The (almost) all new for 2022 N9JIG Shack

N9JIG

Sheriff
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(Continued from I am at it again!)


With a few changes in my life, I have yet again reimagined my shack. I also replaced many of my older radios with newer ones and updated a few other things. A huge change for me is the audio mixer. I had been able to easily listen to and distinguish various radios with just using the regular speakers. With my wife being deaf I have had no problems leaving the volumes up as loud as I wanted. Now however with my son and daughter-in-law here I must be more cognizant of others. It is more complicated by the kid sharing my office as he works from home as a networking programmer.

For these reasons I added a Behringer mixer so I can combine all the audio sources from 10 radios to a single set of speakers or headphones.

As for the radios themselves I have made substantial upgrades to these as well. Over the last year I sold off many of my old fleet and bought new radios to replace them. For instance, I sold my R8500 and IC-746 and replaced them with more modern radios. I also sold off all of my GRE’s, all my BCT15’s and most of my BCT15X’s and BCD996XT’s. I added 5 new BCD536HP’s (including one to replace a BCD996P2 in the car) to the mix to replace the older radios.

I also upgraded the computer portion of the shack with new 27” monitors replacing the larger 32’s. Earlier this year I replaced a pair of Mac Mini’s with a new 14” MacBook Pro along with a Thunderbolt dock. For radio control I still use the Hades Canyon NUC and one of my older 32” monitors.

Holding the radios is a new AudioRax 3-bay 3u desk rack. These are expensive but worth every penny. They are custom made to order, sturdy and gorgeous. The one I had made included an extended 14” depth (from the standard 12”) to support the trays for the rack systems described below. The extra depth also provides some extra room on top and inside for other stuff.

It took 8 weeks (to the day!) for it to arrive, exactly as specified on their webpage. It was worth the wait! I chose the ebony black finishing stain as it matches the faceplates and desktop. My original plan was for this to act as the monitor stand as well but after I had the extra 2 inches of depth it was too large to fit on a diagonal on the desk, so I reused a monitor arm for the Mac monitors on the corner and set the rack to my right side. This also keeps the open side of the rack to the wall where it won’t be seen.

The faceplates are from NovexComm, my go-to source for custom radio rack-mounting gear. I emailed them with my requests, and they worked up CAD drawings of possible solutions. I decided to stack 2 scanners on each bay with a larger radio on the left on each bay. This turned out better than I had anticipated, the fit and finish is exquisite. Once the final design was approved and paid for the panels arrived in about 2 weeks. The nice thing about these designs is that they are reversible, I can plant the scanners on either side.

Rack.jpeg

On the far-right bay is my new Icom IC-7300 HF rig. Along with it are the BCD996XT and BCD996P2. These scanners will be used mostly to decode and log the local P25 systems with PRO96Com.

In the center bay are 2 BCD536HP’s and my SDS200. The 536’s will be used for local scanning on trunked systems as will the SDS200.

The far-left bay has another pair of BCD536’s for local aviation and railroad scanning as well as the R8600 for dial twiddling and HF reception.

On the desktop to the far right is my Icom IC-705 portable HF rig. It is easily removed and relocated to the patio for outside use. On the shelf on the back wall is my Kenwood GMRS rig and a TYT MD8600 DMR 2M/440 dual-band radio.

On top of the rack is the 32” monitor with the NUC attached to it. This runs PRO96Com, ProScan, ARC-536 and ARC-XT to control and log from my various radios and will eventually be used for some of the Icom radios.

Right.jpeg

On the left side of the desk is my new Behringer Xenyx X2222USB audio mixer. This has 12 distinct inputs that I can use to monitor the 7 scanners and 3 Icoms with a bit of expansion capability down the road. The new cables should be here next week, but it has already been tested and works great.

Left.jpg

The main computer is a fully maxed out MacBook Pro 14" with the M1Max chip, 64GB of RAM and a 4TB SSD. It replaced my Mac Mini's (an M1 and an Intel) and can run Windows 11 via Parallels as well as the MacOS. I usually run it in Clamshell Mode with the two monitors but if I need a third screen I can just open it up. With the Thunderbolt dock from CalDigit there is just a single cable going to it.

Comp.jpeg

The NovexComm rack panels on the two outside bays include full-depth shelves to support the heavy radios. They also provide space for mounting some accessories like a network switch and power supplies.

The center bay is a faceplate only, strong enough to support the 3 scanners it has. In the center bay is an 8-port Stridsberg Multicoupler and a 13-port USB hub. I also have an 8-port Ethernet switch to support the radios and computers that have the capability to use it (The 8600, 7300 and SDS200).

The center bay also has a surge protector power strip to run all the radio equipment. There is a separate surge protector power strip for the computer stuff mounted under the desktop.

Antennas:
I always get asked about the antennas. I rearranged things a few months back and replaced the various types and lengths of coax with LMR400 with N-connectors on both ends. I rearranged the patch panel by flipping it over and replaced the existing SO239 jacks with N jacks. I also got new jumpers from the patch panel to the radios, all have the appropriate connectors on the radio ends (BNC, PL259 or N) and panel ends (N) so I do not need any adapters.

In the attic are 3 Diamond dual banders, 3 discones, 20M and 10M dipoles, a pair of ST-2's and a GMRS UHF. I hope to get a flagpole HF antenna this winter and perhaps will find a way to mount an outdoor scanner antenna that won't bring upon me the wrath of my HOA.

