A little ways back, John (W1MBG) discovered our Blog and approached us about doing a presentation for the Nashua Area Radio Club (NARC) on the design, construction and operation of our recently completed station. The NARC group invited us to their March meeting where we shared our presentation with the nice group of folks in the Club. I wanted to post an overview of what we shared as well as a link to the full presentation so that our readers can have a look at the material and hopefully benefit from the information that we have assembled. I have also used this post as an opportunity to create an index to all of the articles on this Blog related to the design, construction and performance of our station.
Our new station project involved both the construction of a dedicated room for a new shack and a tower based antenna system. It took us about 1 1/2 years to build our station including the associated antenna system and we covered quite a number of areas during the project. Our presentation focused on some things that we did to plan and build our station that should be useful to many Hams building or upgrading anything from a simple station to an all out effort to create a state of the art multi-op station.
I think that its important to begin a new or upgrade station project by thinking through and writing down the goals that you have for your new station prior to purchasing equipment or beginning construction. This step is important because it helps you to think through what you want to accomplish and serves as a high-level blueprint for making design, equipment selection and construction decisions as you build your station.
We put considerable time and thought into the design of the room and operating area for our new shack including many rounds of drawings and some “human engineering” to arrive at the final room layout. While not every Ham will build a dedicated room for their shack, some careful thought put into the layout of the operating and storage areas for your shack and the associated support systems is an important design step.
The other major element in the design of our station was a new tower-based antenna system. We had some pretty expansive goals for the band capabilities and associated performance of our new antenna system and the presentation explains how we went about developing and executing a plan to meet our goals.
Since the initial installation of our tower antenna system, we added an 8-Circle Vertical Receive Array for the Low Bands and we’ve reinstalled our SteppIR BigIR Vertical Antenna. These new antenna system provide important additional performance on the low bands and during contests.
We’ve also installed an SO2R and Station Automation System from microHAM. The microHAM system enables much smooth and less error-prone operation of our station and enable SO2R and Multi-two operation during contests.
Our presentation includes several slides which cover the construction of our new shack and tower as well as the feedline, antenna, power and other supporting systems. The end result of all of this work is shown via a few slides which provide a “Virtual Tour” of our station. The “Virtual Station Tour” slides contain several videos which can be played by clicking on the following links:
- Lower SteppIR DB36 Yagi Turning On Rotating Ring
- Both Yagis Rotating On The Tower During Multi-Op Session
- QSO with 5H3CMG in Tanzania (Point and Shoot Rotator Operation)
- Software Defined Radio QSO With WA0DQR On 20m
- 2m SSB QSO
- APRS iGate Operation
- QSOs Around The World From Our New Station
Other posts in this Blog contain more detailed information and many additional pictures and videos about our station. See the index of links at the end of this post to view more detail about the areas that interest you.
Our new station has been complete for several months now and we wanted to take some time to look at how it is performing against our original design goals. As you can see from the above slide, we are on a good track to meet or exceed all of the original goals that we set during the planning stage of our project.
Finally, we shared some additional information about what we learned during the project and a set of links to various sources of equipment and information that we used to complete our new station (see the full presentation for these links). This Blog contains many more details (and pictures) about the design and construction of our station for those who are interested. Some good places to begin are categorized in the index of links below:
Shack Design and Construction:
- Shack Construction – Part 1/4 (Planning And Framing)
- Shack Construction – Part 2/4 (Electrical, HVAC, And Grounding)
- Shack Construction – Part 3/4 (Insulation, Drywall And Finish Construction)
- Shack Construction – Part 4/4 (Final Setup Of Equipment)
Antenna and Tower Design:
- Tower/Antenna System Analysis And Design – Part 1 (Planning And EZNEC)
- Tower/Antenna System Analysis And Design – Part 2 (HFTA Analysis)
- Tower Wind Loading Analysis
- Tower Layout And Mechanical Analysis
- VHF/UHF Antenna System Design
- Tower/Antenna System Design Details And Equipment Ordering
- 8-Circle Receive Array For The Low Bands Part 1 – Element Layout And Installation
- 8-Circle Receive Array For The Low Bands Part 2 – Second Shack Entry And Ground Point
- 8-Circle Receive Array For The Low Bands Part 3 – Connections To Shack And Final Integration
- SteppIR BigIR Vertical Antenna Part 1 – Assembly And Installation
- Ground Broken For New Tower!
- More Excavation For Feedline Conduits
- We Have A Tower!
- 100 ft Tower Completed!
- Feedline Conduits And Electrical Power Complete
- Tower Climbing (Weather Station Installation)
- Building Yagis – Part 1 (70 cm)
- Building Yagis – Part 2 (2M)
- Building Yagis – Part 3 (SteppIR DB36)
- Building Yagis – Part 4 (SteppIR DB36 Continued)
- Building Yagis – Part 5 (SteppIR DB36 Continued)
- Building Yagis – Part 6 (SteppIR DB36 Completed)
- Building Yagis – Part 7 (Second SteppIR DB36 Completed)
- Feedline Breakout System
- Antennas On The Tower – Part 1 (Preparation And Upper Yagis)
- Antennas On The Tower – Part 2 (System Integration)
- Antennas On The Tower – Part 3 (System Complete)
- Antennas On The Tower – Part 4 (Odds And Ends)
- Station Automation Part 1 – microHAM SO2R And System Design
- Station Automation Part 2 – Second Operating Position And Antenna Switching
- Station Automation Part 3 – Antenna Cutover And Final Integration
- Weather Station On The Tower
- Tower CAM
- APRS Station Part 1 – Station Radio and Software
- APRS Station Part 2 – Dedicated Antenna and Always-On PC
- Setting Up A Digital HF Station
- Reverse Beacon Networks – PSK Reporter And WSPR
- Setting Up And Using A Software Defined Radio
Station Operation and Performance:
- QRP Operation With New Antennas
- 2013 Amateur Radio Highlights
- Digital Contesting – AB1QB Enters The ARRL RTTY Roundup
- More Digital Contesting – The CQ WPX RTTY Contest
- ARRL DX Phone Contest – Occasionally, Everything New Works Out
- BARTG RTTY Contest – AB1QB Gets Serious
- AB1OC Enters Yet Another Contest – 2013 CQ WPX SSB
- AB1QB Enters The 2013 ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB
- AB1OC Enteres The 2013 CQ WPX CW Contest
- AB1OC’s First VHF Contest – 203 ARRL June VHF
- AB1OC Results For 2013 CW Worldwide WPX SSB Contest
- AB1QB/AB1OC Enter The 2013 CQ WW RTTY Contest
- AB1QB Contest Results
- 2014 ARRL DX Phone Contest
- 2014 CQ WPX SSB Contest Experience
I hope that you can apply some of the ideas and information shared here to building or improving your station. We’d also like to extend a special thanks to John, W1MBG and the NARC Group for encouraging us to create and share this presentation. We are available to provide this presentation to other clubs or Ham gatherings. If your club or event is interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fred (AB1OC)