Formerly licensed as WN1VJW/WA1VJW, KA1VGP and in Germany as DA2PJ. Originally licensed in 1976!
21 Year Air Force Veteran, retired as a Master Sergeant.
Directed the MARS program at Wright-Patterson AFB from 1989 to 1992.
ARES AEC for Cheshire County, New Hampshire.
New QTH on 2.1 Acres in a town that has a tower restriction. Nothing more than 70 feet. I'm already at 1200 with most terrain at <500. I think I can live with it.
My day job is a Computer Network Engineer (Senior Network Specialist, University of Massachusetts, Presidents Office). Working with Optical systems, large scale data center environments and ISP services for our 5 campus network as well as most of the community colleges in the state and the new Green Hyper Performance Computing Center undergoing construction in Holyoke, Ma. I've been working with computers my entire adult life (that equates to more than most - 35 Years at this point). Computer desktop systems support since 1987 and primarily computer networks since 1999. I have worked for the largest grocery distributor and one of the leading (top 10) Credit Unions in the nation. Now, I am happy serving the public in state level higher education.
'Nuf about me, onto the interesting stuff - The Shack!
Here's some detailed pictures of the shack and equipment.
The Icom IC-756 Pro III, IC-PW1 head, WaveNode WN-2, Heil PR-781, the gorgeous K8RA Paddles, Heil Pro Set Plus Headphones/Dual Element Boom Mic, Kenwood SM-230, Icom IC-706 MkIIG, Kenwood TM-V708, Uniden BC785D Scanner and 2nd WN-2 for the IC-706 MkIIG. Other station accessories are a Hy-Gain Tail Twister Rotator controller, a microHam microKeyer II and Station Master for Rig Control, Sound Card, Antenna Switching and other station automation, a Home Brew Coax Switch now driven from the Station Master, a microHam USB Interface II connected to the IC-706 MkIIG, a 35 Amp Pyramid Power Supply with upgraded meters and a couple of Icom HT's (IC-91AD and an IC-TH7). Next to the Heath SB-1000 are the two Wattgates for battery backup to a pair of 35Ah AGM batteries. Wiring for them is all 8 Gauge.
The Main PC system with dual 24" monitors. HRD Software is easily visible as is the software for the WN-2 4 Channel Watt Meter. The Bar Graph at the bottom right is also from WaveNode. It displays the final temps of the IC-756 Pro III and the IC-PW1 as well at the battery voltage for the IC-756 Pro III backup and the remainder of the station's backup batteries. The batteries are isolated and charged through a pair of WattGate PG40S. The PC is an i7-950 with 12 Gb of memory, a 256Gb RAID 0 SSD boot drive and a 2Tb RAID 10 storage array.
The main station is to the right of all the monitors and has a complete Icom IC-756 Pro III which is controlled with HRD and the i7-950 computer just to the left of all the rigs. Accessories are an Icom IC-PW1 1Kw Amp,WaveNode WN-2 4-Channel computer interfaced watt meter with 4X2KW Sensors and a Heil PR-781 Mic on a Boom switched with a Heil FS-2. I also built a break out box for the WN-2 to provide station monitoring of temperatures and battery voltages. A Kenwood SM-230 Scope monitors the linearity of the transmitted signal. I've had no complaints from the neighbors (which there are few), so something is working right! You can also see the T2X rotor controller with an Idiom Press Rotor EZ installed with the RS-232 option, remote antenna switch controller and a 35 Amp power supply for the remainder of the shack. I recently replaced the microHam DigiKeyer II with a microHam microKeyer II and Station Master to resolve a lost function with an upgrade to Windows 7. Windows 7 did away with the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and the parallel port is no longer directly addressable. This caused my coax switch to not function in Automatic mode. I needed a way to switch the coax switch based on band selection. The Station Master does this. The microKeyer II added those additional functions I lost when I took out the DigiKeyer II (like the K1EL Keyer) as well as added additional functionality like the Digital Voice Keyer. For manual CW duties I have a beautiful K8RA P-4 Iambic key plugged into the microKeyer II. This is an outstanding combination unless you are looking for SO2R capabilities. But then, microHam has that covered too! Everything vital is backed up through a Wattgate PG40S to a 35 Ah AGM battery. I also have several 7Ah Gel Cells to add to the 'Pile' if needed.
There is also a Uniden BC785D P-25 Scanner and a Kenwood TM-V708 for 2M and 70CM on the shelving.