New Stuff:
Of all this stuff the only things I had at this time last year was the desk itself, the Stridsberg, the SDS200, the BCD996’s, the NUC and the 32-inch monitor, all of the rest is new. As far as the antennas one of the discones, the ST-2s and the dipoles are holdovers, the rest are new.

What is coming up?
Well, if you know me then you know it will be changing... I have been thinking of a new desk to fit the rack better. That would allow me to use it as intended: having the computer monitors on it. That was really the whole idea of the 3u vs the 4u rack I already had. The current desk position exposes the back of the rack if I put it under the monitor so there is another reason a new desk down the road might be in the cards.

I also want to get a set of nice monitor speakers for the mixer. I might also get an additional 27” monitor for the NUC to match the existing monitors for the Mac. I can get all three on the top of the rack with a bit of overhang on the edges or by arranging them in a slight “U” pattern. The extra depth of the rack will work to my advantage for that.

I would love to get an IC-9700 for 2m and 440 use but cannot justify the cost of that, even to myself. The few times I operate on these bands are well covered with the 705 or TYT. It would be a lot cheaper and just as effective for me to get a decent dual band mobile anyway. It would look great next to the 7300 though!
 

03msc

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Looks great as always. As discussed in your thread asking about it, there were several options for a mixer but you'll be happy with that one I'm sure. It will serve the purpose well.
 

caphab1

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Man I love seeing the pictures and reading the breakdowns!! You should consider like a fisheye picture of the room.
 

WatnNY

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It's just amazing what you continue to do with your set up, Rich. Did you retire the BC-780's, or are they just not shown?

Mike
 

vagrant

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A little VHF/UHF amplifier would pair fine with the 705 for FM and SSB fun when desired.

Also, it appears you do not use the DPD OmniX after testing?
 

N9JIG

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It's just amazing what you continue to do with your set up, Rich. Did you retire the BC-780's, or are they just not shown?

Mike
I haven't had BC780's in over 10 years. The BCT15's replaced them and those have been retired as well and sold off.
 

N9JIG

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Also, it appears you do not use the DPD OmniX after testing?

I was not too impressed with the OmniX, at least compared to the discones or ST-2's (especially after I replaced the baluns!). I might use it again as I think I can pass it off as a TV antenna to my HOA.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
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Looks great as always. As discussed in your thread asking about it, there were several options for a mixer but you'll be happy with that one I'm sure. It will serve the purpose well.
I asked my son (an IT professional) to help pick a unit and he suggested this one as suggested by AK9R. We looked at all the suggested ones and this one won out for price, capability and reviews. He was also familiar with the brand, having integrated other of their products in various projects.

I wish is wasn't so big but there are no scanner-specific audio boards these days that would work for me. The old NCS-3230 would be perfect if A: It were still available; and B: it came with 10 or 12 inputs.

I would love for a company to come out with a solution for up to 12 inputs with level, balance and mute controls in a smaller package. We don't need all those music controls, just a way to balance the levels and select the channels to listen to.
 

03msc

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I asked my son (an IT professional) to help pick a unit and he suggested this one as suggested by AK9R. We looked at all the suggested ones and this one won out for price, capability and reviews. He was also familiar with the brand, having integrated other of their products in various projects.

I wish is wasn't so big but there are no scanner-specific audio boards these days that would work for me. The old NCS-3230 would be perfect if A: It were still available; and B: it came with 10 or 12 inputs.

I would love for a company to come out with a solution for up to 12 inputs with level, balance and mute controls in a smaller package. We don't need all those music controls, just a way to balance the levels and select the channels to listen to.

Agree. The one that I suggested in the other thread is small and could be mounted out of sight, but requires a tablet or computer running the software to operate it. Might not be an issue but if you want physical controls then you wouldn't like it. I use it, though. I think Lindsay Blanton has (or at one time had) a Behringer x32 Rack in a closet in his shack/office...same concept on a larger scale than the X-Air I recommended.
 

AK9R

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Too late as the cows have left Rich's barn, but there are some rack mixers, like the Behringer RX1602, that might do the job. It has 8 stereo inputs.
 

N9JIG

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Agree. The one that I suggested in the other thread is small and could be mounted out of sight, but requires a tablet or computer running the software to operate it. Might not be an issue but if you want physical controls then you wouldn't like it. I use it, though. I think Lindsay Blanton has (or at one time had) a Behringer x32 Rack in a closet in his shack/office...same concept on a larger scale than the X-Air I recommended.
The X-Air was our second choice, it was pretty much a coin flip between that and the X2222. I think once I get used to running a mixer I will probably upgrade to something like that or the X32 down the road.

The cable I ordered are due to arrive today so I will be able to make full use of the mixer then. I also found a place to make the right-angle cables I desire so once I figure out for sure the position and arrangements I will invest in them. COLUBER CABLE | Audio Wires & Cable Accessories Store has an eBay store and seems to have the right products at a reasonable cost, about $15 each for custom lengths and colors.
 

AK9R

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Looks like those Coluber cables use 1/8 TRS (aka Stereo) plugs.
 

KC1UA

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You HAD to show me that desk rack setup, didn't you... :LOL:

I have a 62" wide desk...I'm guessing that with the separation between the bays that comes in as just a little wider than that. I really like that a lot. The one thing I don't like about my current setup is the monitors off to the sides of the racks. Being able to set the monitors atop the rack enclosure would alleviate that issue.

Looks great as always, Rich! Will we ever be happy with our shack configs? :oops::ROFLMAO:
 
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