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Re-Building Your Ham Shack

Donald Kemp (NN8B) on September 14, 2006
View comments about this article!

How many ham shacks are purpose built and how many just evolved?

I think that the majority of ham shacks just evolved, adding a desk here or a shelf there, boxes on the floor to "clean up" all those small items you can't find space for.

If you had it to do over again, how would you build your new shack?

Would you put it into a corner, with wrap around rigs; into a straight line along the wall with shelving to the ceiling; or?

What about all those wires? Would you put duct on the wall to rout and hide the cabling? Would you make it so you could walk behind it making it easier to change things?

What about powering it up? Now that your starting over, would you put in a power-conditioning transformer for clean isolated power? Would you run 230VAC and put in proper distribution boxes?

How would you re-do it?

Don Kemp, NN8B

Member Comments:
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Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N0IU on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I will let you know after Saturday night's Power Ball drawing!

Scott N0IU
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W3TUA on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I had the chance to redo my shack while deployed to Iraq. The tax-free status and extra combat pay helped me build my dream station.

SO2R has always fascinated me and I wanted to build a station around that concept. First, I bought an Icom ProIII and Kenwood TS-2000. To tie them together, I used the W5XD Writelog MK-1100 Multikeyer. Station accessories such as a Begali Simplex paddle and Heil Goldline and Proline mics followed.

Eham classifieds provided a great deal on a used Force12 C3E beam and I also found two Bencher low-pass filters to help reduce TVI. I also upgraded my contesting computer with 1GB of RAM, dual LCD monitors, and a second soundcard.

To top it all off, I found a like-new Ameritron AL-80A to provide the QRO push. Since I'm a new member of the Frankford Radio Club and love contesting I wanted to maximize my points contribution.

I'm still working on making the wires presentable. All the equipment sits on a glass desk which really looks neat. Grey PVC will probably route most of the wiring once I get around to constructing it.

Now if I can just find more time to operate ;-)......

73,

Korey
W3TUA
Towanda, PA
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by LNXAUTHOR on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
- sell off the amplifier and 100W+ rigs and just go QRP?

- you'll save lots of money, have more room in the shack and on the desk, and enjoy a more challenging hobby!
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K7SU on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'm fairly happy with my shack right now....you can see it at

http://www.magiclink.com/web/kelamigo/shack.html

BUT.....if I had the room, I would build it so I had easy access to everything BEHIND the operating bench. That would greatly ease the burden of hooking everything up and making it look nice. The way it is now, with a room only about 9 feet wide but 22 feet long, if I put my desk to allow for easy access to the rear, I don't have room to get around it. So, it's backed up against the wall...with just a few inches for access.

Kelly
K7SU
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W3TUA on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
LNXAUTHOR---I dabble in QRP with an Elecraft K-1. Also, the HF rigs will turn down to 5 watts ;-). When it comes to contesting and maximum points then nothing beats QRO.

As for saving money---why? I can't take it with me when I go and my job allows me to easily make the bills and save every month. Life's too short to not have a lot of toys.

K7SU--That's an awesome vintage/current setup you have there!
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W2RDD on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I am sort of going the route of a previous post. My rigs are now low-power...an Argonaut V and a SG-2020. Living in a small apartement means much less room for my big, beloved old Kenwoods. Sold a package deal recently, going to sell another, and give a DOA to an organization. Will keep one for old times sake.

I find I am enjoying more with less.

73
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB9CRY on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I like mine the way it is now but if I could rebuild the entire house, I'd add walk access behind the tables/desk to better organize the rat's nest of cables. But then again, once I got everything hooked up and running, I don't really need much access behind.
Phil
 
Improving display visibility.  
by AI2IA on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I made a fairly easy improvement to my shack. All my receivers and transceivers have liquid crystal or led displays. You would be surprised to see for yourself how much visibility improvement you can achieve by changing the angle of each rig with a bracket to bring about the brightest display from your operating position. Often a slight adjustment in the tilt of the front panel removes glare and directs the image sharply in your direction. An added advantage is that you can reduce the intensity of the back lighting on each rig. I have also reduced slightly the overhead lighting and set it back a bit to remove it as a source of glare.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K8MHZ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I think about this all the time!

My shack, like most, is always evolving. I find myself adding everything but room.

If I could build on a large budget my dream station, the communication consoles at NASA would be my model. A large desktop work area with all the equipment in two or three rows with custom cut front panel covers. The back would be easily accessible with at least 3 feet of work area behind the console. There would be easily removable covers on both the rear and the top of the console. The console would be all metal with separate compartments for noisy gear like computers, switching power supplies and video cameras. One section would house the power supplies, their meters and the back up battery system. Redundant power would include AC mains, battery back up, a fuel powered generator connection, a manually powered generator connection and a connection to charge the batteries using vehicle power.

Of course there would also be a wireless headset mike so I could walk around the house or yard and not miss a QSO, that is if I could still afford a house with a yard after I built the station.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N5PVL on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

I regularly click up the pictures in the "Spotlight" section here at Eham and get ideas by seeing what other hams have done with thier hamshacks.

Charles, N5PVL
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K3AN on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
My main concern is with ergonomics- a comfortable chair, an operating table at the right height, all the auxiliary controls (antenna switch, etc.) within easy reach, multi-source lighting to minimize shadows, and a comfortable headset. I recently added a homebrew PC/radio/headset interface box that incorporates serial port PTT and CW keying, and independent level control of each audio path. This allows one knob switching between CW, phone and digital modes, and supports PC CW keying and PC-stored voice messages for contesting.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by WR8D on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I can't take just one pic of it. It would take several to get it all in and why bother showing it. It's mine, exactly what i wanted to do with it. Walk in the door and all down the first wall is collins, kenwood and drake, counter top type shelves, double stacked. Complete stations cabled up and ready to go just plug up the coax and play. Center of the room tentec alpha 89 and henry 5k classic console station. Other wall icom775dsp another alpha, meters eq's etc. Above that is tuners JW Miller At-2500 full legal limit auto tune, heathkit 2060, rotors, tower computer, collins 75a-4, another drake station..Other wall stands a collins 30K-2 with its exciter atop. 6 and a half feet tall 725 pounds of legal limit cw and am with collins r390a's in rack mount with freq counters, speakers, another sunair general coverage xciever, heathkit tuner and other watt meters. This is a "working" station, i run these very often. I did'nt buy this stuff just to look at. If i keep running across stuff i want though i may end up knocking out the back wall and extending the room. Ceiling fan over head and central air can't compete with the tubes especially the dual 1200A7's just too much heat as it. Only mod i need is more cold air. As for the wires, well anyone can imagine. With so many stations fully ready to operate i can not hide the cables. I just run them behind everything along the floor up against the walls. Can of worms is an understatement. I could hide them but when i need to troubleshoot something i'd be trying to just dig it all out again so it "grows". "hi" 73 John WR8D "enjoy the hobby"
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W5GNB on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
JUNK EVERYWHERE is my idea of a GREAT hamshack. and right in the middle after you get through the trail of OLD boatanchors and commercial radio gear, there is a beautiful TEN-TEC setting there all ready to operate CW.

I don't see the mic, in fact I havn't seen that mic in YEARS!!

It is probably on the old TUBE TYPE Citizens Band rig over in the corner!!!!!

73's
Gary - W5GNB
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AB0OX on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I went a route similar to that of W3TUA.

When we moved back from Missouri to New Jersey, the first thing to find was a neighborhood (not a development) with easy access to 2 different train lines and a bus line. Top that off with no homeowners' association and we had a winner.

I had the builder's electrician pull 6 runs of 2213 coax and a run of #2 solid copper wire (from Glen Martin) from the ground floor ham shack up through the wall to the attic before the insulation was put in. Also, the electrician mounted the Glen Martin 4 foot tripod on the roof, with the rotor in it -- where it sat for 6 months before a Force 12 C3-SS was added.

I also had the shack wired with 2 full separate circuits for 115 and a 230 line.

We also had the XYL's ground floor "library" given its own 230 line in case she finds something in her travels to good to resist.

A leather recliner was added to the ham shack. The recliner matches the walls, which are in a lighter-brighter Heathkit Green.

The TS-2000 and LDG AT-11MP were rotated out and replaced with an Orion II, Titan III, and 238B tuner, along with the Bencher lo-pass filter.

The XYL would dearly love for me to replace the 3 six-foot folding gray steel-framed Office Max tables that hold up a heavy station, assorted computer peripherals (both for work and for play), other junk, and which also must support me when I'm changing a flood lamp. A linoleum countertop would be nicer, but I'm not sure it's ready to hold up 500 lbs. And, I really wouldn't want to solder over it.

And as for that rat's nest underneath the tables ... well ... cables, like fine wine, need to breathe ...

73,

Jack

PS: I have toyed with the idea of adding a glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent overcoat to the Heathkit Green walls, but I can't seem to locate the necessary 25 watt black-light mini-floods for the ceiling fan to finish the look. Anybody know any sources for these?
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AF4NJ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have thought about this for sometime now and am hoping to totally re-do my ham shack this Winter.
My concept of a "cool" ham shack would be based on a 911 Center set up as in this example:

http://e911.personcounty.net/4.JPG

Hopefully in the next few months, the shack will take on a look as in the above example. Ham Shacks are a work of art in my book and they say so much about the person. Thanks for the eHam post. Now it's time to get to work on the shack !!

For more interesting Ham Shacks, check out http://www.hamshacks.com
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KZ1X on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
The most important part of your ham shack is at the other end of the coax.
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AB7R on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I got to do this when we moved into our new house last year. I built a small shack in the corner of the garage. Its about 12x10. I framed the walls and used plywood for the outter walls and found a great window left over from a construction project that lets me look out over our horse pastures. I built a console with a slanted front into one of the walls with about 2.5 feet space behind it for connecting things up and making changes.
Then an L-shaped desk against the console give me plenty of work space. I put in a 220V line for an amp and a separate line for a heater for those chilly winter evenings and enough outlets for other stuff. 2 LCD computer screens are mounted to the console and a TV on a high shelf for when the bands are shutting down.

Still working on it though...never was very good at sheetrocking, so that's only about half done.

Most important of all....a nice bed for my Aussie who keeps me company while on the air.


 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KC8VWM on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

I gave up on the idea of building a neat looking Doctor's Office of a ham shack that looks like those typical advertisements you see for Yeasu contesting rigs in QST.

