Posts Tagged ‘Ham Shack’

Just stand up

The "Nifty Accessories" KX3 stand

Nifty Accessories KX3 stand

The Elecraft KX3 is naturally at home in the wild

My Elecraft KX3 is an incredible radio in many ways.  It's small size makes it a marvel for portable operations.
The upward facing display of the KX3's short legs is ideal for remote, portable operations

But on the desktop it's short stuff

But for desktop operation the short rear legs make for a laid back angle that makes the display difficult to see and the buttons awkward to operate.  I home brewed a stand that I've used for the past few months.  It angled the radio more vertically but it was still low to the desk. 

The KX3 on my homebrew stand

The KX3 "Iron Throne"

I finally felt it was time to give the KX3 some love and give it a proper throne chair for its little princely demeanor.  The KX3 now has some height and sits more vertically.  Access to the face of the radio is much improved.

Here's a closer view...

If you have a KX3 and use it on a desk in the shack the Nifty Accessories stand is a solid addition to improve the ergonomics of your little jewel.  It can be ordered with enough space to clear an attached paddle or lower to the desk if you prefer but I wanted the additional height to get it above some of my taller keys.

One Suggestion... replace the paper clips

The stand comes with big paper clips to hold the KX3 to the stand.  They are a a bit difficult to properly attach with all the cables exiting the KX3 on the left hand side and they look ugly.

I replaced the two paper clips with a small bungee cord which I attach as a loop across the top of the stand.  The bungee cord connects to itself underneath the stand...

The feet of the KX3 then slip under the bungee cord.  It seems to hold it sufficiently and is easier to attach and remove the radio.  It looks nicer as well...

That's all for now

So lower your power and raise your expectations

Richard, N4PBQ

Colorado QSO Party and KD0BIK’s Ham Shack Grand Opening


It’s time for the 2012 Colorado QSO Party and likewise, it’s time to officially open my new ham shack, home office, podcast studio and general man cave that I’ve been talking about for so long. 

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 was to finish the basement ham shack and home office.  This was a project that began eons ago (or certainly felt like it), but actually I began framing the walls for the new space in 2008.  While the framing stage went fairly quickly, not a lot of work was done between mid 2009 and 2011. 

My wife has always been supportive of my hobbies, especially amateur radio.  I believe she could sense my frustration in finding the motivation to finish the new space.  Some of the delays had centered around decisions on sheetrock (drywall) or paneling or ???.  We began making decisions and started the sheetrock installation phase in February. 

In the February timeframe I began looking down the road to select a date and goal to work towards.  Let me state that I realize the work I’ve done (even including the framing from 200Smilie: 8) all could have been completed in a very short time.  Perhaps two people could have done everything in a short span of just 2-3 weeks working each day for several hours.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury.  Sure I could have hired a carpenter, but I wanted to do the work myself.

Anyway, knowing we would still continue to pace ourselves, I figured setting the goal date to be in the new space for the Colorado QSO Party weekend would be safe. 

Of course, as winter turned into Spring and Spring turned into Summer and watching Memorial Day come and go, then Field Day come and go and 4th of July come and go….WHOA!!!!  I woke up one day and it was August and inside of 30 days.  Would I make it?  Could I make it?  What if I didn’t make it?

Of course, nothing bad would happen if I didn’t make my goal.  My New Year’s Resolution was to finish the basement in 2012, the Colorado QSO Party date was somewhat self-imposed or should I say self-inflicted.  In any event, if I wasn’t in the new shack…I could certainly still operate in the contest from my old shack location.  I mean it works…right?  Also, I didn’t want to just move a chair, a desk and a radio into the new shack for 24 hours.  It was either all-the-way or no way.

Thankfully, things really began to click into place in August.  On August 1st (T-Minus 30 days) the sheetrock work was done, the texturing, sanding etc. was done, the paint on the walls and ceiling was dry, the floor was down, the cabinets were in place and the countertop was on the way.  I merely had just a few hours of finish carpentry to complete before the dust creation process was 100% complete.   Once I no longer need to cut trim in the basement area, I could safely begin bringing in my computers and radios into the new space. 

