Description of ZS6DX
This is what
My shack looks like at the moment, major changes coming soon !
Personal comments on some equipment that has passed through the ZS6DX shack,
see what I liked and what I disliked.
The main operating position at ZS6DX, I am still waiting for a new desk and
rack that I have had custom made, as soon as it is here I can sort out the mess
!, the secondary position is used for multi
operator contest work, there is also space for a third operator but this space
is currently used for the amplifiers, tuners and antenna switches. As you can see it is a bit of a mess but then I
am forever changing and upgrading, that is half the fun !. I am also waiting for
my FT-1000MP that is currently in for a general service, I did not get it back
in time for CQ WW CW but I ended up running QRP with a FT-817 anyway !. The
FT-1000MP has now been replaced, till further notice, by 2 Icom IC-756 radios. I
must admit that I am slowly falling in love with these radios so if Yaesu don't
sort out the MP soon that will be the last of it !
The complete main operating position with radios, computer, FL-7000
and T1000 amplifiers.
The "Oldie" operating position for rag-chewing etc.
This position can also be configured as a second contesting position for use
during a multi operator contest entry.
To read more about my current contest configuration click here.
I have moved QTH in the last year, the new QTH is on the North side of a hill, about
1490m a.s.l. and higher than most of the surrounding ground except south, as
most of the world is west/north/east from me that is no problem. My old QTH was
on the south side of the same hill and that was not ideal !. I must still put up
all the towers but when we first moved in with just a 20/40m dipole about 8m above the ground I have
already added a new country on 40m, a new one on 17m (using the internal tuner
and the 20m dipole) and an all time new one on 20m. I now have a Cushcraft A4S up
and the new location is really proving to be great with 3 all time new ones in
the week after it went up ! I have also worked some 6m
TEP into Europe using the 20m dipole and a tuner with 59 and 599 reports, a lot
better than the old QTH. The noise level is also a lot lower than the old QTH so
this is all looking very promising ! I managed to get up one tri-bander before
CQ WW CW but this proved to be ample, see my report on the contest here.
Now I must get the rest of the antennas/towers sorted out.
My plan is to eventually run 3 radios with 3 amplifiers going into 3 separate mono-band antennas for contest use. Now I must just get used to listening to
3 radios at the same time !. I have had some luck running 2 rigs at the same
time so I think once I am used to it 3 will be even better, if nothing else
it allows for super fast band changes. When you have a good opening and the QSO
rate is high I find that only 1 radio is needed/useful but when it is quiet the
other radios allow you to catch some multipliers on the quieter bands. Till I have my new antenna farm sorted
out I mostly try to work as many multipliers in contests as possible to up
my band/country standings for DXCC, often contests are the best place to
find new ones.
My station currently consists of (Always changing.....):
- Yaesu FT-1000MP with home-brew linear (using
2 x 4-400 valves) used as main CW contest station, this rig has had a CW
side-tone problem for a while and has now gone in for repairs, all the way
back to Japan, once it gets back I will make a decision on keeping it or
getting rid of it!.
- Kenwood TS-870S with Heathkit HL-2200 amplifier
(using 2 x 3-500ZG valves) used as backup CW/SSB contest station.
- Icom IC-756 rigs, I have recently acquired 2 of these rigs, after looking at a
lot of equipment I decided that these radios are very good value for money.
I have also compared the original IC-756 directly with the newer IC-756PRO
and the latest IC-756PROII. The PRO and especially the PROII have many DSP
filter selections but the basic receiver is far worse than the original
IC-756. The front-end is not as solid, this is in spite of the
"144db" dynamic range advertised for the new rigs. This 144db
dynamic range is derived from the theoretical limit of a 32bit DSP chip but
in the real world it does not work like that !, Dynamic range is a bit more
than the bus width of the processor and lots of other factors in the
front-end of the receiver are also involved ! The new receivers also have much more
phase-noise than the old receiver. With additional filters and a simple mod
to increase the sensitivity of the band scope the original IC-756 becomes a
great contest rig as well as a general DX radio. My findings on the RX are
also proved by the ARRL lab tests, go check if you do not believe me, see (ARRL
lab tests summary) !. I
have been told that the 2 newer models were build down to a price and not up
to a specification. The original 756 was just to expensive too produce on
the receiver side !. I
am now using a T1000 solid-state amplifier by Trans World Electronics on the
one radio and a FL-7000 solid-state amplifier on the second radio. So far I am VERY
happy with these radios and they have exceeded my expectations by far. I
will be writing an evaluation report on these radios as well as the
IC-756PROII soon. In the absence of the FT-1000MP these rigs are now my
primary contest/DX radios, When the MP returns I will make a decision if
they will remain in that position, if not I will at least surely miss the
spectrum scope ! New
- Yaesu FT-990, I am using this radio as a backup rig and for general
local 40/80m contacts. It is complete with the additional CW and SSB filters.
The Digital SCAF filter on this radio is amazing !. The radio is connected
to a Yaesu FL-2100Z amplifier but the amplifier is seldom used. New
- Yaesu FT-847 with home-brew linears (using
4 x 4cx250R valves), used mainly for 6m and satellite work, also a superb portable
HF/VHF/UHF rig ! Apart from some 6m work
this radio is not used much at the moment. For 6m this is now connected to a
Hy-gain model DX66 6 element long boom yagi.