Well I found out that it's just not gonna work out that way no matter what you seem to do.

Can you imagine using these photo's for an advertisement in QST? ...Eeek!!!

http://www.wideopenwest.com/~kc8vwm/boatanchor/MVC-009F.JPG

http://www.wideopenwest.com/~kc8vwm/boatanchor/MVC-010F.JPG

Now all I use is those "Gorilla brand" utility racks for my rigs.

http://www.gorillarack.com/products/storage/Storage.htm

Now the shack looks more like the radio room of a Navy ship.

I find that many people like to merge their radio equipment together with their desktop computers for some apparent reason. I found this only reduces the amount of available space for your radio equipment.

This also makes operating your radio equipment difficult at best. It seems you are always fighting with a keyboard or reaching over the monitor or modem etc. to get to the antenna switches etc. So I eventually decided that I needed to completely separate the computer equipment from the radio equipment altogether. Best thing I ever did.

I found that using these utility racks makes the whole place very well organized compared to using computer desks for your rigs. Wires and cables are easily placed inside plastic conduit tubing that runs along one of the back legs of the rack system.

Antenna switches can be mounted (bolted) directly on rack itself where they are easily accessible. Grounding all your rigs to a central grounding bar mounted on the back of the rack is much easier to achieve than a computer desk.

More room to breathe, everything is right in front of your immediate reach and it's much easier to reconfigure the equipment as things evolve in the shack.

73 Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by VE2DSB on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"The most important part of your ham shack is at the other end of the coax."

You bet! The antenna is the most important thing in ham radio..

73's Daniel
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N0AH on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
One radio, one mic, one key, one amp.....put the rest of the radios, amps, etc....in storage until you need them. It really does clean up things especially if one of the radio's is an HR-2510. Remove all MFJ gear as it might start growing fungus under the table-
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AC7CW on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have a 10 x20 shed, insulated, air conditioned, [I live in the mojave desert], wired for 220 and 2 circuits of 110. Beyond that the interior is evolving. I have collected freebie desks and bought some tables and workbenches, am working out the floor plan. My dad [God's rest to him] made a bench/operating position piece of furniture that is pretty functional. I don't have a "high tech dream" in mind really, just a comfy place to operate my IC 730 would be a good start.

 
Desk  
by HA5RXZ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'd make the desk the right height for the key. Right now it's the right height for construction but about an inch and a half too high for comfortable CW.

HA5RXZ
 
New Shack at KA4KOE  
by KA4KOE on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Buy a new house.

Build the bonus room/shack from scratch. The 12' by 16' room has a peaked 8' ceiling with a fan in the center. I wired it, insulated it, air conditioned it, etc. with help of my father in law, friends, and my wife. The shack has its own dedicated 120/240v, 1 phase, 3 wire loadcenter, rated 50 amps. The backs of the walls are easily accessible, so I can run speaker wires to flush speakers, etc. I almost ready to start running coax and control lines. The equipment counter is 10' long, and has a duplex receptacle every other stud (one every 32" OC). I am racking mounting all of my gear to match my R388, and the racks will be approximately 16 units tall, black in color. The whole room is done in a charcoal/black/metallic silver/dark blue scheme, and is REALLY COOL. I'll post photos on my personal website soon.

PHILIP
KA4KOE
 
RE: New Shack at KA4KOE  
by KA4KOE on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
ACTUALLY, an isolation transformer is probably overkill, but a UPS can give you good isolation. I think that anyone who builds a shack from scratch should put in a loadcenter/panel. Isolated grounds are probably good in computer intensive facilities, but again are probably overkill in a residential application

Just make sure you DO NOT bond the neutral and grounds together in that loadcenter, as that is dangerous and a code violation to boot. This bond should take place at the service disconnect enclosure.

PHILIP
 
RE: Desk  
by K5UJ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<<<- sell off the amplifier and 100W+ rigs and just go QRP?

- you'll save lots of money, have more room in the shack and on the desk, and enjoy a more challenging hobby!>>>

Only if your idea of fun is being an swl when ur not making everyone you work miserable while they try to copy your crummy sig.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KA4KOE on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Remove all MFJ gear as it might start growing fungus under the table-


...just make sure the MFJ gear has an MFP coating (yellow coating).
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W3OZ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have a small room that I now use as a ham shack. It used to be my home office when I worked for a living. Now that I am retired full time, I use it as my ham shack. The room is 9.5 feet by 8.5 feet, not as small as some I guess, but not exactly spacious.

I redesigned my shack a year or two ago because I had the typical desk space with home brew shelves stacked on the desktop. I got so high with the shelves that there was a distinct possibility that you would come into the shack one day and find me in a pile of twisted ham gear. I finally came to the conclusion that I had more equipment than I needed, or would use. So I got rid of the stuff that was just there to give me the warm and fuzzy feeling. I noted that one of the main problems I was having was making changes or tracing problems with the gear in a traditional desk shelf system. I could not get behind the shelves without using a desk jack to move the desk and associated shelves or disassembling the shelves. Along with that problem there was always at rat’s nest of cables behind the shelves. This condition was not the best in that there was a possibility of a fire, or contamination of control cables and AC/DC lines and the associated RFI problems.

What I did to make my life a lot easier was to decide that I wanted to have a clean work desk with as little as possible on it. To do that, I got a commercial relay rack. They can be purchased for less than $100 on the Internet. I decided what equipment I was going to put in the rack, and where possible I bought pre made rack panels. I also bought blank rack panels and a number of rack shelves. I got a couple of rack power conditioners and a rack mount power supply to provide power for the rack. The rack of course, has two main legs for support. It is bolted to the floor very securely and I also built a simple bracket to hold the top in place. The beauty is that I can walk around the rack to make any changes or check things out if there is a problem. Also, there are very few wires or cables showing as they are routed down one of the legs. One side is for power and the other is for control cables. Just about eliminates RFI problems.

The rack allows me to use the vertical space in the shack and makes more horizontal space available for my use. I could easily put two racks one beside the other if I need more space, which I will try to avoid. You may think that having the rigs and other equipment off the desk would be a little hard to operate with. This is not the case for me in that everything is automated. The rigs are all controlled via the computer as is the rotor and SteppIR antenna. I very seldom have to touch a dial. If I do, even with the equipment to my left it is a short arms length away and not inconveniencing at all. Please go to my web page at www.w3oz.com and go to the shack pictures to see what the rack looks like. Try it you will like it.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KC8VWM on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Remove all MFJ gear as it might start growing fungus under the table-


...just make sure the MFJ gear has an MFP coating (yellow coating).

------

...And here I thought only Colgate toothpaste had MFP..

No wonder it makes your teeth yellow huh!?
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W4LGH on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well 2 and half years ago, I got the opportunity of a lifetime. My XYL decided she want a new house. The deal made was ok, but I get 1 room to myself, and the garage. She agreed. So I built my shack into the bedroom that backs up to the garage. This was selected, as the AC panel box is just on the other side of the wall (easy access to 220V) Since I was building the house, I ran PVC thru the walls for wires, etc, behind the sheetrock is copper screen wire, making a faraday shield around the room. This is all bonded to the house grounds, and works great for RF, except for cell phones(hihi).

I had a buddy custome build me an L shaped bench, and build it onto the wall. Wire channeling runs underneath, along with an 00gauge ground bus that goes to a 10' coper ground rod outside. I have a futon along one wall, so if I am in the doghouse, I can sleep in here. Extra insulation was placed in the walls for sound proofing. I tried to think of everything, but has you set stuff up, you think of other things that could have been done, but all in all, I think I have a pretty good shack, best of both worlds, as it is in the house, but once the door is shut, you feel seperated. Open the door and the XYL feels as though you are in the house.

Careful planning was done with antennas and connections, and I have it setup so ANY antenna can be connected to ANY radio with the flip of a switch (or 2 in some cases). I use an Ameritron RCS-4 remote antenna switcher to select 1 of 4 antennas, but I also have a 2nd feed line coming in that connects to a seperate G5RV so I can run 2 HF radios at the same time. Backup HF/VHF & UHF antennas are located in the ATTIC, the HF being a folded 100' dipole using an SGC autotuner, VHF/UHF is provide by a Diamond 2 band fiberglass antenna. 2 110AH batteries supply INSTANT switchover backup power, along with a 1000watts of AC inverters. These provide short term backup, until the whole house generator can be brought online, if needed.

Anyway...thats my setup, photos can be seem on my website, located at http://www.w4lgh.com

73 de W4LGH - Alan
http://www.w4lgh.com
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KY6R on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
After a recent downsizing to a smaller house (but one I like much better than the old one - with very tall redwoods, spruce, cedar trees and a stream), I found the only thing missing was a room devoted to radio fun. The radio "room" was at first in an alcove in the living room - not optimum.

So I built a 7 X 10' and 8' tall radio shack in the garage - insulated, heated and airconditioned centrally, and even added a roof with very nice storage above the shack. It has a very nice old paned window door (original 1950's door that use to be the back door of the house and stashed under the house). It also has a nice window with a beutiful view of a triangle of 3 cedars.

The room "accidentally" is acoustically pretty amazing - its the first time I can actually use the front firing speaker even for CW DX pileups (in the past I had to use headphones).

And the new antenna farm is a dream - SteppIR BigIR vertical for 40 and 30M with 64 radials stapled to the grass (now completely grown over) and a 2 element SteppIR yagi on a 40' Force-12 LPT-1242 crank up tower - everything powder coated green and as stealth as can be. No HOA's or CC&R's.

I did my own electrical wiring 220 and 110 and everything is computer controlled - where the rig band change switches everything (antennas and amp bandswitching). Getting rid of the antenna tuner was one of the best things about the whole project.

I actually have less gear, fewer antennas and a much better station that takes up less space and a room totally devoted to ham radio.

I'll just have to buy a Mini Cooper if I want to park 2 cars in the garage (hi hi).

 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N4KZ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic. I just wrote a column about my own shack re-engineering advenures for the local club newsletter. For my first 35 years as a ham, my shack just kind of evolved with little thought about equipment's placement.

But when I added a second and third back-up rig a couple years ago, it got me to thinking about how the gear really needed to be arranged in some logical fashion. For example, being right-handed, the gear that needed tuning and frequent adjustments, e.g. the rig(s), amp, and antenna tuner should be on the right side of the desk. The antenna tuner ought to be close to where the feedlines come into the shack, particularly when using open-wire or ladder line.

