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Why Do They Call It Wireless

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Presentation on theme: "Why Do They Call It Wireless"— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Do They Call It Wireless
Why Do They Call It Wireless? Behind the Radios in Multi-Radio Contest Stations By Contest Station Builders Worldwide Collected and Edited by Pete Smith, N4ZR

2 The approach Identify the challenges in the design and construction of complex contest stations (other than antennas). Collect and present solutions from station builders worldwide. Thanks, VE1JF

3 Caveats Successful contest stations come in all varieties, from fully-engineered to “growed like topsy.” There is no single “right way” Presentation based on input from station builders – not comprehensive

4 Neatness is optional This is a view of the back side of a very successful, high-tech contest station. I’m not saying whose, but the fact is, I received any number of pictures showing equally messy “back views,” including several I couldn’t distinguish from this one. Whoever you are, you ARE not alone.

5 Challenge – Basic design decisions
“Architecture” choices Degree of automation. Location of physical antenna switching/phasing. Layout of operating position and cable runs

6 Solutions Full automatic/remote RF switching Hybrid approach
Manual 2X6  6X2 switching Other manual approaches Mechanical switch w/interlock Patch panel Cables on the floor

7 Footnote – What is 2X6  6X2 switching?
“Industry standard” automation – highest isolation, either rig connects to all antennas, fail-safe Six-Pack switching uses just the left side – lower isolation but study suggests it is not the limiting factor in the real world. Courtesy Top Ten Devices

8 Full automation/remote RF switching
SO2R switching and antenna selection done remotely, but controlled from the operating position. Maximum computer integration. Cable for data, not RF. Backup manual systems or spares are essential.

9 For Example …. K4JA Utter simplicity – belies what is under the covers.

10 Equally simple from the back
View is in wiring closet that extends across back of all op positions. Amps and SO2R switching are in closet. Cables include amp control, one band data line to SO2R panel, rotator control cable, AC power. Antenna switching still to come. K4JA

11 But lots of hardware required to support the up-front simplicity
Bandpass filters, 2 6-way relay boxes, 6 A/B selectors (no antennas connected to A/B boxes yet) K4JA

12 Especially at a multi-multi

13 Remote antenna selection
More remote relay boxes, switched from operating position, or… Stackmatches or equivalent, similarly controlled KC1XX

14 Hybrid approach Most stations have been evolving for years.
Can’t always do everything at once.

15 For example …. W9RE As everyone knows, Mike’s been at the complex station game a long time. A/B switching is automated now, but selection of antennas remains manual, and all the switches are at the operating position.

16 Homebrew 6X2 relay box Under the operating table W9RE

17 Manual antenna selection

18 Manual 2X6  6X2 switching … KQ2M
Operationally equivalent to the full-auto arrangement, but all manual. Risk of error, fatigue is the big drawback. No interlock in A/B selection. KQ2M

19 A Scottish solution GM4AFF
Stewart has kindly marked the switches – the interlock is mechanical, so that only 1 from radio 1 and 1 from radio 2 can be selected at one time. Relay box wiring prevents both being on the same band. GM4AFF

20 Ultimate simplicity? W5KFT
Cables from amps go to patch panel (only one connected here). One jack per band, no relays (but 6 coax cables to the operating position). Virtually foolproof as long as you remember which amp cable is which. W5KFT

21 And simpler yet Tom’s message to me was titled “World Class automation” K1KI

22 Challenge – Cable entry
How to get feedlines and control cables into the shack area Now down to nuts and bolts

23 Solution - Through-wall panel

24 On a larger scale …. KC1XX

25 The dryer-vent approach

26 Or through the siding Buriable CATV coax K4JA

27 With the connections made inside…

28 Challenge – Lightning protection
Some measures essential Protect vs disconnect There are only two groups – those who have taken a hit and those who will. Controversial topic.

29 Solution - disconnect everything

30 Control cables, too Color coding helps keep things straight K4OJ

31 Solution – protectors on coax, control lines. Inside,
From Polyphaser or ICE – controversial for amateur installations unless all recommendations can be followed to the letter. VE1JF

32 … or at the tower base N3RR

33 Inside the box N3RR Lots of protectors, for coax and all other lines
Tower ground system tied to single point ground at house entry N3RR

34 Grounding at the entry panel
Old road sign – captive grounding plugs – slip-on PL-259s as shorting plugs. Shiny stuff is insulation for cold winters N1LO

35 A closer look Note use of captive plugs for control cable grounding – use of slip-on PL-259s with internal short for coax. N1LO

36 Cable support and low-inductance grounding

37 Challenge – cable support, protection and management
Keep them out from underfoot Protect against accidental damage Retain flexibility for easy change, maintenance

38 Suspend from ceiling joists

39 Bundle by band, type (RF, control, etc.)

40 Use a cable tray Fabricated from 2X4s and plywood, with hinged tops and slots for cables to get in and out. WX0B

41 Other options (no pictures)
Contractors’ snap-open wire hangers “Panduit” extruded plastic cable trays and associated fixtures – separate cables by function Bicycle hangers, vinyl dipped huge screw hooks, etc.

