Archive for December, 2005

Ham Shack Project

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

I’m starting up a new project: build a dedicated outdoor W6RK ham shack.

I purchased 8′x12′ shed from Home Depot yesterday. This is one of their standard Tuff Shed Tall Barn models. You can find out more information about it in http://www.tuffshed.com/. They will be building it during the next 4-6 weeks. With couple of options (window, large overhead lofts, shelving), the cost was about $2800. Surprisingly there was no sales tax on sheds. That’s a relief for hams :-)

Tuff Shed Tall Barn... from TuffShed.com web site

Basically my plan is to have this shed as my dedicated ham shack in the corner of my backyard. After it’s build, that’s just 50% of the project: electricity, grounding, computer networks, coax, air conditioning, heating, carpet, thermal insulation & indoor sheet rock, painting, furniture, lightning, etc needs to be put in. A lot of work ahead on all of those things.

Stay tuned here… I’m going to post pictures as we go. My target is to be QRV from the shack in February and work on additional enhancements in March/April.

73,

Risto, W6RK

Icom IC-7000 first impressions de W6RK

Friday, December 9th, 2005

I’ve had my IC-7000 since Monday 12/5/05. Here are my first impressions (besides what’s already known by reading specs):

  • the audio with small speaker isn’t very good. I tried with external speaker and that sounds much better.
  • For me, very important aspect of this radio will be that I can control it remotely and work CW from other locations. I have a dedicated linux server controlling my Icom stack (IC-7000, IC-718 and IC-R8500) that feeds audio to Teamspeak server and rig is controlled through secured tunnel over ssh and Com Port redirector. Ham Radio Deluxe just came out with new beta version that supports IC-7000. The version is 3.3b954 and it can be downloaded from http://www.hb9drv.ch/tmp/old/hamradiodeluxeversion033b954.exe. The command set for the remote control for IC-7000 is excellent.
  • TV mod is out… it requires cutting one diode. I haven’t done it yet.
  • IF filters are really neat. No filters to buy… You can preset 3 different filters from anywhere between 50 Hz and 3.6 kHz on CW/SSB and choose sharp or soft filter edges. They really work.
  • It has 60m transmit.
  • There’s no keypad entry for direct frequency entry in the rig, but you can do it with the HM-151 microphone that came with the radio.
  • There has been big debate about DTMF on ic7000 mailing list. Apparently you can’t send those from the microphone buttons but you are able to preprogram those to the rig and send with one button. Not a big deal for me.
  • Separate antenna connection for HF/6m and 2m/70cm. This can be good or bad. I only have one coax going to the roof and over there antennas are connecting to the Ameritron RCS-10 switch box. So, I need to figure out some good solution: pull the second coax for VHF/UHF antenna or have an antenna switch in the shack switching between antenna inputs (any ideas for that?).
  • I still haven’t got my LDG Z-100 tuner to work properly. It tunes from the tuner button but not from the rig. Someone on the ic7000 mailing list told that it worked for him but I haven’t got it working yet. Not that big deal right now since all my antennas are pretty low SWR on CW bands but I would like to get this working one day.
  • Microphone connection don’t have audio (AF) out. I got an adapter from 8-pin plug so I could get back on RTTY/PSK31 (using AFSK) but for my surprise it didn’t give me audio. Duh, manual tells that but who reads them? Digital modes can be run from ACC or separate data plugs behind the radio. So, I need to get correct cables/adapters before I can tell about PSK31/RTTY and other digital mode experiences.
  • I don’t know if SWR meter works on 2m/70cm. Or I have perfect 1:1 SWR on my antennas?

I’m going to post more impressions later on my Ham Blog: Please visit http://www.w6rk.com/ to find out more.

73!

Risto, W6RK

ARRL 10m contest predictions

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

ARRL 10m contest is this weekend. I have created some short and long path propagation predictions from Northern California for the weekend. I used HamCap & SSN 30 for these simulations (that’s what IonoProbe just gave me as effective SSN).

Briefly, the operating plan could be this:

  • 00-02Z: VK/ZL/Pacific, maybe JA until 01Z
  • 0200Z: NCCC rally on CW (28040)?
  • 0230Z: NCCC rally on SSB (28400)?
  • 0300Z-15Z: go to bed, or do something else
  • 15Z: start working South Americans
  • 16Z: check for VU/9Y/HS/9M for long path opening, if not… work South Americans. Skew path to Europe by pointing antennas to Africa/South Atlantic?
  • 17Z: check for VU & Middle East long path, if not… work South Americans & ZS. Skew path to Europe by pointing antennas to Africa/South Atlantic?
  • 18-19Z: check for long path for Northern Africa, Southern Europe (EA/I), and keep working for South Americans (by now they must all be QSO B4?) & ZS. Skew path to Europe by pointing antennas to Africa/South Atlantic?
  • 20-21Z: check for long path for Northern Africa & Southern Europe, short path to South America, ZL/VK & ZS. Skew path to Europe by pointing antennas to Africa/South Atlantic?
  • 21-00Z: short path to South America, ZL & VK, maybe JA after 23Z. Skew path to JA through South Pacific?

Also, look for daytime (or 24h/day?) Sporadic-E openings to midwest and south-east USA — and probably elsewhere in USA/Canada, too. Also, meteor scatter is possible 24/7… just remember to talk/send code really fast.

Complete maps can be found here. My personal plan is to operate from W6YX (at least few hours on Friday night).