The Heathkit HW-5400 Station, Complete!
To the right of the IC-756 Pro III station is a complete Heathkit HW-5400 station with a Heath HW-5400 with the HWA-5400-2 and -3 accessories (Keypad and CW Filter), HO-5404 Monitor Scope with Pan Adapter, HWA-5400-1 Power Supply/Speaker/Clock, HD-1515 Phone Patch, HD-1418 Audio Filter, SA-5010 Keyer, Shure 444D Microphone, HD-1986 Microphone Equalizer, SA-2060A Tuner and it's connected to the SB-1000 Linear. There's even a fully up-to-date HK-232 with the MBX, DSP, PSK and USB boards from TimeWave so it can do soundcard modes. I picked up the HD-3006 cheap and added it to the HK-232. Everything works 100% and I am the original owner/builder on 75% of it. And yes, those are Blue LEDs illumination the SA-2060A's meters. Very Cool!
Here's the IC-706 MkIIG position and computer (quad 19" monitors). The HRD log is shared between both stations running on a MySQL database over a 1 Gig computer network. PC is a i7-960 with 12Gb of memory. Disk storage is a 2 Tb RAID 0 (mirroring) array. HRD backs up the log to a 1 Gig Thumb Drive. Software in the upper right screen is Virtual Weather Station and interfaces to my Davis Provantage 2. It also forwards current conditions to APRS and the Internet. Of course, there's HRD, DM780 and the Logbook right there.
Also in the shelf is an Icom IC-706 MkIIG that is controlled by HRD and the left computer system. Since the IC-706 MkIIG came with the remote cable and mounting hardware, I've made it so you can place the head right by the computer for an actual station with full controls. The two Daiwa CN-801's provide metering. The base of the IC-706 MkIIG is a brick (literally) covered in cork and painted. It stays in place. I placed a Heil HM-10 Dual mic on another boom for this station. PTT control is with a Heil HS-1. This station has a shared battery backup with the 2 meter rig and the scanner. It also uses a Wattgate PG40S and a AGM 35 Ah battery. I like the 35Ah AGM batteries as they are reasonably priced and during the last NE QSO party, I lasted over an hour transmitting on one before I realized I hadn't turned the power supply on! There's a microHam USB III on this system for digital modes and interfacing the computer and rig. This system is based on an Intel i7-960 running at 3.8 Ghz. It has 12 Gb of memory and 2Tb RAID 0 storage array. MySQL also runs on this system and it hosts the HRD log database. Backup is to multiple thumb drives (sticking out of the left hand monitors) and a USB 3.0 external hard drive. All backups are triple redundant. Not that I have had any experience in such things :).
Boat Anchor station. Still working on getting it up and on the air. Almost there.
The whole station is a 'U' shape. The Heath SB-102 station occupies the left hand location. I learned and earned my original Novice license (WN1VJW) on a SB-102 in High School. So it'll be nice to have that rig again. So far, the SB-600 Speaker with the internal HP-23A Power Supply, the SB-610 Monitor Scope, the SB-620 Scanalyzer and the SB-630 Station Console have been rebuilt. A SB-640 External VFO is ready to go as well as a SB-650 Digital Frequency Display. The SB-102 Receiver is working. Just needs a good alignment and then onto the Transmitter section. No output yet. Maybe the alignment will help here as well. To be honest everything seems to be mostly working, just need peaking and tweeking. There's also a working HD-1410 Keyer and an EV 638 Mic to round out this station. Once the SB-102 is up and running it will give each operator position a SO2R capability.
This panel also creates a third Coax shield ground. There's a whole bunch of TransiTraps outside to handle Surge Suppression.
To the left of the main desk and the monitors is a coaxial patch field. The upper row has a cable to each rig. The lower to each antenna. This allows an "Any-To-Any" connection capability (I get that from the Day Job). All Coax runs have at least 1 Alpha Delta TT3G50 TransiTrap inline and the shields are well grounded. Tower runs have 2 TransiTraps. One at the top of the tower and the other at the bottom of the tower.
