eHam

eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: WX4LTG on November 14, 2014, 07:30:43 AM



Title: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on November 14, 2014, 07:30:43 AM
I've been on the air for a few months now with a Baofeng UV-5R connected to an Ed Fong PVC-encased twinlead J-pole. Like so many others, I've got limited space for radio and antenna, and I've been looking VERY hard at something like a Yaesu FT-857D with an antenna tuner to make the best of the space I've got.

I note that Yaesu's FT-991 has been FCC approved a little earlier this week, and it's looking pretty sweet - assuming the announced specs match what actually ships, anyway.

Since I have a fairly solid background in consumer electronics, I tend to make any first purchase of new gear (like my camera, computer, meters, tools, etc.) a "jack of all trades," then figure out what it *won't* do that I want to do, and purchase to fill the gaps.

Thoughts? The FT-991 FCC docs are here - FCC ID K6620575X50 (Grantee K66, Product Code 20575X50) now has FCC approvals listed on the EAS website: https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/repor...ericSearch.cfm (they do not appear to support direct linking to any documents, so you'll want to split the FCC ID into Grantee and Product Codes to run the search.)


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K1WJ on November 14, 2014, 07:56:22 AM
FT-991 should serve you just fine. I have a TS-2000 and enjoy it alot.  -73 -


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on November 14, 2014, 08:26:33 AM
FT-991 should serve you just fine. I have a TS-2000 and enjoy it alot.  -73 -

Specs are right. But at $1700ish retail, I'm also keeping an eye out for used FT-857D's flooding the market from people upgrading...


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W8JX on November 16, 2014, 04:20:16 AM
FT-991 should serve you just fine. I have a TS-2000 and enjoy it alot.  -73 -

Specs are right. But at $1700ish retail, I'm also keeping an eye out for used FT-857D's flooding the market from people upgrading...

A 857 is good for a mobile or portable but I would not build a shack around one.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W9GB on November 17, 2014, 08:25:47 AM
The Tokyo Ham Fair (late August 2014) regularly introduces new amateur radio products from the Big 3 Japanese manufacturers (Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu).

Normal time table:  Radio shown at Tokyo.  Radio sent for testing to meet FCC approvals (US sales), make any required design changes (IMD, spectral purity, noted issues, etc.); take orders from major US dealers (HRO, AES, etc.); and then ramp up manufacturing.  Shipping usually starts in late November.

I would expect to see the new FT-991 radio to arrive in January 2015 --- UNLESS the Container Dock Worker Slowdown is unresolved (Eastern Asian container ships are now sitting off-shore of USA West Coast).


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: AA4HA on November 17, 2014, 10:02:26 AM
Whatever you build your shack around today you will want to change slightly next year, or the year after that.

Once you start using pieces of equipment you find little annoyances or pleasant surprises that makes it work for you or makes it intolerable. Sometimes it can be as simple as how much springy-ness there is in a microphone cord or how many sub-menus you need to drill down through to get to a commonly used feature.

The point I am trying to make is that you will not succeed in creating the ultimate station the first time around. Many hams have been doing this for 30,40,50+ years and still are messing around with their setups. Others are happy with their J-38 key, Globe-Scout 680A and a quarter-mile of electric fence wire for an antenna.

Just be ready to evaluate and revise your setup so it is what you are comfortable with. Do not let what someone else is doing dictate how you will enjoy the hobby.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W8JX on November 17, 2014, 10:12:19 AM
Some hams change rigs almost like changing clothes will other stay with same equipment for many years. Point is do not build a ham shack around a light duty mobile rig. All SS rigs need to dissipate about 100 watts or more to make 100 out and a small mobile rig can get very hot quickly in key down modes.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on November 18, 2014, 08:57:32 AM
Just be ready to evaluate and revise your setup so it is what you are comfortable with. Do not let what someone else is doing dictate how you will enjoy the hobby.

