Well, if you look close and remember how things were, you may notices the changes. I have talked about the ICOM 7000 in the shack and wanting it for digital and the KX3 that is backordered as a second high quality receiver and portable rig.
Going from one radio in the shack to three represented a challenge. First I wanted them to be plug and play. The KX3 has to be ready to go on a moments notice, so in this case it just needs power and a antenna connector and amp connections. Honestly, the amp connections part is going to be more complicated that I would like, however, I do believe I have a solution for this using a couple of AR704s and a regular audio RCA switch box. The Flex requires the AR704 to be powered, and the ICOM requires different connections and that the AR704 not be powered. I haven't integrated the KX3 yet, so we shall see how that goes.
So what's the big deal you ask? Well, it's three radios and three antennas and having switching for them. This took some real thought and planning to get right. The notion of right is subjective, so not all antennas work on all radios right now, I didn't feel like I needed the G5RV on all radios. That antenna is really only available to the ICOM. As you can see in the diagram I can easily add the G5RV to the KX3 with one cable between switches.
I started by drawing wire diagrams, however somehow they just were not feeling right. That's when I moved to using actual pictures of the hardware in question. See the diagram below. I should note as well that the analog watt meter is now placed between the antenna and the last switch on the Hex.
And of course this diagram is just the wiring diagram, then there is the reality of the actual shack. I have shown the back of my rack a few times, it's quite the spaghetti factory. Here I was, about to add more cables and more switches. I feared just how bad it might get!
So, much to my dismay I began removing all the equipment from the rack, cut several dozen zip ties and then looked at an empty rack, a floor full of cables and a desk full of switches and wall warts, radios and boxes. It's moments like these you wonder if itwill everwork the same when you get it back together.
The first order of business was to decide where to mount the switches. I also had to keep in mind the need to keep it clean and keep touch points to a minimum to avoid creating new RFI issues. If you have read other articles of mineyou may recall that my keys to avoiding RFI issues are to keep some space between both the equipment and the cables. I decided I wanted all my switching on the front of the rack and low down so managing the coax would be easier. I zip tied all my Alpha Delta switches to the bottom shelf.
Then I started putting equipment back on the shelf. There were three major goals:
Goal: get the equipment most adjusted low and close to the end of the rack. That really meant the Amp, Antenna Tuner and the rotator control.
Goal: put the ICOM radio equipment all together. I hope to make a box for it so I can go mobile if needed. And just pull the box out alltreads to go.
Goal, have a place to quickly plug and play with the KX3 both barefoot and with the amp.
Goal: run the ICOM digital and have access to all antennas.
So, with all this in mind I pulled up my trusty diagram from above and started loading and connecting up equipment on the shelves. As it turns out, the cable scheme I devised really made the whole cable situation better. I did not have the opportunity to photograph it as I want to clean the ground connections up a bit before this phase is completed. I will post it though when completed.
Having it all on a set of Alpha Delta switches is really nice. I used the labeling machine to tag it all so I can make sense up it. It's not as complicated as I thought it would be and I am really glad I planned it all out on paper first!
I am ready for the KX3 when it eventually arrives, I just need to run a power line form the power supply to it. I also want to do something in the way of a speaker connection for it. I think I will use the laptop with it as far as a Panadaptor and CAT control or use with digital modes.
I learned that my suspicion where the transmit on the ICOM and Flex radios would interfere with each other is in fact true, This was a risk I was aware of going into it, so operating two radios at once is limited to some degree. This is not a radio issue, this is simply an issue of the antennas being so close together.
I am looking forward to the KX3, I am very interested in comparing its receive capabilities to the Flex receivers. As a new ham with limited experience with different radios, this will be my first exposure to comparing 2 radios in the top 10 on the Sherwood charts. While I have my own beliefs about specs on radios, the limited comparisons I have done with the ICOM 7000 and the Flex 5k would lead me to believe that on a good antenna the differences are very real.
And last but not least, the mad scientist part of me as a ham is feeling like it is coming to a conclusion. There is nothing like ones own direct interaction with experiments to satisfy the curiosity. The station I have built works really well and I feel that I myself, as an operator, is the limit now. Therefor, I must switch gears again from station building to knowledge building and above all, operating experience building.
While I have no love of any one radio I own or wish to own, it's safe to say I do really like the overall system I have built and how well it works.
Sure, a huge tower, Yagi and the best radio would be awesome. You see though, I have gained enough knowledge to be pleased and yet I am ignorant enough to not want or lust more right now. A ham can get to understand their limits and know when they are ahead. Given my QTH, the time I can invest in this great pastime, I feel very content!
I hope to make a few videos soon for an upcoming presentation I am doing for one of the local clubs on SDRs and will likely post them to youtube for those interested. I regret I will not be able to post the presentation though, today's current landscape just won't allow for that!