42 Challenge – Access to cabling
Free-standing operating table with access from rear Cable closet Console on wheels

43 Access from rear This one a little skinnier than most – 24-30” generally recommended GM4AFF

44 Cable closet Rigs to left, coax entry from right – 34” wide K4JA

45 Another more spacious approach

46 Console on wheels Everything rolls out away from the wall VK5GN

47 Cable marking techniques
Labelmakers – Dymo, P-Touch, Casio, etc. with clear heat-shrink or tape Colored tape – use resistor color code MS Word/Magic Tape Paint pen w/ silver ink It’s important to label cables fully – what is it, what does it connect to

48 Cable bundling techniques
Color-coded Velcro ties Tie-wraps – reusable or disposable THHN wire twisted Spiral wrap tubing (Alpha or Panduit) Split-loom tubing (SPC or Panduit)

49 Other cabling hints Use pigtails with terminal strips to ease the task of changing radio-specific connectors Of course, that way you have to label both the terminal strip and the cables. HC8N

50 And more… Use unique connectors to reduce risk of mistakes when recabling Use multiple conductor cables where possible Careful attention to grounding can reduce inter-station interference W3PP found that multiple ground leads to a single ground bus around the outside of his shack helped reduce interstation interference dramatically

51 Documentation Station notebook is essential
Document everything in one place Schematics Cable lengths Measured resistances, SWRs, etc. Critical computer info Everything you might need at 4 AM

52 Special solutions for special problems
Phasing multiple antennas on separate towers on 10m – OK2RZ Managing multiple receiving antennas on 160 – W8JI

53 OK2RZ 8 antennas/45 elements on 5 towers, including 3-high stack – 10m only Ability to drive either 2 or 4 simultaneously Phasing line length determined experimentally

54 OK2RZ 10m antennas Former military communications facility
Hilltop at 1000’ ASL

55 OK2RZ antenna phasing Surplus mechanical switch
Only part of the phasing lines – impedance matching a real challenge

56 W8JI Primarily a 160m station Three operating positions
Many receiving antennas/arrays Challenge – how to make antennas available to all operating positions simultaneously Use of BCD for control wiring sharply reduces the number of conductors to remote array hubs – up to 2000’ away 3 conductors, up to 8 selections, decoded by relay/diode matrixes

57 Receiving multicoupler
6 antenna inputs at top – preamps using CATV transistors Any output to any receiver simultaneously – BCD data at right from operating positions

58 SO2R Audio/CW Controller Options
Commercial units Top Ten Devices Array Solutions Homebrew approaches Important to simple, reliable wiring at the operating position

59 Array Solutions SO2R

60 TopTen DX Doubler

61 Homebrewers K6LL Full auto, almost completely homebrew
Cheap printer switchboxes often the choice for enclosures K6LL

62 More examples N6TR – One of the first
S56A – relayless SO2R controllers KG5U – manual – audio and antennas W2UP – audio only K5FD – full auto w/ antenna switching Check these sites for ideas

63 Thanks to the following contributors:
EI8IC, GM4AFF, HA1AG, K0FF, K0HB, K0XG, K1DG, K1GQ, K1IR, K1KI, K3BU, K3NA, K3ND, K3OO, K3WW, K4JA, K4OJ, K4ZA, K5FD, K5TR, K5ZD, K6LA, K6LL, K7NV, K7ZO, K8CC, K8DX, K9GS, K9GY, KC4UZ, KG5U, KI7WX, KI7Y, KL7RA, KQ2M, KS9W, N1KWF, N1LO, N3BB, N3RR, N5NJ, N5OT, N5ZC, N8YYS, OK2RZ, S56A, VE1JF, VE3PN, VE7QO, VK5GN, W1YL, W2UP, W2VJN, W3PP, W4AN, W7TI, W7ZR, W7ZRC, W8JI, W9RE ,WE9V ,WX0B Some didn’t make it into the final presentation, as its organization evolved over time, but all helped shape it

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