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Old 01-23-2016, 10:13 AM
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Default N9JIG Rack Shack Redux for 2016

For prior versions please see:
http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/312814-n9jig-new-home-shack.html
http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/316394-n9jig-az-shack-completed.html
http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/294794-n9jig-racks-shack.html

Here is my shack redone for 2016. Since we moved into the new house in March of last year I was able to have my antennas installed in the attic (Thanks Joe!) and the office remodeled. As explained in prior posts, I had a carpenter come out and remove a portion of the drywall on the backside of the office and run the 25 assorted coax lines into the attic. They are run thru to a couple wall plates on the wall behind and below the cabinets. Currently the cables run directly to the radios or multicouplers but I am still considering mounting a patch panel to the wall.



The radio desk was purpose purchased to match the cabinets. The cabinets are each 10u and contain an AC power surge protector, Astron 25A 12VDC power supply and a PowerPole strip.

The right cabinet has an 8-port and a 4-port Stridsberg active multicoupler, the center cabinet has just an 8-port and the left cabinet has a 4-port.

The cabinets are from Chief (ERS-10 - 10U Slanted Economy Rack) and the rack mounting gear and power supplies come from NorthComm (Radio Specific Power Supplies). Faceplates for the radios are mostly JottoDesk, but a couple are Troy.

In the attic are about 20 assorted antennas, including 4 AntennaCraft ST-2s, quite possibly the best all-around receiving antenna ever made. I also have a couple HF dipoles (10 and 20M), a pair of dualband ham antennas (2M/440) a Diamond Discone, 4 AntennaCraft ST-3s (Great for Mil Air!) and 3 Mon-51s on NMO ground planes. There are also a half dozen spare coax lines in case I add an antenna or have a coax failure down the road. Since I live in an HOA I cannot have outside antennas although I am considering some possibilities like a flagpole HF antenna and perhaps hiding a couple wire antennas on the tile roof.

I live up in the hills with a small mountain range between me and Phoenix. This gives me some elevation but it also blocks me from some city stuff.



The right case has scanners for general listening. I tend to assign a scanner for a specific purpose, this I have the below in this case:
BCD536HP, used for local use and occasionally for the WiFi feature when I am away from the office.
HP-1, used for local and aviation use
HP-2, used on the local Phase 2 trunked system
BCD996P2, used on the local Phase 2 system
BCD996XT, used on the local P16 Sheriffs system
4 BCT15Xs, used for Aviation, Railroad, local analog and the Highway Patrol
UHF and VHF CDM1250s, used for GMRS and local ham repeaters.

On top of the rack are 4 cheap digital clocks. Since I am on the phone all day with people from all over the country being able to check the time in their area is very handy. I also have a portion of my portable collection:
BCD436HP, BCD325P2, BC125AT, Pro-106, PSR120 and a couple ham HTs. Not shown is my BCD396XT that I keep in the car.



The center rack is used mostly for Mil-Air. Luke Air Force Base is 30 miles away and I live in the confines of one of the MOAs so I have F16s and F35s buzzing my house constantly. There is an auxiliary strip 5 miles from here that they use for Approach runs often and they also run search missions in the desert near here. This all makes for a plethora of listening.
The radio layout in the center cabinet is:
6 BCT15s, each used for a specific segment of the MilAir band.
PSR310, used for scanning the Air Force ATC and tactical channels already found.
Kenwood TM-D700 dual bander.
The blank panel may be used for a future addition down the road.
Above the rack is a SportSync SR-303 delay radio



The left rack has some specialty radios:
Icom R8500, connected to an MDC decoder and a PL decoder
Pro-197 and a PSR600 used for PRO96Com and other decoding activities
BCT15 used for decoding
Icom IC7000 all-band
Whistler WS-1095

Under the desk is the main Windows computer attached to the monitor above the left rack. Running Windows 10, it has a 3Ghz. I7 Quad Core processer, 9GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. It runs my ADSB receiver, HDSDR, PRO96Com, ARC products for programming scanners, as well as Sentinel for the HO radios.

Not seen in the photos are my AirNav RadarBox ADSB receiver as well as my new SDRPlay RSP-1 SDR.



On the main desk is my new iMac 5K 27 inch with a second 27 inch monitor. The iMac has 32GB of RAM and also runs Parallels with Windows 7 for radio programming and walking customers thru issues on our products.

Having a wide variety of radios at my fingertips like this helps me work thru issues with customers calling about scanner problems. I work for ScannerMaster and handle phone support and sales, it is a lot easier to walk someone thru a problem on the same radio they are calling about or describe how something works with the radio in hand.

The speaker question comes up often, I have found that the radios work fine without external speakers. I do occasionally have to find the radio that is talking, not all of the radios yet have the activity lights installed. That might be done this summer when it is too hot to do much outside.

I use one of the ST-2's on the SDRPlay SDR. Since there is only a single antenna port on it the large capture area of the ST-2 makes it work surprisingly well on HF as well as VHF and UHF. I also use 2 ST-2's on the R8500, for both the HF and V/U sides. The other ST-2 is used on the right cabinet 8-port multicoupler. The two HF dipoles and an RF8900 vertical are connected to a coax switch connected to the antenna tuner of the IC7000.

