• To anyone looking to acquire commercial radio programming software:

    Please do not make requests for copies of radio programming software which is sold (or was sold) by the manufacturer for any monetary value. All requests will be deleted and a forum infraction issued. Making a request such as this is attempting to engage in software piracy and this forum cannot be involved or associated with this activity. The same goes for any private transaction via Private Message. Even if you attempt to engage in this activity in PM's we will still enforce the forum rules. Your PM's are not private and the administration has the right to read them if there's a hint to criminal activity.

    If you are having trouble legally obtaining software please state so. We do not want any hurt feelings when your vague post is mistaken for a free request. It is YOUR responsibility to properly word your request.

    To obtain Motorola software see the Sticky in the Motorola forum.

    The various other vendors often permit their dealers to sell the software online (i.e., Kenwood). Please use Google or some other search engine to find a dealer that sells the software. Typically each series or individual radio requires its own software package. Often the Kenwood software is less than $100 so don't be a cheapskate; just purchase it.

    For M/A Com/Harris/GE, etc: there are two software packages that program all current and past radios. One package is for conventional programming and the other for trunked programming. The trunked package is in upwards of $2,500. The conventional package is more reasonable though is still several hundred dollars. The benefit is you do not need multiple versions for each radio (unlike Motorola).

    This is a large and very visible forum. We cannot jeopardize the ability to provide the RadioReference services by allowing this activity to occur. Please respect this.

Shack Hints

Status
Not open for further replies.

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,035
Location
Far NW Valley
Here are a few shack hints gleaned from various builds over the years. Some of these ideas I developed on my own or stole shamelessly from others. If I recall who I stole it from I will give credit. With large, multi-radio shacks things like these can help keep things safe, clean, neat, good looking and functional.

Lets see some of your hints too, this way others can learn from us and maybe we might learn from them!

1a) Color Codes aren't just for DMR... (Power edition)
On a recent build I needed to make sure I knew which power leads came from a certain "Always On" power supply. I marked these with a color wire tie. Later I bought a set of colored tapes and marked each type of power with different colors. The colors I chose were:

Red, used for odd voltages (5VDC, 18VDC, etc.). Anything that wasn't 12/13.8 VDC got a red tag so I didn't accidentally plug in a 12V power cord to a 5V device.

Yellow for always on. This let's me know that the power cable is powered all the time. Since main power is switched by the large power supply and some of my devices need to stay on all the time. This includes things like the 536 or a radio used for data decoding that I need to be on all the time.

1b) Antenna Color Codes
I use several multicouplers. I assign a different color to each and color code the jumpers from them to match. For example, I have an 800 MHz. antenna feeding an 800 MHz. Stridsberg, these all get a white tag so I know not to use that antenna on a radio assigned to VHF channels...

1c) Other color coding
On some of my shacks I have had 4 different mics with RJ-45 connectors. I found that adding Cat-5 extensions to allow the mics to be mounted or placed more conveniently helped. I use different colors for each radio to mark them so I don't plug the Motorola mic in the Kenwood radio.

2) Leave some wiggle room
On my original RackShacks I built the racks in the basement (in the old house) or garage (in the new house). I then carried the whole assembly to the radio room and plugged in the antennas and power leads. This worked great and made for a nice, neat job until the first time I had to pull a radio for repair or relocation. I had this same issue on older shacks on shelves but apparently failed to learn the lesson: Leave enough slack on the wires to pull and replace the radio!

It is hard to get at the rear of the radio in most shacks. Unless you leave an aisle the access is from the front and if you cannot get your hands behind the radio to disconnect it without pulling it first you are going to have a hard time replacing it.

Nice, tight wiring looks great but can be a problem later.

3) Leave some spare wires
If you have a lot of radios chances are you are going to add some later, connect a temporary one or otherwise need to connect another. Leave one or two spare power leads and antenna jumpers from your multicoupler accessible for this purpose. Need to program your car radio inside? Want to impress your friends by connecting their radio to your multicoupler? Want to add a new radio quickly to your stack?

