WX4EMT Home QTH

WX4EMT

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#1
Those who have followed the buildout of the WX4EMT Tahoe PPV have requested a peek into the inner workings of my home station. and.... Since the current station is getting a large facelift I thought the time was right to start a home thread.

First a little history, it is not difficult to see where I get my inspiration. Many years ago I was a young airman in the USAF working on Minuteman Missile systems. Regardless of what you have heard about the current batch of missileers we were a tight knit group of hard nosed SAC trained warriors. Launch control was a somber place but everything had a purpose and in it's duly assigned spot.



So it doesn't take much to see the inspiration for the beginning of my home station.



So I got the idea to RACK mount stuff and one of the first was a Yaesu FT8800. It had been replaced by the Kenwood TM D710 in the truck so it needed a new home:









 

WX4EMT

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#2
I have always wanted a dispatch console type RACK system for my radios and I finally found one. You guessed it, e-Bay. This was the video control room for a hockey team in Pennsylvania, the gentleman that had them even had his own channel on local cable systems. He retired, sold his stuff and I got a great deal on 3 19" RACK consoles. Some of my equipment bolted right in other stuff needs some TLC to look right.



A little planning work

This is the first real upgrade, I refer to income tax refund as Amateur Radio stimulus money so I joined the DMR revolution with a Motorola XPR4550 (more on that later) and got a Yaesu Fusion system for the house. This segment will showcase the RACK panel for the FTM400 VHF/UHF radio.



Lay out the cage for the RF deck, this will also hold the cooling fan, a needed addition since these radios tend to get hot during prolonged periods of transmit especially on UHF. Since I can be a bucket mouth I figured I better cool it.



This RACK panel adapter is essentially an adapter for the 8 1/2" faceplate I originally commissioned for a mobile console. The folks at NovexComm have a 4" to 19" RACK adapter already set up, however, it is a simple setup that you bolt the faceplate directly to the front of RACK panel and is not flush. I wanted the flush look so I cut mine to fit.



The cage for the RF deck is sized and ready to be attached. Now to get a fan and the mounting bracket. A little paint wouldn't hurt either.

 

03msc

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#3
Looking good already. Subscribed and will be following this one as I have been the Tahoe thread. I suspect some good ideas will be gleaned from this thread as well. Thanks for taking us along through the process, Keith!
 

N5TWB

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#5
Good to see you're putting in two digital modes. I hope to add Fusion soon so your info and experience will be valuable. I'd not heard about heat issues previously.

Where are you attaching that mic ribbon cable to the 8800? Is that a Yaesu accessory?
 

WX4EMT

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#6
Going to be one nice setup,good work the first photo looks like in the movie (War Games) great movie (1983) good luck on your project.........
The first photo is of the Launch Control Center (D-01) at the Minuteman National Park in South Dakota. This is an example of Wing II Ellsworth AFB which was the least modified of all the Minuteman Wings. When it was deactivated this Launch Control and 1 Launch Facility where kept as a museum exhibits.

War Games was indeed a good movie, Damnation Alley was in the same genre but if you want an accurate portrayal of our day to day routine nothing comes closer than First Strike.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPEBROvR9w
 

WX4EMT

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#8
Good to see you're putting in two digital modes. I hope to add Fusion soon so your info and experience will be valuable. I'd not heard about heat issues previously.

Where are you attaching that mic ribbon cable to the 8800? Is that a Yaesu accessory?
First, YES the 8800 would get quite warm on high power UHF and since the 400 is essentially an 8800 with more stuff strapped on to it, the chassis can get quite hot during extended QSOs on UHF in FDMA. Good ventilation is mandatory but an aux fan would be even better, I'm going to do the even better...

Second, the ribbon is just a home made mic extension so that I can plug the mic into the front of the panel.

Third, it is important to note the 8800 project was a few years back, I am using it as a foundation to show how this build will progress. Once the FTM400 is in place the 8800 will go in a Gator portable RACK enclosure to use as a "Go Box" for emergency use. Perhaps that build could be it's own thread some day soon.
 

N4GIX

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#9
I'm in the process of putting together a sloped rack for my desk as well. May I ask where you found the brackets for the 8800 and the chrome handles?
 

WX4EMT

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#10
I'm in the process of putting together a sloped rack for my desk as well. May I ask where you found the brackets for the 8800 and the chrome handles?
I made them out of sheet metal.... the grab handles are simple drawer pulls from Home Depot.
 

