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Formerly licensed as WN1VJW/WA1VJW, KA1VGP and in Germany as DA2PJ. Originally licensed in 1976! I've been a Novice, Tech, Tech Plus, General and now an Extra. Missed out on being an Advanced.

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.

QTH on 2.1 Acres in a town that has a tower restriction. Nothing more than 70 feet. I'm already at 1200 feet with most terrain at <500 feet. I think I can live with it.

My day job is a Computer Network Engineer (Senior Network Specialist, University of Massachusetts, Presidents Office - is the official title). 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 in Holyoke, Ma. I've been working with computers my entire adult life (that equates to more than most - 36 Years at this point). Computer desktop systems support since 1987 and primarily computer networks since 1999. I have worked for the largest grocery distributor in the nation and one of the leading (top 10) Credit Unions in the nation. Now, I am happy serving the public in state level higher education with the University of Massachusetts. It pays for my toys, so who can complain?

'Nuf about me, onto the interesting stuff - The Shack!

Here's some detailed pictures of the shack and equipment.

Main Operating Position

So, the above picture shows my main operating position. It consists of an Icom IC-756 Pro III transceiver with the matching SP-23 speaker and PS-125 power supply. This feeds an IC-PW1 Kilowatt Amp after passing through the Array Solutions/Hamation AS-419 and AS-419W "Bandpasser" filters and a sensor for the WaveNode WN-2 Watt Meter. The SM-230 Monitor has both the input to the amp and the output monitored to assure linearity. A microHam MicroKeyer II and Station Master provide computer connectivity, Sound Card modes, K1EL Keyer using the K8RA P-4 paddle, Antenna switching and Filter Selection. Everything is automated. Change a band and everything switches to the new band. Very nice. You can also see a HyGain rotor controller with a Idiom Press Rotor EZ installed and also computer controlled. The black box is the remote antenna switch I home brewed and is also automated by the Station Master. The microphone is a Heil PR-781 with the Heil Windscreen on the PL-2T boom and a set of Heil ProSet 3 headphones. You can also see the Palstar DL2K dummy load for testing and working the IC-PW1. All this is connected to the computer shown next.

Main PC

The main PC is Jim Built based on an Intel I7-920 at 3.2 Ghz on an ASUS motherboard in a LianLi case. Disk storage is 2 boot SSD drives in a RAID 0 of 238 Gigabytes (2 X 128 Gb Plextor drives) and a storage drive of 2 Terabytes of RAID 1. It has 12 Gigabytes of memory, real serial ports in addition to USB II & III ports, Firewire and a Nvidia graphics card. You can see HRD running on the dual monitors above as well as the software for the Wavenode WN-2. The keyboard is a Corsair K90. The station computers (well, two of them at least) are positioned on the shelf you can just see behind the monitors. Off the floor to avoid dust buildup. Both cases have windows to view inside with something of a light show.

This is the satellite and second operating position. The equipment here is an Icom IC-9100 transceiver, again with matching SP-23 speaker and PS-125 power supply (I ordered the correct connector and changed it out and saved myself some dinero over the much more expensive PS-126). You'll also see the SDA-100 controller for the BigIR vertical with 80 Meter coil and over 5000 feet of wire in 60 radials beneath it, the Yeasu G-5400B controller with GS-232A interface, and another WN-2 and another AS-419 Bandpasser. Also the microHam MicroKeyer II and Station Master doing just about the same things as in the IC-756 Pro III station with the Station Master performing pre-amp sequencing instead of antenna switching. The computer here is another Jim Built based on an ASUS mother board with an Intel i7-4770K processor running overclocked at 4.3 Ghz also in a LianLi case. It has 32 Gb of memory, and the same SSD Boot Drive configuration as main computer above. A 2 Tb storage drive in a RAID 1. Again the Corsair Keyboard (yes, I like these keyboards - I have 4 of them). The microphone is a Heil HM-10 Dual. Headphone are also Heil ProSet 3's. Paddle by Kent.

Patch Panel

In order to get the cable in from the antennas to the rigs, I use a patch panel. The panel is constructed from 19" relay rack aluminum panels in a home made Oak frame/box with bulkhead connectors. Cables come in from the antennas via a 4" dryer duct in the wall to one side of the bulkheads. Patch cables from antenna ports up to the cables running to the rigs. A couple of Alpha-Delta switches make this a bit more versatile. Yes, those are Flex Hardline patch cables for the 440 and 1200 MHz antenna patches. [You see several patch cables disconnected. We had a huge line of Thunderstorms moving through the day the picture was taken. Makes this process very easy.]