Oh, I get that bit. As mentioned, I tend to make a "first purchase" of electronic gear a "jack of all trades," then start making notes about what features I don't use, or what features I wish it had before replacing it or adding on in the future.

I'm really not on the air much, and my home office is designed with forced-air cooling for my computer equipment. I've also had my hands on the FT-857D, and the only part I'm not thrilled about is the CAT interface as opposed to a built-in USB or real serial interface.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: SCARPAD on November 21, 2014, 11:10:31 AM
The new FT-991 is more of a direct upgrade from the FT-897, it was pretty much an 857 in a box, the 991 is evidently much more despite having the 897's looks. I had an 897 and now have a 857, its a good solid radio but the 991 will a lot more


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: N4CR on November 22, 2014, 11:27:02 PM
I've been on the air for a few months now with a Baofeng UV-5R connected to an Ed Fong PVC-encased twinlead J-pole. Like so many others, I've got limited space for radio and antenna, and I've been looking VERY hard at something like a Yaesu FT-857D with an antenna tuner to make the best of the space I've got.

I started with an 857D as my shack radio. Upgrading from it was one of the best things I did. The front ends are easily overwhelmed by strong signals. Which means you won't hear smaller signals anywhere near the big signals.

My suggestion is this... Wait for the TS-590SG to come out in real soon now. A lot of guys will be upgrading from the TS-590S and putting them on the market.

That will be a radio that will cost a little more than an 857D and will last in your shack for many years to come with excellent performance. And it will hold it's value if you need to release it later.

Those guys will be 'unloading' an amazing radio that a lot of people are going to very happily end up with.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: NA4IT on November 23, 2014, 04:50:54 AM
"A 857 is good for a mobile or portable but I would not build a shack around one. "

I've been using one for years and love it...

(http://www.qsl.net/na4it/112011hf.jpg)


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on November 23, 2014, 01:09:50 PM
My suggestion is this... Wait for the TS-590SG to come out in real soon now. A lot of guys will be upgrading from the TS-590S and putting them on the market.

I looked at the TS-590S, and unless I missed something in the various docs out there it doesn't do anything at all higher than 6-meter - and I use 2-meter a *lot* for local digital and APRS so far.

Is that correct?


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K0JEG on November 30, 2014, 12:41:26 PM
I have an FT-897d that I bought new 10 years ago. The only complaint I had was the U/I was terrible. However, it was a great first HF radio and I even used it portable once in a while. With the Collins filters it even sounds pretty good. These days just about anything will be better, but because most HF radios hold their value better than other electronics it's a cheap way to get your feet wet and decide if you like operating. If you do, then take the big plunge on something better.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K9MHZ on December 01, 2014, 10:07:46 PM
W8JX wrote: "A 857 is good for a mobile or portable but I would not build a shack around one. "

I've been using one for years and love it...


Oh now you've done it. JX will be posting something stupid and and condescending real soon.  


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W9FIB on December 02, 2014, 04:00:16 AM
W8JX wrote: "A 857 is good for a mobile or portable but I would not build a shack around one. "

I've been using one for years and love it...


Oh now you've done it. JX will be posting something stupid and and condescending real soon. 

LOL Probably will.

Have been using an FT-897 for years as well. For me, it was the ability to use it easily as a portable or as a base. Also have a IC-706 I picked up used. Both do what I want them to do.

And isn't that the point?

Just many have different "do what you want" ideas. Which is fine. That is why there is a variety of radios available. And everyone can choose what radio fits their needs best.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: NZ4ZN on December 02, 2014, 04:12:16 AM
My suggestion is this... Wait for the TS-590SG to come out in real soon now. A lot of guys will be upgrading from the TS-590S and putting them on the market.

I looked at the TS-590S, and unless I missed something in the various docs out there it doesn't do anything at all higher than 6-meter - and I use 2-meter a *lot* for local digital and APRS so far.

Is that correct?
The TS590S and TS590SG are both limited to frequencies 6m and below.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 02, 2014, 08:36:46 AM
The TS590S and TS590SG are both limited to frequencies 6m and below.

