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

 

Shack is QRT

The shack is QRT.

With the move coming up at the end of December, the next few weeks are pretty busy and there probably isn’t going to be much time for any significant radio for a while.

Brought the antenna down this afternoon. After being in the trees for almost three years, it still looks in pretty good condition.

ZS6BKW antenna ready for packing
ZS6BKW antenna ready for packing

Didn’t see any significant wearing on the wire insulation anywhere. A good spraying off and it would probably look just like new aside from the label on the center insulator fading a bit.

ZS6BKW antenna center
ZS6BKW antenna center

It’s not likely I’ll be able to set up an antenna or shack while we’re in the apartment, so playing serious radio will have to wait until we get things set up again at the new house. Might put the radio in the car and try to do some mobile work, or find a nice tree to throw some wire into and play radio out in the field between now and then.

Ham Shack v2.0

The former guest room/storage room has been painted, and stuff has been moved in and the radio connected to the antenna. Got the new shack up and running last week just in time for the 4th Annual Worked All Twitter and it’s working out pretty well. The shack also doubles as Connie’s office space, which gives her plenty of room to work.

For some reason, we ended up losing 15m with the shack move, probably from using a shorter length of coax to go from the radio to the antenna. Still have all the other bands though from 40m up to parts of 6m.

A 6 foot table provides a decent amount of room for the radio, monitor and working space. Need to craft some kind of stand to hold the radio head and hand mic. A little MFJ-108B clock provides local and UTC time. We used painters tape to attach the band plan chart temporarily until we decide on a more permanent place for it.

Radio in the new shack
Radio in the new shack

The radio is tucked away underneath a stackable cube thing (nicely covered by the ARRL centennial bandanna thing).

Where the radio lives
Where the radio lives

About half of the collection of wall paper is up on the wall with several more waiting for me to put them up.

Wallpaper!
Wallpaper!

Next to the table is the shelf of ham radio books for easy reference. Now I have a whole empty shelf in my office bookshelf that I can fill.

Radio books
Radio books

Connie also found this awesome mobile antenna holder (commonly marketed as a “pool cue rack”…wider appeal I guess) that was added to the shack yesterday.

Mobile antenna rack
Mobile antenna rack

Control head stand

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

To address the need for a stand for the radio’s control head, I headed off to the workbench and dug up some scrap pieces of MDF (it was actually part of the packaging for a treadmill we bought a while back). Fired up the table saw to cut it to an appropriate size and glued/screwed the pieces together.

It’s a simple L-shaped base with the top part where the control head mounts to at a bit of an angle (30° according to my table saw)

Building a control head stand
Building a control head stand
Rear of the control head stand
Rear of the control head stand

4 screws provide the attachment point for the mounting plate from a goose neck stand. It was already on the radio and made sense to make use of it for this table stand. Here it is with the control head mounted.

Control head stand
Control head stand

A little bit of spray glue and some rubber kitchen liner on the bottom finishes off the stand. Not the prettiest thing, but it works.