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My Shack in a Box

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#1
Here's my 'Shack in a Box' that I've been putting together over the past couple of months. I'm a Tech and will be upgrading to General before spring and wanted something with HF capabilities to easily pack away and lug between my home QTH and our camp in Maine, with the potential of operating pretty much anywhere.

The enclosure is a Gator 6U half rack (10.4" rack width) and Gator shelves. I had to cut down the shelves as they were a bit long as supplied. This was kind of a pain as they are heavy gauge steel but with the right tools and a steady hand the results were perfect.

The three 2U front panels and one 2U rear panel were custom made by Front Panel Express using their free design software. I modified a stock rack mount faceplate template to the proper width, added holes for the rack handles and openings, added anodizing for the front, and etched lettering. The rack handles are from Mouser Electronics. Here, the 'measure twice, cut once' rule worked well as the fit and finish everywhere was spot on.

The PowerWerx supply, LDG tuner, and Icom IC-7100 radio are bolted to the shelves at the proper height, and use either Nylock nuts or liquid thread lock. I shouldn't have to worry about things coming loose.

I used Anderson Powerpole connectors throughout, and can run off of the built in 30 amp power supply with the short jumper (shown) from one of the three DC outputs, or off of external DC via a feed with a Powerpole connector. The Icom IC-7100 is fused. This is a simpler and cleaner solution than switching the power source from internal to external.

The LDG antenna tuner is powered off of the IC-7100's rear-mounted antenna tuner control cable.

The bottom rack shelf is a bit longer and there's plenty of room to stow the IC-7100's remote head, cable, and hand mic.

I haven't weighed the finished product but I bet it comes in in the mid to high 30 pound range. Definitely not something I'd want to lug any real distance but it's no trouble for one guy to move between operating stations and vehicles.

Have a look at the pics.
 

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Jan 27, 2006
Messages
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Location
Melbourne VK
#6
!!OUTSTANDING!!

Two things that I really appreciate in a station setup.

1) Portability
2) Rack mounting

But to see both of those put together so well is fantastic.
That portable cube is a credit to you!

I hope you make many good contacts with that setup.

Commscanaus.
 

gewecke

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
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#8
Nice job.
Someone did this awhile back with a portable VHF/UHF station. :)

73,
n9zas
 
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#9
Looks really tight and industrial - a credit to your craftsmanship. Nice work!

Have you thought about securing the remote head somehow during operation? That's the only part which looks like it's "hanging loose".
 

KC8ESL

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#11
Looks awesome!

Any possibility you could change out the edison inlet to something such as a Neutrik powercon or some other locking receptical?

If there was a weak link in your setup, that is it.

NAC3FCA - Neutrik
NAC3MPA-1 - Neutrik

I work in a shop where we have over 1,500 of these in use, some of which have been in use over 6 years. They simply don't break.
 
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#15
I'm not worthy!!

Does it cool OK?

dE KG4LEO
That's the one thing I may need to address. There's room enough to punch an opening and mount a PC processor fan on the inside of the rear faceplate to satisfy the power supply if necessary. There's no issue with the Icom though as the front and rear are open when operating with plenty of airflow.
 
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#16
Looks awesome!

Any possibility you could change out the edison inlet to something such as a Neutrik powercon or some other locking receptical?

If there was a weak link in your setup, that is it.

NAC3FCA - Neutrik
NAC3MPA-1 - Neutrik

I work in a shop where we have over 1,500 of these in use, some of which have been in use over 6 years. They simply don't break.
Those connectors appear to be bulletproof, but to keep things simple I am happy with the 'Edison' inlet - compatible with any off-the-shelf grounded extension cord.
 

RBMTS

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#18
EVTIDE - I'm curious how you are accomplishing the grounding for your equipment (natural ground for HF). I have been slowly working on a similar idea using the Gator durable plastic 4U portable rack case that has wheels and a pull handle similar to luggage. I am trying to find a bus grounding bar that I can mount on the rear rack rails so that the HF radio, tuner, and PS can be frame grounded. I plan on carrying a grounding rod and roll of wire to pound into the ground. At the moment I have a small 3" section of copper pipe that is wire-tied to the rails with grounding wires running to each component. It isn't pretty and I want to change this to a better looking bus bar concept but haven't found a good solution yet. I'm curious if you are running any ground and how you are doing it.
 
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#19
That is a very impressive setup, and congrats on thinking it out as you did. Hope you get lots of usage from it and make lots of contacts.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Russell
 
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Messages
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#20
EVTIDE - I'm curious how you are accomplishing the grounding for your equipment (natural ground for HF). I have been slowly working on a similar idea using the Gator durable plastic 4U portable rack case that has wheels and a pull handle similar to luggage. I am trying to find a bus grounding bar that I can mount on the rear rack rails so that the HF radio, tuner, and PS can be frame grounded. I plan on carrying a grounding rod and roll of wire to pound into the ground. At the moment I have a small 3" section of copper pipe that is wire-tied to the rails with grounding wires running to each component. It isn't pretty and I want to change this to a better looking bus bar concept but haven't found a good solution yet. I'm curious if you are running any ground and how you are doing it.
Well, I haven't operated HF as I haven't taken the General yet. Still studying and hope to do that over the winter. I expect to use a short braided ground bond between the antenna tuner and Icom, and run a ground wire to a Home Depot type copper ground stake. I hadn't considered grounding the power supply chassis but if noise proves to be a problem maybe I'll have to.

That Gator roller case looks pretty nice, gotta love the wheels!
 
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