4) Leave a light on
Got a lot of radios? Have a hard time figuring out which one is squawking? Program or add an activity light to it so that you can see what radio has broken squelch. N1SQB put out articles here on the RR forums on how to do this for several radios and there is even a guy on the RR For Sale forum that will do it for you for a small fee.

5) Speak(er) your mind
While personally I don't usually use them a lot of folks prefer external speakers on their home shacks. N1SQB took this to another level, he mounted them directly above the radios they are connected to and even color-coded the speaker cases with the radio display lighting. (see http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/344801-my-rack-shack.html#post2690457).

Other users have used rack-mounted speakers or other types of external speakers mounted on the sides or tops of their systems.

Another solution, albeit expensive, is a mixing system. This takes multiple audio sources and feeds them into a mixer board and then out to specific speakers. One company even made something like this specifically for radio systems like ours, but most users utilize commercial or homebuilt solutions.

6) Arrangement
When laying out your system set up the radios the way you think you will like them and then sit down and twiddle the knobs (on the radios...). Make sure you can reach them and the radios you need to manipulate the most are the easiest to access. Radios that you rarely need to touch (like data receivers, fire toneout radios etc.) can be set up further away.

Remember to setup the large desktop receivers like Icom and AOR stuff so that you can rest your arm while turning the knobs. Remember that radios like these are intended for long periods of knobbing and your arm can get real tired real quick if these are placed where you cannot rest your arm on the table top.

Leave enough space on the desktop so you can put your note pad or other items on it that you need when listening.

7) Computer issues
So much radio work is done by computer these days, and the computer is often much more important that the radios themselves. With SDR's the computer is a big part of the radio. Be sure to mount the display(s) where you can comfortably see them without neck issues. Leave a good place for the keyboards and mice. Be sure to have an accessible USB port up on the desk someplace. Ever try to plug a USB cable into the back or a computer blindly? Even though there are only 2 ways it could go it takes at least 4 attempts to plug it in even when you can see it. Place a powered hub or at least a USB extender on the desk to avoid these issues when you need to pliug in a programming cable.

If the radio has it's programming port on the rear be sure to make it accessible. Some radios will allow you to run a cable to it and leave it in a convenient place so you can plug in as needed. Other radios may use a speaker jack etc. so you cannot leave the computer cable plugged in all the time. Be sure to be able to access these ports easily. Most desktop scanners these days have the computer port on the front panel so this isn't an issue, but what about your 2-way or ham gear?

8) Power Supplies
Since I have radios counted in the dozens in my shack I use large capacity 12VDC supplies. Recently I have pared down my shack somewhat and use a single 25A supply. This allows you to turn off all the radios at once and reduces the amount of wall warts.

Speaking of wall warts: Remember that these things consume electricity when plugged in, regardless of whether the radio is on or off. If possible plug these into a power strip so you can shut them off when not needed.

So what other good ideas do you have?
 

mule1075

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2003
Messages
3,789
Location
Washington Pennsylvania
Here are a few shack hints gleaned from various builds over the years. Some of these ideas I developed on my own or stole shamelessly from others. If I recall who I stole it from I will give credit. With large, multi-radio shacks things like these can help keep things safe, clean, neat, good looking and functional.

Lets see some of your hints too, this way others can learn from us and maybe we might learn from them!

1a) Color Codes aren't just for DMR... (Power edition)
On a recent build I needed to make sure I knew which power leads came from a certain "Always On" power supply. I marked these with a color wire tie. Later I bought a set of colored tapes and marked each type of power with different colors. The colors I chose were:

Red, used for odd voltages (5VDC, 18VDC, etc.). Anything that wasn't 12/13.8 VDC got a red tag so I didn't accidentally plug in a 12V power cord to a 5V device.

Yellow for always on. This let's me know that the power cable is powered all the time. Since main power is switched by the large power supply and some of my devices need to stay on all the time. This includes things like the 536 or a radio used for data decoding that I need to be on all the time.