Neat - Huh! :)
This is the 'Outside' of the patch panel. I used the typical 4" Dryer Duct with a twist. This is New England after all. Weather can get chilly! First I took 11 pieces of 3/4" PVC conduit and rolled newspaper into a tube and inserted it into the PVC conduit. I then filled these with Polyurethane foam. I then placed all these conduits inside the dryer vent along with a 1 1/2" copper strap for the station ground (I insulated the strap from the aluminum dryer vent). I then filled all the voids with the same foam. The newspaper in the conduit created a sleeve for the foam making it easy to slide out when it was time to put in a cable. Now I have an expandable, insulated and sealed pass through. Once a cable goes through, I use Duct Seal to keep everything cold tight. I also used a Stainless Steel box I acquired over the years to make the whole thing weather tight. After drilling a few holes in the sides of the box, I used more TransiTraps sealed with O-Rings to provide for non-tower mounted connections.
The Tower Mounted Grounding Buss. An identical buss is on the top of the tower as well.
Tower antennas and coax grounding is important when it's up as high as it is here - compared to the average terrain. The top of the tower is the highest point around for a few miles (there's a video camera mounted just above the KingBee II and it's above the tree tops with a clear view 360 degrees for miles). The tip of the G6-144 is at 82' AGL which puts it at roughly 1300' above sea level. So I put extra effort and investment into doing it right. The above shot is the ground buss at the bottom of the tower. As the picture caption says, there's one at the top as well. This reduces inductance between the tower and coax shield and thereby reduces induced voltage differential by a lightening strike. According to the the PolyPhaser docs, this is the way to do it! The tower has 1 - 2" copper strap per leg to separate ground rods and those are bonded to runs of 6 gauge wiring into the yard in a "V" with 4 more 8' rods in each 32' "V". There's a total of 18 X 8', 1/2" copper clad ground rods in place. One of those V's hits the utility ground and another hits the vertical radial ground. I.C.E. suppressors are on the Cable and Phone demarkations and another I.C.E. at the central Circuit Breaker panel. Rotor and Coax Switch cables are also protected with dual suppressors at the top and bottom of the tower. I.C.E. units here as well. If someone has a better way to do it, I'd like to hear it.
The tower is 65 feet of Rohn 45G guyed at two places with Phillystrand. The Tower is actually 69 feet of 45G, but 4 of those feet are buried in the 5 yards of concrete and 210' of rebar. On the Tower there is a Cubex Mark III PT-5 Band, 3 Element Quad, a Cubex KingBee II 6 and 2 meter Quad (4 el on 6M, 8 el on 2M), a Hustler G6-144 and an Alpha Delta DX-A Sloper. I also built a sidearm out of Aluminum Angle for a home made 24 element Discone for the Scanner. It hears from most of the county and the next and as far away as New London, Connecticut. Also outside is a Diamond X-50, Cushcraft 6M Ringo (visible to the right of the tower and is roof mounted), ground mounted 5 Band Hy-Gain Vertical, and a 40M Cage Dipole. For the 5 Band Quad I built a 5 position coax switch using KiloVac Vacuum Relays in the tower mounted box and and the controller interfaces via the Station Master and switches bands automatically. Rotator duties are handled by a TailTwister and are controlledwith an Idiom Press board with RS-232 option. FWIW, this is the best option for upgrading these fine rotators IMHO. Cable runs are all 1/2" Andrews Hardline and connectors. To make the whole tower project scary, I did the whole thing alone. Seriously! Other than the guys who showed up to dig the hole (they don't call it the Granite State for nothing!) or pump the concrete, I had no other help. That was my choice. I hate committees. I did rent a JLG lift to finish the tower and get the top on. But that's another story!
This shack takes full advantage of automation and interoperability. The log can be shared between either HRD station or set up to run independently. I set up with a 2 operator contest station in mind. We'll see how that goes. I did have a blast during the recent NH QSO Party! First time being the object of a pile up!
All vital equipment is powered through several UPS. I do have a generator for those times when power is out for an extended amount of time. Someday, I'll put in a whole house emergency power system. Ice storms around here leave you without power for days or weeks.
Running on the i7-960 is Virtual Weather Station software being fed data from a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station. Current weather conditions are posted to: http://www.pwsweather.com/obs/KB1NXE.html
The ICOM stations, with the help of DM780 and sound card interfaces can be on the air with digital modes. And as mentioned, the HW-5400 station is capable via the HK-232. The SB-102 will be a voice/CW system with Phone Patch capabilities if ever needed.
Both computers are connected to the Internet via a Cisco Router and Cisco Firewall. Both computer systems are multi-monitor to makeit easy to control the rig and/or the log on one screen and run digital modes on the other.
Thanks for looking and I hope to work you on the bands some day.
73 - Jim - KB1NXE
For more pictures and stuff: http://www.qsl.net/kb1nxe/