N4GIX

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#11
I made them out of sheet metal.... the grab handles are simple drawer pulls from Home Depot.
Thanks. I was hoping they might have been something prefabricated I could order. I was just at Menards (like Home Depot). It didn't even occur to me to look for chrome drawer handles!

I scoured fleaBay looking for a set of metric radius gauges. None are currently available. I'll have to keep looking!
 

WX4EMT

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#13
The speakers are plain old 4" radio shack specials. The grills are likewise radio shack plastic 4" grills. They still pop up from time to time but were discontinued and SOWG about 5 years ago. I bought all the ones I could find and repurpose them every time I can.

The latest trick I have found for a professional look is to take a Motorola / GE / Kenwood etc speaker and unscrew it front to back. Position the panel in between the halves, cut the screw and speaker holes then, sandwich the panel between the halves and screw them back together. I'll be showcasing that trick when I build the speaker / telephone handset panel for the VHF & UHF Spectras in the coming months.

 

N9JIG

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#14
Looking great! I love rack mounted gear of course!

I would love to get another set of CentraCom furniture, probably the best looking rackmounting stuff built. Years ago I had an opportunity to have a complete system from a friend's PD as they replaced it with newer consoles, 2 complete U-shaped position with 6 units each plus 2 corners and 2 ends each. I only took a few parts of it since I didn't have anyplace to put it at the time.

Now that I have the room I wish I had the consoles! Maybe there will be an opportunity again soon!

I wish I was as handy as you with the metalworking, I could never do that kind of work myself.
 

KM4WLV

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#17
WX4EMT,

Though a tad off topic I noticed up a few posts you mentioned Ellsworth AFB....... If I understood right you served there? If so would you mind sharing when? The reason I asked is because my little brother served there. Just curious if you knew him maybe. If you have time shoot me a PM and I'll tell you his name.

On the note of your shack (mobile and home), ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!! Keep up the great work brother!!
 

WX4EMT

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#18
WX4EMT,

Though a tad off topic I noticed up a few posts you mentioned Ellsworth AFB....... If I understood right you served there? If so would you mind sharing when? The reason I asked is because my little brother served there. Just curious if you knew him maybe. If you have time shoot me a PM and I'll tell you his name.

On the note of your shack (mobile and home), ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!! Keep up the great work brother!!
I'll visit the missile background question for a bit and we can even tie in some radio stuff.. Short answer no, I was stationed at Wing I, Malmstrom AFB, MT from '79 to '82, Ellsworth (Wing II) was our sister Wing. When Wing II was deactivated several folks spoke up about preserving this important part of our Cold War history. Titan II has a preserved facility at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ but sadly Titan I and Atlas have no such museums in their honor. (Ironically 3 Titan I facilities are located in stones throw of the Minuteman National Historic Site) Since Ellsworth was the least modified it was decided that a Wing II Launcher and Launch Control would be preserved and was set aside in the Strategic Arms Treaty all other decommissioned facilities where imploded or buried.

This is an example of a Minuteman II missile in it's launcher D-09 Ellsworth Minuteman National Historic Site. Since you are going to ask, the payload is a W-56 single thermonuclear device with an expected yield of 1.2 Megatons is mated to a Mk-11 Reentry Vehicle.



This is an example of what I worked on, the Minuteman III. At the time I worked on them the Mk-12A MIRV (Multiple Independant Re-entry Vehicle) carried 3 W-78 thermonuclear devices that yielded approximately 350 KILO tons each for a total punch of just a tad over 1 Megaton. You don't have to use brute force when we could drop an RV in your hip pocket, half a world away.



The Launch Control Center is about 60 foot underground and has a nice house above it for the Security contingent, cook, and facility manager.



The launchers stood by themselves several miles away to improve survivability in a nuclear attack.



One of the cool toys we had to play with was the Rockwell HF radio, I taught a bunch of launch officers where to listen for pirates and truckers while they stood vigil.



My unit was the 341st Field Missile Maintenance Squadron and we supported the 564th Strategic Missile Squadron.



My fellow vets, many of whom are Army and Marines speak of blood & guts, terminal factors and bursting radius.... But if you truly want to be bad *** you end civilization in your pajamas! Remember in all out nuclear war, DEATH WEARS BUNNY SLIPPERS!



I have a couple of days off so we'll work on the FTM-400 and maybe even get it on the air!
 

N9JIG

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#19
I, for one, am happy that you never had to accomplish your mission, I wouldn't be here if you had...

Cool stories! I have been to the Titan Museum south of Tuscon several times.

Thanks for this and for serving.
 
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