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Author Topic: My new Shack  (Read 684 times)
SEAROY
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Posts: 1




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« on: November 27, 2005, 08:44:28 PM »

Well, here it is, about a month after I got my license and I'm finally building my shack.  No desk yet, but it's in the box, a 5 shelf garage organizer, suitable for use as an 8'x4' workbench about 3' tall.  One have will be my reloading press and the other my ham equipment and documents.

On eBay I've bought a Kenwood setup, TS-430S, PS-430, AT-250 and I'm looking at the external speaker, maybe I will and maybe I won't.  I've also got a Turner 254 mic and a 1976 Vibroplex Vibrokeyer in Sienna and chrome.

True to my interests I'll likely build my own antennae for HF use, mounted just above my roof on more of a stand than a tower, no more than 5 or 6 feet up, for a total of about 40' up I suppose.

So based on this, I'm looking for a little guidance on setup of my equipment.  I don't suppose it's as straightforward as pluging it in and keying up.  My feed line routing is an issue, likely using ladder wire, or maybe resorting to TV antennae wire.  Power management is another potential issue, pulling 20 amps full power.

The antennae designs I have so far are understandably simple.  A1 is a simple 1/4 wave vertical for 10m, but loading is still a question for me that I have to study and experiment with.  Guidance?  A2 is a bit more complicated, a horizontal loop with 80m of wire bent into 2.5m triangular fractal angles and placed more like a ground plane for the vertical.  A3 is a sneaky line that I run from my roof across a field out back of my house (which I do not own, therefore must remove when not in use) to a light pole.

Anyway, I've got a local ham club, the one where I took my test, but I haven't dealt with them yet.  They're high on my list of to-do.

Later,
Searoy
KE7FCK
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20574




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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2005, 09:19:58 AM »

KE7FCK: Data base shows you as a Technician class licensee.  Has this changed recently?

A 3' high bench makes a poor operating surface unless you're extremely tall.  Most desks are 28" to 30," and most chairs are built to accommodate that.

Station logistics aren't particularly important, and most hams change them continuously, so I wouldn't get too locked in on any one arrangement.

Isn't the Vibrokeyer only a paddle?  If so, to use it, you'll need a keyer as well since the TS-430S hasn't a built-in one.

Your station as described won't draw anything even close to 20 Amps, unless you're including a drill press or other tools.  The TS-430S with its power supply consumes less than 3A from a 120Vac line, when running full power.

Antennas are much more important than station equipment or logistics, I'd put all my effort into those.  Antennas, operator and propagation are responsible for most all HF work, and the "equipment" doesn't have a lot to do with it.

Good luck!

Steve WB2WIK/6

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KE7FCK
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2005, 06:18:05 PM »

OK,
Finally my moratorium is over and I can respond.  I managed to change my ID to my call sign KE7FCK instead of my internet/CB handle, Searoy.

>KE7FCK: Data base shows you as a Technician class licensee. Has this changed recently?

No, I failed my code test.  I have 3 options right now.  I could just listen and copy code for practice, which I will do.  I could continue to practice my code off-air and re-take my code test, which I will do.  Or I could wait for the code requirement to be dropped, which I would rather not do.  I wouldlike to acquire a code certification before they are no longer available.  Too late to get a 13 or 20 wpm cert, but I will take a little bit of pride in a 5wpm cert on the wall.  I will not, however, transmit on bands I'm not authorized to.

>A 3' high bench makes a poor operating surface unless you're extremely tall. Most desks are 28" to 30," and most chairs are built to accommodate that.

My garage is, like most others, a multipurpose location.  A higher bench/desk will allow me to store things underneath.  The least used space in the garage is the ceiling, so the more I can go vertical, the better.  I've even considered building a loft in that corner, with my reloading bench on the bottom level and ham gear on the top.  The more I think about that idea, the more I like it.  In any case, a desk is only part of the solution, a stool is the other.

>Isn't the Vibrokeyer only a paddle? If so, to use it, you'll need a keyer as well since the TS-430S hasn't a built-in one.

Rookie mistake.  Yeah, it's a paddle.  I guess it's a happy accident, since I think I can tune an electronic keyer to slower than I could a Vibrokeyer.  I'm partial to the history, technology and oddity of the Vibroplexes, so I know I will slowly aquire several.

