The Basement Project

While I’ve mentioned it several times on my podcast, I don’t recall blogging much about it.  I did blog once about moving my ham shack from a 6 foot area to a larger area here.  But for what feels like a decade, I’ve been planning for and slowly working on my new basement ham shack, office and just general man-cave.  It all began sometime in early 2008 when I got the idea to turn the un-finished portion of my basement into a new ham shack. 

We had half of our basement finished soon after purchasing our house in 2004.  It’s been in this finished area where I’ve setup my ham shack, podcast recording studio and home office.  Because this basement area was finished prior to me getting my ham ticket, I have to run my coax feed line either across the ceiling or across the carpet to get it to an outside wall.  Of course we do what we have to do to get on the air.  But I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a space that didn’t have coax and power cords everywhere. 

The first step was to move everything from the unfinished area of the basement (primarily used for storage) to the finished area so I could begin construction.  The unfinished portion of the basement is concrete floor and concrete walls.  While I would have no problem working in a concrete space like this, the object was to create something that was nice and comfortable.  So up went the 2×4 stud walls. 

The framing portion of the overall project went fairly quickly.  The main room of my ham shack/home office/man cave is a room approx. 20’x20’ with a hallway measuring about 8’x16’ opening up into the area that is the laundry room which when framed in was about another 12’ or so of wall space. 

While I started the framing project in 2008, if memory serves me correctly all the framing was complete in about 3-4 months.  So what have I been doing the past three years?  Well obviously not a lot in relation to the basement project.

Part of the delay has been due to life schedule conflicts.  You know work, travel, good DX conditions etc.  In recent weeks, it has been hard to pry myself away from the radio to go work on the basement.  But I really want to get this done and the wife really wants to claim the rest of the basement for other uses. 

A few weeks ago I started working on the basement area again.  I’ve been running electrical, CATV, telephone and network cables in the new area.  With the help of my wonderful wife, we have mapped out where my desk and such will be.  I’ll admit I’m not the most tidy person on the planet.  My current shack area looks like a bomb went off.  I blame this primarily on the fact that I have no cabinet space.  Everything is either on the desk, under the desk or stacked beside the desk.  The new space will have cabinets under the desk surface and cabinets from the ceiling down with just enough space in between for the work area. 

Speaking of work areas.  I’ll have my primary operating position in one corner.  I’ve worked in a corner type setup for the past couple of years and like having the LCD in the corner with my FT-950 on the right and my FT-897 (used for digi modes) to my left.  There will be plenty of space for my VHF/UHF rigs, packet and just about anything else I want to do.  I have also factored in a large workbench area where I can build projects and restore those old AM radios which I enjoy. 

For the wall material I’m going with sheetrock.  While we had investigated other options, we kept coming back to drywall.  This will be one area which we’ll contract out and for a couple of reasons.  One, it will be difficult for just my wife and I to handle the sheetrock (especially the ceiling) the time to complete the job would take us a few weekends.  The sheetrock process is a dirty and nasty one.  I can hire a contractor and crew to come in and they’ll hang, plaster, sand and texture the walls in just a few days.  My wife and I then will paint and do all the rest.

Back to the cable planning.  I’ve factored in both what my present need is as well as looking ahead.  Because the exterior wall where I run the coax feed line for my Hustler 6BTV (ground mounted in my back yard) will be covered in sheetrock as well as the ceiling above it, I’ll need a way to access this in the future. I installed a 1 1/2” PVC pipe across the ceiling for my coax needs.  Some may argue and say I should have installed a larger pipe, but living in “HOA Hell” I’ll never have a need (nor permission) to install anything other than a vertical antenna in my back yard.   I’ll still have access from the utility closet where I’ve pulled the feed line for my 20m hamstick dipole, rotator and VHF/UHF antenna. 

The final decision to make is on the floor covering.  Everything from just the bare concrete floor to tile has come into our heads.  I do know that carpet (any style is out).  I want to be able to zoom from one side of my desk to the other in my chair without issue and carpet just doesn’t allow it.  Plus carpet in a basement is a bad idea any way you look at it.

I have just  another weekend or two of work to do before we can bring in the sheetrock guys.  I need to run speaker wire for a surround sound setup and make one more plumbing modification near where the laundry area will be.  If all goes as planned, we would like to have the sheetrock installed just prior to Christmas and use some of the time-off to do the painting. 

I’ll update everyone in a few weeks on our progress and hopefully with pictures.  I don’t see much need in adding photos to this blog article.  I think everyone knows what concrete walls with 2×4 studs in front look like. 

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK (Jerry)

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

3 Responses to “The Basement Project”

  • W0FMS:

    Ha! That sounds like me. When I finally got the basement shack done and went to put up the tower.. well I decided that it would work better on the detached garage instead! So I also had to build a room in the garage, insulate it so I can heat and cool it when I’m using it.

    That, working as an engineer and having a family of four small children — I wonder why I don’t have much time to operate? Oh and I tend to prioritize building projects ahead of operating– at least until I lose interest or a “neater” project comes along. But it’s tough to devote enough time to the hobby as a “younger” ham. (I’m not AARP age yet…)
    But when you lose your dreams.. you die! So keep up the fun! 🙂

    Fred W0FMS

  • Chad KJ4VYI:

    been working on an addition since last october ( 2010 ) and now to the poing of electrical then sheetrock then floors and maybe just maybe my shack room ( old storage room 7’x8′ room ) its a slow project due to all the red tape and the local city inspectors !!

    keep it up and please do post pictures

    Chad
    KJ4VYI

  • I am also in process of finishing the basement so I can move my office/shack down there. I’ve lived in this house for 5 years and am just now getting to where the light at the end of the tunnel is just starting to flicker. Keep it up and it will happen! I did and am hopefully just weeks from my first qso I the new shack! One qso I definitely want to remember!

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