So, here is my 'ancient' Heathkit station. I purchased the HW-5400 in 1984 along with the HK-232, SA-2060A, HO-5404 (with Pan Adapter), the Power Supply, the Shure 444D, and finally the HD-1415. I spent about 4 months assembling it all. I added the other pieces over the years to create a complete HW-5400 station. I've gone as far as to add the QSK board (the real Heath item and not the MFJ board) to the SB-1000. The Plate voltage shows 3200 volts. Also pictured are a HD-3006 crosshair display for the HK-232 (the HK-232 is complete with latest ROMs, DSP, MBX, Sound Card and USB interface thanks to Timewave), a HD-1515 Phone Patch and HD-1986 Microlizer. That's a uMatic keyer to round the station out. I have a HyGain 18-AVT 5 band vertical on this station. You can also see my test equipment which is a couple of Rigol devices and Heath signal generators.

There's also a third computer system that acts more as a server. It hosts the Virtual Weather Station software for the Davis Vantage Pro. It also hosts APRSIS32, and has several applications supporting the Rigol testing devices (scope and DMM). It also hosts the MySQL Database that is my logbook. Using the system in this manner allows me to connect to my logbook from either of the two other systems, as well as provide a source of current data for weather macros when operating digital modes. This computer is also Jim Built on a ASUS motherboard using a i7-960 running at 3.2GHz. It also has 12 Gb of memory and a hard disk of 2 Tb in a Raid 0 configuration. Also in a LianLi case. It has a Corsair Airflow Pro memory display. I've named it the W.O.P.R.!

Main Tower Satellite Antennas

The antenna systems:

On the 63' of Rohn 45G you see a 24 element Discone for the scanner (home made), the 5 band, 3 element Cubex Quad, with a Cubex KingBee II quad (4 elements on 6 meters and 8 on 2 meters) with a Cushcraft G6-144 above them. Rotor is a HyGain T2X.

The round device above the lower tower guy line is a sensor for the Davis Vantage 2 weather station. Also on the tower is an Alpha-Delta DX-A 160, 80, 40 meter sloper. Other antennas are a HyGain 18-AVT 5 band trap vertical (courtesy of KB1SF who is/was my Elmer!) and the previously mentioned BigIR Vertical with 80 meter coil. Both use 60 radials ranging from 125 feet to 10 feet in length on DX Engineering radial plates. Total radial lengths of the two verticals is about 7700 feet or almost a mile and a half of wire!

The Satellite antennas are on a Glen Martin 8' roof tower. Here you see an 8 X 8 Circularly Polarized 2 meter array, a 16 X 16 Circularly Polarized 70cm array, both from Gulf Alpha antennas and a 45 Element loop array for 23cm from Directive Systems. The 2 meter and 70 cm antennas use Ar2 Communications Products MSP series preamps. The rotor is the previously mentioned G-5400. Booms are DX Engineering Fiberglass masts I dual walled for strength using epoxy to adhere them into a single unit. The feedlines are Andrews 1/2" Hardline to the rotor loop. From there it's LMR-600 to the pre-amps or antenna. Those rotor loops are indeed LMR-600! I coiled them around a 5 gallon bucket to make the loops. 2 turns! Works very well.

Gound System

Tower antennas and coax grounding is important when it's up as high as it is here - compared to 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. There's one at the top as well. This reduces inductance between the tower and coax shield and thereby reduces induced voltage differential from a nearby 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 solid wire into the yard in a "V" configurations with 4 more 8' rods in each 32' "V" all connected together with a 'Halo'. There's a total of 22 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 grounds.

I.C.E. suppressors are on the Cable and Phone demarcations and another I.C.E. at the central Circuit Breaker panel with a 3" copper strap connecting to the ground system. Rotor and Coax Switch cables are also protected with dual suppressors at the top and bottom of the tower using I.C.E. devices. All the coax suppresor are Alpha-Delta TT3G50B units. If someone has a better way to do it, I'd like to hear it. Satellite antennas use the same configuration as it works so well.

All coax runs up the tower and to the patch panel are Andrews 1/2" hardline or LMR-400 except the Scanner antenna uses LMR-240. If you think hardline and connectors are expensive, you haven't looked on eBay lately!

Well, if the above wasn't crazy enough. All the stations are protected through WattGate PG-40S isolators from the Icom PS-125's to 70 Ah GelCell batteries. The computers have American Power Corp (APC) Back UPS 1300 UPS with additional external battery systems. This provides me with an online power backup capacity for several hours. An ancilliary system for the accesories uses a Pyramid PS-32KX and a 3rd PG-40S with a 35 Ah battery. I also have a 3500 Watt generator available for extended outages.

So, This my station. Pretty sure someone has a better one. But this is what I have. I've put all I know into it. It seems to do the job. I bust most pile-ups the first or second call. If that's a measure, then I'm proud of what I have.

 

Jim

 

968755 Last modified: 2014-05-29 02:23:48, 16754 bytes

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