Jul 7, 2020

Updated Shack - Episode II

I thought I was done making changes and additions to the shack, but I guess not. Just as summer arrives, so too, some new things have arrived at the shack.


The first addition to the shack is a Heil PR781 mic mounted on a PL2T boom, with a Pro 7 PTT hand button. The CC-1-YM wire harness connects everything to my Yaesu FT-991A. Using the equalizer settings suggested by Bob Heil, the audio reports are very favorable to this setup. Thanks Bob!


The second addition is KF7P combo antenna tower standoff arm which now suspends the center of my trusty old Barker & Williamson BWD-90 folded dipole antenna in a flat-top configuration at 40 feet. The antenna's heading is 140-320 degrees. So far, signal reports have been very good, but no DX attempts as of yet. Field Day, 13 Colonies and other special events, and POTA stations have been my focus for most of June. The 10 meter openings afforded fantastic QSO's all over the USA. A review of my log should help map out what the antenna is doing in it's current configuration and location.

The third addition is an MFJ-4712RC remote antenna switch between the BWD-90 folded dipole and the GAP Titan DX. It is interesting switching back and forth between each antenna and hearing their different characteristics. The folded dipole is far quieter and much better at pulling out even the quietest of signals. Love that Barker and Williamson BWD-90!

The Raspberry Pi computers also got an update. The 8G and 4G RPi's now sport an Argon Artik fan hat on top of a Geekworm heat sink armor case. Talk about nice! The fan hats are programmable for temperature and fan speed settings in custom configurations. I set mine to run 10% at 43 C, 25% at 47 C, 50% at 50, 75% at 53 C, and 100% at 56 C. With the huge Geekworm heat sink, the fan hat runs maybe every five minutes for a short time, even with the RTL-SDR dongle running the CPU with a constant 20-30% load. And with temps never getting above 43 C and the large fan running at only 10% every time it turns on, they are extremely quiet. No more worrying about heat on a Raspberry Pi 4!


The latest addition is the software package Barrier from the Raspberry Pi OS repositories. Super simple to set up and run, this package allows me to run my two (or more) desktop Raspberry Pi computers from one keyboard and mouse setup. Simply slide the mouse cursor to the edge of the screen, and it seamlessly goes to the other computer and screen. My small desk space just got a lot bigger with only one keyboard and mouse on it! Amazing! Open a terminal and run sudo apt install barrier on each computer. Select one as a server and the rest as terminals. Details here.