New Shack

By | January 9, 2016

I recently relocated the shack from the old location in the garage into a closet in the front guest room.  You read that correctly… a closet!  The prior shack (pictured in 2014 NAQP SSB results) was out in the garage and left a lot to be desired.  Factors leading to my decision to rebuild the shack included lack of heat, inadequate power, and (cuts both ways) it was pretty far removed from the main part of the house.

My girlfriend and I live in a 3 bedroom 2000 ft² house.  The master bedroom was off-limits – enough space, but we don’t even put screens in there… computer or TV.  The other two rooms are my kids rooms.  They primarily reside in the midwest, so the rooms do double-duty with guests.  My younger daughter, a budding HF contester, agreed to share her room with my hamshack.  I wanted to leave her room intact and let her obscure it, when it’s not in use.  Hence, the closet!

We’d recently moved for a few months to complete a major home remodel.  The shack was originally going to be completed during that, but with the massive overhaul and our desire to get back into the house, it didn’t make it.  During the remodel, I had the foresight to have the contractor install 2 x 20A 110v circuits and a 30A 220v circuit in the closet, as well as CAT6 strung from the garage.  We moved back in, and this to took a back burner to organizing and re-nesting in the house.

I made due with a couple IKEA tables in an L configuration in the closet.  You can see from the pic below how sad this state of affairs was.  I briefly flirted with the idea of building the desk myself, then realized that I’m a) not that motivated and b) not that talented.

Temporary... and messy closet shack.

Temporary… and messy closet shack.

About a month back, I finally got time on the contractors calendar to build a desk and install some shelving in the closet.  We met and discussed requirements for the install.  I had him lift the AL-80B and said, “there might be two of those on the desk, plus a couple power supplies and those 30″ monitors.”  The “wings” of the closet make perfect space for shelving and storage.  I wanted some matching, but moveable hutches to give me an opportunity to stack two layers of gear.  I wanted little cable pass-through notches routed out of the desk and the shelving.  After taking notes about my wishlist, he disappeared for some time and a few weeks later, I got a call asking for a good weekend to do the install.


Closet Before Install

He arrived with a super burly desk constructed from multiple layers of 1/2 ply and topped with white laminate.

Desk, Pre-Install

Desk, Pre-Install

After the better part of an afternoon, I was left with the desk installed and 3 extra shelves on each side of the closet.  I spent a little time futzing about trying to figure out how to position everything on the desk.  I opted not to mount the monitors on the wall, as previously planned, as they were just at the upper edge of usability… wall mounted, I’d be looking up too much.  I decided to leave the “standard” shelf in place for extra storage.

In order to accommodate both older 30″ monitors (both are Dell U3011s) sitting on the hutches, I needed all 4.  Add a single 30″ 5K monitor to the wishlist.

Test fit of KPA500 and KAT500

Test fit of KPA500 and KAT500

I was really pleased with the build quality of everything he produced.  A few on-site adjustments were required, but nothing that could have been foreseen.

Shelving, before painting

Shelving, before painting

I painted the original top shelf white and, after waiting for it to dry, began moving in.  Given that I had two Elecraft K3 transceivers, I tried a test fit of both with both the KPA500 and the AL-80B on the desk.  I headed down the path of “geez, I could run SO2R”.  More about this in an upcoming series of posts on antennae and the tower… but I decided to jump on a much bigger tower and antenna and save the SO2R experience for a later stage.

Test SO2R Setup

Test SO2R Setup (shelf still not painted)

I set about tidying up the buckets of crap I had lying around my daughter’s room and organizing little IKEA tubs of random parts.

Ample storage!

Ample storage!


Over the course of the next week, I installed WireTray-branded cable trays, some LED lighting, RIGRunners for DC Power distribution, some Stanley AC power strips, a copper bus bar for grounding (and ground straps), and generally making stuff work.

WireTray Cable Raceway

WireTray Cable Raceway (and messy AC jacks)

Heil PR-30 On Flange Mount

Heil PR-30 On Flange Mount

Bus Bar and Cable Raceway

Bus Bar and Cable Raceway (before tidying up)

Closet "Wings"

Closet “Wings” (Still in temporary SO2R layout)

Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the build quality and how it turned out and some nice LED lights have rounded out the “finished” look of the install. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m glad I finally moved the shack.  I’ve been on the air a lot more, recently.  It’s nice to have a comfortable, heated, indoor location to operate.

I’ll post some more glamour shots when I’m actually settled in and the spurious wires are cleaned up.

Recently Built Shack Desk

Recently Built Shack Desk