The final step in the construction of our new shack was to outfit it with all of the infrastructure for power, RF switching and computers and install the radios and related support systems. This post will outline what we did in this area. One of the first things we did was to get the LAN in the shack working and set up our computers (two Windows 7 PCs) and a local printer. We also installed stands to suspend two computer monitors by each of our operating positions and keyboard trays to allow our keyboards and mice to be stored under the desk when they were not in use. The monitor stands were a good idea as they allowed us to place our displays just above our radios at eye level – perfect for the computer aided operating that we often do.
We also installed RF ground blocks by each operating position and terminated the ground connections from outside of our shack on the blocks. The ground blocks act as a convenient single point to connect the grounds for all of the devices in our station.
Desk space is usually at a premium in most shacks and ours is going to be no exception. To make the best use of the available space, we built dolly’s to place our 13.8V and 28V DC power supplies from Astron on the floor along with the main unit for our power amplifier (an Icom PW-1). The amplifier has a small remote control and meter head which sits on our desktop and takes almost no space there.
The power supplies are terminated on RIGRunner power distribution panels by each of our operating positions as well as by the construction area. We have 13.8V and 28V DC power distribution blocks installed in these locations so that both voltages are readily available for distribution via Powerpole connections. Some of the 13.8V distribution panels have sensing capability so that when we turn on one accessory at each operating position the distribution panel powers up all of the 13.8V gear in that location – a nice convenience feature. We also added AC power distribution strips at several locations around our operating desk as well as APC UPS Power Supplies on both computers. With all of this infrastructure in place, we were ready to move our radios and related equipment into the new shack and set it up.
The next step in the equipment set up was to connect our antennas to the antenna switching consoles that were built as part of our shack. These devices were all grounded to the ground blocks for safety reasons. The switch panels allow us to assign any of our seven antennas to any of the four radios in the shack. This provides a great deal of flexibility when we are both operating at the same time. With the antenna cabling done, we set up both operating positions. Fred’s position is shown here. You can see the FilterMAX III switchable bandpass filtering systems on the right of Fred’s (AB1OC’s) position which provide needed isolation when both of us are operating on different bands at the same time.
Here is Anita’s (AB1QB’s) operating position. Anita currently has a single radio installed but plans to add a second radio soon. She has her own set of bandpass filters on the right of her operating position. The combination of the filtering and antenna switching matrix allows us to operate our station in a multi-SO2R configuration during contests.
We also set up all of our construction and test equipment in the shack. It is a great convenience to have all of this equipment set up and ready to use for kit building, making cables, and general test purposes whenever we need it.
We took good advantage of the storage space in our shack for all of the odds and ends that are handy to have close at hand. This area also provides a nice spot to display some of our operating awards.
Finally, we set up an A-V area with a TV, audio system and remote control and integrated this equipment into our whole-house A-V network. This allows us to listen to music or watch videos when we are not operating in the shack.
Here is a picture of our completed shack. We were able to get it into operation in time to use it for the 13 Colonies Special Event in July 2012. This allowed both of use to operate simultaneously as K2K, one of the New Hampshire 13 Colonies Special Event Stations.
We are both really enjoying our new shack and we find that we are operating much now that our equipment and the associated support system are properly set up. We are now working on a significant expansion of our Antenna Farm with the addition of a tower and several new antennas. We will continue to post as we progress on this next phase of our station construction project.
– Fred (AB1OC)