Posts Tagged ‘shack equipment’

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)

IKEA and ham radio


Just a few days ago the IKEA store opened here in the local Denver area.  We’ve been hearing about IKEA coming to Colorado for the past 4-5 years.  Just a little over a year ago, IKEA broke ground on their new site just south of my QTH in Centennial, Colorado.  The grand opening certainly wasn’t without fanfare and my wife was looking forward to visiting the new store. 

The local news sources (TV, radio and newspaper) had all been talking about the number of people lining up and even camping out for several days before the official opening.  I avoid most crowded situations like the plague and this was certainly no exception. 

Since the grand opening was Wednesday, I really figured the weekend crowd (Saturday and Sunday) would also be busy, so we decided to go on Friday and make an evening of it.  Our IKEA has a restaurant specializing in Swedish meatballs.  Yum Yum

Anyway, I gladly accepted my role of driver and bag carrier.  We arrived just after 6 PM and the city/county officials had done a great job with traffic management.  Once on the IKEA property we were directed to the underground parking garage and found a parking spot with ease.  A few minutes later we were riding up the escalators to the upper level of the store.

While my wife had a few items on her shopping list, I really went with no expectations I would find anything I wanted, much less needed.  But I enthusiastically walked around looking interested in all the stuff IKEA sells.  Now before you get the wrong impression, I do enjoy shopping and it’s made even better when my best friend, my wife is with me.  Yes, I’ll be the first to admit I know where all the “man chairs” are located in the mall shops, but I do enjoy shopping.

We covered the two levels of IKEA and I had not really found anything that interested me personally.  I looked at the office chairs but my wonderful wife had purchased me a great chair last year and it still looks as good as new.  We passed by some of those white, cardboard magazine boxes.  I did grab a pack of 5 for about 3 bucks I think.  I need something to better organize QST, CQ and RADCOM magazines. 

A few minutes later I found something that caught my eye.  It was a LED table lamp on an adjustable arm.  It puts out practically no heat and I can bend the light around and focus it just where I need it.  The wife saw me looking at them and she said “for the soldering projects”?  I said yes and then some. 

The light has a heavy base (around 2lbs) and comes with a 6 foot cord.  This lamp will work great with my “soldering projects”, but also with other things where I just need to get more light onto the subject.  The light cost me $12.99 and can be found here on the IKEA website.


It didn’t take me long to put it to good use.  Here you can see it being used on an old radio project I’ve been working off and on (mostly off).  I’m currently re-stringing the dial cord on an old Belmont AM radio my wife gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  The radio needed a new dial cover, dial string and dial light.  I have all the parts and just getting it all assembled again. 

But yes, the IKEA light will also come in handy for soldering projects and other things around the shack.  I often dim the lights when operating (especially at night) and this will be great just to the side of my shack desk.



So I guess even a radio ham can find things of interest in IKEA.  It’ll probably be a few weeks before we venture into IKEA again.  I will probably pickup another of these lights and I already need some more magazine boxes.  Who knows, maybe I’ll find a few other things I can’t live without next time. 

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

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