So what’s left to do?  Before I answer that question…let’s take a short walk down memory lane through pictures.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the plain concrete walls, so just use your imagination. 

Framed walls before sheetrock – February 2012

Measure twice, cut once – February 2012


Everything I needed to know to do this I learned in Kindergarten.  Just cut along the line. – February 2012

Getting there… – March 2012

Walls done – March 2012

It’ll need a ceiling right?  – April 2012

You’ll have to trust me that this is a picture of the finished/textured wall. – May 2012

photo (2)

Warp Speed.  From June 1 through end of July we managed to paint ceiling, walls, put down flooring and hang over 20 wall cabinets and drawer cabinets.  – August 2012


Let me pause for a second as I’m getting dizzy.  I worked mostly without any major plans.  I had an idea in my head, but it wasn’t until we reached the cabinet stage that I actually attempted to create some form of plan or layout.   I felt this was necessary so we could really get an idea of how the cabinets, countertop and space would all work.  The image below was done before flooring was complete and before cabinets were installed.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any models of ham radios in the design software to place on the counter surface.

HBC_Taylor_Office 1_view 1

Now let’s look at the finished product.  This is the brand new ham shack for KD0BIK. 


In the above picture (from right to left) I have my Jetstream JTPS45 power supply which provides all of my 12v DC power.  It connects into a West Mountain Radio RigRunner (mounted below desk).  I also use the PWRGate which provides auto-switching from power supply to a 12v marine deep cycle battery.

Just above the Jetstream power supply I have an old style TV antenna rotator.  This provides a little direction to my 20m hamstick dipole.  Next is the Yaesu FT-950 HF radio.  I use this radio primarily for SSB ops. 

In the center below the two 21” LCD flat panel screens, I have the MFJ-4724 Desktop/Remote Antenna/Transceiver switch.  This allows me to switch between either my 20m hamstick dipole or my Hustler 6BTV antenna to any of my HF rigs in the shack.  No more having to move coax connections.  YAY!!!!

Moving on around, next to the left 21” LCD I have the Yaesu FT-897 HF/VHF/UHF All mode transceiver.  I use this rig primarily for all data modes.  Sitting just below the 897 is the West Mountain Radio RIGBlaster Pro. 

Just to the left is the MFJ Intellituner which I use with the FT-897 and sitting on top of the tuner is the Elecraft KX3.  The KX3 is just posing for the picture.  It’s main role is portable QRP and SOTA operations outside of the ham shack.  Sitting just behind the KX3 (and might be difficult to see) is the IMD Meter by KK7UQ. 

Finally, the radio to the far left is the Yaesu FT-857 which I keep mounted in a TAC-COMM TRC-1 metal enclosure and mainly mobile HF use.  But at the moment it is connected to my V/UHF antenna and what I use for local V/UHF Ops and Packet.  Just below the 857 is the Kantronics KPC-3+.   Just above the 857 are two of the three HT’s I own.  The Yaesu VX-8 is used on the trail and next to it is the only piece of ICOM equipment I own.  It is the IC-92AD for D-STAR operations.

This has been an incredible project spanning many years.  For much of the past six months I have worked for a few hours each weekend.  Now it is time to sit back and enjoy the new ham shack. 

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope it continues to inspire you.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Shack Update – Aren’t We There Yet?

I wish….

I just realized I haven’t published a blog update regarding my new basement ham shack, home office, podcast studio and man-cave in some time.  Actually, I believe it was sometime in May just after I finished the texture phase.

Of course, I’ve been using my other forms of new media to keep everyone informed.  I’ve talked about my progress on PARP.  PARP is my weekly and monthly amateur radio podcast.  PARP + is a weekly review of all the on-air (and some off-air gatherings) taking place in the amateur radio community.  My regular version of PARP is monthly and includes a educational topic such as SOTA, JT-65, Preparedness, How to get your license etc.  Please visit to learn more about the practical amateur radio podcast.

