New Years Day 2018 – Rack Mount Day

Here we go! The station is disassembled and most of the equipment is in the rack. I got a lot done today. Back to work tomorrow so progress will slow during the week. I was able to rack mount almost everything.

Now you can see why I needed to get moving on this. Whenever I needed to trace a cable back there it was virtually impossible. It was a rat’s nest, and, I could no longer reach behind the gear once I added the TV riser. This is what happens when you don’t have a walk space behind your desk. Even worse, every time I added gear, I would just overlay the cables in the back! Hence the rat’s nest.

Cabling rats nest
This is what it looked like behind the TV riser. Never again…

During my research for this remodel I looked at a lot of shack photos for ideas. Special thanks to Roger K7ERQ for the detailed desk plans and layout he sent me, that really got me thinking. All these great looking and functional shacks had one thing in common…They all had a walk space behind them. So I knew I had to have the ability to walk behind and work behind my gear, albeit for the first time after all these years!

The dust was unbelievable today. I was choking on the dust. Never again! The new shack will employ an oversized HEPA Filter. By the time I’m done, this room will be dust free, and stay that way thanks to the air purifier. I know, why didn’t I think of the HEPA filter sooner!

The Astron RS-70A power supply will have a PC mounted above it. The PC case is much deeper than the RS-70 which would have made it difficult to access the power supply. So, I came up with the idea to use this leftover cover from a PC to sit the power supply on.

Astron RS-70A
Makeshift sliding shelf for the Astron RS-70 Power supply

There’s enough clearance with the PC mounted above so I can slide the power supply forward or backward for service!

Astron RS-70A
The Windows 10 PC mounted above the Astron Power Supply is deep!

I connected the Flex 6300 directly to the power supply. I also connected an MFJ-1118 to get DC distribution to all the other components. I’m considering some of the Samlex power supplies to replace my aging RS supplies.

Astron RS-70A
Only two direct connections to the Astron RS-70A

I’m connecting the Flex 5000 to the 35A terminals on the MFJ after discovering during planning that the 5000’s power lead would be too short to reach the RS-70 at the bottom of the rack. The 5000 only draws 25A max on TX, so the 35A DC distro panel was chosen. When I add the 6600/6700 radio later this year, it will also be connected directly to the power supply.

The Flex 5000 will connect to the 35A terminals on the MFJ DC Distro

I also connected all the Single Point Ground leads. They will all tie to the station Grounding Bar which will be mounted on a rear pack panel when the project nears completion.

Georgia Copper
The Ground Bar will be mounted on a rear rack panel. The 2″ strap will be extended to meet the rack in the corner of the shack.
Single Point Ground
The Single Point Ground leads are also in place.

All the leads will be trimmed and dressed to make the wiring as clean and concise as possible. The complete opposite of what it was before. I also ordered sufficient numbers (and sizes) of Mix 31 Snap-On Ferrites. I will have proper fitting ferrite beads on both ends of every cable in the rack for RFI suppression.

Rack Mount everything
Good progress made today! The rack is getting heavy, but still rolls like a champ on the carpet!

I’ll continue wiring weeknights after dinner.

Back To The Front


Dead radio?

I was trying the FT8 digital mode for the first time on my new Flex 6500. The radio was in (full duty cycle) FT8 transmit at 100 watts into near perfect SWR when I heard a ‘pop’, after which, the radio would no longer power up.

I immediately assumed I had blown up the radio…

Yep, you could say I was a little ‘bent out of shape’. All I can say is, it’s a really terrible feeling. Mostly, I was angry at myself for having blown up the radio. Mega p1553d was more like it…

After regaining some composure, I noticed some of the other 12V gear, not in use at the time, was also off. So I pulled out the voltmeter, and sure enough (and much to my delight!) there was no DC on the power lead to the dead radio!

How Do You Spell Relief?

I immediately connected the radio directly to the power supply and started dancing when the radio powered up. RELIEF is not a strong enough word in this case.

As it turned out, I had blown a fuse in the MFJ power strip!

The culprit: 15A 32V fuse

Can’t blame MFJ for this one! This is what happens when you try to draw 25A through a 15A circuit. A rookie mistake.

Easy to replace….If I can find one!

A couple of local stores are showing them in stock. This is a 15A/32v fuse.

In an effort to take some of the load off the MFJ-1118 I will connect the two 6000 series radios directly to the power supply. The MFJ-1118 is not relied upon to protect the radios, and I now realize that having it inline with the radios is wholly unnecessary.

The most time consuming part of this problem was getting the power strip out of the rack! I had installed the MFJ power strip inside the rack behind the Flex 5000 and now realize it was a design flaw to have located it there.

After replacing the fuse, the MFJ-1118 will be mounted to the exterior side of the rack for easier access going forward.

OK, so by now, I’m sure you’ve figured out how I got myself into this situation!

In error, I had connected the Flex 6500 to a 15 amp circuit. While in full duty cycle transmit the radio requires 25 amps. Hence the pop!

I’ll replace the fuse, change my shorts, Hi Hi, and go on my way a little wiser.

UPDATE: Found the fuse at Home Depot, replaced the fuse and tie wrapped the MFJ-1118 to the side of the rack. Reconnected all the 12v gear, and everything is back together.

I should have mounted it here to begin with!

Back To The Front