Elevating radios to eye level is good. Same with computer monitors. The rotor control box and SteppIR controller now sit left of the rig. Things that need less attention, e.g. computer, USB interface, router, back-up hard drive, etc., now sit on the left side of the desk. All that had to do with ergonomics. But I eliminated one item for its sheer ugliness -- the 6 rig/6 antenna coax switch with 14 connectors around its edges. The switch worked fine but produced a mess of 14 coaxial octupus-like tentacles that looked hideous. Out went the old switch replaced by a new one with all the coax connectors on the rear. Ahhh. Much better.

Previously, I had everything on one table. Much too cluttered. I bought a second table and now I have an L-shaped set-up with room to walk behind both tables for easier access. A big improvement.

Next -- I will attempt to get the rats nest of cables and wires under control. That will take some thought.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W2XS on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
This is, of course, just my opinon:

1. Don't stack equipment on top of each other. This leads to damage and impairs heat flow in tube rigs. If you must put something on top of something else, use those shelf liners available at the local dept. store. I hate seeing equipment at hamfests that have big scratches on top from careless use.
2. Avoid RF in the shack.
3. Keep cable runs as short and as neat as possible.
4. Keep mis-matched coax as short as possible (e.g., from a tuner to a remote balun). Use ladder line when possible after a tuner.
5. Make sure all fittings in line with the antenna feeders are tight and make good connection. Right now I have several switches, a power meter, a noise-bridge based "tuner-tuner", and two antenna tuners in line with the coax from the tuner to the rig. Each accessory means a coax jumper cable which might eventually cause a problem. Use good coax jumpers.
6. Keep everything you need for operating in a handy place. This is based on "lean manufacturing" principles.
7. Don't keep stuff on the operating table that you don't need or never use. If you can't bring yourself to give it away, put it in a closet.
8. Avoid clutter (even in the closets). Get rid of stuff that is no longer needed. (Feng Shui).

Many of these things are in the category of "easier said than done." I must admit that I still have boxes of things that "I may need someday" but I am getting better hi hi.

 
RE: New Shack at KA4KOE  
by WB3JOK on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
>Just make sure you DO NOT bond the neutral and >grounds together in that loadcenter, as that is >dangerous and a code violation to boot. This bond >should take place at the service disconnect >enclosure.

Generally good advice. However, there is an allowable exception in the NEC - if the shack building is physically separate from the house (where the service disconnect is), and there are absolutely NO metallic connections between them (water pipes, phone lines) other than the power conductors.

In that limited circumstance, a three conductor feed (two hots, one neutral) can be used, without a separate ground wire. Then, at the shack breaker panel the ground and neutral can be bonded. A separate ground rod for lightning protection is also advisable (not sure if it's *required* by NEC or not). Ground rods don't do a thing to ground the 120/240 service against faults...

-Charles
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G0GQK on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've been reading all the comments about buying equipment etc, but did anyone actually build their radio shack ? I don't mean find a room, buy a table and lay out all the goodies.

I made my timber shack with 2 X 2 in 1986, it is 8 ft. by 6 ft. and it is at the far end of my garden. I designed it specifically to operate amateur radio all year and it has insulation in the roof, under the floor, and the four walls, and even the top half of the door is insulated. During winter time I use an oil filled radiator which on a low setting will maintain the shack temperature at 55 degrees.

Has anyone else designed and constructed their shack ?

Mel G0GQK
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K7QQH on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, and I began the station upgrade about six months ago. As I own a successful aircraft systems engineering firm here in Seattle, I took a page from how large aircraft are wired: Neatly and very modular. With some seven different rigs (from boatanchors to PROIII/digital technology) it was quite a challenge.

First, I divided the station into module groups by logical order of wiring and function. Wiring was grouped and identified into bundles, yet each piece of gear could easily and quickly be removed and/or the wire bundle serviced, rerouted, etc. (similar to an aircraft electronics bay rack and connector wiring scheme). Additionally, operator comfort and position of controls was assessed (sound like the flight deck layout of a large aircraft?), so equipment placement contributed to the overall station and "module" design. Allow for liberal use of power pickup points and ground busses.

To "hide", group, or clean up wiring, there are many excellent product lines out there (Panduit comes to mind). Maximum use of wire ties, wire conduits, spiral wraps, clever wire attach devices, etc. etc., is the key (try Lowes, Home Depot, Digi-key, etc. for these items, and by the way, this also applies to coax cabling or other heavy bundle runs).

I operate HF-CW (10M-160M), so position of the keys is very important. To solve that problem, I have one "primary" setup of bug and straight key, and another set as the "rovers" that plug into remote key jacks located throughout the shack (of course, switchable by rig).

Anyway, I could go on and on, but to summarize: Keep it modular with easy access to wire runs and quick removal of rigs for maintenance (especially the boat anchors). Allow room for air ventilation and/or installation of cooling fans or plenums (I'm constantly amazed at seeing station pix, and while the gear looks nice in the setup, it is so tightly boxed in that obvious clearances for air movement are non-existent - heat ages components rapidly, and in older rigs, contributes to thermal instability and drift). Again, all lessons learned from designing mods for those big birds we like to fly off onto our dxpeditions.

Best of Luck and 73's

Roger C.
K7QQH
Seattle-Town

 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K8AG on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
First: find someone else to pay for it. ;p

73, JP, K8AG
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K1CJS on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Mine is 2 desks, one of them a computer center, the other a regular office desk for the radios with a small shelf addition to hold the rigs and ancillary gear arranged in an L in the spare room. Not a lot of equipment, just two HF rigs, an 80 watt VHF rig, and a dual band (2 mtr/70 cm) rig. Also have a commercial UHF set for EMA area radio reception.

A 25 amp switcher and a 20 amp linear are the two power supplies along with two separate homebrew battery switchover emergency power sources built into a rack/enclosure alongside the radio desk. Batteries are 28 12 volt gel cells rated at 7.2 AH each. Not enough room to go behind the desks, but sufficient room to work on all the connections when needed.

The batteries and the switchover gear are to be soon replaced with a UPS system salvaged from a local company computer center junk pile to supply the shack (but not the computer--it has its own) with clean, constant 120 VAC. Present gel cells will probably be used to supplement the computer UPS batteries for extended run-time.

Surplus equipment either in boxes in the shack, sold or given away. The XYL sometimes complains about the stuff I 'give away', but she complains even more if it piles up! No happy medium--but you probably know that already!! ;-)
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N6AJR on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
http://hometown.aol.com/catfishtwo/N6AJR.html

Thats the shack and some of the building part.

But soon I will be moving it to its own room, and rebuilding it in a similar fashion except making it a 3 sided U for easier access with less movement. I have enough stuff stashed away to fill the other shelves. I will retain this shack and probably the ts 2000 for generic uses on all bands/ modes and the other room will be for serious contesting, multi ops etc.

and I neeeeeeed more antennas, and some towers. they are on the porch in the back yard, waiting for holes in the dirt to magically appear..:)







Your Milage May Vary
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W7ETA on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<would you put in a power-conditioning transformer for clean isolated power?>

What is a power conditioning xformer?

Bob
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KC8VWM on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Dear Wizard of W3OZ,

Has anyone ever told you that you have a very nice rack?

http://www.w3oz.com/newshackphotos.htm

:) 73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AB2MH on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Re-build?

I'm just buying a new one...
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AC7CW on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of good ideas in this discussion. I am going in the direction of Steppir antennas [no tuner], going to make sure I can keep that keyboard/mouse out of my way with an under-desk slide out tray, might think about rack mounting some items. For power I'm putting a 12 volt deep cycle outside the shack on a charger and bussing the 12 volts with Isopoles. I'm cutting off every single power connector on every single 12 volt item I own and converting it to powerpoles as well.

I have a Heath SB102 station that is just for jollies and fun to work on, going to dedicate a separate operating position to it, away from the main rig. I have a lot of collectables that need work, they might get a shelving arrangement since they are not on the air much. I got the trench dug to bring the DSL to the shack, should have that up and running in a couple of weeks. Now if I could figure a way to make the MFJ loop antenna autotune my work here would be done :)
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by WB2WIK on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Isolation transformer? Nah. I have no noise coming from power lines or conducted into equipment. In fact, that's so uncommon, I've never even seen this happen.

But prepping for a new ham shack is very easy if you start with a clean slate, like a house just purchased.

Having moved fifteen times now, I've done this a lot. Between closing escrow and moving in, I allow two weeks to get the house ready for the move-in. I've done this many times. It means owning two homes at once, and might involve a bridge loan, which is no big deal and any lender can accommodate that. Or, it might mean renting back the old (sold) house from the new owner for two weeks, which many buyers will accommodate. Whatever it involves, it's worth it!

During that two weeks, we do cleaning, repairs, upgrades, etc. All much easier to do in an "empty" house than in an occupied one. I don't change the door locks from the original ones, so I can give keys to contractors if necessary -- there's nothing to steal. After everything's done and we are about to move in, then I change the locks.

During this period, I add 240V wiring to the shack -- always. It's cheap and easy to do in an empty house. I also drill holes in outside walls as required to bring in anticipated cables, maybe even install some operating benches affixed to wall cleats; although over the years I've found it better not to do this, because it prohibits pulling benches away from walls or walking behind the benches for wiring and service.

Moving day usually occupies a whole day, so nothing much else gets done that day. "Unpacking day #1" which follows moving day is my favorite: While the XYL and kids unpack, I'm digging the hole for the tower. Not a joke. Done it several times now, the family is used to this...

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W4LGH on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
By the way, I have photos of other Ham's Shacks on my website as well. If you'd like yours included, just send me a photo with your name and call on it. I remember when Hams were proud of thier shacks... and I enjoy showing mine off, and looking at the expressions on peoples faces, especially the un-suspecting ones...However I do get tired of the statement..."You must be one hell of a CB'er!" Then you have to explain its NOT CB...but then it does give one the opportunity to discuss Ham radio, and maybe interest someone new into the hobby.

Anyway, you can send your shack photos to......
w4lgh@w4lgh.com
And I will get 'em posted...

