here I have a pending decision to make of whether to transfer over the existing West Mountain RigRunners or to finally make the leap to a preferred type of power connector?

Realistically the connector change is going to wait and the existing setup will move over.

I’ve sketched the general flow:

K9ZW Rack Layout Sketch

K9ZW Rack with Power Markup

Planning to “pin” the Power Poles for security until such time as make a transition.

Actual cable routing has started with some general rack hardware, and I’ll likely use some plastic removable-top square cable tray in places.

Another set pair of wiring considerations are Cat6e to a router (not shown) that will be at the back of a shelf on the rack, along with “other control wiring” for the Flex-6000 (USB cables) and Serial Cables for the Station Genius plus legacy device usage.

Ground is going to be pretty straight forward, as I will run a copper pipe down the rack, and us braid to ground the various devices.

RF will also be fairly straight forward by a jumper from the tuner off the rack.

Additional jumping off the rack will be a station ground tie-in by braid, Ethernet, rotor control cables where I’ve been using 10-pin trailer type hookups, audio balanced cable for a local studio microphone, and the two types of power. Whew!

Great question Paul W7PFB!  Thank you!

73

Steve
K9ZW

Rack Ideas

Working on rack configuration ideas.

Here is the sketch:

K9ZW Rack Layout Sketch

Basically I took the size, including free space if required for ventilation, and out the heaviest at the bottom.

The Amp opening is sized for an Alpha 9500 rather than just the PGXL so they can be interchanged.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Mesh Systems for the Shack – Ubiquiti’s AMPLIFI in the new K9ZW Shack

The new QTH has long had a wireless internet problem. The build quality, heavy surrounding woods, size and some inconveniently places steel reinforced stonework had made it difficult to cover the house itself with WiFi. The remote workshop was considered pretty much WiFi and cell signal immune.

There was a sort of WiFi route down the spine of the main house built from Netgear wireless routers. It’s throughput reduced awful internet to a trickle.

Initially rather than address the distribution I put a bandage on it by adding several more Netgear net-extenders which did cover the whole house with the same dismal internet trickle.

After an extremely annoying month of waiting for Frontier to upgrade our aDSL to barely acceptable standards, only to be told that they never even installed the main office gear in the nearby central office as a cost savings exercise. Not only are they advertising and try to sell the service having promised the community then upgrade, but they apparently have zero intention of do the upgrade. Their ads lie, their sales people are trying to up-sell based on the same lies, and they can’t deliver. Frontier was able to do a limited amount of line conditioning to bring us up to something usable in throughput, but way below what remote station operation or video conferencing like FaceTime would really require.

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Some Further FT8 Thoughts

Okay what is FT8 like after a bunch of QSOs?

Personally I cannot see FT8 being “my radio experience” by itself. The QSOs are fairly soulless and while technically fulfilling every aspect of a recordable QSO they lack the gravitas of a human-to-human QSO.

As we all use some aids to our radio efforts, whether Spots, Keyers, Memories, Macros and other QSO-flow-aids there is no point in getting self righteous about the highly automated FT8 QSO experience.

The hobby and regulatory consensus of what is a “true QSO” is easily met by FT8.

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