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Author Topic: Operating desk/console - Recommendations PSE  (Read 2691 times)

Posts: 17


« on: August 10, 2004, 04:50:09 PM »

I am building a new house and a new shack. The shack will be larger than anything I've had in the past (16' x 14').  One side of the room will be dedicated to repair and boat anchors.  The other side is dedicated to operating.

I'm looking for ideas and suggestions regarding the operating position.  It needs to be usable by one and/or two operators for HF contesting and casual QSOs.  I am planning to build a fully computerized station.  So far the rig is an FT-1000D with an ACOM 2000A, MonstIR on 40-10, other antennas for 80 and 160, plus some Beverages. Software of choice is Logic 7 with TRX-Manager.  I've never operated with a computer before and don't know where to best place the monitor and keyboard in relation to the other gear.

I prefer CW, but plan to operate phone and digital as well.

One dream: I'd like to click the mouse on a DX spot and have the station automatically ready to go.  (I've been a ham for nearly 50 years and I'm still one card short for DXCC)

Specially I'm looking for equipment placement recommendations, antenna switching gear, safety gadgets to keep the amplifier off the air when switching or tuning the antenna.

Pictures of what you have will be appreciated.  I'd be interested in seeing what you have and what improvements you'd make after using it for awhile.

At some point, I'll probably want to be able to operate remotely as my home QTH is 40 miles away.

Since this new QTH is at the top on a local mountain, some UHF and VHF operation is anticipated as well.  I'm also told that my antennas are going to take a beating - wind and ice.

So, if this were your project, what's your wish list?  My budget?  There is none, I'm leaving my kids ham gear instead of money.

If you wish to send a picture:

Thanks for taking the time.

Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2004, 07:30:49 PM »

I'd recommend you take a look at W6BMG's (Walt's) bio and QSL card.  He has a very pretty shack, built for functionality and serviceability, with consoles that are on casters so they can all slide back from the walls for easy cabling/servicing; but when pushed into place, they appear to be a permanent, professional-looking console.  Very nice job.

I'm sure Walt would be pleased to chat with you about what he did and how he did it, if you contact him.  He's very active on 20 meters.

When you get used to PC control, you'll find the only things you need accessible to you are the keyboard and monitor, a keyer paddle and maybe a boom microphone for phone work.  It pretty much doesn't matter where the rig is, and you definitely won't need a pencil and paper, ever.  If your amplifier requires manual tuning and bandswitching, I'd put that where it's not only well ventilated but also easy to reach while operating.

The "just click the mouse and my rig will be there" operation is very much available, and has been for several years, using decent software with a soundcard interface and packet cluster connection (which requires you have a VHF rig handy and on-line).  I use WriteLog for Windows, with RigBlaster and a packet TNC to keep things reasonably independent and reliable as well as capable of much multi-tasking.  Most modern HF "home station" type transceivers already have the computer interface, which at most will require a level converter for connectivity to your PC.

The way I have it configured (and have for about 5 years now), I run the packet cluster in one window of the screen while using logging in the main window, a callsign lookup and beam heading/auto rotation in another window, and a scratchpad (for use with the keyboard) in another window -- all controlled by WriteLog.  If the VHF rig's on and connected to the local DX cluster, clicking on a "spot" callsign will give you that spot's information and look him up; double-clicking on that same "spot" tunes the rig to the correct frequency, and QSX offset (for "split") if one is required, sets the mode, and can even rotate the beam if that connection is made.  So, indeed, a "mouse click" does everything except make the contact.  That functionality is nothing new.  The CT transceiver interface, soundcard interface, WriteLog software and everything except the radio hardware itself all cost maybe $250 and takes a few minutes to hook up and get working.

There are "shareware" and "freeware" that will do some of this even cheaper, but I prefer what I'm using, having used all the "free" stuff there is.

When that happens, then I can work DX while watching a movie with the XYL in another room!


Posts: 82

« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2004, 12:04:25 AM »

Take a quick look at my shack here in my profile.  I built the furniture and made a couple of miscalculations.  The desk tops should be a minimum of 30" deep; mine are 24".  The outside dimensions are 10ft x 6ft.  This give an operating area (inside the U shape of 6ft x 4ft.  This is great for one operator, but is a bit crowded for 2.  I have made some improvements since the pic was taken. If you want some additional help, email me at "callsign"  It may take a few days before I can get back to you though.  Congrats on the new shack.

Sorry I can't help with the equipment reccommendations, your setup is totally different from mine.  I concentrate on 50Mhz up and only minimal digital.  

Posts: 3


« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2004, 04:37:24 AM »

If you want a point and click, DX Cluster/Transceiver/Roator control you can't go past Of course I am assuming that your equipment is relatively late model and c\have the relevant interfaces to talk to the PC.

I am using a 756Pro2 and the above software.  Next items on the lists is a rotator with a RS232 and a SteppIR 4 element beam!!!

73 de Chris VK5JJJ
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