You can now visit the NT1K Webcam here.
I’ve decided to add a webcam to the NT1K shack and it will be broadcasting whenever I’m on the air for an extended period of time. The audio will be fed from the radio so you can hear whats going on the Air. It’s the best choice since I mainly use headphones while on the radio. The camera will either be focused on the shack itself or the front panel of my radio so you can see what freq I am on and possibly see how well you come across my station.
Press the play button. If it says “Recorded Live” that means I’m not live and you’re seeing/hearing a past QSO.
If I happen to remember, hopefully you will see QSO’s with DX stations
This project is more related to sheet metal design than Ham Radio because the fact that it could be used for more than just radios.
A friend/fellow operator asked me if I can build a 19″ rack mount for a portable repeater. I’ve learned over the years to NOT volunteer my time and/or services because it can lead to a lot of trouble and out-of-pocket expenses. But I owed it to him and I actually always wanted to design a desktop rack mount. Since time is of no worry, I felt comfortable working on this project.
For those who don’t know what a “19 Inch Rack Mount” is. It’s a standardized frame or cabinet/enclose for mounting equipment modules (i.e computers, radios, telecom equipment, and etc). These modules have a front plate that is 19″ wide which have holes/cut outs to allow the module to be mounted to the frame that has a standardized pattern. Since it’s a (EIA) standard in the industry, designers and fabricators have the basic foundation to design their product off of. There is also a 23″ rack but the 19″ dominates the market at this point in time.
Having a standardized system makes the design aspect a lot easier to tackle. All I really had to figure out were the dimensions of the Motorola CM series radios.
Once I had that, It was actually quite easy to design.
I’ve personally dealt with these type of racks in fabrication, but I have never had a chance to actually design something using this standard. Hence the main reason I am making a this cabinet. I’ve learned quite a lot from this project that will make me look just a little harder when it comes to similar projects.
Here are some pictures of the project.
Here is the 3D rendering of what I designed. On a lot of my projects that involves showing the image of the render before fabrication, I added a dollar bill to the project as a reference to size. It actually took about a couple of hours over a span of 3-5 months to design.
The laser doing it’s job. It’s about to cut on the front panels
Here is everything after laser cut in the flat. Little bit of deburring to take off any dross/slag and off to the bender!
I wasn’t able to snap a picture of the machine actually bending up the cabinet but this is the machine that did it. It’s called a Panel Bender and works great for projects like this. The tooling is already installed and all you do is punch in a couple of numbers and off to the races. With this project and the time constraints, I bent every part by eye without using the CNC gauging system (takes longer to program the machine). I knew I was going to bend by eye so when I programed the part for laser cutting, I added little cutouts to physically show where I am going to place a bend. Line up the little cutouts with the tooling on the machine and it will put the bend within the tolerance that I need for assembly.
Here is the box after bending. I did a test fit by assembling all the parts. In the design I added 1/8″ diameter alignment holes. These holes when lined up and used with cleco pins (sort of like removable rivets) , will temporarily hold the panels together. This will allow me to either weld, spot weld or take one cleco pin out at time and replace it with an actual rivet.
Here it is all assembled and ready for paint. I decided on a black texture powder coat because it’s used often in the industry. Plus it hides my fat greasy fingerprints quite well.
And there she is… Ain’t that a thing of beauty? I placed a 2U power strip just to illustrate that how universal it can be. Well that’s basically it. This little article is to show to process from the thought to design and from design to build. If I were to even build something like this, I would use thicker material and stick to the specs on the standard a little more closely. I would also add handles and reinforce the area where the handles are mounted.
Edit (9/30/2011): Here are some more photos (Click to enlarge)
Here is it at the house…
Here is a different view. On the bottom of the unit is a surge strip. When I fabricated I only made 3U panels so if I were to install devices that took up 1u or 2u then I would have a gap. So I made some additonal panels which haven’t been painted
Here is a upclose shot that will show how the panels or modules are mounted. Depending on the design, some rack systems have sliding frame rails to extra weight support. The silver looking thing you see is actually a spring clip with a floating #10-32 nut. Back when these racks were first being designed, instead of using a square hole with a captive nut, they just had regular round holes that were drilled and tapped. Problem was if the threaded hole were to become stripped due to major use or misalignment, then the entire unit could be scrapped if it couldn’t be repaired. With the new system, you can just pop in a nut where ever there is one needed. If it gets stripped, just replace the nut!
