Category - Amateur Radio

Cabinets, 80m Antenna & Rig Changes

The last few weeks have seen some good progress on getting the new station built, the external cabinets have now been installed, these are Schneider Electric Spacial CRN cabinets and measure 600mm x 800mm x 300mm. From left to right they’ll be used for 240v Mains Electric, control equipment (more on this in a future posting) and RF Switching. These are great cabinets as they’re relativly inexpensive and are IP66 rated so provide good weather proofing for the equipment. My location is very exposed to the weather so this is an important consideration.

With CQWW SSB coming up I wanted to be able to get on 80m, so figured it was time to convert the DX Commander into an 80m capable antenna. The 17m element was removed and replaced with an 80m inverted L element, with hindsight I should probably have removed the 30m element but i’ll address this once I move the DX Commander to it’s permanent location. The end of the inverted L is supported from a Clansman 5.4m Mast i’ve had laying around for years. The 80m performance seems to be pretty good and will certainly do as a temporary solution for 80m.

Finally, and perhaps the most exciting change is the new HF rig, i’ve had my trusty Yaesu FT-2000 for a very long time and the opportunity came up for me to acquire a Kenwood TS-990S. The descision was a very easy one so the FT-2000 had to go. I’ve only had the TS-990S for a short time but so far i’m very pleased with it. The performance is considerably better than the FT-2000 and it’s a fantastic rig to operate. I’m very much looking forward to putting it through it’s paces in CQWW SSB.

ACOM Director Plus 0.6.0 (beta)

ACOM Director Plus 0.6.0 (beta) is now available

ACOM Director Plus 0.6.0 (beta)

This release contains quite a few improvements and will be the last release for a couple of weeks while I work on adding ACOM2000A support. As I have limited access to an ACOM2000A now i’m expecting this to take around 2 weeks to complete.

Changes in this version are:

  • IMPROVED: Carrier Frequency, Gain and SWR readouts altered to improve display time of these values
  • IMPROVED: PA Temperature is now rounded to nearest degree C
  • IMPROVED: VCC5 is now rounded to nearest 0.1V
  • IMRPOVED: Relay Voltage is now rounded to nearest volt
  • IMRPOVED: PA DC Current is now rounded to 0.1A
  • IMRPOVED: PA DC Power and PA Dissipated Power are now rounded to nearest Watt
  • IMPROVED: Bias Voltages are now rounded to nearest 0.01V
  • IMPROVED: Gain now rounded to nearest 0.1dB
  • IMPROVED: Logger integration code refactored to allow easier integration with more loggers
  • IMPROVED: Forward and Reflected power meters now hold their value better improving readability
  • ADDED: Additional compact control panel design, smaller display with just the essentials
  • ADDED: N1MM+ Interface for frequency tracking
  • ADDED: Logger Tracking is now functional (please note that certain firmware versions of the ACOM600S are known not to work, the latest version does however)
  • ADDED: Proper detection for when the amplifier is shutting down

ACOM Director Plus 0.5.2 (beta) – Update for ACOM1200S

ACOM Director Plus 0.5.2 (beta) is now available

ACOM Director Plus 0.5.2 (beta)

This is a minor update containinng a couple of bug fixes, however if you use an ACOM1200S you will need to update to this version as it corrects the amplifier detection to enable proper operation on the ACOM 1200S

  • FIXED: Changing logger integration settings didn’t take effect until ACOM Director Plus was restarted
  • FIXED: Amplifier model detection was not operating properly when using an ACOM1200S

ACOM Director Plus – Beta 1 (0.5.1)

ACOM Director Plus (0.5.1) beta release 1 is now available below

ACOM Director Plus 0.5.1 (beta)

Changes in this release are as follows:

  • Added proper installation routine
  • Added fault display for ACOM600S and ACOM1200S
  • Fixed bug where a crash occured when connecting using a COM port that no longer exists
  • Slight layout and visual changes in the user interface
  • Significantly improved support for windows display scaling (not perfect but much improved)
  • Keep on top option is now functional
  • Some code internal cleanup

 

 

Installing Feedlines

After having been off air for a number of years due to an impending house move, I finally moved to my new location last summer. The house is very much a project house so most of last year was spent working on the property. This year however I decided it was time to begin getting my station built and getting back on air.

The new property has an excellent section of land which is ideal for antennas however given that the shack is in an upstairs bedroom getting coax and control lines to it would be a challenge, especially as i’d have to get these through the garden without upsetting the XYL too much.

I decided the best approach was to bury the cabling under the garden. I chose to use Messi & Paoloni BROAD-PRO 50 Double Jacket coax, it provides excellent performance at a fairly reasonable price and with the double jacket can be direct buried if needed.