>Your station as described won't draw anything even close to 20 Amps, unless you're including a drill press or other tools. The TS-430S with its power supply consumes less than 3A from a 120Vac line, when running full power.

The spec sheet says at full power out the unit will draw between 18 and 20 amps.  The matching power supply is rated for 20 amps.  I'll prepare for 20 amps.  Better to have it and not need it rather than....the other.

>Antennas are much more important than station equipment or logistics, I'd put all my effort into those. Antennas, operator and propagation are responsible for most all HF work, and the "equipment" doesn't have a lot to do with it.

The more I read on existing antenna designs and experiments, the more I want to.  I'm very glad the AT-250 has 4 antenna outs.  I will use them all.  The Moxon, the inverted V, and the Rhomoid are three that I will likely try out.  Fractal versions of them will likely also be built.

I guess my next most important question it, for antenna experimentation, what are the 3 or 4 keey components I need?

Thanks again,
Carl
KE7FCK
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2005, 08:48:31 AM »

 >RE: My new Shack  Reply  
by KE7FCK on November 29, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
No, I failed my code test. I have 3 options right now. I could just listen and copy code for practice, which I will do. I could continue to practice my code off-air and re-take my code test, which I will do. Or I could wait for the code requirement to be dropped, which I would rather not do. I wouldlike to acquire a code certification before they are no longer available.<

::Good attitude!  Congrats on that, and you won't be sorry.  It could be quite a while before the code requirement is actually dropped -- nobody knows.

>My garage is, like most others, a multipurpose location. A higher bench/desk will allow me to store things underneath. The least used space in the garage is the ceiling, so the more I can go vertical, the better. I've even considered building a loft in that corner, with my reloading bench on the bottom level and ham gear on the top. The more I think about that idea, the more I like it. In any case, a desk is only part of the solution, a stool is the other.<

::Got it.  But as somebody who's been an active ham for 40 years and likes (and uses) CW as well as other modes, believe me, you won't want to work CW while sitting on a stool.  You need a very comfortable chair with a desk at the correct height so your elbows will be bent about 90 degrees while operating, and the key paddle set back from the front edge of the desk at least the length of your forearm, possibly a bit more than that, so your entire forearm from elbow to fingertips rests comfortably on the desktop.  If you don't sit like this, CW is not just a chore, it's a nightmare: Tiring, and eventually painful.

>Isn't the Vibrokeyer only a paddle? If so, to use it, you'll need a keyer as well since the TS-430S hasn't a built-in one.

Rookie mistake. Yeah, it's a paddle. I guess it's a happy accident, since I think I can tune an electronic keyer to slower than I could a Vibrokeyer. I'm partial to the history, technology and oddity of the Vibroplexes, so I know I will slowly aquire several.<

::With a paddle, you need an electronic keyer and the speed (and other) adjustments are in that.  A "bug" (Vibroplex semi-automatic key) has its own adjustments for speed, etc, but only makes "dits" automatically -- you still make the "dahs" manually.  Without a great deal of practice (typically years), almost nobody is good with a bug, and the number of CW ops who actually send well with bugs are a very, very small number: Maybe 1%, probably less than that.  It's a great nostalgic trip, no doubt, and I know how to use a bug, but much prefer a paddle and keyer.  It's easier, faster, cleaner, requires much less adjustment, and I can send faster with it.  Try everything, though!  It's a hobby.

>Your station as described won't draw anything even close to 20 Amps, unless you're including a drill press or other tools. The TS-430S with its power supply consumes less than 3A from a 120Vac line, when running full power.

The spec sheet says at full power out the unit will draw between 18 and 20 amps. The matching power supply is rated for 20 amps. I'll prepare for 20 amps. Better to have it and not need it rather than....the other.<

::You are misinterpreting the load current of the rig and the current available from the power supply (20 Amps DC at 13.8 Volts) as the current you need from your wall outlet (which is 120Vac, probably 15 Amps max per standard household circuit wiring).  They aren't the same, or even close.  The AC CURRENT DRAWN from the 120V AC line by your "20 Amp" power supply absolutely, positively HAS to be less than 4 Amps.  Probably less than 3 Amps.  3 Amps at 120V = 360 Watts.  20 Amps at 13.8 V = 276 Watts.  Your "typical" or average AC line current demand should be about 2-3 Amps.  You don't need a 20A circuit for that.