That's what I thought. I'm still pondering the FT-857D, IC-7000, FT-991, and TS-2000 - the latter three getting more weighting because they appear to be easier to interface for computer-driven modes over the FT-857D's CAT interface.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: AD5TD on December 02, 2014, 09:07:05 PM
Here  is a link to a PDF of what I built:

http://tinyurl.com/mk2y2qt

I have since removed the 18ah batteries, the thing weighs over 80 pounds with the batteries!

It works well. BTW, I don't do EMCOMS anymore so it's for sale, make me an offer.

AD5TD


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K4ISR on December 03, 2014, 12:34:21 PM
Jpole is a common new user antenna, but I've learned these Baofengs do not like the common mode and active RF created by the Jpole. I have had a LOT better luck with a simple solid sire copper ground plane with my Baofengs.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: N8XI on December 19, 2014, 08:20:46 AM
Started reading this thread and realized it is very cold outside   :(
But, decided to put together a QRP Go Kit...
The quickest way without having to work in the cold garage was to grab one of my
several milk crates and see what could be done.

Well, my Elecraft K2 is probably the largest of my QRP rigs.
Then I added an old MFJ-901 (200W Ant Tuner) and a WM-2 QRP Wattmeter.
I used it as is connected to my rotary 40M dipole with an 8 AMP Power Supply. I am awaiting a 7AH SLA battery.
The Go Kit will include three freezer bags to hold  paper, pencils, keyer/paddle, zip cord antenna, etc.

I can see using this setup with some of the smaller HF Rigs.
In fact, one could be a HF Go Kit and another milk crate set up for VHF/UHF.
I am using small bungee cords to hold the gear in place.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v209/rick-semi/Amateur%20Radio/QRPGoBox_zps2e66ab8b.jpg)

73, Rick - N8XI


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5TED on December 19, 2014, 11:32:00 AM
Not sure what all the concern is over the Yaesu CAT interface. It's as standard a modern ham radio interface as any other.

I have three Yaesu 'shack in a box' radios, the FT-847, 857D and 817ND, and all software I use, including HRD, FLDigi, MMSSTV, EasyPal, VoiceKeyer, DXLabs Commander, OmniRig, HDSDR, Chirp, and the list goes on, run fine with the Yaesu, and allow them to be synced up with my Flex 3000, Icom PCR-1000, and even the venerable old TS-140S.

Is the DIN connector is somehow frightening? Not sure why it would be, but it is a connector, not a religion. Serial DB9 to Yaesu DIN cables are dime-a-dozen. So are Yaesu DIN to USB. Ok, they actually cost around $15 on eBay. I use them all. The FT-817ND travels with a USB to DIN. the FT-857D is my shack 2m/70cm main rig, and uses the DIN to DB9, and the FT-847 is on a straight DB9 to DB9, actually sharing a 4 port serial to USB converter with a PCR-100, PCR1000, and the Kenwood TS-140S.

The USB interface used on Icom, Kenwood and Alinco is not inherently better than a CAT cable. In fact, it's not as versatile.

You say you don't plan to use the ham radio much, so with that said, know that you'll rarely find any activity on 2m and 70cm SSB. 6m ssb is something you will appreciate more. For the price of a FT-991, you can have a brand new FT-450D that hase HF and 6m, plus IF DSP, and a brand new FTM-400DR, which gives you the 2m/70CM, plus same C4FM capability as the FT-991, which is really the only 'new' feature it has, other than the nice display, which, if I read you concern with the CAT interfacing, you don't much care about since you obviously plan to use CAT on a PC.

In the same price range would be a Icom IC-7200 for HF/6m, in conjunction with a ID-5100A for 2m/70CM.

For that matter, TS-590's are about to flood the market.

Or, back to a FT-991, a great radio on paper.  I don't expect a ton of FT-857D owners to dump them for a FT-991 at more than twice the price any time soon. First of all, it doesn't have a removable faceplate, and it's bigger, and looks to be much more fragile, certainly not a mobile rig for most folks.


