Category Archives: K9ZW Shack

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!



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.



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!



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.



New Main QTH – Ponderings

New QTH has space but also has its challenges.

The site is seventeen acres, though largely wooded making antenna placement difficult. With the leaves down I am spending much time outside evaluating potential antenna and tower locations.

The property has extensive groomed trails where the previous owner loved to ride his grandchildren about on his golf cart.

Here is are some typical scenes – meandering small streams and trails with mature woods that need some catch-up attention:


The property has many streams and roads.

An example of the roads. Most are further covered with canopy.


I’ve decided to locate my radio room in an outbuilding.  Originally a pole-building a 14 ft x 30 ft shop had been basically built inside the pole building.  In the next picture anything with a yellow highlight is what I am adding, as I am moving the “Rough Workshop” to newly constructed 18 ft x 22 ft work space, and adding a new 12 ft  x 10 ft closet & toilet for the original work space, now radio room.

I did a sketch for the XYL (and no we don’t have a mini van or mini cooper or tiny tractors, but that was what was available in the modeling software):


iPad Sketch – the Yellow is new happenings


Here is a quick shot of the 14 x 30 radio room at the start of remodeling:

Future Radio Room (notice the Flex-6600M and PGXL under the bench – in boxes, alas…)


And here is an early shot of the partition wall for the new Rough Work Shop:

Building the new Rough Shop Area where sawdust won’t be such an issue.

On the plus side the new radio room has both 120v and 240v power, natural gas heat, air conditioned, seasonal water, phone and internet.  It is about 200 ft from the main house.

On the downside the insurance company made me remove the woodburner when I bought the property, the water is seasonal which means the pipes will freeze if not blown out for winter, and the only way to put a toilet in was to install a combustion toilet.

I’m working on a layout of the inside, as I would prefer to leave doors and windows as they are if possible.

I’m expecting to also use the Radio Room for some of my other hobbies.  Expect there will be some instrument repairs, electronic kit building, and possibly some general tinkering in its future.

Because I need ready access to water and drainage, and more controlled temperatures, my Kombucha Brewing will end up in the main house.  Finished bottles along with brewskis will of course be a staple offering in the new Radio Room.

Also in the main house will a remote operating station in my office – though as the two buildings are on the same LAN it isn’t really all that remote is it?

The big challenge is figuring out antenna and tower locations.  The most open spots would be in conflict with aesthetics and utility.  The largest open  space had been an orchard which I had help plant 40 years ago, and will be replanted.  I’ve picked out two areas where I could thin the woods enough to create the space needed, and not be too far from the radio room.

Thought you might like to see what is happening.



Moving the Main K9ZW QTH – Part 1

Letting the cat out of the bag – the main K9ZW QTH is moving.  Bought a nicer place, with 16 acres and a ham-friendly workshop building about 10 miles west of my present main home QTH.

Until the old house sells the present station will stay running, and I will be accessing it remotely from the new QTH.

The new QTH is getting a fiber internet run between the house and workshop installed next month, just in time to move the radios.

Initially I will be operating with a couple vertical antennas.  The planning and replacement tower base delivery process most likely will put off erecting a tower until Spring 2019.  May be two towers actually.

Both Towers and the antennas will be stored on bucks at the new QTH.  Unfortunately I forgot to order a replacement base for the 56 Ft Tashjian and have decided to do more preventative maintenance on the 70 ft Tashjian Skyneedle even though I otherwise have everything to put it up.

At the Island QTH a 48 Ft Extra Heavy Duty Rohn BX that had been a temporary tower (up about three years) for an area provider is likely to be pressed into duty under the Hexbeam there.

I am presently undecided whether the very large custom Radiowavz Hexbeam will be the Island antenna or if I will keep using the DX Engineering Hexbeam there, diverting the big one to the new home QTH.  Time for some contemplation and some modeling analysis?!

The New QTH is largely wooded, so it is going to take some thinking to make an antenna layout work with the limited area of clearings not directly adjacent to the house itself.  On the plus side there is nearly a mile of jeep/golf cart sized roads mostly built of gravel, which makes access very easy.

A lot to think of and plan…


Steve K9ZW