KF8GR's Shack


I like older gear, I really do.  I started out with a Heathkit DX-60b tx, a Heathkit HR-10b rx, and the matching "pink slip" VFO.  I love Collins, Hammerlund, older Ten-Tecs, oil dripping Teletype machines, or even a good old Kleinschmidt Iron Horse.  But, by modernizing my equipment, my floor no longer creaks, it doesn't smell like machine oil in the shack, I don't have to fear small children and innocent bystanders being electrocuted, and I have done away with at least a ton of gear.  I don't need walls full of shelves to store my gear.  In fact, until recently here is what my shack looked like.

shack pic

It all fit in a small desk panel!  I didn't lose anything, in fact I gained 440MHz, and general coverage rx.  (None of my older rigs even had WARC except my Ten-Tec 580 Delta). And, some of the gear in there is redundant, such as the FT-817, SST-20M, and Radio Shack HTX-202, and Radio Shack hf swr/watt meter  that normally do not reside in there.  They were just put there to fill up the hole for the picture!

Now, don't get me wrong, I still like old gear.  The orange glow of filaments on the back wall, I could heat my shack with the tubes in the radios, and the motors in the equipment.  I could repair my own gear, as long as I had a supply of tubes, and I could have smacked a lot of the equipment with a bat, and it still would have worked!  And best of all, none of the old gear had menu after menu to filter through to find the simple change you wanted to make.  But, I didn't care for their temperature instability, long warmup times, heavy weight, massive power consumption, and tendecy to have tube microphonics.  There comes a time when you just need to cowboy up, and get with the program.

The old Pak-Ratt is soon to be replaced, I am just not sure which TNC to buy!  You may have noticed that there is no linear amplifier.  Never used one in my life.  Never intend to .

The Main Shack

My main shack now consists of a Yaesu FT-847, with an Astron S-30M power supply, and a Timewave DSP-9 that I rarely use since the FT-847 has DSP built in.  The FT-847 does all the bands from 160 to 440 MHz except 220 (which I have never used in my life).  I do not do much satellite communications, but, if time and space allows later, I may add antennas to do satellite communications.  The FT-847 is already set up to do that.

My antennas are a Gap Titan-DX and a hybrid mini-quad for hf/6m.  My two meter antenna is a Cushcraft Ringo Ranger 2, and I am still checking out antennas for 70cm.  the two things you cannot see is the Vectronics 1.5 kw dry dummy load, which is bolted to the back of the desk, and the B&W antenna switch, which is mounted on the side of the desk.

My main computer is a homebrew AMD64 3000+ 64 bit computer with 120Gig hd, 512Meg sdram, dual booting Linux/XP.  The only reason for the XP is because this is also my business computer, and I need XP to verify that my web pages will display properly on a non-compliant operating system.

Mobile Shack

My mobile shack is my original Icom IC-706 in my Jeep Cherokee, connected to an Outback Perth Plus by tri-mag mount.  When I don't need the antenna, I store it in the Jeep to avoid hitting low-hanging objects.  I have a quarter twist adapter to connect the antenna mount to make all this happen quickly.

The TNC I use for this and QRP operation is the Baypac BP-2m.  It is small, and simple, and easily set up in the linux kernel (once you know how).  I could just as easily used a BP-1m, but I already had the BP-2m laying around, so......

I have done cw on the roll with this rig, and used a computer on the passenger seat for navigation, sstv, and other digital modes, but not comfortably.  Since this is also my passenger vehicle and business transportation, I cannot do major mods to make it more suitable for emergency/public communications, so a little discomfort is the price I pay.

QRP Shacks

My primary QRP shack is my Yaesu FT-817 connected to a Miracle Whip antenna, a 300 MHz Toshiba Portage (selected for it's small size and light weight, not speed), Whiterook MK44 iambic paddles, a set of ear buds, and two 26 amp hour sealed batteries (just in case).  With this setup I can work phone (on AM, FM and ssb), sstv, the digital modes, and of course cw.  I can also keep up with local news and weather with the built-in broadcast rx.

qrp in the wild

My secondary QRP shack is my Heathkit HW-9.  A cw only rig that will work all the hf bands.  It's size it quite large compared to my other rigs, and it has some drawbacks, but, I still find myself using this rig when I need cw multi-band coverage.  This rig has no coverage for wx or rxing local radio stations.  I will sometimes use this rig with the Miracle Whip, but since it has no built-in swr meter, I usually use my Emtech Z match with a Slinky Jr toy for a longwire.  It works, and stores easily.

My other qrp radios are my SST 20m and 38 Special on 30m.  I have had many a fun outing with these small rigs, a set of ear buds, a homemade key, and some simple antennas, usually a thin wire dipole since these rigs are single band and have no built in swr meter.  When I carry an hf only QRP rig, I usually carry either my Yaesu VX-5R or Radio Shack 200milliwatt handheld to keep in touch with the locals, or in the event of an accident.  If I am going to be a long way from the nearest repeater, I leave them home and concentrate on not getting hurt.

Emergency Public Service

I have found these rigs to be suitable for emergency/public service with some caveats.  If you plan on doing emergency/public service, I highly recommend using aYaesu FT-817, Elecraft K2, SGC-2020 or some other multimode QRP rig, since you never know what bands or modes may be required for the job.

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This page last updated by KF8GR on May 16, 2005