According to the countdown clock located on, we are getting closer and closer to the big day.  That is the Colorado QSO Party and the day I planned to be in the new ham shack.  Will it happen????

The last time I blogged about my ham shack progress, I mentioned having just finished the texture phase.  Boy what a mess that was.  After texture came the painting phase for both the ceiling and the walls.  The paint went on with ease and was completed in two weekends. 

It was around the time I wrapped up the paint phase (mid June) when we started making decisions on flooring and cabinets.  The cabinets were ordered via Home Depot and their Hampton Bay line of custom cabinetry.  I wanted to make sure I ordered the cabinets earlier enough so they would arrive in Denver just after the flooring was finished. 

The flooring we selected for the basement area is TrafficMaster Allure from Home Depot.  It goes down in strips measuring 6 x 36 inches and is advertised as the easiest floor to install. 

I need to stop for a minute just to say…I haven’t always worked in the Information Technology field.  I’ve done a wide range of jobs and for a number of years I worked for the State of Texas Public School system and performed general maintenance.  But even before that, I’ve always enjoyed building things and learning about construction.  I spent four years in high school taking classes in wood shop, metal shop and even in the agricultural trade.  Most of what I learned between my own high school education and working in the Texas school system is what I’ve used to construct my new ham shack area. 

However, one area of education has been more important than any other.  My Dad can make anything out of nothing.  Fortunately, all through my life my Dad has shared his knowledge (some he learned from his Father) with me.  Now I’m not a master craftsman…far from it, but what I’ve learned from my Dad is truly what has allowed me to do all this work.  Even including installing a tile floor. 

Oh…one more thing.  The time I spent working at the school in Texas, was also 3-4 years I was able to work alongside my Dad.  It’s hard to imagine just how much kids can damage a school in 9 months and we had 3 months during the summer to patch it all back together.  That was a lot of fun and something I’ll always remember.  Thank you Daddy!

My own tile floor went down just as advertised and really looks good.  My wife and I spent the week of July 4th on a staycation (a stay at home vacation) and while we managed to get out of the house and up to the mountains (including one SOTA activation) I also managed to get all of the flooring installed. 

The cabinets arrived almost on schedule.  They are great quality (real wood) and the price was right.  All cabinets were pre-assembled (no flat pack) and arrived on three pallets.  The trucking company rolled them into my garage and I unpacked, inspected and moved each one through the house and down into the basement. 

The picture below shows both the wall cabinets and the floor cabinets installed in their final location (along with flooring).  Across the top of both sets of floor cabinets will be the countertop/desktop/worktop surface.   


There are many reasons why this project has been years in the making.  Remember I began framing this space in 2008, but didn’t work on it much from 2009 – 2011.   With some excellent guidance, planning and encouragement from my wife, I kicked off 2012 with the New Year’s Resolution of completing this space.   She has been instrumental in getting this space from the 2×4 phase to what you see above.  Thank you honey!!

However, each step (painting, flooring, cabinet) including the countertop decision has been one that has taken time.  In other words, we had to pick flooring to match cabinets and cabinets to match wall.  The countertop needed to blend in with all and it just required a lot of shopping around.  While we never contemplated going with granite, as we began shopping around and comparing different products such as laminate, solid surface, quartz and granite, we learned the price difference between quality solid surface and granite was close….actually very close. 

The other consideration is resale value.  While we have no plans to sell our house,  the decisions we make regarding everything from the type of roof shingle, type of window replacement and the home office area are all with resale value in mind.  This basement space would make someone a fantastic home office or even a hobby/craft room.  Likewise, it will also make a fantastic ham shack. 

Alright…time to wrap things up.  Just yesterday (Monday, 6 August) we had the granite counter install company come and perform a laser measurement of the space.  I’m told the lead time from measurement to install is approx. 10-14 days.  As of today, Tuesday 7 August I am 24 days away from the planned opening date.  So YES!!  I do believe I’ll be in the new space on-time.