73 de W4LGH - Alan
http://www.w4lgh.com
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W7AIT on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I like to experiment and I now homebrew using whole boxes (transceivers, receivers, antenna tuners, antenna analyzers, rig blasters, rotor controllers, computers - 2 of them, routers, SWR meters, software programs, custom audio mixer panel, stereo speaker system, six antennas including an adjustable Buddipole set semi permanent, and the “Hot Rod Arrow” antenna) as “components”. It’s a “systems” approach to homebrew, not using individual transistors, resistors and capacitors but whole boxes. And I’ve done some interesting experiments using all modes, PSK31, RTTY, Satellites, SSB, FM, AM, CW & Packet.

To that end, I built my shack this way:

1. “Purpose Built”
2. Started with buying a tract HOUSE in a CC&R free neighborhood, NO CC&R’s! VERY important
3. Tract house was RF sniffed for power line noise (BPL interference, computer hash, etc) BEFORE I signed the home sales contract
4. Dedicated a whole bedroom, ground floor, to the shack with easy access for coax ingress
5. Designed for TWO operators, and two operating positions
6. Designed with local area network for computers
7. Designed so both main rigs are fully computer controllable by Ham Radio Deluxe, SATPC32, MMTTY. Also using “CW Decoder” and HFPROP. Full access to solar propagation Solar Terrestrial Activity Report, DXer’s INFO and D region propagation data.
8. Layout: Basic “L” desk / credenza configuration with risers for stacking equipment
9. Wires: RF switching deck and all cables accessible from the back of desks and risers
10. Power / Power up: Leave everything on, increases MTBF
11. Added extra Air Conditioning to get the heat out of the room; all this equipment cause a 5 degree temperature rise. I also have a big ceiling fan. The extra AC I added eliminated that problem
12. 2 separate work benches in garage; one is for general assembly/ testing of equipment/ homebrewing and other is for heavy working like bending metal, drilling, fabrication etc.
13. Added test equipment on roll around instrument cart – my oscilloscope for example
14. Emergency battery bench with chargers in garage for keeping my emergency batteries charged
15. Wire list as there are over 150 wires and cables hooking all of this up; label all wires at both ends with “destination and from” labels
16. Shelving unit for excess equipment; file cabinet for paperwork; closet for storage

Improvements & Redo:

1. More room! I’d double the size of the bedroom from 120 square feet to over 240 square feet
2. Leave more room at backside for easier access for cables and wires.
3. Add cable trays and ducts to neaten up the appearance
4. Add 230 just in case I wanted to add more equipment / KW amp
5. Add more 110 vac; add more raceways and common power distribution especially system DC power and 110 vac
6. Might add several “Racks” and “Rack & Stack” for some equipment; still have desk/ credenza for main operating positions
7. Add RF patch panel for RF cabling egress to antennas
8. Add lightening protection to all at exterior egress point and all ingress wiring
9. Move workbenches from garage to a separate air conditioned room – a fab, assembly, test work room if you will
10. Add gasoline generator with transfer switch; sufficient to power the whole house
11. Colored cabling and bigger, better wire labeling
12. Add trenches in back yard for running cabling to antennas

This about covers it…….

 
Sudden Changes...  
by WB4M on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
My shack tends to remain the same for many years and then change drastically in less than a month, hi. It's about to happen again with a new rig, beam, and amp.
WR8D: email me pics of your shack, I'd like to see it!

73..
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N5XM on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Another great subject. There is never enough room. I have to live with a setup for awhile before figuring ways to improve things, and usually it is a matter of getting more room. Ahhh, the proverbial rats nest of cables, etc. behind the tables, yes indeed. I would like more windows, so I can look out at the wildlife and trees. I would like breaker boxes in the shack, and built copper ground stripping. Most of this stuff could be done now, but to start from scratch and empty the room out and go again from square one would be wonderful. It is amazing how much stuff you can get in a shack. I don't want to even think how long it would take me to evacuate everything in there right now. I would be in divorce court!
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K5UJ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<<< I don't change the door locks from the original ones, so I can give keys to contractors if necessary -- there's nothing to steal>>>

Unfortunately this may not be true anymore due to the rising value of scrap metal. A plumber I know told me he's seen a couple of empty houses lately where someone broke in and tore out the plumbing and wire.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NN8B on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"What is a power conditioning xformer"

I used to use these on equipment control cabinets for the industrial heat treating furnaces I used to design. I powered all critical circuits from this type of transformer, such as the PLC and calibrated equipment.

http://www.sola-hevi-duty.com/products/powerconditioning/cvs.htm

They are not cheap, but can be found at surplus dealers for a pretty good price.

73,

Don Kemp, NN8B
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by VE3GIB on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice pictures of shacks.. i can truly say that ive pieced my shack together as more equipment is added.. i started with one shelf.. then built more little shelves and racks to fit everything in.. my shack is almost complete.. just missing a new mic for my Kenwood and a preamp for my rack gear.. which is on the way...

here are some pictures of my shack in progress...

2002 shack..
http://www.eham.net/data/spotlight/images/b463adcd1f0a1e4c913481c5e0841645.jpg

2006 earlier this year..
http://www.hamshacks.com/albums/home/ve3gib.jpg

shack today..
http://home.cogeco.ca/~ve3gib/shack.jpg

picture of rack being build.. room for preamp at top.
http://home.cogeco.ca/~ve3gib/behringer.jpg

im 29 years old, got my lisence when i was 24... who knows what my shack will look like when im 40.. hope there is a 7800 on it.

73, Kevin
VE3GIB
www.ve3gib.com
www.solarcycle24.com
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KC5CQD on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've spent my entire ham career compromising and I've grown quite weary of it.

At present, my radio inventory consists of nothing. I sold off all of my compromise QRP gear about three months ago in order to help finance my new business.

Business is starting to really kick and I will soon be "back in black". Only this time it will be with the $4,000.00 rig and $4,000.00 amp that I've always wanted. Not to mention the $4,000.00 in accessories that will be needed to compliment the station.

Money may not buy happiness but it's always better to cry in a Ferrari.

QRP is cool and so is CW but.....considering the outrageous expense of ham radio....dream stations are hard to come by. I'll have mine within the year and I won't look back.

Is it possible that money buys EVERYTHING except happiness?????
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NS6Y_ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Took down the awful looking wire around the inside of my apartment that worked even worse than the half-azzed diple-ish thing I had thrown up there before. Now I have nothing - need to put up another cheezy dipole....
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NS6Y_ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I guess the closest thing I have to a "shack" right now is.... on my back!! Got a prc-77 with the long and short antennas, a mic that works, a battery retrofit kit, and an st-138 and it works, it's happenin'!
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KI4NVN on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'm a police dispatcher for a fairly busy municipal police department, and I have really gotten to love my at-work setup and would try and duplicate something similar at home.

My basic two tenets are ... the radio has to function well but so does the operator! The most critical item usually turns out to be desk space. Flat screen monitors will be on a slightly evelated shelf with enough room for the radios to be secure on the desk underneath them. I'll have to have three monitors; one for logging (via Ham Radio Deluxe!), another for software control of the radios, and the last for www.qrz.com, satscape, or PSK-31 operations. Right now one central monitor isn't that effficient, even using multiple computer 'desktop' software.

Cable runs are to be as short as possible and easy to access. Any cords and switches will all be clearly marked. The desk is going to be an overengineered masterpiece of American craftsmanship....and I plan to add some special touches like keyboard 'drawers' and slideout writing boards that give me additional counter space when needed, and push back when I don't. Getting the desk 'just the right height' can't be stressed enough! Also can be VERY helpful for resting your arm while you are pounding brass.

A GOOD chair is also important. I'm convinced that a lot of the old radio 'codgers' got that personality by working all those weak DX stations in really bad chairs...made them all cranky. If you're going to be planted in a chair for a 48 hour contest, you better get something that you're comfortable in!

I really hate clutter! Theres going to be a special shelving system that I can keep all of my little ham accessories in labeled boxes. Right now I'm always trying to remember when I put *this* adapter or *that* cable or some other little accessory that I really need at the exact time when I am least likely to find it. Right now the programming cable for my little VX-2R is MIA. By the time I find I'll probably forget why I was even looking for it. All that's going to change! Ham radio 'trinkets' are nice, but too much of that stuff can really clutter up the shack and make it much less functional.


I'll also set up some sort of emergency power system for emergency operation, though usually when things are bad I have to work! Still, you never know.

Finally, everything that I might possibly need in the form of information will be easily accessable in convenient paper form. Having all sorts of info is fine when things run well, but sometimes theres no substitute for the 'mark I' paper and pencils. Critical info is on a clipboard now within easy reach, as are some important maps and other information that when I need it I won't have time to look for it! I'd *like* to have a filing cabinet set up to expand on that concept.

Guess thats it. I left out the part about upgrading to the 'right' radios, or building 'THE' antenna system, but to me thats a given. Most ham radio ops that I know are all accumulators...we love to get the old gear that made us fall in love with ham radio, and we also have a need to get the latest gear with all of the bells and whistles. We're always going to the hamfests with a keen eye and we're usually unable to pass something up at bargain pricing time even if we know we really don't need it. Its a good thing, don't get me wrong: We help the hobby progress at the same time keeping its heritage and spirit alive! At the same time, though, it *will* get to the point that will hinder out operations if we let it. So, I'd also have a little section set aside for my 'fun' equipment, but away from the main station. Small enought for just a few radios, and the cramped feeling will help provide the ambience.
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NC1N on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I was fortunate to move to a new-to-us house with a finished basement in 2002. There was a 12x12 room in the basement that the previous owners used as an exercise room.

It's now my office/shack.

Moved the junk and used furniture into it in 2002 and am slowly building a custom shack. It now has wallpaper, recessed stereo speakers in the ceiling, new bookshelves, one wall of custom furniture for the main computer, and a seven-foot equipment rack. I'll build the remaining custom furniture, for the radios, this winter.

I went through the basement wall (that was a chore!) and buried seven runs of co-ax and three runs of rotor cables, coming above ground in the woods. So no cables showing over the lawn. All connections are made in metal or plastic junction boxes. No rats nests. Each cable gets a surge arrestor as it gets activated for an antenna.

Trying to balance aesthetics and function. My wife is much happier without the antennas sticking up from the roof like our last house!

