Access Panel Complete

A week-end or so back I completed my access panel with it’s full complement of bulkhead adapters and dust covers.¬†Unfortunately¬† I’ve been struggling for any good light on it though, so I’ve just taken some rough photos with my phone at late dusk (ie. low light – unfortunately.)

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I went with 5 N sockets in the end. That was because five fit the space easily – and matched my aspirational antenna setup – and I went with N sockets as I figured they’ll meet almost anything I’d plan to do. I did consider having one or two BNC or SO-239 sockets, but with N connectors being spec’d to around ~11GHz I figured that’s the best bet for flexibility.

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I’ve not had a chance to really put the panel to much use yet, as next on my list is to setup my external¬†antennas. However, I do have my mini-whip connected and happily achieved a few spots on 40m with ease (indeed, VK1KW was booming in at +5). Now I’ve got it just sitting there hoping to maybe pick up some MF – we’ll see.

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The idea of the access panel I definitely didn’t come up on my own. I was inspired by what I saw VK1OD had done, and so asked for some further details and came up with the implementation above for my purposes.

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Access Planel Installed

Today was somewhat productive with the installation of my access panel. I now (almost) have a means of getting antennas into my shack, and now have an earth connection into where the radios are.

The panel is a simple 2mm sheet of aluminium, and on it I’ll be mounting a collection of bulkhead N adaptors. Currently the earth connection is only to one of my earth rods, but I’ll grab some more earthing cable as well to complete the job.

Some photos. First up, the wall after the brick was removed.

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And then after the panel and earth connection was added.

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And a view from inside.

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Bit by bit

Well, bit by bit I’m getting settled into my new place and am finally seeing a return to focusing on radio. I’m still yet to really unpack my garage, so my radio and electronics gear is still mostly in boxes.

That said though, I do have my portable FT-817 setup on hand and so I recently set this up to participate in the QRP-Hours contest. I was impressed that with my very basic setup with minimal earth what I was able to achieve – and hear! It gave me confidence that HF operation from my new QTH going forward will have real potential.

To that end I’ve started planning my antenna setup and other bits such as earth.

Based on measurements, I’ve confirmed I can fit a full size inverted V dipole for 40m and have started planning the build of this. The final structure will take time – as time and money allow, however bit by bit I’ll get there. As I do, I hope to have interim setups along the way.

But, starting with the basics, I’ve now put some ground rods in. This was one area that was really hurting me with my portable setup, so it was the first cab off the rank.

I basically placed two ground rods in inside nice submerged covers so that I could get them further down and also provide for a nice and tidy look and a bit of a reduction of a trip hazard. They’re about half a meter apart and I’ll connect them both together and then have a wire up through the wall on the other side of which will be my setup.

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In addition to putting these in, I also put an eyelet at the top of my ~8m mast and I think I might temporarily erect that and run a 40m inverted V dipole as a bit of a trial – now that I have a better ground connection.

Also, I have grabbed myself a TV mast to mount on my fascia for my X-50N antenna for 2m/70cm FM work – although, I’ve also got my 2m dipole I plan to mount on it for basic SSB support. Thing is, this roof is higher than my previous single storey abodes, so I now need to hire a bigger ladder so that I can get up there.

Finally, I’ve returned to my morse code training. I’m really keen to get that happening again, and still have visions of using that on LF back to VK1 and especially now with the new (easier) band allocation. I did find that having learnt on lcwo.net with the keyboard, I stuggled to copy morse with a pen and paper. I actually wonder if by learning it on the keys the association I’d mainly made was that of a keystroke and not a specific letter.

So my practice is now pen and paper based with Ham Morse on my iPhone. I figure being able to copy with pen and paper is a bit more practical, and should easily also translate to typing later on. Once I get past that stage, I can again return to sending practice.

That’s all for now, hopefully I’ll come back soon as I get my station setup bit by bit.

P.S. Another thing I’m hoping to do soon, is build a simple regenerative receiver for 40m. Never built a receiver (well, other than a crystal radio), and regens just seems like fun in a retro kinda way. But this will mean I really need to unpack my boxes and get access to my electronics bits.