My Favorite Shack Accessory
Rex, the One-Eyed Wonder Pup
Above is a picture of my station. Please excuse the dust, I can't get the "maid" in here unless 6 meters is open, and then I have to fight her for the mic. (If you notice my call on the SK page of QST any time soon, you'll know that the "maid" read that last sentence.)
ITT AM-6155. Destined to be converted to either 222 or 432, once I acquire another one.
Drake L-4B. Currently being converted to 6 meters.
Currently my station consists of:
Icom IC-746, for HF through 2 meters,
Yaesu FT-736r, for 2m, 1.25m and 70cm
Amp Supply LK450, for 160 - 15m
Ameritron AL-80, Converted to 6m
Drake L4-B, being converted to 6m
Mirage B3016, 160w brick for 2m.
Mirage D1010, 100w brick for 70cm
SB-200 - awaiting conversion to 6m for my son, W2XXX
AEA PAKRATT PK-232MBX
6m: Comet 4 element
2m: Gulf Alpha 8x8 dual polarity
1.25m: 4 element homebrew
70cm: 24 element homebrew
Attention all FT-736R Gurus!
I seem to have an intermittent problem with my FT-736r on FM receive. It will work fine for days, and sometimes weeks, then the FM receive will drop down to next to nothing. Then, I'll have to put it on the bench, open it up, and press all of the jumpers and connectors together. Then whatever is loose, works fine again, for a while. I have not been able to trace the actual loose connection yet.
Any thoughts or experience with this problem?
Ameritron AL-80 6 Meter Conversion
Some time back I picked up an Ameritron AL-80 to convert to 6m. The amp had been dropped on its back panel. The only apparent damage (besides destroying the tube) was that the fan pushed in the back panel, in turn bending the panel between the RF and power supply sections. My good friend Paul, AB5F, has recently completed the conversion of the AL-80 to a single band 6m amp.
To see a write up of the conversion and pictures, click here.
Future Station Improvements
Like most shacks, mine is constantly changing. Here are a few of my current projects and wish list items.
Radios / Additional Bands
As I can afford to, I hope to purchase the 23cm module for the FT-736r. I'm also looking into converting a Motorola Maxtrac, or similar, to the 900 MHz band.
AM-6155 is in the process of converting to 222. I've also purchased another Motorola TLD5082A 375w repeater amplifier for conversion to 2 meters (see paragraph below).
In the fall of 2007, I fell into an exceptional deal. I purchased a complete Motorola Micor 375w repeater (except duplexers) on eBay for 99 cents. It had already been converted to 2 meters (145.45) and was fully operational. All I had to do was drive up to Ohio and pick it up. My plans are to remove the repeater from the cabinet and keep the power supply, amplifier and metering intact.
I have an additional 375w Micor amplifier deck collecting dust, as a back-up.
HF - I have acquired an old KLM 20M-5 (20meter, 5 element mono-band) and an old Mosely three element tri-band'er. I am looking for a bit more rotor now as the 20M-5 has a 42 ft. of boom, 36 ft. elements, and a wind area of 9.25 square feet. The 42 ft. boom, the KLM would be a bit of a struggle for the Ham II that I had reserved for the HF tower to handle. So, I'll be upgrading rotors.
6m - My Comet 4 element, 6m antenna is only rated for 400w. Twice, while raising and lowering the tilt over tower, I have dropped the tower and the antenna has taken the brunt of the force. I've straightened the elements as best as I can, none are actually lined up anymore, and one of the driven elements (there are two on this antenna) flops around about 20 degrees depending on the wind. Still, it continues to work. Gotta love the Magic Band!
I purchased an M2 6M7JHV 7 element beam, but I sold it to KØVIE without ever removing it from the box. After it had arrived, I decided that I would like to try 6m EME, so I opted for a little more gain. I have purchased a M2 6M9KHW (9 elements on a 50' boom). It is sitting in the box while I work to get the tower ready.
2m - I have a 13 element, yagi ready to go. However, I will probably purchase a M2 2M18XXX to use up at the shack and leave the 13 element on the house tower.
1.25m - I have recently purchased a M2 222-7WL. It is 23 elements on a 32 ft. boom. Like the 6M9KHW, it's waiting for the new tower.
70cm - 24 element homebrew. I have also recently purchased a 24 element, 70cm beam that was bought by someone about 10 years ago and never put together. It is missing a few minor parts. I am in the process of scrounging the parts that it needs and hope to have it ready for the next VHF contest. This will go up at the new shack, and the homebrew will stay on the tower at the house.
At the present time I am using LMR-400. I'd like to upgrade to 1/2 inch or larger hardline, at least on the VHF and higher antennas. And to that end... my son has has located and delivered a 60ft. run of brand new 1/2 inch and a partial roll of 7/8 inch, hardline. So it look like I will be upgrading feedlines on 6m through 70cm in the near future.
I've recently purchased low noise, GaAsFET preamps for 2m and 70cm. I have been keeping an eye out on eBay for preamps for 6m and 1.25m also. Eventually, I'd also like to get an elevation rotor, so that we can more easily work satellite, and we'd like to try 2m EME. So many things to do, so little money.... sigh. ;?)
The Shack on the Hill
(Or, as my wife refers to it, "The Glorified Storage Shed")
"Hard Work Often Pays Off After Time, but Laziness Always Pays Off Now."
My "Shack on the Hill" has been a long time coming. I purchased a 12' x 24' portable building and had it placed on the "hill" overlooking my house. It's about 240' away from the house and about 20' higher in elevation. It is intended to be my part-time operating position when I want to do some contesting or "serious" operating, and not bother the family.
Over the last few years, the shack has been my part time project. As it stands right now, the electricity to the shack has been run underground, the inside wiring is complete with the exception of the light fixtures. The shack has it's own 200 amp disconnect and I have twenty 110v and eight 220v outlets, each on separate circuits. All of the outlets, where the operating position will be, were placed at a height above the bench tops for easy access.
Insulation is complete and the drywall is about 90% complete. I still have some more trees to clear out to make room for the towers. The hole for the first tower, with the antennas for 6m, 2m and, 70cm is dug and the tower should go up soon. Now only three more holes to dig. Anyone need any rocks?
The plan will be for my main station to be in the shack, but I'll have a minimal station in my home. The home station will just have antennas for the VHF (6m, 2m and 70cm) bands and a G5RV for HF.
Things that go Oops! in the night....
Second only to the dreaded "soldering on a coax connector before sliding the outer ring on the coax" mistake, is the one shown below. Oops. Yes, the other end was already attached to the control box.
Well, at least it's not as bad as an acquaintance of mine, that cemented his tilt-over tower base, only to realize that it tilted towards the house (which was about 18 inches away) and not away from it.