TS-2000 is probably the value leader in shack-in-a-box, even though it is dated.  IF DSP, nice size, proven track record, satellite capable (you will use this approximately as much as you use 2m SSB, unless you plan to invest in a large or complicated antenna system)


Good luck



Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W8JX on December 20, 2014, 07:10:44 AM
Not sure what all the concern is over the Yaesu CAT interface. It's as standard a modern ham radio interface as any other.

I would not say that. A direct USB plug in would be a standard modem interface.

TS-2000 is probably the value leader in shack-in-a-box, even though it is dated.  IF DSP, nice size, proven track record, satellite capable (you will use this approximately as much as you use 2m SSB, unless you plan to invest in a large or complicated antenna system)

The 2000 is okay but lacks on HF performance and VHF/UHF sensitivity for weak signal work. Also its IF DSP is primitive and lacking. The mere presence of IF DSP does not guarantee good performance. Many analog rigs will outperform 2000 on HF.   


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 21, 2014, 03:19:01 PM
In the same price range would be a Icom IC-7200 for HF/6m, in conjunction with a ID-5100A for 2m/70CM.

In the split-radio configurations, is there any particular bonus to the ID-5100A over, say, a Kenwood TM-D710GA? D-STAR isn't looking all that attractive to me, while I definitely have applications for APRS - and the Kenwood is certainly a bit less expensive.

The CAT interface doesn't exactly "scare" me, but I've had very poor experiences with a number of USB-to-Serial interfaces (notably with FTDI clones) - direct USB would simply be preferable.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5TED on December 21, 2014, 04:42:36 PM
"The CAT interface doesn't exactly "scare" me, but I've had very poor experiences with a number of USB-to-Serial interfaces (notably with FTDI clones) - direct USB would simply be preferable."

Direct USB is great. However, to discard an entire product line because one is unable to make pirated clone hardware work with it, is, well, bad advice. To discard an entire product line for want of saving $20 on an entire ham station is ridiculous.

Use Tripplite or comparable LEGAL Serial to USB adaptors with LEGAL hardware and drivers, and there is no issue.

The fact that illegally pirated hardware devices cause problems on an individual PC is no fault of Yaesu or any other radio manufacturer.








Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5TED on December 21, 2014, 04:49:17 PM
"D-STAR isn't looking all that attractive to me, while I definitely have applications for APRS - and the Kenwood is certainly a bit less expensive."

I personally am not at all interested in D-Star or any other digital FM mode for 2m or 70CM at this time. My opinion is that they all sound like crap. They don't equal or better the coverage afforded by good old analog, which even at its scratchiest, static ridden best is still better than no signal at all, which is what you get with digital. However, in the interest of price comparisons, I offered that combo station as an example.



Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W8JX on December 21, 2014, 04:57:26 PM
In the split-radio configurations, is there any particular bonus to the ID-5100A over, say, a Kenwood TM-D710GA?

Icom has a touch screen, GPS, ability to add Bluetooth support and a android app to remote control it via Bluetooth. As far as on air performance Kenwood has a wider receiver as it will cover 23cm/1.2ghz


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 21, 2014, 07:53:23 PM
Direct USB is great. However, to discard an entire product line because one is unable to make pirated clone hardware work with it, is, well, bad advice. To discard an entire product line for want of saving $20 on an entire ham station is ridiculous.

I've had one TrippLite-labeled cable come up "bad" as a clone. No joke. There's an awful lot of crap out there with not just pirate hardware, but pirate labels.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 21, 2014, 07:55:25 PM
Icom has a touch screen, GPS, ability to add Bluetooth support and a android app to remote control it via Bluetooth. As far as on air performance Kenwood has a wider receiver as it will cover 23cm/1.2ghz

The Kenwood has a built-in GPS - no need to add one. I've little interest in adding a Bluetooth connection, either. So if I were to go with a dedicated 2m/70cm radio, the Kenwood is beating the Icom on my list right now - and the equivalent Yaesu just looks and feels goofy (I played with one a few weeks ago.)