Here a picture of the back of the unit. I created a 2X3″ in opening to allow cables to be routed through. When not in use, the gasket-ed cover can bolt right into place using two #10-32 screws that screw into pressed inserts on the main body to create a nice air/weather tight fit (even though the rest of the unit is not air tight).
Here it is with the radios installed. Considering this is the first time I actually got to physically handle the radios, everything lined up okay considering I was using the specs from a similar radio for it’s dimensions.
Overall it was a great build, I just might build another one and apply what I’ve learned on the new box If by some chance you have the chance to fabricate something similar, I would use 1/8″ Aluminum or 12ga (.105″) steel.
Today I gave my self a Christmas present. Before this purchase I did not own a working VHF/UHF Radio. I have a Kenwood TH-78a that I love. It just needs a new battery pack to get me going. I went out following a snow storm and drove 40mi to Lentini Communcations in Berlin CT. which is my nearest “HAM” radio store and purchased the WOUXUN KG-UVD1P Dual Band (144/440) Transceiver. I was a bit skeptical about buying a Chinese branded ham radio that is not one of the big three (Yaesu, Kenwood and ICOM), but I figured the price is right ($130 w/ programing cable) and QST magazine gave it a good review.
First impression was not bad. The box looks nice and everything was neatly packaged. If I were to be over critical, I would say that the programing/usb driver CD’s should be regular sized instead of the Mini-CD that was given to me. I like that the battery is fully charged and it includes a drop in charger which I think should be a standard with any handheld that is purchased. The manual just gives the basics and has a lot of engrish so for those who depend on reading a manual rather than trial and error to operate a radio will find it a tad difficult to follow. You can also tell the radio is designed for general public use and not for amateur radio but that doesn’t phase me considering I’ve owned Motorola radios which I think they are harder to program.
After attaching the battery pack and the antenna, I powered on the unit to hear a voice speaking to me. It took me around 5min to look around, input a frequency, input a tone, set the offset, assign a offset and start talking on a repeater 50 Miles away. I wasn’t crystal clear but I can hear the other station and the other station could make me out.
I am going to start off with the cons
- Antenna connection is reversed (SMA FEMALE ON THE ANTENNA, SMA MALE ON THE RADIO)
- Not true Dual VFO. You can monitor two freq’s but locks out the other on activity.
- Hard to program through keypad
- S-Meter doesn’t seem accurate. I was barley getting a repeater and the S-Meter was showing full bars
- Can’t program both side keys
- PRICE PRICE PRICE!!! $130.00 US for everything
- Desktop Charger!
- Great receive
- Great Transmit
- Long lasting battery (7.4v 1300 mAh Li-Ion)
- Decent Size (2-1/4″ Wide X 4-1/8″ Tall X 1-1/2″ Thick)
As of right now I would recommend this to anyone. However I strongly suggest if you purchase this radio to also get the programing cable and software (you can download the software from their website) .
Ain’t it a thing of beauty? heh…
Before I upgraded to general I purchased an FT-857D. I was planning on putting it in my truck but I ended up using it in the house since it was my only HF rig. I wanted a bigger system so I could put the 857D mobile and I ended up getting a Kenwood TS-430s. After making the impulse purchase I realized that the TS-430S is not suited for digital. I kept using the FT-857D as a home unit and then I decided to sell everything for a new HF base that could handle digital. I was debating between the Kenwood TS-2000 or the Yaesu FT-950. For reasons which are unknown I ended up getting the FT-950. I am loosing VHF and UHF by getting the FT-950 But I think I made a wise purchase. So far I am loving this rig, it’s taking some getting used to but it’s amazing how a couple of adjustments makes a someone who I can barely hear sound like S9.