Coax to the shack

Spent the afternoon today getting the coax from the entrance panel through the conduit and into the shack. On the first attempt the string I was pulling the coax with broke, so we had to pull some more string. One of the contractors that worked on the house told us a while back that if the string ever broke, tie a new string to a plastic grocery bag, stuff it into the conduit and use a vacuum at the other end to suck it through. Worked like a charm.

With the new string run, managed to get both of the lengths of coax (RG-8X I believe) I had used at the old house through the conduit. One is 75′ and the other is 100′ along with a few extra strings in case we want to pull some more coax. Based on what was left of the 75′ coax hanging outside the entrance panel, it looks like the run between the panel and the shack is around 60-65′. That means there’s a good bit of coax coiled up in the entrance panel right now.

Entrance panel coax
Entrance panel coax

Still a fair bit to do at the entrance panel. I have to decide if I want to trim it (which would mean I’d have to learn how to terminate coax) or leave it coiled up inside the box. Lightning arrestor needs to be mounted, and I’ll have to work out a grounding scheme. Then I need to figure out how to hold the antenna up in the air.

At the shack end, there’s enough sticking out that should make it easy to work with.

Coax in the shack
Coax in the shack

I think I’m going to drill a couple of holes in the wall plate for some short SO-239 bulkhead connectors. Then it will be short jumper cables from the radio to the wall.

One step closer to getting the shack back on the air.

Cable entrance panel finally installed

It took a while longer to get to than I originally planned, but I finally got around to installing the coax entry panel to the side of the house. I even managed to do it without mangling the siding around the box too badly.

Entry panel installed
Entry panel installed

Almost looks like it was originally part of the house.

Next task is to caulk around the mounting box and the entry panel to seal everything up, then pull the coax through the conduit.

Entry panel installed
Entry panel installed

 

New on the bookshelf

Fresh new books for the bookshelf arrived today.

Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur and More Arduino Projects for Ham Radio are the latest additions to the ham radio bookshelf.

More Arduino for Ham Radio
More Arduino for Ham Radio

A quick flip through them shows a good deal of useful information in both books, especially the Grounding book which is often a confusing topic for many hams.

Looking forward to reading them.

Logger project

Progress on my radiology equipment tracker has been coming along pretty nicely. After adding a bunch of new much wanted features, development on it has slowed down a bit while I figure out what else I want to add, and learn more to fix/refine what I’ve already done.

In the coding world, everybody says the best way to learn something is to work on projects that you’re interested in. In that spirit, I started working on a web based logging program using Laravel and PHP.

There are already lots of great logging programs out there, and maybe eventually this will become one. The primary purpose of this newest project though is to expand my Laravel/PHP/Javascript programming skills. Both PHP and Javascript have come a long way from the simple HTML add-ons they were when I first started doing web stuff, so in some ways it’s like starting over with new languages now. In the process, I’ll take the new knowledge I gain and carry it over into my equipment tracker.

The logger is still in the very early stages. I’m still working out the database schema, so there’s not really any working code yet.

For lack of creativity, I’m calling it AB4UGLogger for now. Feel free to following along, contribute, fork or make suggestions.

Mystery component

At some point in the recent past, probably at a hamfest, I acquired these red square components.

Mystery component
Mystery component

I’m sure whoever I bought them from at the time told me what they were and that I thought they’d be something I could make use of. However, I neglected to label the bag with any information about them, probably because I figured I could find info about them online.

Silly me.

Fast forward to the future and I come across them again during another round of the “Organize the closet” game.

According to the printing on the components, they’re some kind of wide band transformer made by the Vari-L company. I’m guessing 9531 is the part number, and Z-Match is a model or branding for this part. No idea what the HF:112 might refer to.

They’re 0.5″ square by 0.25″ tall with 6 pins spaced 0.2″ apart (they fit nicely into a breadboard).

Mystery component pin numbering
Mystery component pin numbering

The numbering of the pins seems a little odd to me, but what do I know.

My Google-fu hasn’t yielded any useful results about the component itself, although I did find out the company was sued by the SEC in 2001 for financial reporting fraud and sold its assets to another company in 2002.

No idea how far back these parts date to, but considering the company history, it’s likely these little red squares are old enough that there won’t be much info online.

Using my multi-meter to probe the pins, I found that pins 1-3 and 2-4 are connected, while pins 5 and 6 don’t appear to be connected to anything. I guess my next step will be to put some kind of signal through and see what comes out the other end.

Update: Thanks to Thomas/LA3PNA for pointing me to a datasheet for the part (his Google-fu is strong). It turns out the 9531 is a date code (Week 31 of 1995) and HF:112 is the part number. Naturally, an obsolete part which Mouser shows as being manufactured by Qorvo, while the data sheet shows Sirenza Microdevices. The specs on the datasheet are consistent with the parts that I have. Thomas also suggests that they would probably be useful in an transceiver, so it’s doubly nice to know I have potential uses for them.