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5TED on December 21, 2014, 08:11:23 PM
Direct USB is great. However, to discard an entire product line because one is unable to make pirated clone hardware work with it, is, well, bad advice. To discard an entire product line for want of saving $20 on an entire ham station is ridiculous.

I've had one TrippLite-labeled cable come up "bad" as a clone. No joke. There's an awful lot of crap out there with not just pirate hardware, but pirate labels.

Sounds like user error or buying from shady sources. I use Tripplite Keyspan adapters on the shack PC, and on several satellite phone kits across an assortment of different laptops, even a Macbook Air i7 running Windows in Bootcamp, with no issues at all.

This horse is dead.



Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 21, 2014, 09:09:59 PM
Sounds like user error or buying from shady sources. I use Tripplite Keyspan adapters on the shack PC, and on several satellite phone kits across an assortment of different laptops, even a Macbook Air i7 running Windows in Bootcamp, with no issues at all.

This horse is dead.

As you say. I wasn't the buyer, just the guy who had to try to wire the system together on a cut-rate contract job. Just pointing out that there *are* some pitfalls even with a label on the gear.

I am still shopping, though. The ability to download user manuals prior to purchasing has been quite useful.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5UNX on December 23, 2014, 05:56:15 PM
Just found this thread and thought I would share my "shack in a box". I made this during 2014 and love it.

http://k5unx.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/portable-station-build-part-2/

I can take it anywhere, use it at home, for bike/running races, anything I need a portable ham station for.



Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: WX4LTG on December 24, 2014, 07:47:25 AM
Just found this thread and thought I would share my "shack in a box".

Thank you. That's a bit more than I'm looking to do, but it gives me some ideas.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: K5TED on December 24, 2014, 11:01:06 AM
Nice!


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W9FIB on December 24, 2014, 03:21:10 PM
I agree...Very nice!


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: AA4SB on December 25, 2014, 07:43:09 AM
 I've been real interested in this post. I think I'm in a similar situation. Relatively new license, been waiting almost 2 years to get my first HF rig. Mama said I was good boy for Christmas, so I'm supposed to get a nice radio.(money is still a serious factor) Any comments on Icoms IC-9100?More expensive-yes, is it worth it? (Loaded question). Wish list: comparatively recent radio, good receiver, doesn't need addons, all band, all mode, reliable quality control/customer service manufacturer. This will be my "first" HF radio, but will probably be a while before it is replaced or any thing else added. So I'm willing to spend extra K if it is a good radio(just can't spend an extra 3-4k. Need to add antenna, etc also.) I just haven't seen any comments on the 9100. Thanks: let the comments begin. 73, AA4SB Steve.


Title: RE: Building a Shack, "Shack In A Box?"
Post by: W8JX on December 25, 2014, 05:16:02 PM
I've been real interested in this post. I think I'm in a similar situation. Relatively new license, been waiting almost 2 years to get my first HF rig. Mama said I was good boy for Christmas, so I'm supposed to get a nice radio.(money is still a serious factor) Any comments on Icoms IC-9100?More expensive-yes, is it worth it? (Loaded question). Wish list: comparatively recent radio, good receiver, doesn't need addons, all band, all mode, reliable quality control/customer service manufacturer. This will be my "first" HF radio, but will probably be a while before it is replaced or any thing else added. So I'm willing to spend extra K if it is a good radio(just can't spend an extra 3-4k. Need to add antenna, etc also.) I just haven't seen any comments on the 9100. Thanks: let the comments begin. 73, AA4SB Steve.

It is more of a shack in a box than a HF rig. Honestly there is very little SSB on 2m and above especially starting out. I would suggest you spend same amount of a HF rig and a dual band VHF/UHF FM rig. Also for about 400 more you could get a IC7600 which is a better HF rig than 9100