Inside the shack.

I mainly use an Elecraft K3 with a Heil Gold Line mic and an Alpha 9500 amplifier. The IC-7800 used to be my main rig but I am getting ready to sell it. I also have a Kenwood TS-870 and it has been one of my long time favorites. I run a SDR-IQ as a Panadapter on all radios and also a ClearSpeech DSP noise filter on the TS-870. The switching between the SDR-IQ and the radios is done by means of a StationPro 2. I can connect any radio to any amplifier and the SDR-IQ is always sharing the active radio. All output adio is fed through a Behringer equalizer to enable some tweaking to dig out less than perfect signals. All radios are connected to the computer and I use the DxLab suite for logging, spotting and propagation prediction.


I started out the inside of the shack using the same old little desk and bookshelf that I used at the previous QTH. My initial internet connectivity started out as a cantenna pointing at the access point inside the house. The access point had a Vagi pointing back to the shack. Note the extension cord for temporary power. The little electric space heater ran off an extension cord all winter - which also powered everything else with the exception of the linear amp. I did notice that the snow melted just a tad faster around the extension cord than elsewhere but the cord was never warm to the touch. I made up a 220V extension cord to power the linear and also ran that into the shack.

This little desk was too small all the years I used it, but I never had the space for a bigger one until now. I decided against going out and buying a new desk, just to cut it full of holes - so I decided to modify this one. I got a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood and replaced the top and back support. The bookshelf got the same treatment as you can see in the later pictures below. Both the old and new desks have a cable tray at the back so that you do not end up with a rat's nest of cables on the floor. There is also a home brew high current power block and a central ground point on the back of the desk. The ground bar is tied directly to the ground rod on the outside at the back of the shack. I finally got a shack where I can have space behind the desk to be able to work on cables and tidy it up.

To improve Internet connectivity, I installed a Cisco AP inside the house just below the ceiling in one corner and this connects to a Cushcraft S2406DSP antenna on the outside giving pretty good wireless coverage to the shack. I selected the Cisco AIR-AP1220B-A-K9 access point since it has external antenna connectors and it supports Power-over-Ethernet. The most important feature is the fact that it is a "b" model and discontinued and you get them fairly cheap on E-Bay. The fact that it is only 802.11b does not bother me at all - the DSL connection is still the slowest component by far. I get a 70-100% signal with various machines.

Sometime in October of 2007 we installed the TS-870. As you all know, the standard mic that comes with the TS-870 does not even do justice to a mobile rig, so I quickly dug out my old Radio Shack 33-3024 microphone with the home-brew boom and shock mount and connected that up. The boom is originally from a desk lamp and the shock mount is manufactured from a piece of PVC pipe, some aluminum stock and a piece of thin bungee cord. I got the thin bungee cord from a local seamstress supply store. I do not think the shock mount makes any difference to the audio - I just added it because I needed a mount and I think shock mounts looks cool. I am getting good audio reports, so I guess my $20 microphone and my $15 mount must be working ok. There is a footswitch installed under the desk that allows me to use the computer while I am transmitting. The TL-922 amp was added soon after this to help a little in the pileups.

The FT-847 was replaced with a Kenwood TS-2000 and although I generally liked the TS-2000, the buttons were tiny. I also found that I did not use the VHF/UHF and I eventually traded that for a second TS-870 with a Heil GM-5 microphone. Some time early in 2008 an opportunity showed up to acquire a PW-1. It worked well with the TS-870 and is just simply a pleasure to use. In 2010 an opportunity presented itself for me to acquire an IC-7800 bundled with other equipment at a very good price. I jumped at the opportunity and I had to wheel and deal and sell stuff but I finally got the IC-7800 in the shack. The fact that this radio is so expensive set my expectations way too high. I was initially very disappointed with the radio - not because it was bad - but it was just not that much better than the TS-870. On top of that it had several annoying features. I got an ICOM SP-23 with the radio but the audio was just not easy to listen to. I eventually grabbed the audio out of the back of the radio and pushed it through an external amp - and WOW - now everybody was HI-FI. I am starting to like the radio and the annoyances has dwindled - but I still think the the price of the radio is not justified if you compare the performance of this radio to other radios costing less than half.

In 2011 I sold a bunch of stuff including one of my TS-870's and used the money to buy a K3-10. This is a great little radio and I upgraded it to a 100W version and also added the KXV3 to be able to use the SDR-IQ Panadater. I am trying to move my main operations over to this radio but integrating all these radios with the StationPro 2 takes time - especially since I want to be able to use the SDR-IQ on any radio. I finally got that worked out recently with a small mod to the Station Pro 2. Since RF Concepts is less than 5 miles south of me, Molly worked with me and helped a fellow white African-American find a way to get an Alpha amplifier into the shack. The K3 - Alpha is a nice all-American combination!