1b) Antenna Color Codes
I use several multicouplers. I assign a different color to each and color code the jumpers from them to match. For example, I have an 800 MHz. antenna feeding an 800 MHz. Stridsberg, these all get a white tag so I know not to use that antenna on a radio assigned to VHF channels...

1c) Other color coding
On some of my shacks I have had 4 different mics with RJ-45 connectors. I found that adding Cat-5 extensions to allow the mics to be mounted or placed more conveniently helped. I use different colors for each radio to mark them so I don't plug the Motorola mic in the Kenwood radio.

2) Leave some wiggle room
On my original RackShacks I built the racks in the basement (in the old house) or garage (in the new house). I then carried the whole assembly to the radio room and plugged in the antennas and power leads. This worked great and made for a nice, neat job until the first time I had to pull a radio for repair or relocation. I had this same issue on older shacks on shelves but apparently failed to learn the lesson: Leave enough slack on the wires to pull and replace the radio!

It is hard to get at the rear of the radio in most shacks. Unless you leave an aisle the access is from the front and if you cannot get your hands behind the radio to disconnect it without pulling it first you are going to have a hard time replacing it.

Nice, tight wiring looks great but can be a problem later.

3) Leave some spare wires
If you have a lot of radios chances are you are going to add some later, connect a temporary one or otherwise need to connect another. Leave one or two spare power leads and antenna jumpers from your multicoupler accessible for this purpose. Need to program your car radio inside? Want to impress your friends by connecting their radio to your multicoupler? Want to add a new radio quickly to your stack?

4) Leave a light on
Got a lot of radios? Have a hard time figuring out which one is squawking? Program or add an activity light to it so that you can see what radio has broken squelch. N1SQB put out articles here on the RR forums on how to do this for several radios and there is even a guy on the RR For Sale forum that will do it for you for a small fee.

5) Speak(er) your mind
While personally I don't usually use them a lot of folks prefer external speakers on their home shacks. N1SQB took this to another level, he mounted them directly above the radios they are connected to and even color-coded the speaker cases with the radio display lighting. (see http://forums.radioreference.com/pictures-your-shack-mobile-setup/344801-my-rack-shack.html#post2690457).

Other users have used rack-mounted speakers or other types of external speakers mounted on the sides or tops of their systems.

Another solution, albeit expensive, is a mixing system. This takes multiple audio sources and feeds them into a mixer board and then out to specific speakers. One company even made something like this specifically for radio systems like ours, but most users utilize commercial or homebuilt solutions.

6) Arrangement
When laying out your system set up the radios the way you think you will like them and then sit down and twiddle the knobs (on the radios...). Make sure you can reach them and the radios you need to manipulate the most are the easiest to access. Radios that you rarely need to touch (like data receivers, fire toneout radios etc.) can be set up further away.

Remember to setup the large desktop receivers like Icom and AOR stuff so that you can rest your arm while turning the knobs. Remember that radios like these are intended for long periods of knobbing and your arm can get real tired real quick if these are placed where you cannot rest your arm on the table top.

Leave enough space on the desktop so you can put your note pad or other items on it that you need when listening.

7) Computer issues
So much radio work is done by computer these days, and the computer is often much more important that the radios themselves. With SDR's the computer is a big part of the radio. Be sure to mount the display(s) where you can comfortably see them without neck issues. Leave a good place for the keyboards and mice. Be sure to have an accessible USB port up on the desk someplace. Ever try to plug a USB cable into the back or a computer blindly? Even though there are only 2 ways it could go it takes at least 4 attempts to plug it in even when you can see it. Place a powered hub or at least a USB extender on the desk to avoid these issues when you need to pliug in a programming cable.

If the radio has it's programming port on the rear be sure to make it accessible. Some radios will allow you to run a cable to it and leave it in a convenient place so you can plug in as needed. Other radios may use a speaker jack etc. so you cannot leave the computer cable plugged in all the time. Be sure to be able to access these ports easily. Most desktop scanners these days have the computer port on the front panel so this isn't an issue, but what about your 2-way or ham gear?