>Antennas are much more important than station equipment or logistics, I'd put all my effort into those. Antennas, operator and propagation are responsible for most all HF work, and the "equipment" doesn't have a lot to do with it.

The more I read on existing antenna designs and experiments, the more I want to. I'm very glad the AT-250 has 4 antenna outs. I will use them all. The Moxon, the inverted V, and the Rhomoid are three that I will likely try out. Fractal versions of them will likely also be built.<

::Experimentation is wonderful and always encouraged.  But that's science, and making contacts is usually (for most of us, anyway) the fun part of the hobby.  If you want to get on the air and make contacts, the easiest and usually best way to do that is by installing known, proven antennas that work up as high as possible above ground, and using them.  I always recommend to new hams: Get 1000 - 2000 QSOs (contacts) under your belt, decide what you like to do, and then start experimenting with antennas as a hobby within the hobby.  But make contacts first.  And those are easier to make, faster, with known and proven antennas rather than experiments.

>I guess my next most important question it, for antenna experimentation, what are the 3 or 4 keey components I need?<

::I'd recommend: A portable SWR meter; an MFJ-259B or 269 antenna analyzer; couple of dozen molded or ceramic in-line insulators; couple of commercially built 1:1 legal-limit rated current baluns; 1000' (or more) spool of 3/16" dacron rope; 5000' spool of #12 ga jacketed (vinyl insulated) stranded antenna wire; a few 40-50' telescoping masts; a few brass or stainless steel pulleys; few hundred feet of 450 Ohm ladder line; few hundred feet of RG8X coaxial cables with connectors; maybe a 4:1 current balun for the back of the tuner, if it hasn't one built-in; copy of the ARRL Antenna Book; maybe couple other antenna handbooks (shopping the ARRL.org website bookstore isn't a bad place to go); couple dozen guying spikes; an 8' copperclad ground rod (or two or three); roll of #6 ga (minimum) ground wire; couple in-line coaxial lightning arrestors; standard hand tools; and a sturdy, tall stepladder (10' - 12' is great and way better than the standard household 5' - 6' job) and a friend on hand to help!  Those things make the bare essence of a beginning antenna experiment for HF, and other than the Antenna Analyzer and the stepladder, all of it is very cheap.  You might be able to find an Analyzer used, or borrow one from a friend in lieu of purchasing one, and you might already have a suitable ladder.

::I'd stick more with "textbook" antennas as opposed to "internet posted" antenna designs because the textbook designs have been through at least some degree of peer review and are more likely to actually work.  A lot of stuff on the web is nonsense.  L.B. Cebik's website http://www.cebik.com is not nonsense, it's a lot of good stuff; however, a lot of what Cebik has published is the theory behind designing antennas, more than practical information on actually building antennas.  An easier approach for beginners, usually, is to follow step-by-step instructions that leave no questions unanswered.

-WB2WIK/6
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KC0UWS
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2005, 02:13:18 PM »

better work on that code test! It took me 2 times to finally pass it. I am now working on my General theory.
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KE7FCK
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2005, 11:52:07 AM »

WB2WIK,

Thanks for the "toolbox" list.  That's exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

For the Ant Analyzer, I see a lot of Bird units, with "plugs" or modules.  Wondering if this is what you're talking about, or a different brnad/model.  Or at least if I'm on the right track.

I do want to make contacts, but reception and transmitting, perhaps QRP, based on antennae theory and design is so far what I'm leaning towards.  Mixed with code, getting the most DX for my watt and all that.

PLus the search for the "perfect" (ha) compact HF ant.

Thanks again all.

Carl
KE7FCK
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2005, 02:23:35 PM »

There aren't any compact DX antennas.  But good try.
Let us know if you develop one, you can probably get pretty rich...

The Antenna Analyzer I was referring to isn't a directional Wattmeter, it's just a piece of test equipment.  A good buy is the MFJ-259B, which covers all the HF and lower VHF bands in one multi-range instrument (bandswitched) and displays VSWR as well as complex impedance (R +/- jX) on both analog and digital displays, so it's very easy to use.  Battery-powered (AA cells) and portable, so you can take it to the antenna almost anywhere, and works well.  It doesn't require a transmitter, or any ham equipment at all, to use it.

WB2WIK/6
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