Monday, October 6, 2014

My Current Indoor QRP Rig Setup

I've wanted to document my current indoor QRP setup for a while now, so here it is!  I usually setup in my living room and use the KX3 on my coffee table.  Because my setup is very simple and can be setup/torn down in less than 10 mins, I feel like it can clutter the living room for a small amount of time and be put up quickly and easily when people come over or band conditions change for the worse.

Here are the components : 

Antenna : End fed antenna with a 30' 12 gauge wire.  The wire has a small round ring terminals to connect to the balun on one end and a small paracord loop on the other.  The paracord is attached to the end by shrink wrap.  I used around 4 pieces of shrink wrap, over wrapping each other to help secure the weight of the wire.  I purchased this end fed antenna from the Hawaii Emergency Amateur Radio Group, and I could of made one myself, but was easier to purchase at the time.  The EARCHI shipped it quickly and within a few days to St. Louis, as I remember receiving it in less than a week.  When received, I was happy with the build quality.  The antenna comes with 40' of 18 gauge wire, which I use for my portable setup.  When I'm going to be operating outside my house, I throw the balun in my bag and it goes everywhere with me.  Notice in the picture below, I've zipped tied a loop through one of the holes.  Doing this makes it so much easier to hoist to get the antenna up off the ground. 

End Fed Antenna Balun

Support Pole : Jackite 31' black fiberglass pole.  I removed the top two sections as they were about 75% in length as the rest of the sections and didn't really serve the purpose as they bend very easily and I wanted a more rigid end.  In order to stow the 30' of 12 gauge wire, I purchased a couple of larger dual fingered coat hooks from Home Depot and zip tied them opposite of each other for the cable wrap.  I use velcro to secure the end of the antenna wire to keep it from un-raveling while in transportation.  

End fed antenna wire stowed away

Securing The Antenna and Wire : I setup my Jackite pole outside my front door and on my porch, as it's basically the best and easiest place to setup and be able to keep an eye on it.  I secured the far end of the end fed antenna wire with a loop of paracord and around 4 layers of heat shrink.  I then placed a hose clamp on the top of the fiberglass pole.  The excess hose clamp makes for a good place to hook the paracord loop to raise the antenna up into the air when extending the pole.  I secure pole to my porch railing with small bungy cords and just let the balun end dangle.  I run the coax inside my screen door and then into my living room.

End of end fed antenna with paracord loop and shrink wrap

Hose clamp on top of pole

End of antenna with paracord looped around hose clamp

Secured to the porch railing with bungy cords

End fed antenna dangling from the hose clamp

Front porch with end fed hanging and coax coming into my screen door

Coax : 25' of RG-8/U with PL259 ends.  One of the ends has a SO238 to BNC converter for the KX3.  I've had this coax for close to 20 years, as it's the first coax cables I ever bought and still works great!  I would really like to replace this cable with a shorter length and better quality (less loss).

Power Supply : Radio Shack 13.8 volt power supply.  2.5A output.  The output is really closer to 15 volts, as I'm not sure it's strayed over time or it was originally like that when I purchased it 20 years ago.  I recently found out it was closer to 15V when I purchased a Powerwerx inline watt meter and hooked it up.  I never looked at my KX3 input volts and assumed it was good.  Because I use a long wire and some 5A fuses in-between the power supply and radio, it drops the voltage down to 14.6.  The KX3 accepts anything from 12 to 15V input, so I'm within the limits.  I'm going to be looking to find another power supply soon that has more of a true 13.8V output.  Probably a Aston switching PS to keep the weight down.

Radio Shack Power Supply

Fuses & Power Monitoring : Not sure what they are called, as I picked them up at a local ham fest, but they accept ATC car fuses in a waterproof housing.  I use fuses on both the negative and positive leads as I know some people who only use them on the positive, but I like to know my ground is fused also.  When I use the KX3, I use 5A fuses and they seem to work fine.  I've never blew that low of fuse while using the KX3 when using full wattage (12W).  I think the KX3 pulls around 3 amps when transmitting at 12W.  For power monitoring, I picked up a Powerwerx inline watt meter, which really comes in handy to help check battery drainage and also just give you a satisfaction that your power is clean and and where it should be.

Leads : 12 gauge leads with Anderson power pole ends.  Anderson power pole every single DC power adapter you can get your hands on! Anderson also makes security clips for both attaching power poles permanently to another power pole (see below) and also since power poles come apart (positive/negative) they make clips to help keep the + and - together too.

Two power poles together with security clip

Radio : KX3.  Enough said.  Up to 12 watts.  Filters.  Auto tuner.  All modes on 160m thru 6m.  My portable, my base, my go to radio.  I hook it up to my Android tablet.  I hook it up to my computer.  I remote control it from where ever I am.  This radio is amazing.  I help protect the front with the KX Sides.  Spend the extra dollars and install them.  You'll be glad you did.  Also, if you order this radio, put it together.  Don't order it already assembled.  I learned how this radio works, the different components and if this radio broke, I'd have a good idea on where to start to troubleshoot.  If I can put this radio together, you can too!


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