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Shack, last updated 2007-12-29
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Shack

Well, sort of.  This is a temporary setup right now but it's enough to get a few contacts around the patch.  I've sidelined a spare room to set up a proper station, although this is taking time...

This is how it all started off.  The Icom 735, a power supply and the home made keyer.  Note the antenna strung across the top of the picture.

It was at this time I was experimenting with counterpoises and burn cream.

On the opposite side is the workbench where all the fixing up gets carried out.  Just troubleshooting an intermittent problem on the FT-101 on certain bands which turned out to be failing trimmer caps.  Time to warm the soldering iron up...

Transmitting/Receiving Equipment

Here's the stuff that gets used on air, some just gets collected!

Codar AT5 Icom IC-735 Icom IC-PCR1000
A nice 10W CW/AM TX very popular in days of old on the top band nets.  Purchased from G0OIW in February 2007 it needs a PSU putting together and will then be ready to go on air. My first TX, has optional CW filter installed.  Bought by my father new in 1991 it puts out 100W on HF bands, and is still a nice performer. I bought this new in June 2004 to have a general purpose receiver for monitoring transmitter output.  It can be used as a poor mans spectrum analyser using 3rd party freeware.  For more details click here.  It also gets used for receiving transmissions from weather satellites, although it's currently back in its box until I get the new shack fitted out.
QSO=61 DXCC=33
     
Kenwood TS-870 KW Electronics KW2000 Softrock V6 RXTX
A digital box recently purchased from a local amateur, September 2004.  The '870 was the first amateur transceiver with digital IF, carrying out all the filtering and demodulation using Digital Signal Processors.  One of the downsides of this is that close-in strong signals can upset it - flip the attenuator in and the problem goes away. Nothing digital about this one - I bought it in July 2004 with a view to carrying out some refurbishment work and using it for local SSB work.  IMO, these transceivers (with the right microphone) deliver much nicer audio than modern boxes.  This is the 'non suffix' model or very earliest KW2000 with a single 6146 for around 50W PEP output.  Most of the valves have been replaced with brand new ones, and the mechanical filter is currently being rebuilt. The Softrock V6 RXTX beta is my first venture into SDR and is used with the KGKSDR software.  Only 0.4W but other ops have managed good DX with this small transceiver.
QSO=8 DXCC=3 QSO=1 DXCC=1
     
Softrock V6.1 RXTX Yaesu FL-2100Z Yaesu FT-101E
This is the Softrock 6.1 and is the production version of the Softrock V6.  This one also packs a punch as there is a 2xIRF510 PA under the lid by WA2EBY which lifts the 1.0W output to 10-15W.  The filter board on the right has been hard wired in for now. Bought on Ebay October 2004 as untested, but the price was right ;-)  Only one fault found, one of the grid stoppers was on its way out causing the idle current to go all over the place - within 30 minutes use it went open causing the anode current to peg off the end of the scale.  20 pence to fix, so a bargain there. One of the first really "together" transceivers, the FT-101 sold by the truckload.  This one was purchased on Ebay May 2004 and is a 1977 E model with top band and the speech processor.  It has recently undergone minor repairs and been fully serviced and has now been used on air.  It has brand new original Toshiba 6JS6C output valves and will deliver well in excess of its rated output making it the most powerful TX on this page.
QSO=25 DXCC=20 QSO=2 DXCC=1
     
Yaesu FT-857D Yaesu FT-902DM Yaesu FT-990
Purchased new in June 2005 to give me some VHF/UHF capability, also the option to go portable if required.  It's quite amazing how HF+6m+2m+70cm has been crammed in this little box along with general coverage receive.  Not as user friendly as a base station but an impressive piece of kit all the same. Bought from fellow BARC member John G3NCN in May 2005, I've yet to set this up in the temporary shack due to lack of room.  This is a nice transceiver and has been looked after. Another Ebay bargain April 2004 - This is currently the main TX and is kitted out with CAT and PSK interface.  One of the nice things is that the CW filters can be used on SSB (very handy for PSK use).  It's fully loaded with both CW filters and the TCXO.  These come up on Ebay for 300-600 and represent very good value - although the very newest ones like this are about 12 years old now.
QSO=917 DXCC=88 QSO=771 DXCC=81
     

Antennas

Having a small garden means no beams or large horizontal antennas.  Shown below are some of the ways I've tried to work round the space restrictions.

Simple wire antenna MFJ 1786X magnetic loop
This was the first antenna that went up, it's about 25 feet long and only 6 feet off the ground.  A counterpoise provides something for it to work against.  This is about as far from ideal as it gets although Brazil has been worked on 40m with it. Saving grace.  The thought of splashing out 400 for something that couldn't possibly work did not appeal to me.  However, this is a solid performer covering 10MHz to 30MHz and I've worked some faraway places with it.  Heartily recommended if you are stuck for space.
QSO=560 DXCC=60 QSO=1073 DXCC=97
   
Fishing rod vertical Hustler 5-BTV
I've had a bit of a bash at the RSGB 80m Club Challenge during the latter part of 2005, but the wire antenna is useless on 80m and the loop won't do it at all.  This is a base loaded vertical made from a SOTA pole (fishing rod) and has allowed a few contacts to be made on 80m. This has been sitting around in its box since March 2004 as a Hustler 4-BTV (40/20/15/10) and the resonator kit and extra capacity hat have recently been purchased to add 80m capability to it.  As of 18/9/05 it has been installed for a day, and needs a bit of tweaking to tune it to the lower end of each band.
QSO=34 DXCC=11 QSO=278 DXCC=46

Accessories and 'Fixit' gear

Some of the essential gear that keeps the whole station together.

Antenna Tuning/Routing .  While a couple of the transmitters have built in ATU's, the little Palstar ATU is a lifesaver.  Also pictured is the control unit for the MFG Mag Loop, and the MFJ 6-way to 6-way switch.  Hiding down at the left is a Vectronics 300W dummy load - this will be retrofitted with a built in attenuator and BNC takeoff to allow transmitter spectral measurements to be taken.
Yaesu YO-100 Monitorscope .  Purchased February 2005 from a local rally at a bargain price.  The unit had a minor fault when I got it, now fixed.
Test Equipment .  Some essentials are featured here, clockwise from the bottom: Tek-466 100MHz scope, Leader 0.1-150.0MHz synthesised AM/FM signal generator, kit built Quasar Electronics Sine/Square/Triangle generator 1Hz - 20MHz, MFJ Antenna Analyser.  Not in view, a couple of DVM's one of which can do data collection.

Most of this stuff came from eBay simply by picking them up when the price was right.  Handy for the repair and lining up jobs on the second hand equipment....

AADE LC Meter .  I would recommend any RF homebrewer or repairer to at least take a look at this meter from Almost All Digital Electronics www.aade.com .  This is available in kit form or ready built, and will measure down to very low values of inductance and capacitance.

Here it's measuring the shunt capacitance of a 20MHz crystal at 3.45pF, you can do other tricks with it like measuring the inductance of a couple of inches of straight wire.  Don't expect it to measure those old PSU chokes out of valve gear, or electrolytics - it won't...  Even if you don't have a burning need for one, the web page is a highly recommended visit just to see how it works.

 

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