--NC1N
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N4OI on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I am currently finishing my shack/office in a new home. Made sure: (a) operating station with a view of lake, (b) dedicated 20amp 120v circuit (separate from PCs), (2) dedicated 30amp 220v circuit (amp some day?), (c) big ground wire to ground rod within 10 feet, (d)coax fed to attic dipole(oh well). The desk surface is a free-standing deep counter that is hung on the wall using lumber rack brackets (Woodcraft). Below the surface, large panels hang on the brackets out about 2 in. from the walls to hide the cable clutter. Last but not least, big copper ground bar and straps to tie all radio, power supply, and computers. So far, would not change a thing! Oh -- also make space for QRP K1, Rockmite, DSW-II, etc. NNNN 73 de Ken N4OI
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KA4KOE on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"I have a futon along one wall, so if I am in the doghouse, I can sleep in here."

Funny thing is, I'm getting a futon too, courtesy of my bride.....I also have a custom edge lit exit sign that reads "Philip's Doghouse". This will go over the shack entrance door......

:)

PAN
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB2FCV on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I live in an apartment right now so I don't really hav a shack to speak of. Most of my boatanchors reside at my parents house. My wife and I hope to buy a house in the next year or so..

I've had 7 or 8 years of apartment dwelling to think and re-think my ideal shack. My ideal shack would be in a basement. My only solid state HF gear is all QRP stuff (K2), my 100W stuff is all tube based. Ideally, my shack would be built into a corner. The main desk would be 36" deep going along two walls. This desk would be built by 2 x 4's and 3/4" plywood. Above it would be a shelf, again built with 2 x 4's and plywood. It would rest on the desk (not supported off the wall). This would hold my complete hallicrafters station (ht-32, ht33, sx-101, sx-62, custom console, hallicrafters tv?) plus would have open space for a transmitter and receiver that I can easily switch out as I want. Now, at one end of this desk (all at the same level, frame, construction, etc) would be a work bench with several shelves to hold my test equipment. There would be antenna connections here and plenty of power. On the other end would be a small O guage layout. Track work may run from the layout under the rig shelf over to the otherside where the work bench is. In addition, my other radios would be stored on that metal shelving they currently reside on - that kind of shelving you pick up at a home depot.

Oh.. and the basement MUST be unfinished, so the desk can be 'ugly' yet functional - no need for fancy trim, paint, materials, etc... with a few simple power tools the whole thing can be put together in a weekend!
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KF4HR on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
My shack has undergone numerous changes over my 30+ years in the hobby. Years ago I started with a small desk, which led to a door laid flat supported by two small file cabinets and a shelf, which eventually led to the mess it is today - a bench I designed on a CAD program.

I am not the kind of person that enjoys limiting my amateur activities. Somewhere along the way I adopted a progressive goal of working "all bands and all modes" - I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer. My latest bench started with a homebrew 8' x 32" table top which is well supported by a 2x4 structure and underneath shelving. On top of the table there are 5 rap-around shelves cut out of 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" finished Lauan plywood. Total height of the bench is ~6 feet tall. Prior to the initial building process I measured all my gear, and laid everything out on a CAD program. This helped me design the proper shelf height, but figuring I'd eventually end up with newer gear I also studied sizes of other gear on the market and developed a "maximum" height for the shelves.

Currently my main gear consists of a few modern full sized transceivers and lots of other support gear. There's two computers (PC and Amiga Computer for ATV) and a NCS 3230/3240 switching system ties all the audio circuitry together. Also the bench holds various test equipment. Under the bench I built a shelf to hold the gear that I don't need to see (power supplies, etc). This shelf helped add side support the overall width of the 2x4 structure underneath. Over the years, as I added more gear, the bench became seriously heavy. So much so that the 2" caster wheels (6 of them) failed. I ended up changing them out for some very heavy duty casters which are now working fine. Another separate 7' tall rack holds ATV gear for 70, 33, and 23cm.

It's a nice layout, (in a fairly small dedicated room), but would I do it again? No, not this way. My original plan was to be able to reach all the gear from my chair, with minimal movement. Unfortunately as the bench height grew taller that idea went out the window. I also found out there 95% of the time I'm concentrating on only one ham activity at a time; satellite work, HF DX'ing, ATV, SSTV, etc, so being able to reach all the gear from a single seating position, never ended up being that important. Additionally being that my radio room is fairly small (8'x12') in order to access the rear of the equipment, I have to pull this large heavy bench away from the wall. That is no easy task.

I've learned a lot about building ham shack's over the years and I think (hope) my next one will finally be the answer. One important thing I learned was that it's much nicer if you can get the shack completely out of the main part of the house. Trying to squeeze a fairly large ham shack into an existing home, can be a challenge.

I plan to move to a new qth in the next few years and I'm designing everything from the ground up. I've been putting some serious thought into brainstorming my new shack layout too. My plan is to start with a 28' x 40' room (over top of a 3 car detached garage). This room will be divided in half by two walls (with a sliding glass door at the end of each wall). The walls will be centered and will be separated 6 feet apart, basically separating the large room into two smaller rooms; 22'x28'. One half will be a video editing/music studio/ham shack. A homebrew wall unit (with the back open) will cover most of one wall (one of the centered walls that separates the two halves of the large area). That wall unit will house my ham gear. The back of the ham gear, wiring, power supplies, etc, will be hidden from the main room, yet accessable from between the two 6 foot wide separation walls. A wood shop will be on the other open space The separation walls, (along with some proper ventilation) should the dust away from the electronic gear.

Well, that's my plan anyway. Hope I gave you some ideas!
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by WB2WIK on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
>RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack Reply
by K5UJ on September 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<<< I don't change the door locks from the original ones, so I can give keys to contractors if necessary -- there's nothing to steal>>>

Unfortunately this may not be true anymore due to the rising value of scrap metal. A plumber I know told me he's seen a couple of empty houses lately where someone broke in and tore out the plumbing and wire.<

::I've heard of this kind of thing. I'm keeping an eye on my teeth! Actually, I'd never lose any sleep over this, because insurance will cover such a loss but I've heard about gangs stealing power lines that run between utility poles for the copper scrap value. Unbelievable...
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by AB2MH on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK wrote:

> ::I've heard of this kind of thing. I'm keeping an eye > on my teeth! Actually, I'd never lose any sleep over
> this, because insurance will cover such a loss but I've
> heard about gangs stealing power lines that run between
> utility poles for the copper scrap value.
> Unbelievable...

That's probably an urban legend. Overhead powerlines these days are usually aluminium, not copper. The monetary value of scrap aluminium isn't all that high, either.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by N4RLL on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Evidently NOT an urban legend:

http://reuters.myway.com/article/20060915/2006-09-15T134332Z_01_L14249539_RTRIDST_0_ODD-THEFT-DC.html
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KI6YN on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I got tired of switching the two antennae between the various rigs and the same with the keys/paddles. I bought a box of coaxial relays at a ham swapmeet and decided to take care of business. I have five rigs that can be switched between two antenna with the push of a single button. The audio of the selected rig is switched, via relay, to a common station speaker or the AOR media center. The keys (straight and cootie)and the output of the keyer for the paddle are all connected to all rigs using steering diodes to avoid ground loops and any interference due to different switching techniques. Now I just decide which rig and which antenna and with the push of a button for the appropriate antenna and the push of a button for the rig of choice, I am ready to go. I also made a large desk with plenty of space for the equipment and keys/paddle. I have a nice Geochron clock overlooking the rigs and several framed displays of antique telegraph gear on the walls. The radio room is my escape and I'll always have a dedicated room for hamming and my computer. The computer is not connected to any of the rigs nor will it ever be. I am not against using a computer to control a rig nor a keyboard for CW, it just isn't my thing; I am capable of reaching a knob or a switch. I am a retired electronics engineer and have enough of cmputers other than regular home use.
The wiring is in the back and out of sight; I know better than to use tie downs and trying to be neat by running the wires together parallel is asking for it. Best to have as many wires as possible crossing one another at 90 degrees or as close to that as possible.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB9CRY on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Moving day usually occupies a whole day, so nothing much else gets done that day. "Unpacking day #1" which follows moving day is my favorite: While the XYL and kids unpack, I'm digging the hole for the tower. Not a joke. Done it several times now, the family is used to this...

WB2WIK/6


Me too Steve. Last on and first off the truck is a box containing my rig, power supply, key, mic, and some coax and bundled together my trusty R5 vertical. While the XYL's figuring out what to unpack, I'm up on the roof adding the vertical to the top of the mast on the TV tower next to the house and stringing coax; I'm on the air by mid-day. Never know when the P5 or Scarborough gonna show up!!!

Phil KB9CRY
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K0RFD on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'd get a cat. With mouse traps, the shack gets really stinky if you catch one and don't get out to the shack for a couple of days.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G3LBS on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I moved my shack into the house
W2/G3LBS Buffalo Gil
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NI6S on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
What an exciting topic! And perfect timing, too!! I am about to build a shack behind my garage and have been planning it for months. It'll be 25 x 12, filled with a combination of tube gear and solid state equipment. I have a fancy for collecting mil-spec receivers, so much of my stuff is rack-mountable. For a portion of the shack, I will have a U-shaped configuration, comprised of ten racks. Four will be for the solid state part of the station and three on each side will house most of the tube gear. I will fabricate a u-shaped wooden surface that ties all of these racks together, for my keyboard and writing space. In the rest of the space, I'll have three custom-made desks with shelves for Collins, Drake and other 70's vintage gear. I plan to have a dedicated sub-panel with a 2 phase EMI filter/power conditioner in-line, affecting all of the 240/120v outlets. There will be three levels of outlets. First level will be Cat 5 jacks; second level, 240v outlets and third level, 120v outlets, all dispursed every 3-4 feet. The grounding will be according to Polyphaser and the cable runs from the various towers, fed through 4" ABS tubing. I haven't designed this with a lot of available wall space in mind, so I may install pull-down maps. This room will be insulated and drywalled, complete with combination AC/Heating unit. The 70' tower is only 20' away, and I plan to bury the ABS tubing before I pour the slab. No room for error here! This room will have a slider to the backyard and a separate entry door through the garage. Exciting stuff and a dream come true...My compliments to the original author of this posting. I've been inspired!

73 de Ed, NI6S
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W7ETA on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<I used to use these on equipment control cabinets for the industrial heat treating furnaces I used to design. I powered all critical circuits from this type of transformer, such as the PLC and calibrated equipment. >

What are the symptoms of not using a power conditioner in a Ham Shack?