Before I put this rack in place I went thru each antenna and compared them on various freqs. In absence of proper test equipment I checked each for reception signal strength and quality by using the R8500 and a set of always or frequently on signals like NWS, ATIS, trunked systems or other signals that provide a constant signal strength. Using the R8500 I logged the strengths on each freq for each antenna and put them in a database. I then assigned each a value of 1-10 based on displayed signal strength with a plus or minus for varying signal quality on each. I then created a compilation field for a total "Scanner Quality" value and used that to decide what antenna to go for what radio or multicoupler. For example, I used the antenna that worked best on the local UHF ATIS channel for the Mil-Air group of radios.



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Old 01-23-2016, 10:17 AM
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WOW !!!!
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:41 AM
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That is one impressive setup, but I have to ask: How do you make sense of it all? I can't even listen to one scanner along with a broadcast radio without getting confused! Not being sarcastic, if there is some technique whereby one trains one's ears and brain to sort out multiple speech threads at the same time, I would be very interested in trying to learn it!
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Old 01-23-2016, 1:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ11DLN View Post
That is one impressive setup, but I have to ask: How do you make sense of it all? I can't even listen to one scanner along with a broadcast radio without getting confused! Not being sarcastic, if there is some technique whereby one trains one's ears and brain to sort out multiple speech threads at the same time, I would be very interested in trying to learn it!
Years of practice. I spent more than 35 years as a cop, firefighter, medic and dispatcher so I am well versed in listening to multiple radios at once.

The activity lights (based on N1QSB's design) help a lot.
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Old 01-23-2016, 2:16 PM
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As always, a top notch setup. Very nice. I think many of us can get some ideas from your setup. Thanks for sharing as always.
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Old 01-23-2016, 2:28 PM
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Shack goals


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Old 01-23-2016, 3:35 PM
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Nice station. 73, n9zas
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Old 01-23-2016, 3:51 PM
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Please let me know when you're going to be holding "open auditions" for your next scanner buddy...

I'm there.....

Top Notch, Rich!!
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Old 01-23-2016, 6:14 PM
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What railroad is the one the right monitor?
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Old 01-23-2016, 6:53 PM
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What railroad is the one the right monitor?
Chicago & Northwestern F7A 419 at Waukegan, IL. I downloaded it from someplace but the number was my original badge number so it has meaning for me.

On the left screen is C&NW SD45 953 at Proviso IL. I just like the locomotive and it was a good pic...
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Old 01-23-2016, 7:16 PM
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Thumbs up WOW!

WOW! Very awesome setup!

Keep up the good work!

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Old 01-23-2016, 8:19 PM
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Forgot to mention a couple tidbits:

Most of the radios can be programmed from the front panel, all the scanners except the WS1095 as well as both the Motorolas. For the 1095 I ran a USB cable thru the rack front so I can plug it in as needed.

On the center rack there is an opening on the rack where I have a USB extension cable from the main Windows computer. I can plug in a USB-1 cable for the various Unidens or a USB-Mini for the HP's and 996P2.

The Moto's and both the Kenwood and IC7000 have Cat-5 cables extending the mic jacks. This keeps things neat and keeps the coiled cords tidy.Behind the left cabinet are cables connected to the discriminators and records jacks of the BCT15 and R8500 in case I want to run them to a decode of some sort.

There are also a couple spare antenna cables running to the multicouplers as well as a couple spare coaxial power connectors to allow temporary connections to scanners.

The monitor for the Windows computer is on a movable arm, I can swing it down in front of the radios as needed if I don't feel like looking up to it.
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Old 01-23-2016, 8:40 PM
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Outstanding and awesome set-up. As I said elsewhere, that's what my shack wants to be when it grows up.

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Old 01-24-2016, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N9JIG View Post
Chicago & Northwestern F7A 419 at Waukegan, IL. I downloaded it from someplace but the number was my original badge number so it has meaning for me.

On the left screen is C&NW SD45 953 at Proviso IL. I just like the locomotive and it was a good pic...
Thanks for the info - impressive install. I've enjoyed watching your AZ shack take shape.
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Old 01-24-2016, 5:06 PM
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Very Nice!
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Old 01-25-2016, 4:35 AM
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Any chance of getting a few photos of the antenna's in the attic, Rich?
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Old 01-25-2016, 8:23 AM
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Hi Rich,

First off, that looks fantastic as always. That's a type of setup I've always wanted to put together so I'm curious as to a rough idea of what the racks and radio mounts cost you, and if you got the radio mounts and faceplates from the same dealer.

Thanks!
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:40 AM
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I bought the rack enclosures, panels, power supplies and faceplates all from Northcomm. It was easier for me to order the whole shebang at once.

All in it was about $3,000 for three cabinets, 3 power supplies (each with a rack panel) and 20 some odd faceplates, with shipping. They were heavy so the shipping was expensive.

It could be done cheaper of course. If you are a decent woodworker you could make the cabinets, that would save a couple hundred. Once could source the items otherwise and save some money. I preferred the turnkey solution however, Northcomm was a pleasure to work with. It was worth the extra money to have it all delivered as a single package. (Well, 5 different boxes all coming together!)
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:45 AM
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Thanks. I think I'll stick with the "monolith" for the time being, but definitely something to consider down the road. Maybe the retirement road!
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Old 01-25-2016, 12:12 PM
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I ordered this for a starter. I figure I can add some sides and a top down the road a bit:


Middle Atlantic Products Dr Series 8U Rack | eBay
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