Rebuilding the Shack PC

My ham shack PC is an older Dell desktop PC.  It’s not fancy, but it does the job I need it to do.  I’m pretty sure this PC and its present Windows installation date back to 2011 or 2012.  Initially it was built with Windows 7 and then I applied the free Windows 10 upgrade whenever that came out.  With exception to just general sluggishness which one can expect from a machine of this age…the machine still works fine.  It’s just slower than molasses on a cold winter day.  This slow/sluggishness can be eliminated by reformatting the HDD and reloading the OS and all the software. 

Sticking with Windows

While I’ve certainly dabbled in Linux, I’m a Windows guy by profession.  Plus my main ham radio software is Ham Radio Deluxe.  I’ve been running HRD since I was first licensed back in 2007.  It’s what I like, it’s what I’m used to and it does everything I need it to do.  I use HRD for all my general logging and use DM-780 for PSK, RTTY etc. and it seamlessly works well with WSJT apps for all things JT/FT.  For contesting, I generally stick with either N1MM Logger or the N3FJP logging software.  While I realize there are Linux solutions available, I’m just not interested in taking the plunge.

Taking Backups

The first order of business for this project is backup.  Backup everything.  Of course the most important thing to backup is my HRD Logbook.  It is automagically backed up each time I exit the logbook to my Dropbox folder.  But I wanted to make sure I had a good backup.  Done!

Ham Radio Deluxe also has a feature to archive/export all HRD settings.  I’ve never actually tried this feature, so this will be the first attempt.  Hopefully this works and will help speed up the process of getting HRD running again after the rebuild. 

The next important item to backup is my TQSL file.  You can easily export your TQSL file by launching the TQSL app and exporting your station data.  this makes getting this app set back up a breeze.  Again…Dropbox comes to the rescue. 

As I’m running a few USB to Serial dongles, I wanted to make sure I had the driver software stored safely somewhere I could find it.  Once again Dropbox is the answer.   I also verified I had a few other misc. files that I may or may not need readily available and saved on my Dropbox (Just in Case).

Finally, I’ve backed up all the other files/folders of the machine just to make sure I have everything I might need.  I don’t anticipate I’ll need anything other than the items I’ve moved over to Dropbox, but you never know.

Reset Windows

Windows 10 has option to perform a full reset of the OS which removes all applications, settings, configurations and files/folders on the machine.  Essentially this is a fresh install of the OS and is the option I opted to go with.  I could have performed a partial reset which keeps the files/folders…but as this machine had 8-9 years of clutter on it…I wanted to completely start over. 

The process of resetting Windows 10 took about 30 minutes or so.  I was doing a few other things in my office at the time.  But in the end, I was left with a fresh install of Windows 10 and a much faster performing PC. 

After reconnecting Dropbox, I proceeded to reinstall Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT etc.  The HRD settings saved me a lot of time and by mid-morning, I had the PC connected to both my Yaesu FT-897 which I use for digital modes and my FTDX 1200.  I made a few FT-8 QSO’s on 20 meters and tested to make sure I could upload both to ARRL LoTW and eQSL.  My callsign lookup is functional with QRZ and my QSO’s get updated to so they are visible on my blog site.  I still need to reinstall a few additional items such as N1MM Logger and N3FJP Logging Software.  I’ll get these done before the next contest. 

For now, I feel this old Dell will last me at least another year or perhaps more.  I really don’t need it to do anything other than serve as my ham shack PC and it works very well in this function.  Even better now.

I certainly hope all who are reading this are safe, healthy and weathering the quarantine as well as can be expected.  Of course our hobby is perfect for times like this and I hope you are getting some quality on-air time. 

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK (Jerry)

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

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