- Icom IC-746, great rig on CW, I just love the APF feature, will be used as third band rig in future
contests, I have now installed a 250hz CW filter (Icom) in this rig and it
makes a HUGE difference !. I am now also using a converted SB200 amplifier on this rig for
6m and HF,
works great !
- Yaesu FT-767GX for general use on HF, mostly local rag chewing. I have recently used this rig in a SSB contest and I was quite
impressed by the dynamic range and the general performance of the receiver.
- Yaesu FT-890SAT. A great rig to use
portable as it is robust, compact and has a great tuner !. This rig will now
be retired from daily used and only used for portable/field work.
- Icom IC-706MKII for HF, 6 and 2m, used mainly on 2 and 6m portable
and mini DX-peditions and long distance mobile trips, this radio worked very
well on the yacht and made me friends all over the world.
- Yaesu FT-107M used mostly on 30, 40 and 80 for
local contacts, relaying of bulletins and PSK31 ect. This rig is not used much
anymore and has been replaced by the FT-767GX for most everyday use. It had
now been moved to the museum area of the shack !.
- Alinco DR-605 dual bander used mainly for
local 2m and 70cm FM repeater work, I have also used this radio with great
success on some of the FM satellites while mobile.
- Icom IC-471A with homebrew amplifier used
for satellite and EME work with a bit of packet radio now and then, this radio
has been replaced by the FT-847.
- Kenwood TS-120S used for QRP CW work, not used much anymore, also
in the museum area but still fun to play with.
- Home-brew transverters for 435, 1296 and 2400 Mhz.
- Yaesu and MFJ manual tuners, not used much but there if needed..
- Yaesu FT-707 with FV-707 transverters for 430 Mhz and
50 Mhz as backup, not used much these days.
- Various older radio like Kenwood TS-520, Yaesu FT-101
and FT-200, Heathkit SB-102, Yaesu FT-901DM, Hallicrafters SX-38
and KWM Viceroy because I love them and
REAL radios glow
in the dark -:)! (some of them are older than me !).The FT-901DM with its
spectrum scope (YO-901) is actually quite a nice combination and I have used
it often for local rag-chewing. These radios
are also used when I join in with a local group called "The Antique
Radio Association", a group open to anyone interested in restoring or
using older tube based equipment. They gather at 0900 SAST (0700 UTC) on 7.070MHz on a
Saturday morning, please join the fun !
FL-2100Z, HL-2200 and Homebrew tube amplifiers for HF.
FL-7000 and T1000 solid state HF amplifiers with a few tuners,
meters and rotator control boxes.
My (growing) antenna farm includes:
- 12 element long boom home-brew yagi for 2m.
- 5 element yagi for 2m FM.
- 17 element home-brew yagi for 70 cm.
- 9 element home-brew log-yagi for 6m.
- Hy-Gain DX66 6 element long boom yagi for 6m, this is a very well made
antenna that really works well, at last I have a big signal on the band !.
- TH5DX tri-band yagi for 10, 15 and 20m, currently this antenna is not in
use, I am considering using the boom to build a 12/17/30m antenna.
- TH7DX, 7 element tri-bander for 10,15 and 20m, this will now be used for
the primary operating position.
- Cushcraft A4S Tribander with a 40m kit still to be installed, this is a
great all rounder and performs a lot better than than some much larger
antennas!, will be used for the second operating position of for chasing
multipliers during SO contests.
- Dipoles for 80, 40, 30, 17 and 12m, about 18m above ground level, they
will be raised to 25m soon.
- Long wire antenna (40m) for 80 and 160m, not used often but also great for
- Hustler BTV4 vertical for 10, 15, 20 and 40m,
this is now seldom used because it is too noisy but on 40m it is a great DX
antenna !. I had this antenna on the yacht and it was amazing how well it
worked, but then I did
have 17000Kg of steel in saltwater as a ground plane. This antenna is very
useful for spotting multipliers during contests. It is omni directional so
you can hear DX from any side without having to swing the antenna all
the time, the fact that it is vertical also helps by lessening inter radio
interference created by 2 or more radios operating in close proximity.
- 5/8 vertical antenna for 70cm packet and repeater work.
- 3 element yagi for 70MHz. We do not have much activity in South Africa on
this band but I was hoping to work into the UK in September/October/November 2002 on
TEP, so far no luck but at the new QTH I am planning on a better antenna for
this band. On 70MHz I am currently using the FT-847.
- Full-size loop antenna for 40m (vertical). This is great for DX but not
for local work.
The 6m log-yagi and the TH5DX at rooftop height
Cushcraft A4S and 5 element 2m yagi at rooftop height, look at the nice blue
sky! The A4S is a far better antenna than the TH5 or even the other larger
antennas that I have used.
Spiders web of Dipoles for 12, 17, 30, 40 and 80m, this in now at 20m.
6 element 6m yagi on 8m boom in lowered position.
I have now finished building 5 element mono-banders for 10, 15 and 20m. As
soon as the new tower is up they will be installed. I also need to do something better for
160m, currently I am using a 60m long long-wire. 12, 17 and 30m needs
some attention as well, here I am also considering mono-banders, maybe on the
same boom?. At the new QTH
I should have the space for this but I would have to put up a few more towers.