Category Archives: K9ZW Shack

Collins Ruminations – Forward Station(s) Design(s)

Collins S-Line Gear in Temporary Storage

Pickup up the freshened benched and aligned Collins S-Line S-1 Winged Emblem  (WE) station from Chuck W9KR at the end of November 2022. Hats off to Chuck W9KR for all his fine work and taking the time to educate me on many “things Collins.”

My original S-1 gear was a station assembled with each component having a different history. Most were workable, the 75S-1 Receiver, the first Collins unit I was given by George W9EVT to start my Collins Station building off, responded great to W9KR’s attentions. However the 32S-1 I acquired from Northwestern Wisconsin simply wouldn’t respond to W9KR’s best efforts and in the end is now relegated as a parts unit.

So in mass purchase I was able to purchase a 32S-1/75S-1 setup in near museum-grade condition.  These radios and accessories have stayed together since produced some 60+ years ago!  It appears that I am only the third owner to boot!

Chuck W9KR previously went through my Round Emblem (RE) Transceiver KWM-2/A setup.

So refreshed and ready to put on the air, I now have two complete Collins S-Line Stations – the early WE 32/75S-1 setup and the late RE KWM-2/A setup, plus my KWM-380 rack setup.

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CAD Systems around the Ham Radio Shack

Wanted to dust off my CAD chops to do some station layout sketches.

I’ve use Generic CAD from way back when – roughly about 1988. I know I had a program that used prior but neither the program or the name made enough impression that I can recall it now.

Upgraded from Generic CADD 1.x to v 5.04, including the bit of time under Autocad. Bought an Autocad LT license, which soon bacame useless, and quietly have been running the old version of Generic renamed & upgraded as VisualCADD/VCADD by TriTools, ever since.

Haven’t updated further as most new features (they are on VCADD v8.04 and a v9.0 beta is also available) have been 3D tools or advanced tools I haven’t yet needed.

Unfortunately VCADD is a bit pricey for a Station Sketching Tool (currently $460 new user/$160 upgrade fees). I’ll have to decide if I want to upgrade I guess.



Some alternatives that may work and a donation or free:



And a recommendation by Dale N6JSX, who uses it in his 3D printing/machining setup.



Or maybe my take-off drawing kit comes out and I just hand sketch for the time being?



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Fixed the Astron RS-35M

At my work QTH station while attempting to upgrade software on its Flex-6600M the power switch of the Astron RS-35M power supply failed.  Of course I didn’t have a spare RS-35M on the site, as one was a backup at the island QTH station and the other was stored at my home QTH.

Someone asked me “how old was the unit that failed?”  As I acquired it from a local club that was absorbed by another club, I can’t exactly say.  I’d venture a guess that it is more than 20 years old though.

The replacement switches I ordered from Astron have been here since early in the week, but I’d note found time to make the repair until Saturday Nov. 12th before I was scheduled to be at the pool.

To get into the unit you remove power, briefly short out across the output posts to confirm things are deenergized, unscrew the four feet and the three top screws. Then slide the cover off and you are there.

The switch has four “ears” that spring out to secure the switch in the front panel.

With space being limited I broke the “ears” off dead switch rather than risking scraping or scratching the unit trying to compress them enough to pry the switch out.

The Switch Arrangement – notice the clipped “ears” so I could remove it easily

The Switch has bottom wire soldered and then slide-on connectors for the top two wires.

Simple matter to replace the switch. To help you orientate the contacts are numbered and there is an anti-arc shield between the lower two.

Completed Repair of one of my Astron RS-35M Power Supplies

If you notice I have used one of the top cover screws to hold the radio’s RigRunner power/fuse strip in place. One could argue that the RigRunner is redundant as currently used with the power supply also being a fused unit. I use them as I have standardized connectors and protection, and it helps maintain the modularity of the station. Newer versions of this power supply are available with built in Anderson PowerPole connectors.

Flex-6600M completing an Alpha SmartSDR software upgrade


My Flex-6600M is back in operation

(The scribble outs on the photos remove the SmartSDR version number as I am running Alpha Team software across me radios. Only two radios show in SmartSDR as my second Home QTH 6700 is powered off at the moment and the Island 6700 is not left running when I am not there. I did not to the MOV mods Dale N6JSX suggested, as he is working on a short writeup about that mod and I want to order the parts he recommends to do all my units.)



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Spares and Spare Parts – Astron Power Supply Switch

Astron RS-35M Power Supply

Went out to do a SmartSDR upgrade to my Flex-6600M to the latest Alpha release, and at the stage where everything is all updated and I do a cold-reboot like I always do, the switch on the Astron RS-35M Power Supply failed.

I could feel the mechanical let-go as it happened. No more latching in the on position.

Annoyingly I didn’t have a spare at the Flex-6600M site, as I had gathered up extra power supplies to bench test them a while back and never put spares back out to this site. I know I have the spare prepositioned at the Island QTH. I just overlooked this site.

A quick check at Astron’s website and sure enough replacement parts are in their online shop.

The Broken Switch

I could have looked the same switch at the usual parts houses, especially if I took the time to pull the old switch for comparison, but as the whole order process took less time than typing this sentence and as I only wanted one plus a spare, it made sense to order from Astron.



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Creating Durable Systems – Monitoring and Cameras with Remote Systems

Creating Durable Systems within the K9ZW Main QTH Shack is a series started with:

The Monitoring and Cameras with Remote Systems can be broken down further into:

  • Security Cameras (Inside) for which I presently use Cameras, but am actively testing options to leave the Canary platform.
  • Security Cameras (Outside) are a mishmash of various cameras, again I am actively testing options to standardize.
  • Operational-Aid Cameras (Inside) are cameras pointed at various gear to observe indicators and meters. I do not have a standard yet.
  • Operational-Aid Cameras (Outside) are cameras point at towers to confirm direction & operation.  I do not have a standard yet.

The needs for its final build-out, testing and commissioning include:

  • Standardizing on specific camera setups for each use-case.
  • Documenting the final system, including troubleshooting documents.
  • Procuring enough backups to handle typical problems.

In terms of Redundancy/Backup/Failure Options having spares on hand is likely to be the limitation of “Plan-B” options.



Creating Durable Systems – Flagpole Vertical Antenna/Radials

Creating Durable Systems within the K9ZW Main QTH Shack is a series started with:

The Flagpole Vertical Antenna/Radials system can be broken down further into feedline, radial system, isolator & balun and the antenna itself. Additionally there is the halyard (rope to most of us) and the flags. We fly a US Flag top, and a true-English flag (St George’s flag) beneath. The English flag is tribute to the XYL and she says to ignore the soccer hooligans who have been using this flag, as the English do not consent to its misappropriation!

And my system is built of: 30ft Commercial with tilt-over base 6×4 USA polyester sewn flag. 3-1/4 Chrome Snap Swivels and Small gray Snap Hook Covers 5×3 St George’s Cross, Sewn with d-rings and antifray netting (from England) Martins Flagpole Company (via Amazon) 5/16in by 80ft Flag Pole Rope

Radials are common THHN 12 wire, 31 ft long, gathered to a 1/2in copper pipe ring.

In terms of Redundancy/Backup/Failure Options straight forward replacement would be required.

NOTE:  The Island QTH has the same setup.  The two vary only in the number of radials (32 at Home QTH and 10 at Island QTH).