73
Bob
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W4CNG on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Always on the "Terrace Level" My current one is the 5th one. 12x16 feet in size. 2 of 4 walls 10 feet underground. Bench behind operating position is for Electronic goods, the bench opposite operating position is for my Twin Progressive Reloading presses, (powder "Enough to orbit Arnold", primers and bullets). Antenna Feeds into the attic are 2 runs 1/2 inch Superflex cable, plus a third out to the terrace level Garden Room Doors. Article sitting here in Que is soon to be published "Full Shack UPS" describes the power system in the shack.

Steve W4CNG
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K4JF on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
My current shack is about the 5th one. With a custom built table (extra deep) all the way across one wall, the top is inlaid parquet floring, and just like I like it. L-shaped operating area with a small workbench across the room. It took a long time.

But I'm selling that house and moving into a smaller shack, so more will be rack mounted, and replanning it all.......

A hamshack is like a restored car.... it is never finished.

 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K4JF on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
[....but I've heard about gangs stealing power lines that run between utility poles for the copper scrap value. Unbelievable... ]

Believe it. They are doing a major refurbish of the high school I went to. Thieves have stolen over $50,000 worth of copper and delayed the construction.... And that's just one site....
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by XV2PS on September 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've put new wheels to drag it easier on the balconey, and I now have an old piston as cigar ash tray. Also mosquito repellant.
I will also soon cut the coconut tree that comes too close to my antenna.

A lot of big improvements with few bucks and no electronic.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NN8B on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"What are the symptoms of not using a power conditioner in a Ham Shack? "

Bob,

They will keep the voltage in regulation, no brown-outs, and filter any noise and transients from other equipment on the power supply grid. They will greatly reduce or eliminate those annoying "pops" heard in receivers when devices cycle on/off; unless, of course, it's coming in through the antenna. Similar to small office type UPS's do but with a much larger capacity and better filtering. They do not provide battery backup power like a UPS though.

I would not mount one of these in the shack. They produce a lot of heat in the filtering capacitors/regulators.

73,
Don, NN8B
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W7ETA on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the info Don.

I've heard of people with audio systems, in dedicated rooms, using devices to "clean-up" AC.

Generate a lot of heat = consumes power?

73
Bob
PS: your shack looks great.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KS4XN on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"BUT.....if I had the room, I would build it so I had easy access to everything BEHIND the operating bench. That would greatly ease the burden of hooking everything up and making it look nice. The way it is now, with a room only about 9 feet wide but 22 feet long, if I put my desk to allow for easy access to the rear, I don't have room to get around it. So, it's backed up against the wall...with just a few inches for access.

Kelly
K7SU"



What I really like is that Big A desk which is deep enough for the equipment leaving pleanty of room for writing, arm space for comfortable cw operating, etc.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KS4XN on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"BUT.....if I had the room, I would build it so I had easy access to everything BEHIND the operating bench. That would greatly ease the burden of hooking everything up and making it look nice. The way it is now, with a room only about 9 feet wide but 22 feet long, if I put my desk to allow for easy access to the rear, I don't have room to get around it. So, it's backed up against the wall...with just a few inches for access.

Kelly
K7SU"



What I really like is that Big A desk which is deep enough for the equipment leaving pleanty of room for writing, arm space for comfortable cw operating, etc.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KS4XN on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"BUT.....if I had the room, I would build it so I had easy access to everything BEHIND the operating bench. That would greatly ease the burden of hooking everything up and making it look nice. The way it is now, with a room only about 9 feet wide but 22 feet long, if I put my desk to allow for easy access to the rear, I don't have room to get around it. So, it's backed up against the wall...with just a few inches for access.

Kelly
K7SU"



What I really like is that Big A desk which is deep enough for the equipment leaving pleanty of room for writing, arm space for comfortable cw operating, etc.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KS4XN on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry about the multiple posts. The screen went blank after I clicked post and I clicked refresh to try to get it back...uh, bad move on my part as each refresh leads to another instance of the post. Lesson learned.

73 de John, ks4xn
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by QRZDXR on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I started off with a table top and a set of cubbie holes for each radio. Went to a L shaped counter (radios on one side, computer on the other) worked OK but then we went high tech (ergonomics) Now the computer screen is tilted down at about 18 inches above the desk. We went vertical. computer is under the table along with the printer and other supplies. The 70 amp power supply is over under the other side when you sit in the center. We run the 70 amp DC supply and HF amp on 240 volts for effecency, while the computer runs on 120 which is broken out of the 240v supply line to the module desk. All lighting is built in and either downward directed or eyebrow shadowed.

I found that after putting the new radios into little cubbie holes they started to get a light dust on them. I enclosed the back of the cubbie, only leaving holes for the cables and it appeared that the radios started to get real warm with little air circulation. We took care of this problem by getting a small fan that has a electrostaic filter in the system. Placed it in the Power supply side down at the floor line so it pulls air in from the room. Made a 2 inch by 5 inch sheet metal duct channel that goes behind vertically up the back of the radio stacks and allows a airflow into the back side of each radio cubbie. Now no more dust, dirt and the radios run cool. Simple to clean the one filter every so often too.

We also use the same duct for the cableing so it makes a neat way of routing things. The electrostatic filter actually got real dirty the first day. Found out that it also picks up that fine stuff from when you walk around the room even though you think the room is super clean. After about a week it started to stay clean. I can always tell when it needs to be cleaned. It starts making a popping sound in the radios. Just take it out and hose it down and your good to go once dry. I also found it takes any room smells, like new carpet, burnt wireing, smoke etc... out too.

May I also suggest looking at a main control panel for the radios. Both power, audio and radio selection. Makes for easy switching and operation.

One last item that I think gets overlooked. Keying. For those of us running a net, vox and PPT are a real pain. either the vox is too long or doesn't trip all the time the same. PPT requires that you use your other hand all the time. Sooo the answer is to use a good foot switch on the floor or in my case I have it mounted on the side of the area that the wheel chair goes into between the computer side and the radio side desk vertical. I use my knee to push the foot switch. Its idea came from a commercial sewing mach control. It has a lever that comes along side your leg, which then arms into the swich. It leaves you free to write, use the keyboard on the computer while still keying up.

Just a few suggestions that might help.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NS6Y_ on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've been wanting to add .... shacks that looks like Navy installations = SEXY. There's a reason the Navy etc do things the way they do - functionality. That means not only operator comfort but ease of maintenance, fireproofing, etc. I think we could learn a lot from looking at how the Navy does radio.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G3LBS on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Further to my advice to move the shack into the house, a second instalment is to move the XYL into the shack.
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NN8B on September 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
NS6Y,

About the Navy type shack.

You know, I thought about that a long time ago. Being a Navy vet and accustomed to the steel construction of the compartments, I thought about simulating the steel beams and sheet metal walls, the external conduits and cable runs, the green tile floors, the 1MC speaker over the entrance hatch, maybe even the cork insulation they used on the outer hull skin: the whole nine yards. Maybe even resurect an engine order telegraph so my wife can call me for dinner. There's a multitude of things that could be done to simulate a ships radio room.

You brought back those thoughts and memories, thanks.

73,

Don, NN8B (Former IC2)
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W6EM on September 17, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
QTRZDXR said: "We run the 70 amp DC supply and HF amp on 240 volts for effecency, while the computer runs on 120 which is broken out of the 240v supply line to the module desk."

Sounds like a rather nasty NEC violation. A 240V 15 or 20A branch circuit should supply only 240V loads. Especially since the usual 240V run doesn't have a neutral. Only two hot legs and a ground required. If you use the grounding conductor as a neutral, zing, another NEC violation. An insurance inspector following a fire would probably find a way NOT to authorize payment for your losses.....

Also, supplying a load from 240V instead of 120V is more efficient but only in terms of less voltage drop and I squared R losses for the distance of the branch circuit run from the panel. You might save a couple of Watts in the process. Not a lot. Its usually preferable for larger loads to maintain balanced voltages across the neutral.

Don't forget to liberally use GFCIs on 120V branch circuits. We've usually got lots of metal gear around, and at about $10 each (one covers a branch circuit or downstream portion from its point of application on) can save your life.

Grounds. Ah, yes. ALL grounds are supposed to be connected to the electrical grounding conductor in a structure per the NEC. NO isolated grounds except for the earlier example of a branch circuit feeding a separate building. Why? In the event of a lightning hit, no ground is really going to stay at ground potential. 50000 Amperes for 40 microseconds can raise a 1 Ohm ground resistance to 50kV. (You DON'T want to have a separate ground that isn't raised to a high voltage level along with all the other things grounded.) That's why so much ham gear gets fried when even a distant lightning hit raises the service entrance ground potential and not the separate shack ground. Or, vice-a-versa. Think equipotential bonding and grounding.

Here's something that I've used a couple of times to avoid shack clutter: Place an 8"X8"X4" PVC box (with removable front cover) in the middle of a wall in between the studs and run 1 1/2" PVC conduit up to the roof or down to the crawl space and route coax or Heliax into the box. Then, you can drill the cover for feed throughs and all coax runs are hidden and out of the way. You can even put in a second box for beneath the bench 12VDC power feeds, etc.

I'm in the process of building my basement shack. I've used two of the 8"X8" boxes for heliax and remote switching runs inside the walls. I've run one 20A branch circuit about 70 feet, using on-hand, oversized No. 10 AWG Romex to lessen voltage drop and a 20A GFCI for my first outlet. And, one 240V 20A circuit with two outlets using a separate run of the No. 10 AWG Romex for QRO and an isolation transformer. Copper water pipes and electrical grounding conductors are tied together in my home as required by the NEC and will be tied together again in the ham shack.

I thought about a separate panel, but the added cost of running 2-No. 6 plus neutral and ground conductor Romex all that distance, together with the extra cost for the panel, breaker, and disconnect made me change my mind. Besides, I wouldn't have the load to justify it anyway.

73,

Lee
W6EM/4
Leeds, AL
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB1NTS on September 17, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hello for my shack I comendered the formal entry way to my house. It was unused and off the living room which is close to the wood stove and air conditioner. I heat with wood only so if you are not near the stove it's freezing. The benifet to my shack is it has 4 doors in it. To my left an outside door to the right a door to the dining room behind a closet and in front which is also behind all the radios a door to my unused dining room. So if you open this door you have access to the back of all the components. This works out nice and a good place to get some quite. Whatever place you can put your shack do it!! Whatever gets you on the air go for it!!! I'd rather have a cheep shack than no shack at all. Click on my call for a photo of the "Shack" When I hit the big money I'll build the NASA look alike shack.
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K5HSV on September 17, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'm seriously considering rack mounting most of my grear to get it off the desk and consolidate all my coax and control cables for a cleaner look.