Meanwhile, I still have a few items of trim to install.  I’m hoping to finish the trim work (requires sawing and that creates dust) in the next two weeks.  Then if the countertop install is on schedule, I can (and will) begin moving into the new space.  Painting of doors and trim (and wall touchups here and there) can all be done with radios and computers in place. 

I’m really excited and yes I’m a little burned out on working on this project almost every weekend.  But I’m in the home stretch now…see you at the finish line.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Texture–Another phase complete

I bet you’re thinking, “Jerry received his KX3 and the basement project has been placed on the back, back burner”.  Yes, it’s been a while since I provided a progress update on the basement project.  Yes, I did receive my KX3 as I’ve blogged about several times.  But NO, the basement project was not placed on the back, back burner…it has been progressing along nicely.  Today I have a major update to provide.

We’ve turned some major corners in the past few months with this project.  While I know many of you could certainly have done everything I’ve completed over the past 3-4 months in perhaps just a few weekends, I’ve wanted to make sure I had time for other things.  Plus I’ve never considered this to be a race.  Very early on I established a goal for completion of Labor Day weekend to be fully moved into the new space.  I’m very happy to report that we are still on-time and on budget.

On April 16th, I reported “The Shack has a Ceiling”.  My wife and I started the process of mudding the joints and all the screw holes (along with a few “oops” areas).  We taped and applied the first coat of joint compound (drywall mud), then sanded.  We repeated that process, then sanded.  Finally, last weekend I applied the third and final finish and wider coat of joint compound and we lightly sanded.  We were ready for the next phase…texture!

Of all the tasks I’ve performed for this project (framing, electrical, plumbing, A/C Vent, drywall) applying texture is the only thing I’ve never done before.  So I spent some spare time over the past week or two watching YouTube videos and reading as much as I could on the art of applying texture.  Because I will have some other future drywall projects to complete, we opted to purchase a texture sprayer/hopper gun versus rent. 

Home Depot sells the Wal-Board Texture Pro 200 hopper sprayer for $70 bucks.   While this machine might not be everything a pro would need, I figured it would work fine for my use.   Since I had used the pre-mixed joint compound for the taping and mudding phase, I decided to stick with that versus other formulas. 

Since I had never applied texture I really had no clue just how much material (joint compound) we would use.  I started out with two 5 pound buckets.  In an empty 5 gallon bucket I thinned the pre-mixed joint compound into a consistency of thick paint.  We were looking for a medium orange peel texture.  After mixing for a few minutes with my drill and mixing attachment, I filled the hopper and applied texture to the side of a cardboard box.  A little tweaking of air pressure and mixture consistency and I was ready to go. 

After texturing two of the 16’ walls, I realized I probably needed another 5 gallon bucket of pre-mix.  I kept mixing and spraying, mixing and spraying.  My wife was starting to feel sorry for me and I think she also secretively wanted to try her hand at the texture gun.  She began spraying while I continued to mix.

This teamwork actually worked out really well.  I didn’t fill the hopper as full as I would have normally done for myself and when I wasn’t mixing compound, it allowed me to move and position the drop cloth and plastic around the room as she continued to spray.  We managed to get all the walls textured in just about 3 hours. 

To celebrate, we went to Home Depot yesterday and took advantage of their Behr paint Memorial Day Savings event.    We saved $5 per gallon and $25 per 5-gallon.  A nice savings and just when we needed it. 

We will probably take this coming weekend off and resume work on the weekend of June 9-10.   The next phase is the painting phase and I suppose if we get started on 9 June, we could easily be finished in a few weekends and have the painting phase finished by July.   This leads us to the flooring phase. 

