A Tale of Two Mics

Number 8I’m fairly new to this amateur radio community and I’ve already learned a lot. What excites me about it, beyond making contacts, is the making of parts and equipment. Homemade or homebrew items are sprinkled liberally around the community. I appreciate what I have learned and I’m excited to learn more.

So, here’s my problem:

I went through a couple of radios, mainly mobile radios, until I found suitable base radio for starters. After my young son decided to play with my adjustable power supply, he fried my Yaesu 8900, beyond repair. I took it to a local operator, who, after careful investigation and minor repair, declared the radio dead. He offered his condolences and offered that he might be selling a radio, not that he was trying to force me to buy it. I inquired about this radio. It was a Kenwood TS-2000. Looks nice and has a lot of buttons. He told me he was going to take it to the local ham fest to sell and if it didn’t he’d make it a good deal for me.

As fate would have it, the radio didn’t sell. Indeed, he sold it to me for an undisclosed amount that was more than a good deal for me. He added an HP DPS-1200FB server power supply to avoid the incident to which my Yaesu had succumbed. I was happy and overwhelmed. This radio was more than I ever imagined, and I’m still learning about it after almost a year.

Eventually, I discovered that VOX is very useful for HF work. So, I added a cheap computer studio mic and went to work on HF. Then, there are the local nets on the local repeaters. While not forbidden to use VOX on the repeater, setting things was just a bit tricky. So, I opted to use the supplied Kenwood dynamic push-to-talk mic for repeater work.

Now, the two mics are in play. Any time I switched between the repeaters and HF, I also switched mics. I had to disconnect one and attach the other, which, besides being cumbersome, just made me worried I’d eventually mess up the connectors.

Behold! The idea for a microphone selector switch was born.


Naturally, since I’m not a master electronics guy, I searched for an already assembled microphone selector switch. To my disappointment, I could not find what I was looking for. There were many different radio or antenna switches, but none that had two inputs and one output for which I was looking.

Much internet research later… I decided to buy some parts and take a shot at creating my own microphone selector switch. Amazon provided the parts I was seeking. A project box, some 8-pin mic chassis sockets, some 8-pin mic plugs, and most importantly, a switch.

Number 1The parts arrived. I first went about figuring out how that switch worked. I had hoped that center post was the common for both directions. Thankfully, it was. So I went about soldering some wires, one to each of the three legs. I had the wire from my RC airplane hobby, but that is another story.

Number 2Critique as much as you like, I’m still learning how to solder well. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t.

Now, on to the project box.

Number 3First, I made a pilot hole in the center of what would be the front…

Number 4Then I opened the pilot hole up to accept the switch. (Not pictured are the locating and drilling of the holes for the chassis mount connectors on the back.)

Number 5I placed the switch and tightened it up. I put the lid on to see how it looked. I also began wiring up the chassis mounts. That was challenging.

Number 6Here, you can see where I had the center chassis mount wired to the switch. I had plenty of wire, so I wouldn’t have to solder inside the box. There are 4 wires that are going to be on that center chassis mount. One wire goes to the switch, and two wires go to each of the side chassis mounts.

Number 7Now the two microphone input connectors are being soldered. The red wire goes to the switch, and the two black wires go to the output connector, already installed.

Number 8 Number 9All of the components are installed.

Number 10I’m all done…or not.

I discovered that my switch did not operate as I had hoped. Upon checking in on a local net, I was informed that my audio was very low. After my check-in, I changed frequencies and messed with that switch and my VOX button. I discovered that both mics were acting on the VOX. Where I thought I was using my push-to-talk button, I was actually using VOX.

Back to the drawing board. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t terribly discouraged. I knew it worked on VOX, but why didn’t my PTT work?

Another learning moment. All of you are laughing at this point, if you’ve managed to read this far.

Number 11As you can note, that right rear chassis mount now has four wires attached to it. Yes, I overlooked the obvious. That fourth wire is the control wire for the PTT.

After adding this wire, this thing is my current pride and joy. It works flawlessly. When switching between HF and local repeaters, all I do is flip the switch and press the VOX button.

And if you are wondering…here are those two mics:

Number 12That isolator mount is another story, for another day.

Thanks for reading!

The Plugs: Amazon
The Project Box: Amazon
The Chassis Mounts: Amazon
And the Switch: Amazon

Greg Walters, KK4TIX, is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Kentucky, USA.

8 Responses to “A Tale of Two Mics”

  • Dave WD8CIV:

    With one more connector – a panel mount 1/4 inch jack – you could wire it in parallel with your PTT line, then use a cheap music keyboard sustain pedal as a footswitch.

    I really liked using a footswitch when I was handling traffic with Navy MARS. It leaves both hands free, like using VOX, but doesn’t pick up the noise of annoying little brothers. You have to remember to actually step on the switch to talk, though. I forgot that part a few times.

  • Josiah KE0BLL:

    I also appreciate your mic mount. Thanks for sharing. WD8IC’s idea to add a footswitch sounds like a clever feature addition too.

  • Ken N8CGY:

    That was a fun article to read Greg! Keep honing those skills my friend, they will serve you well. 73 de N8CGY

  • Kd4gnx Richard:

    Ditto on ptt foot pedal, just have remember it also acts as an r-t-l button, and not to place in a WELL USED foot rest location. ;).
    Btw, r-t-l is release to listen!
    Great article!
    73,
    De Richard

  • Bruce ZL1AAO:

    Very interesting read. Thank you for sharing. I’m a Vox user myself but switch over to footswitch use when contesting. 73 Bruce

  • Scott W9VHE:

    Great project. I had a similar one switching from Mic to TNC on an ICOM IC-27A. Looking forward to the Mic Mount post!

  • Sandy KD8UTR:

    Great How-To article. I hope you don’t mind if I reprint it in our Club Newsletter, The Repeater, for the Livonia Amateur Radio Club.

  • W1WBL:

    Great Job…..I am just starting a QRP Project and you have inspired me to do more 73

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