73's
Paul - K5HSV
 
Shack dedicated panels  
by KA4KOE on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Separate panel? Cheap.

GE Loadcenter, 16 poles, 120/240v, 1 phase, 3 wire $20
Breakers $20
Ground bar $5
50 ampere feeder from main house panel - $70
50 ampere breaker in main house panel - $10

Total cost of loadcenter in new shack app. $125 + sweat.

Home Depot is quickly becoming my favorite place for electrical supplies.

PHILIP
 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by W6EM on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
$10 for a 50A breaker? 20A breakers are about that price. Double that, typically. But, depends on the manufacturer.

$125 isn't cheap. That didn't include the hangar clips for the heavy 6-3 Romex or conduit and clamps for it if your local jurisdiction requires it. Also, some jurisdictions require a panel disconnecting means (a 50A molded case switch or breaker) in the sub-panel itself as well.

A coil of 12-2 or even 10-2 Romex and a couple of $6 20A breakers is a lot less expensive. Plus, you'd have to buy the 12-2 and 2 20A breakers anyway to make your runs to the convenience outlets from the 50A sub panel anyway.

Of course, if you want to have generator power, since you aren't afraid to spend bucks, toss in a 50A three pole, double throw transfer switch for another hundred and fifty bucks or so, and you'd have the ability to transfer everything to a generator.

73,

Lee
W6EM
 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by KA4KOE on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well, you get the idea. Didn't include the cost of branch circuits, romex, or receptacles, but the general cost is in the ballpark of what I quoted and paid for here fairly recently. I have 4 circuits in my shack.

I got my receptacles for free, as they were factory samples headed for the garbage bin.

Nor is any cost factored in for emergency power. If you know what you are doing a portable genset can be used IF you throw the breaker in the main panel to avoid feeding power upstream and possibly energizing the utility lines. Simply wire a 30/2 receptacle and plug your genset into it, and provide power via backfeed arrangement. Kill the circuits that don't need power by throwing the appropriate breakers.

A permanently wired and permanently situated generator will naturally need to follow codes if inspected. But a 30 ampere convenience outlet will not.

These are emergency field expedients.

Does this meet code? No. Have you priced manual transfer switches lately??? They ain't cheap.

What is required from municipality to municipality varies greatly, but per NEC a subpanel doesn't need a main if the feeder is protected upstream by a breaker; of course this is not news. Of course the NEC is a minimum requirement.

Some areas will be more stringent, and making individual inspectors happy is always a crap shoot in the larger cities, especially those that have "god complexes".

PHILIP
 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by W6EM on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Yep. NEC's the minimum. Local yokals can get picky.

As to the transfer switch, I was only guessing you could find a 50A switch. Probably not. And, last time I looked a 100A 3 pole was about $250. Ouch.

Yet, you can buy a 50A 2 pole fused switch for $20.

And, a 100A panel with neutral and ground buses and main breaker for about $50. Go figure.

As to your generator circuit, yep, that will work. Just don't let anybody have the "umbilical cord" unless you are watching over things.

I had a neighbor in FL that did that and I think his wife (smart a** that she was) turned on some extra breakers and poof.

If the local utility gets wind of it, they may scream, out of concern for their crews as some normally don't ground the primary of distribution transformers once disconnected from HV. Back fed transformers can be lethal.

73,

Lee
W6EM

 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by KA4KOE on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Yep. Field expedients are just that, expedients. I tell my son electricity is deadlier than a firearm and can kill you even quicker.

If one has the resources, then by all means provide switches to prevent upstream issues, use common sense, and make sure everyone in the household knows to keep their hands out of the panel.

This stuff is deadly enough even when you know what you're doing.

 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by W6EM on September 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I just had the occasion to stop by Lowe's and No. 6 Cu THHN is only $0.89 per foot. Or, I'd guess at least $3.75 per foot as 6-3 non metallic sheathed cable. They didn't have any of it that I could see. That would be real expensive to go the 50 feet to my shack room from the panel, especially if I had to use conduit too. Even if I reduced the grounding conductor size a tad.

My biggest challenge was getting the LDF4-50 Heliax runs routed. Heliax is great, once its in, but what a bear to run it. I used some short, 6 inch pieces of left over 2" PVC conduit for supports about every 6 feet or so. That way I didn't have to hang conduit and try to pull it.

Has anyone built their own remote antenna switches? I'm going to give that a try next.

Lee
W6EM

 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by W4LGH on September 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
The easiest and least expensive way I found to wire in my generator is the following....

I bought a 50A/220V dryer surface mount socket and mounted it on my garage wall. I then bought a dryer pigtail wire and wired it into my dryer connection, which was just on the other side of the garage wall.
I then made up a 30' 8gauge 220V cable with a dryer
plug on one end and the 4 pin lock plug on the generator. My MAIN circuit breaker is outside at the meter box. This get shut off (to prevent backfeed) and then in the breaker box in the garage, I kill the breaker to the Heatpump (compressor only) and will kill the hot water tank at first. These breakers are all labeled with dymo labels. Fire off the generator,
plug the cable into the wall, then into the generator, and the house is back up and running. I will cut the hotwater heater back on once in while to keep the water hot, and I have left it on at times.
My generator will make upto 7500watts which runs everything pretty good. I also have a 5200btu portable
AC unit that can go in the window and keep one room cool and comfy!!

This whole operation takes about 5 minutes to complete and power is restored to my shack and house. I do have 2 110AH batteries that switch in automatically in the shack, so the radios never blink.

Works pretty good for me. I recently added an indicator lite on the off side of the main breaker, so I would know when commercial power was restored.
Be VERY CAREFUL if you do this, as the power company side is fused at a VERY HIGH amperage!!! Also DO NOT DROP the GROUND side to your HOUSE..or you can put 220 volts on all of your 110V sockets!! Nasty things will happen!!!

73 de W4LGH - Alan
http://www.w4lgh.com
 
RE: Shack dedicated panels  
by W6EM on September 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Alan: What you are doing may work, but its very dangerous.

First off, dryer pigtails only have two hot legs and grounding conductor. The grounding conductor is usually smaller than the two hot legs. Code permits this.

What you are depending upon is that smaller grounding conductor to become the neutral path for your generator feed. Dangerous. Why? Well, that small conductor may carry substantial neutral current if all 120V loads are not balanced at all times across the generator neutral.

As you've probably already found out (by what you've said about the extreme voltages), a severed neutral will allow all 120V appliances to "float" across the unterminated neutral, thus the voltage can be low or extremely high on each 120V leg, if all 120V loads are not perfectly balanced across a floating neutral.

I can't recommend what several have suggested here and done. The safest approach is a small transfer switch/panel that usually have about a dozen circuits and cost about $100 or so. Much safer and the neutral and hot legs are properly sized and transferred to the generator source feed. Its a bit of a job, since you have to remove the circuits you want to have e-power from your existing panel and re-reoute them to the emergency panel. You can make the job easier by putting the epower panel right next to your main panel.

73,

Lee
W6EM

 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB2QQM on September 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I am rebuilding my vertical from the ground up.
It's going to be the Multiband antenna from
www.zerofive-antennas.com

Hopefully I will be able to get on 160.

Greg
 
Transfer Switches  
by KA4KOE on September 20, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I hope I was not misunderstood. If one has the means, then install a transfer switch.

But the field expedient solution by backfeeding a receptacle with a portable generator will keep your food from spoiling if you get caught with your pants down when the utility fails.

If Lee could point us to a good 50 ampere, 2 pole transfer switch for residential use, that would be great.

Philip
KA4KOE
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W8LV on September 20, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Look for old metal desks secondhand. They are cheap, and they wear like iron. Nobody makes a good desk anymore, just cheap sawdust and glue crap.

Plastic storage shelves from the local "ARKANSAS SAM WORLDWIDE MART" are handy--just cut the supports down to a more reasonable size so that your gear fits on them, and reassemble the shelves--now you have a nice place to put disk drives and routers and modems and powerstrips and wall warts where they wont overheat and you can change things around easily. One word of advice, the plastic shelf companies seem to frequently make little changes in the molds for these these, so they won't 'fit' with your older ones, BUT the shelves are so cheap (also purchased from your local "ARKANSAS SAM WORLDWIDE MART")anyway, why not buy a few extras and store these in case you want to modify your setup later? You can set this 'equipment rack' right up on the top of one of the metal desks right next to your 'main' desk. You computer tower can go there, too, right next to your equipment rack. See how much space you 'get back' on your 'main' desk? ;-)

LED lamps are wonderful. A 20 LED goose-neck type only uses TWO WATTS of power. You can get these at your local "RED STAPLER" office supply chain.. Hook several of these up to extension cords and a "GE(E) Thomas Edison Founded Us Handy Switch"(also purchased from the Local"ARKANSAS SAM WORLDWIDE MART"!) You are not gonna overload anything with these, and best of all LED's don't get hot, so you don't give yourself the 'hot light interrogation treatment' that you get from those old incadescent lamps, and no flourescent QRM hum! (Wow! Remember when you tired one of THOSE for about thirty seconds in your shack! You get a rare signal thousands of miles away from Lower Slobavia, and it gets QRM'ed right at your desk! Talk about "local" noise!)

I have three desks, and six lamps at one location, and a wooden kitchen table two more lamps on the other side of the room, since my QTH doubles as both a ham shack and a 'completely separate' podcasting station...this seperation helps keep computer noise and RF from getting into audio lines--you can only filter and shield and choke so much, but more should be said for actual physical seperation of these line than you ever read about.

A mouse pad with the little added on gel-thingie that fits below your hand helps if you use anyhing that says "Vibroplex" to do any sending...since they all seem 'too high' from the table, for me anyhow...

Get a real MIC stand, from your local "SAM THE GUITAR MAN" place and a 'new' office chair. I have found that 'price' on these chairs does not have a thing to do with comfort or quality. Check on both the "RED STAPLER" store and the "OFF THE MAX" stores, as one or the other seems to have a 'chair' sale going on. While the 'old' desks are better than the 'new' ones, it is just the opposite for office chairs!