8) Power Supplies
Since I have radios counted in the dozens in my shack I use large capacity 12VDC supplies. Recently I have pared down my shack somewhat and use a single 25A supply. This allows you to turn off all the radios at once and reduces the amount of wall warts.

Speaking of wall warts: Remember that these things consume electricity when plugged in, regardless of whether the radio is on or off. If possible plug these into a power strip so you can shut them off when not needed.

So what other good ideas do you have?
Excellent advice greatly appreciated
 

N1SQB

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2003
Messages
2,380
Location
Somewhere On Earth
Great suggestions

Man, I feel honored, I made the list in two different areas. LOL...Excellent advise all around. We can all learn a thing or two from one another. Hey, if someone copies what I did, to me it's great. I love the idea of using things like rigruner strips. Everything on my shack is on them. Recently, while talking to someone form Stridsberg, he advised me to switch over to the rigrunner instead of the wall wart that comes with the multicoupler. Now, when I hit the power button on the Astron SS30M power supply EVERYTHING goes off. Once I converted to powerpole connectors, everything was so much easier to connect and in some cases interchange. I highly recommend switching over to powerpole connectors and using rigrunners.

Manny
 
Last edited:

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,035
Location
Far NW Valley
Man, I feel honored, I made the list in two different areas. LOL...Excellent advise all around. We can all learn a thing or two from one another. Hey, if someone copies what I did, to me it's great. I love the idea of using things like rigruner strips. Everything on my shack is on them. Recently, while talking to someone form Stridsberg, he advised me to switch over to the rigrunner instead of the wall wart that comes with the multicoupler. Now, when I hit the power button on the Astron SS30M power supply EVERYTHING goes off. Once I converted to powerpole connectors, everything was so much easier to connect and in some cases interchange. I highly recommend switching over to powerpole connectors and using rigrunners.

Manny
I am very happy since I switched to PowerPoles and RigRunner strips. I even use them in the car, albeit with the little retaining clips so they don't jiggle apart. They would be perfect had they designed them with better retention for mobile environments. I spent almost $60 for the PowerPole crimper tool and it was well worth it.

I try to stay away from wall warts if I can since they are noisy but sometimes they are unavoidable. I have a couple devices (HP-1, HP-2 for example) that run on other than 12 VDC so they are a necessary evil.
 

N1SQB

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2003
Messages
2,380
Location
Somewhere On Earth
I am very happy since I switched to PowerPoles and RigRunner strips. I even use them in the car, albeit with the little retaining clips so they don't jiggle apart. They would be perfect had they designed them with better retention for mobile environments. I spent almost $60 for the PowerPole crimper tool and it was well worth it.

I try to stay away from wall warts if I can since they are noisy but sometimes they are unavoidable. I have a couple devices (HP-1, HP-2 for example) that run on other than 12 VDC so they are a necessary evil.
Rich, I solved the jiggling issue in the car with 2 inch wide industrial strength velcro from Lowes. It does an excellent job at holding my RigRunner steady.Nice and wide, strong adhesive. When I got rid of the truck, I almost had to pry the darn thing off.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/VELCRO-2-in-x-48-in-Black-Roll-Fastener/1052627

Manny
 
Last edited:

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,035
Location
Far NW Valley
I was actually talking about the PowerPoles jiggling loose. The little clips hold the two ones together.

I also use the industrial Velcro. It is strong stuff and I buy it by the box!
 

N1SQB

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2003
Messages
2,380
Location
Somewhere On Earth
I was actually talking about the PowerPoles jiggling loose. The little clips hold the two ones together.

I also use the industrial Velcro. It is strong stuff and I buy it by the box!
OK, got it! Yep, love those little black clips. I use one on every connection.

Manny
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,035
Location
Far NW Valley
Get the Power Pole red and black housings that are permanently bonded together.
The issue I have with PowerPoles is not the paired red and black ones separating it is that the power-device sets pull apart when jiggled too much, such as when mobile.

I have glued red and black pairs together but usually have no need to, they usually stay together well. By not bonding they can be repaired individually more easily.

The little binding clips work well in a mobile environment, I have never had one work loose.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top