HF/Digital Station in a Box!

Started by RichardSinFWTX, February 19, 2014, 11:00:49 am

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OK.  The guide rails for the radio rack have been put in. 

Weather has been uncooperative with me and a few forced Honey-Do's have combined to hamper my progress. :(

But now that I'm onto building the rack, I'm thinking things might speed up some.  Hopefully I'll get to work on it more today and over the weekend.


The adamantium skeleton of the Mk II - Heavy "Wolverine" is coming together!


OK.  As soon as I got the skeleton for the rack put together I discovered that the complex machinery that is a tape measure was too much for me.  I had to drill out the pop-rivets and cut down the verticals on the rack.

I spent most of the day cutting, drilling and re-riveting the rack so it would fit within the guide rails.

I also have the bottom shelf where the power supply is going to be cut to fit.  I'm using plastic cutting boards as my shelves and panel faces.  They are non-conductive and won't expand and contract the way plywood will.  I was able to find cutting boards for about $5 a piece.  I'm able to get all four face panels out of two and each shelf is one board.  All of them but the one the power supply sits on will be able to slide out so I can access the component and work on as necessary.


Looking good.

I also occasionally suffer from the measure once / cut twice syndrome. "I cut the damn thing three times and it's still too short!!" LOL
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin



I'm working on one myself. The first difference I see is I don't have a backup radio. The second is I'm planning to use a Samsung 3 Series Chromebook running Ubuntu for the front end. Everything else is pretty much the way I specked it out. Signalink USB, Anderson power poles, PowerWerx switchable power supply. Batteries will be external. I'm sure I'll need an antenna tuner in there as well.

My 8U gator case is in, and as I'm new to HF digital as well, I'll be following your progress.


April 07, 2014, 04:22:14 pm #20 Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:58:45 pm by KF5RHI
I looked at the Gator-boxes; but they were a little outside my price range.  The medical supply case I bought for this was $90; but I can put "everything" I need to operate in the field in this case.

I like the Z-11 Pro II tuner.  I highly recommend it!  Do yourself a favor, go to Radio Shack and buy three (two double-A battery boxes...giving you 6 batteries) for it.  You can hook them up in series to give you the 6-9 volts the tuner needs.  Make sure that you combine them in one layer.  Two layers of three batteries are too thick for the cover to fit.  I'll take a picture of the inside of mine so you can see what I mean.

I'm still working on how to have an external battery pack that I can plug in (most likely thru a PowerPole connection) or from the battery in my truck if I'm operating tailgate-mobile.  I've got an Elmer in my radio club that has 100 Ah worth of battery in some sort of configuration; but I haven't seen it yet to copy it.


I've got the z-11 pro for my 857 and I just use the 12v plug with some powerpole connections to my powerwerx rig runner


The one thing I wish the PowerWerx power supply had was a set of PowerPole connectors on the back!  Aside from that it's great!


April 09, 2014, 07:03:55 pm #23 Last Edit: April 09, 2014, 07:37:17 pm by NCGunDude
I haven't determined which one of these setups to go with for power supply with battery backup,

Duracomm EH-30 - AC/DC Desk Top Power Supply ($285)
Powerwerx 30 Amp Desktop DC Switching Power Supply with Powerpoles ($119.99)
Super PWRgate PG40S ($139.95)
Duracomm LPBC-25 Battery Back-Up Module ($82.50)

I'm leaning toward the Duracomm EH-30 which can be had for around $240. It's environmentally hardened, hence the EH. Has a built in battery failover and float charger. Roughly the same cost for the same functions, $200 - $240, in one versus two pieces of hardware. Gil mentioned a problem with continuously recharging?

OK, I found this article on Wikipedia which explains not compensating for temperature will cause shortened battery life by undercharging or overcharging the battery, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Float_voltage.

Still going to go with a rig runner. Once it's built out, I'll need to get backup replacement hardware. But that's a ways off. Learning HF digital at the same time. My daughter cracked the screen on one of the chromebooks, so until the replacement screen arrives, I don't have exclusive use of my Linux front end.

I'll post up some pics as it comes together.

Mark Jackson

Look at the iPortable Pro case. I have an Icom 706, QJE 30 amp supply and an IT-100 tuck nicely on the one I have.


My 8U gator case, drawer, and shelves came in, and so began assembly.

Assembly complete, and this,

became this,

A few lessons learned; this setup is quite heavy at ~ 50 lbs, more when fully outfitted. It will require a cart to carry any distance. There's plenty of room in an 8U case. The drawer is 3U, again, plenty of room, but heavy. The power supply is a RS 18A. I secured it with some velcro one wrap, and strips of adhesive backed velcro. It's plenty secure.

Next step will be to add power distribution with a rigrunner, but this is ready to go with my available gear.

I looked into the AC/DC failover swith, battery charger. Duracomm advertised a float charger in their literature, but when I inquired whether there was tempature compensation, the prompt reply was the switches I was interested in were trickle chargers, but they have higher end chargers which perform float charging with temp comp.

I have a Clore emergency 12V starter for each vehicle. They pay for themselves the first time you need it. The owners manual says an inverter up to 400 watts can be used with the DC power accesory, and has a 12 amp circuit breaker. I was considering using this to power the radios in the field. Also looking at a 1000W inverter generator.

Gil has a point about the limited portability of this kind of setup. I'm going to get something like a pelican case for the handhelds, FMRS/GRS and dual band HT's with spare batteries. Portable solar power is something I've been looking into, as well. One thing at a time, and the 2m radio in a field case is first step.


April 12, 2014, 07:08:52 pm #26 Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 07:10:23 pm by KF5RHI
I got the bottom drawer on my rack where I plan to put the power supply put together and painted.  I'm gonna coat it with polyurethane tomorrow before final fitting/mounting.  This one won't slide the way the rest will.

I'll get a picture posted tomorrow.

I'm digging yours to though, NCGunDude.  Very nice work.


Yes!!  "Wolverine" has a heartbeat!!


I ran a test with the Clore JNC660 with a DC accessory outlet, and an Enercell 350W A/C inverter. The Clore is rated for a 400W inverter and has a 12 amp circuit breaker. After powering up with the power supply connected to the inverter running from the DC accessory outlet on the backup starter, transmitted with high power (75W) to a local repeater on the edge of my 2m transmit range. Stayed powered up for a minute or so on transmit, with no issues. Retransmitted a couple of times, and ended the test. The inverter has a power cable with clamps to connect to battery terminals, so there's a couple of options.

It would be nice to have an inline DC power meter to view Amps and Volts. I'm going to add a metal sheet to the inside of one of the removable covers to attach a 2m mag mount antenna. Also need to add some 3' adapter cable for BNC and PL-259 radio connections. Trying to connect LMR400 coax to the back a rack mounted radio requires some patience! Mission accomplished for the moment. Hope to catch up with you guys on HF. I've got plenty of rack space and the Linux box is coming along. Anyone else using Linux and FLDIGI for digital HF?



Quote from: KF5RHI on April 13, 2014, 12:25:19 pm
Yes!!  "Wolverine" has a heartbeat!!

Very nice! I'm assuming the radios will mount over the power supply? Any idea what your total amp draw is going to be?

I wasn't sure my setup was going to run on the battery jump starter, but it was all good to go. You posted your project at the same time as I had my stuff coming in. Glad we got to compare notes. Looking forward to seeing pics of your radios.