Finally...liquid refreshments DO get spilled. If you set up things so that they are 'up' as in 'not flush with the desk surface', then a spilled drink is ust a minor porblem. But if you have an expensive piece of equipment that seems to literally 'suck up' such spilled drinks, that's going to be a problem. If it spills into the blades of a line cord extension, or worse, that could give you a 'permanent electric permanent' that could off you, um... permanently. Remember, safey first,with towers AND in the shack, and help yourself put off the "big dirt sleep' so you can enjoy radio as long as you can!
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W4KVW on September 21, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I got rid of all but one Yaesu an 857D & I can't recoupe enough to sell it & buy another ICOM since they cost MORE & are worth the difference.I have let the ICOMS take over my shack & mobile setups & they are MUCH quieter to listen to & kick butt on transmit as well (MUCH better filtering).Also better performance from my AMERITRON 811H since rewiring an outlet & the amp for 240 volts.That just about does it for me!W4KVW
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G3LBS on September 22, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Get the kids out of the tree house
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W9AC on September 22, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
> "If you had it to do over again, how would you build your new shack?"

1) Install an electrical sub-panel from the main house load center for shack power;

2) Install isolated ground outlets from the sub-panel to the shack AC distribution;

3) For new home builds, add a ground rod at a convenient location near the cable entry point;

4) Add an isolated MGB bus bar at the entrance and bond all coaxial lines and ground rod (as part of a ring) to the MGB at one point;

5) Make sure HVAC is adequate to cool off all that equipment you want;

6) Install tiered cabinetry that wraps along the walls. Often used equipment should be front & center or tilted in;

7) Truncate vertical cabinet pieces to stop 2-3 inches short of the back-plane: you now have a continuous conduit along the back-plane for no hassle cabling;

8) Install 1-2 runs of #10 AWG (minimum) home-runned to the sub-panel for your amplifiers. One home-run for each amp;

9) Add ample quartz lighting on a track strip with a rheostat for light control - not a SCR dimmer;

10) Keep just enough table work space between you and the rigs for maximum comfort and writing space;

11) Compartmentalize areas of the cabinetry and keep it open for adequate ventilation. Closed panels looks nice but may become a heat disaster and they make routine shack changes nearly impossible;

12) Add shielded Ethernet cabling to a wall jack;

Most of thes items are used in my current shack and can be seen at qrz.com

Paul




 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G0VAX on September 23, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I built my shack, it is outside the back door, the good old English 10"x8" Garden Shed!!!!
I built a cabinet specifically for my radio gear so when it's not in use it is safely locked away out of site, also in there I have my beer fridge, it's all insulated, got heating, even got carpet on the floor!!!!
 
RE: Transfer Switches  
by W6EM on September 23, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Phillip, KA4KOE said:
"I hope I was not misunderstood. If one has the means, then install a transfer switch.

But the field expedient solution by backfeeding a receptacle with a portable generator will keep your food from spoiling if you get caught with your pants down when the utility fails.

If Lee could point us to a good 50 ampere, 2 pole transfer switch for residential use, that would be great."

Phillip: I haven't been looking around lately, but there are several web sites that sell integral transfer panel/switch combinations. Usually with generator sets, but, I think they can be purchased separately.

Using a grounding conductor for a neutral via an appliance cord can be dangerous, as it often times is a much smaller conductor size. All the ground has to do is carry fault current to trip a breaker, so they can be reduced in size and often are. Also, injecting neutral current from a generator source onto the grounding conductor system can raise the grounding system above true ground potential unless the grounding conductor is an isolated ground back to the panel. Things like your ham gear may have stray AC current flowing on its grounding system, causing noise and other undesireable effects.

73,

Lee
W6EM

 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K2JX on September 25, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

A very interesting post indeed. My shack is in the basement of my house, definetly needs air conditioning on a re-do. Putting my op-desk on wheels solves the problem of getting to those "wires" behind the rig(s).
Just about everything else is done, grounding, bonding, lighting, all wiring done in EMT conduit,a 220v home run for the Kilowatt amp and Cat 5 cabling for the computers.

BUT, after 24 years as an electrician maintaining a large police deptpartment's radio and electrical systems,remote tower site shelters, generators and air conditioners,helped build two 911 call centers, I ask myself, when I retire in 18 months, do I really want to re-do my shack ?

No, it looks pretty good, messy but OK..well maybe that AC unit. Well maybe a new desk, hmmm those high hats look cruddy, yeah I'll re-do it !!

Tnx nice post !

de K2JX
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by G7HEU on September 28, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Blimey - who's gonna read this far down the thread?

Any how, here's a bad quality video of my newish shack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoyjdPC7rc

There's a hole on the bench where my FT-1000MP should be but it is unwell. I also removed 1,000s of beer cans and the dog was grumpy about being kicked out of the room whilst I made the video clip.

Steve.

 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by KB2DHG on September 29, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
After years of having a shambles of a shack my XYL took it upon herself to help me re-build my shack... She came up with a great idea that worked out great!
She called in one of these closet companies and had them design a compleate total counter and shelving system custom fit for my Amateur Radio needs. It was not cheap but well worth it. It is fantactic and makes working the station a real pleasure.
You can call these companies and have them custom design a compleat arangement that will custom fit your room or space.
Go to KB2DHG on QRZ to see the results.
Good DX to ya!
 
RE: Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by NN8B on September 29, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Steve,

Nice video, thanks for sharing. I think that's the first video posted.

I am planning my rebuild now. Got lots of ideas from the previous posts.

73,

Don, NN8B
 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by W5VPU on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
1. Begin with the end in mind. (Rebuild in my mind first, not as I went along.) for Example, what do I want to do, talk, moon bounce, CW DX, repair and build (how many kit radios are now for sale on eBay once the excitement of the soldering has gone away?), buy and sell and buy and sell and buy and sell (you get the idea), . . .

2. Accept that there will always be limitations unless you have a 1000 square foot shack in which to do your thing.

3. Accept that each year each manufacturer is going to bring out new items to entice me to use his new product because, in his words, "You can't live without it." Unless, of course, I have a totally unlimited source of money to pay for each new item that catches my fancy (I don't)

4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

5. Be patient with myself

6. Do what I decide to do and realize that over time I will grow in abilities, interests, and the time will come I will then want to make some more changes. That's why we call it a "hobby."

 
Re-Building Your Ham Shack  
by K8DXX on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
In 2002, my wife and I decided to NOT move to a new QTH where I could put up a multi-tower antenna farm. Our (her) rationale was, "if you want to retire in 7 years, why set up a big station, only to dismantle it in a few years and move it to the Carolinas?" Our alternative plan was to expand the existing 2nd story roof top antennas and move the shack to our finished basement. After four years, I am well pleased with my new digs and thankful for my wife's sound thinking.

On the roof, I already had a Glen Martin 4.5 foot aluminum quad-pod and a tribander. That was moved further to the north end of the roof and reused to hold beams for 6 and 2 meters. The south end of our 2nd story roof was professionally reinforced to support a sturdy Glen Martin quad-pod that now supports a Force-12 C4EXL antenna (12 feet above the roof by city ordinance). My ground mounted vertical was preserved.

Two non-ham friends of mine recommended a 4 inch PVC pipe from roof (properly sealed & flashed) to basement run through closets that occupy the center of the house (very slick, Mike Lorano). Mike's friend Barry did the cable fishing and cable end soldering (never been very good at that). Through the PVC pipe, we ran all the RG-213 coax, two rotor cables and a twisted pair/phone line. Coax and rotor cables from the 2nd story roof exit the 4 inch PVC, run accross the basement's suspended ceiling, down the north vertical wall and exit to the equipment in one neatly dressed bundle (thanks Barry). Quad-pods are tied together with 6 gauge wire and run to a ground pipe. The RG213 from the ground mounted vertical was spliced and run under the first story eves, back into the basement shack and exits the paneled wall with the roof top antenna cables and controls.

Shack furniture was supposed to consist of three heavy duty 8 foot banquet tables arranged in a "U" shape. Space was left between the walls (I'm in a 12 X 12 foot cheaply carpeted area) and the tables to permit somewhat easy cable access. Two of the three tables have survived. The center table holds an FT-1000MP station, HF rotor control and AL572 amp (it has survived). The right leg of the "U" holds a TS870, SM-220 scope, AL811H station and a TS-2000 station and VHF antenna rotor control. This also has survived. The left leg of the "U" was another banquet table (salvaged from my wife's sewing work station) that was supposed to hold a Heath Apache, Mohawk and other "boat anchor" components. Unfortunately, it collapsed under the weight (not really damaging anything, just scaring me half to death). After extricating the boat anchors, the banquet table was replaced with an inexpensive wooden (particle board) desk kit from OfficeMax. It now holds a slightly reduced compliment of boat anchors, relays and speaker.

The various antenna cables are switched in/out or whatever using MFJ either 2 or 4 port grounded switches. These have worked fine thus far. I have two dedicated 120 volt lines (15-20 feet from the service box) to power the station. Should I have run 220? Probably, but given my infrequent use of medium or high power, their value was questionable at the time. All station equipment is tied to a 10 foot ground rod driven through the basement floor (by Mike's son weilding a landscape rock); which is in turn linked to the external/roof-top antenna ground. So far, no ground loops have been detected. All three modern rigs (not the Heathkits) are controlled with Ham Radio Deluxe and RS232 ports (one built in, two extra ports added on the expansion bus) of my main Dell computer. The Dell 19 inch LCD monitor is not only easier to see but also provides some "insurance" against further table collapse as formerly, I used a very heavy 21 inch CRT.

What would I have done differently? Not much! Glad I listened to my wife and church buddy/carpenter Mike. I did discover (after the near boat anchor disaster) that not all banquet tables are created equal.

My station has never been and will never be a big gun. It is less and less state-of-the-art. It should do me pretty well until I retire, God willing in 2009. Recently, I almost closed the top of the "U" with a Korg Extreme 88 keyboard, mixer, speakers and associated computer stuff. The narrow point of entry into what my wife calls "The Man Cave" provides good incentive to keep my weight under control!

A picture of my station in more or less current state (different internet hardware) is on the QRZ website under my call sign.

Hope some of these ideas are helpful. I'm also open to suggestions as to how I could improve my station.

GO TIGERS! and 73

Bill / K8DXX
 
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