In 2016 I was just a Short Wave Listener but had plans in place to become a licensed amateur in the not too distant future. With no real room I was limited on where I could setup, so my shack had to fit in with the limited space available. With no spare rooms to call a shack I have to make do with using the main living room, at least until one of my kids leave home. It’s going to be hard to fit a proper HAM shack in such a limited space and even harder to operate when the YL is in the room watching TV!!
In the shack at the time we have:-
In May 2017 I had just passed my Foundation and was issued my first callsign, M6JNA, actually it maybe my only call sign as I feel I may never advance up the ladder. There’s a few reasons for this, first my shift work ruins any chance of visiting a club to participate in club meetings and any practical assessments they carry out during the week, this means I am available at weekends only and no club I know of do these at weekends 🙁 Second I am quite happy running 10w of power, I enjoy the challenge!!
Anyway the shack at this time hasn’t changed much from above. The only additions are a Kenwood TS480 SAT and a SignaLink USB for digital modes. As you can see in the image below I am happy playing digital modes.
There seems to be a recurring theme here, another new radio! The ICOM IC-7300. To be honest I couldn’t decide between the ICOM IC-7300 and the Kenwood TS-590SG but as I am into SDR’s the 7300 won the day, I hope I haven’t made any mistakes in my choices as I see plenty of 7300’s for sale on various sites.
Other additions include a change of antenna. I sold the HyendFed 3 band classic and bought a Chameleon CHA Hybrid. Also bought a DX Engineering RTR-2 Transmit/Receive switch so I can use the Wellbrook loop for receive whilst transmitting on the CHA Hybrid and also allowing me to use my SDRPlay RSP2 at the same time for a panadapter without blowing the front end.
A few more changes have taken place, a new radio, new antenna’s and new rotator. The radio is now a Kenwood TS-590SG, well I did say I couldn’t decide between a IC-7300 and a 590SG. Although the IC-7300 is a lovely compact radio I just wasn’t as impressed with its performance as I thought I would have been. I sold the IC-7300 locally to another M6 and purchased the 590SG from Martyn Lynches.
First impressions of the receiver on the 590SG are “wow”, it blows the 7300 out of the water, it’s got a lovely receiver!!
Connecting up to the SDRPlay RSP 2 is super easy as it connects via the IF output on the rig and now I don’t have to rely on RTR-2 to switch to ground when transmitting. RTR-2 is now up for sale due to the antenna change which comes next.
The Wellbrook ALA1530+ Imperium was sold over the Christmas period, loved the antenna and it has served me well but I had an itch to try a different loop antenna, one that I could transmit on.
I had looked a lot on the web at different brands, even making one myself was an option (it wouldn’t work though haha). MFJ have a few but reading reviews about issues with quality control put me off but then after further research Martyn Lynches sell them but they strip them down and go over them and make sure they are fit for purpose. The only problem is the bandwidth of the MFJ loops is limited.
Browsing Ham Radio Deals forums I came across G0WYD Bob selling a Ciro Mazzoni Baby Loop with an ATU 2.0 controller and RS232 module installed for £800, the only issue was that I had to go and collect it from either his work address at Highclere Castle (or better known as Downton Abbey from the TV series) or his home QTH near Salisbury Plain. I decided to go to his home QTH and after a short stay made my way home with the loop in the back of my car.
I also purchased a G7FEK dipole antenna which I slung up in a tree. I chose the G7FEK after I had tried a Western HF10, the G7FEK being a little shorter so more suitable for my small garden. The G7FEK is setup a little like an “F” turned 90 degrees clockwise with the short leg sloping down the other side of neighbours tree and the long leg going over the top of our house.
To turn the Ciro Baby Loop I needed something with a little more oomph that the lightweight AR300 so managed to find a Yaesu G450 rotator, again from Ham Radio Deals forums.
I had also purchased a Uniden UBC-3500XLT scanner, done a discriminator tap mod on it to allow me to decode digital modes via the PC using DSD+ Fastlane software and also a Radioditty GD-77 2m/70cm dual band FM and DMR handheld.