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Author Topic: Documenting your shack, looking for suggestions  (Read 11374 times)
KD4EBL
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Posts: 71




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« on: March 13, 2012, 01:03:07 PM »

Ok, I admit I am a bit OCD, but I am in the process of designing my new shack in an unfinished part of my basement. I was looking for a easy way to capture my designs, mods, equipment lists, manuals, cabling, pictures, maybe articles that I am referencing, etc. Currently I am putting everything in a file cabinet, but would like to use some sort of electronic means. Anyone tackle documenting their shack in such a way? My crazy idea was a picture of the setup that I could click on the rig and up would come the manual and a wiring diagram for the cables. Click on an antenna lead and see the type, test results and age of cable, etc.

Scott (KD4EBL)
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WA2ONH
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Posts: 253




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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2012, 01:27:27 PM »

Scott...

Found this item on K9ZW's Blog some time ago and it should give you some food for thought.

REPOST: Making a List & Checking it Twice – Checklists & Screen Shots for Amateur Radio
LINK: http://k9zw.wordpress.com/2008/12/14/repost-making-a-list-checking-it-twice-checklists-screen-shots-for-amateur-radio/

Hope it helps you some. Good Luck.
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73 de WA2ONH dit dit    ...Charlie
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"No time is ever wasted that is spent LEARNING something!"
KG4NEL
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 09:18:01 PM »

Before doing major re-wiring or rearranging of stuff, I like to draw up a Visio diagram of the system flow...2D AutoCAD would do the same.

Beyond that, I'd rather be on the air  Cheesy
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KD4EBL
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 06:10:54 AM »

Beyond that, I'd rather be on the air

Thanks, I often need that advice to avoid "over thinking" everything!
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W5DQ
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 11:02:17 AM »

Before doing major re-wiring or rearranging of stuff, I like to draw up a Visio diagram of the system flow...2D AutoCAD would do the same.

Beyond that, I'd rather be on the air  Cheesy

I second VISIO. It's a great tool and I have all my interfaces and cabling as well as station layout in VISIO. I have all my cables labeled so when I need to disconnect, it is easy to get everything back where it belongs. I figure it is much easier than trying to retrace everything when I need to service it (which you will eventually need to do). My OCD just comes as an extension of my professional career as a Systems Engineer in a large avionics test lab. Everything is documented nine ways from Sunday at work.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
W0FM
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 12:38:47 PM »

I tried to keep up with documentation for years using photos, drawings, etc.  Then I realized that everything changed so often that it was an impossible task using those approaches.  I now have a simple Excel spreadsheet.  I have sections labeled "Radios" with subsection for each individual model (until I trade it)  Grin  Another section for "Antennas" with an entry "row" for each antenna and corresponding columns for cable numbers attached near the connectors of each coax.  A subsection for meters and other accessories with an Alpha-Numeric reference (B3, C1)) to jumper cable numbers for cables/power cords connected to each one.  At my PowerPole distribution system, the power cords for the radios and accessories are numbered at both ends and match the corresponding equipment in the spreadsheet.

All of this is quickly and easily updated in the spreadsheet.  Cables can (almost instantly) be shown to now route elsewhere.  Radios can come and go.  As can antennas and accessories.

As a bonus, I now have justification for every new piece of gear I'd like to buy..."I will be sooooo easy to document this new SWR meter in my spreadsheet". Wink

YMMV.  Good luck.

73 de Terry, WØFM

(Oh, and going forward, I will add a column for a hyperlink to a PDF copy of the manual for that device.  Click and read.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 12:42:45 PM by W0FM » Logged
NI0C
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Posts: 2394




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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 05:19:36 PM »

I'm envious of you guys who are so well organized!  The block diagram for my shack is in my head.  I have to rethink it all through when I pull out my radio to change a filter, for example. 

Thanks for the good ideas!

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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W0FM
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2012, 07:09:21 AM »

Chuck, Before you get too overwhwelmed in our OCD tendencies, just keep this in mind:  I STILL have to REMEMBER where I've filed the Excel spreadsheet!  I know it's here somewhere.   Grin

73 Terry, WØFM
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AA4PB
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2012, 08:57:04 AM »

Dang! I've got it all filed electronically on my set of 8-inch floppies but I no longer have any way to read them  Grin Actually I've been down that road so many times with other things like video, audio, and data that needs to be retained over many years that I wonder about the logic of using anything other than paper for important long-term storage. Media formats change a lot faster than paper deteriorates.

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KD4EBL
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 06:35:29 AM »

Thanks all, I too have been using a Excel spreadsheet to track all my major equipment (date bought, cost, serial number) as well as tracking a "want" list as I go to Hamfests for said items. I then know what batteries, mikes, antenna adapters, etc I need. I also have downloaded all my manuals (and service manaulas) into a "dropbox" file that I can access from anyone I have connectivity.
 
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K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 05:23:56 PM »

I'm still old fashioned in that regard.  I use a binder which also holds the rig users manual and paperwork, including manuals I've downloaded or sent for.  Three or four sheets at the beginning of the section for the particular rig holds information such as when I got the rig, for how much, any repairs or modifications made, parts used, and so on.  More than one person has been pleased that I had a packet with all this info and the manuals for the rigs I've sold--and you don't have to have a computer or any sort of electronic gizmo to read it either!
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KG4NEL
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 06:32:13 PM »

Thanks all, I too have been using a Excel spreadsheet to track all my major equipment (date bought, cost, serial number)

Cost?

Man, I'd be depressed if I started tracking that... Cheesy
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KD4EBL
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2012, 10:45:30 AM »

Cost is just for replacement purposes, the trick is NOT to total that column! Smiley

Thanks all, I too have been using a Excel spreadsheet to track all my major equipment (date bought, cost, serial number)

Cost?

Man, I'd be depressed if I started tracking that... Cheesy
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1043




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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2012, 08:44:02 AM »

I pretty much put manuals and diagrams in binders for equipment.

As to how it's hooked together.  Well, I usually keep label antenna coax connections as they don't usually change, but the interior wiring - well, if it's something I need to remember I put a label on it [I have a classic Dymo label maker], or a string tag.

I guess my shack is small enough that I don't get that confused, although it's getting to the point that antenna/coax switches are too costly to allow the combinations and takes way too many jumpers to do the job - I'm considering going to an all patch-panel approach, the only disadvantage is that it makes changes quite slow unless you invest in expensive push-on PL's.

For me, it's just the nasty tangle of wires behind the hardware that annoys.  Unless you can walk behind your station - and I cannot - it gets ugly sometimes.  Like most, I've got AC, DC, ground, control and coax wires running willy-nilly around behind the hardware.  It's almost impossible to solve the problem unless you go wireless...<GG>

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W2IRT
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2012, 04:13:27 PM »

I use a combination of Visio for block diagrams and then for things like wiring codes, screenshots of software setup screens, etc, I use Microsoft OneNote. Everything's stored in the Notebook file and that's stored on Dropbox, accessible from all my computers. I try to download PDF versions of all my manuals and those, too, are incorporated in the OneNote notebook. Smaller manuals that are only in print I've scanned and turned into PDFs but those larger manuals that would take too much effort to scan to a PDF I just store in a file cabinet in the shack.
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