At the time of this blog posting, we are not 100% clear on just what we will do with the floor.  Tile of some type has always been the top choice.  Carpet in a basement just doesn’t work and I want the ability to zoom across the room in my chair if need be.  Decisions…Decisions…but they will be made and will be made in the very near future.

photo (2)

My apologies as the picture above just simply does not do the texture job any justice at all.  I took this in a hurry this morning and didn’t take time to turn on all the portable lights.  The ceiling recessed lighting is still covered.    The two bumps are tape covering electrical outlet boxes.  These will be just above the desk surface in the ham shack. 

While I hate the see the long holiday weekend come to an end, there is a part of me that is looking forward to going back to work so that I can get some rest and recharge my batteries for the next phase…PAINT!!!

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

The shack has a ceiling

The progress of my new basement ham shack has taken another turn towards completion with the recent work completed on Saturday, 14 April.   If you recall, on 12 March (over a month ago) I blogged about the accomplishment of having the walls completed.  I had every intention of taking a weekend off and getting started on the ceiling prior to the end of March. 

Best laid plans…blah blah blah.  The weather in Colorado is I guess much like anywhere else.  Wait 5 minutes and it is guaranteed to change.  The immediate weekend after the walls went up was supposed to be nice.  However, it ended up windy/cooler and we delayed the outside painting project by one weekend.  This delay sort of shifted everything else on the schedule.  So we ended up doing the outdoors projects on the weekend of 24 March.  I did the sheet metal work for the AC/Heat duct work on 31 March.  Then on Saturday, 7 April I spent the day giving a presentation on summits on the air followed by a SOTA activation

As I had discussed, I rented a drywall lift and picked it up on Friday evening just before 8 PM.  This would allow me to get started early on Saturday without the need of running to the rental store.  I set my alarm as if it were a normal work day.  I allowed myself time for coffee and even some HF radio time.  With this being the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I really wanted to work a couple of the special event stations commemorating the event.  I worked K3MGY and W4S and decided it was time to go to work. 

While the drywall lift was a bit awkward in some of the tight places of the basement, it really saved the day.  Essentially you just place a 4×8 sheet of drywall on the lift and crank it into position.  Then screw it into position, lower the lift and finish adding screws.    Then repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat until all done. 

It was our goal to complete the ceiling in one day.  It’s not that we couldn’t afford to rent the drywall lift for another 24 hours, it was simply the desire to just get the work done in one day.  The last piece of drywall was securely fastened on the ceiling at just before 6:30 PM.  This left me enough time to shower and return the lift with time to spare. 

The below three pictures were taken showing progress from the same vantage point (or very close).  We started on the walls the weekend of 25 February and finished the ceiling on 14 April.  While this sets no drywall hanging speed records and I’d go broke if I were a professional drywall installer (which I’m not and never want to be after this experience) all work has been done by my wife and I. 

Of course, now begins the messy phase of the project.  Over the next week or two, we plan to start the taping, mudding and sanding.  Like anything else, if you don’t regularly do this type of work there is a learning curve and as you progress you get a little better and a little faster.  I’m not sure when it will get completed.  I guess I’ll just say that we’ll get it done, when we get it done.  We have a tremendous amount of work to still complete.

Oh….I did receive notice on Friday, 13 April to expect my Elecraft KX3 to ship sometime the week of 16 April – 20 April.  I’m sure I will have a strong desire to take it on top of a Colorado summit for SOTA in the next couple of weeks. 

Final comment.  Each corner we turn in the overall progress, I do see the end result and it makes me extremely proud to be doing this work myself.  I’m not sure of the exact date I’ll officially move into the new space.  At this point my goal is to be 100% complete and moved into the new space prior to the Colorado QSO Party which will take place the first weekend in September.    It truly is my desire to operate in my State’s QSO party from inside the new space. 

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Ham Shack Update–Walls Complete

Even with losing one hour this weekend due to the daylight saving time change, I’m pleased to report that after three weekends and an estimated 20-24 hours of labor, the walls are complete.   As I reported last week, I only had about 5 sheets of drywall to hang this weekend.  Unfortunately, these 5 sheets were in the laundry area of the basement and included a lot more intricate and fiddly work.  I also decided to replace the laundry dryer vent which took about an hour and two trips to the hardware store.   The old vent pipe was crushed and had been taped and spliced together before we purchased the QTH in 2004.   While we all know duct tape and bailing wire are near permanent repairs, I went ahead and erred on the side of better judgment and replaced it all. 