Despite having the option to direct bury the coax, I decided to use conduit, this would allow me to run some additional cabling and in the event any of the cabling needed replacing, I could do so without having to dig another trench. I used 40mm waste pipe as the conduit, it’s pretty cheap and works nicely for this application, the conduit was laid on a bed of sand to help protect it from any stones or rocks. It was only buried about 8-10 inches from the surface.

Feeding the coax through the conduit was a challenge as I had a few bends, I first ran a string line through using a shop vac to suck the line from the other end (this was surprisingly effective), however feeding the cable through 20 meters of conduit was quite a struggle.

I ended up with 2 runs of coax and 2 runs of externally rated CAT6 cable (all antenna switching control, tuning control etc. will be done over ethernet). I installed an intermediate junction box before the cabling entered the conduit, this will allow me to add additional switching and/or replace any damaged coax without the need to remove the runs that go all the way to the shack.

The cabling exits close to where the antennas will be located and will eventially be terminated in a large IP65 wall cabinet which will house all the antenna switching gear and matching systems, however for now I have them hooked directly into a DX Commander multi band vertical that my good friend Callum M0MCX kindly donated (http://www.m0mcx.co.uk).

I’m very happy with how it all turned out and the trench is now barely visible in the garden.

 

ACOM Director Plus – Alpha 1

ACOM Director Plus Alpha release 1 is now available to download

ACOM Director Plus – Alpha 1

Changes in this version are as follows:

  • Tray Icon menu now implemented as per the original ACOM Director
  • Storable configuration options implemented
  • Auto connect on startup added
  • DXLog and Logger32 interfaces implemented (Does not yet track frequency through these)
  • ACOM1200S now supported properly, the interface changes scales depending on whether an ACOM600S or ACOM1200S is connected
  • Improvements in connection and communication reliability
  • Implemented Multi-Protocol support in preparation for ACOM2000A support being added in a future release
  • Added system tray notifications
  • About dialog implemented
  • Various bug fixes
  • UI now changes to a disabled state if not connected
  • Slight changes in UI graphics

The following are known issues:

  • Display has issues when using windows 7 with display scaling enabled and set to anything other than 100%

ACOM Director Plus can be installed side by side with the original ACOM Director software.

I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone with an ACOM1200S as i’m unable to test with this amplifier.

ACOM Director Plus – Technical Preview 3

Technical Preview 3 is now available and can be downloaded below

ACOM Director Plus – Technical Preview 3

This release will be the final Technical Preview release as i’m now working on the initial alpha version.

The changes in this version are as follows:

  • Improved Forward and Reflected Power Meters, they’re now more in keeping with the one on the ACOM display with improved peak value hold and decay
  • Slight change in UI colours and visual appearance to closer match the real amplifier
  • Some of the statistics have been renamed to be more appropriate
  • Improved Stability during connect and disconnect from the amplifier
  • Many background changes in preparation for Alpha 1 release

I would be very interested in receiving any feedback regarding ACOM Director Plus.

ACOM Director Plus – Technical Preview 2

ACOM Director Plus Technical Preview 2 is now available for download.

Please see https://www.m0yom.co.uk/acom-director-plus-technical-preview-1/ for details on the Technical Previews i’m currently releasing.

This version adds a whole new user interface which whilst it’s far from the final one is very indicative over how it will look. It is also fully functional in terms of monitoring the state of the amplifier and providing Operate/Standby control as well as band change control.

As with Technical Preview 1, this has no installation routine, you simply run the self extracting download and launch the “ACOM Director Plus.exe” file.

ACOM Director Plus can be installed side by side with the original ACOM Director software.

You can download it here

ACOM Director Plus – Technical Preview 2

ACOM Director Plus – Technical Preview 1

An update on ACOM Director? surely not. As many of you will have noticed, i’ve been somewhat silent for a while on the new version of ACOM Director, this has been down to a number of reasons, some personal, some work related and some due to some technical challenges getting it to do what I wanted it to.

Personal and Work issues aside, ACOM Director has been through 2 entire re-writes since the last update I posted, I won’t go into all the underlying reasons, however i’m now happy with the approach i’ve taken which will allow some exciting capabilities in the future. ACOM Director has now been re-written from the ground up and as such i’ve decided to create a whole new version which i’m calling ACOM Director Plus.

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ACOM Director 2.0 Update

Just a quick update as a number of people have been asking about the progress on the new ACOM Director version 2. I had hoped to have it completed by now, however work and life commitments have meant that progress has been slower than expected. However I am now able to dedicate 2 days a week to working on it so things should get moving at a good speed again now.

The ACOM600S protocol is now implemented along with a new user interface to match the look of the ACOM600S. I’m just working on unifying ACOM Directors own protocol so it can support both types of amplifier without having to use two different versions, once this is complete I will be releasing an alpha version so we can get any bugs ironed out of the basics before adding some of the more advanced features I’m wanting to include.

My aim is to have a version released that you can all try out sometime in June.

In the meantime, here is a quick video of the new user interface in test mode showing the operation of the new bar graphs.