I also had to accommodate a small design plan my wife had suggested.  This included a short divider wall next to the washer and dryer.  The laundry area of the basement was one area my wife and I had changed our minds on the overall design.  Initially we had planned to completely enclose the washer and dryer behind doors.   Today our washer and dryer are a basic set of Sears Kenmore models.  We are planning to upgrade to some nice front load models.  I figure if we’re going to spend the extra money for these upgraded models, we don’t want them hiding behind a door. 

Here are a few pictures from the work this weekend.  Please excuse the mess, the area is under construction. 

Here’s the short wall which was a last minute addition. 

Looking from my ham shack down the short hall to the laundry area.  The door on the left is access into the utility closet where the furnaces, hot water heater etc. are located.

The next few pictures (a few I’ve shown in older blog postings) are in my ham shack area and show the progression over the past few weekends.

The stud walls

Just two more panels to close in the corner.

Corner done. 

The above corner had to be framed in this way due to a basement support post.  While it takes up a little extra space, it should be fine.  Above desk cabinets, below desk cabinets and a nice wide work surface and all will be fine.   I’ve also been getting the electrical outlets wired in.  Once electrical is done I’ll wire in the CATV and network (voice/data) jacks. 

So what’s next on the agenda?  After three weekends of hanging drywall, my wife and I need a break.  Plus I need to reposition one AC/Heating vent in preparation for the ceiling drywall work.  This will also be a good time to move some of the scrap drywall pieces from the basement upstairs to the garage and just tidy the construction zone up a bit. 

The weather forecast for this upcoming weekend is supposed to be warm and I think we’ll tackle a few quick outdoor projects.  While snow is still very much likely in the mile high city, signs of Spring are popping up right and left.   It’s time to get the flowerbeds cleaned, rake up the winter kill grass and drag the water hoses out. 

If all goes as planned, I’ll be ready to rent the drywall lift and start on the ceiling the weekend of 24/25 March.  Once all the drywall is installed, then we’ll start the messy phase of taping, mudding and sanding.  This phase could begin as early as the last weekend in March.  But I don’t want to jinx myself, so I’ll just say it will get done when it gets done.

In closing, you’ll likely not hear from me on this particular subject again until the ceiling is complete.  I won’t bore you with an update next weekend on my progress of sheet metal duct work. 

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Drywall and DXCC Progress

If you’ve been following my ham shack updates from the past couple of weeks, you know I’m in the final stages of finishing the space in my basement which will be used as my ham shack, podcast studio, home office and overall man-cave.  The space is really starting to come together and I can see what the finished space will look like.  I’m truly excited and especially so after staring at nothing but stud walls for several years.

If you go back to this blog post and also read this one, you’ll get an idea of how I’ve spent the past couple of weekends.  While I believe we made great progress this weekend, we did fall short of my goal of getting all the walls done.   This delay was due to the extra time it took me to hang two doors.  These two doors will access the utility closet I framed in to hide the HVAC systems.  Because of the way the two furnaces are situated, I had to include two doors.  Otherwise, should anything happen to the hot water heater, it would have required demolition to remove it. 

The remaining work on the walls (about 5 more sheets of drywall) should get completed this coming weekend.  I then plan to take a weekend off and reward myself (and my wife) with doing something else that weekend and then it will be time to start hanging drywall on the ceiling.

Finally, I worked a total of about two hours in the ARRL DX phone contest this past weekend.  During this time I worked about 20 DX stations, adding four new to my growing DXCC list.  The four new DXCC entities worked this weekend were Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Portugal.  This brings me to a total of 54 DX entities worked to date.  

Sorry no pictures with this update.  I’ll hopefully get some pics in the next update or two showing progress.

Until then…

73 de KDØBIK

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