Tag - amateur radio

When is an RS-232 port not an RS-232 port (ACOM 600S RS-232 Mod)

I have been attempting to get the remote power on capability of ACOM Director Plus working with the ACOM 600S however no matter what I tried I was unable to make it work. I tried swapping to a null modem cable and amazingly the remote power on worked perfectly, however I could no longer connect to the amp from the computer.

On closer inspection of the manual, it would appear that there is something unusual about the wiring for the RS-232 port

At first glance everything seems fine, however pins 2 & 3 (TxD and RxD) are wired to use a straight through RS-232 cable, but pins 6 & 8 (DSR and CTS used for remote power on) are wired to use a null modem cable. This means that for full control of the amp a custom cable must be used.

What peaked my interest is the fact that pins 4 & 7 are noted as Not Connected, these are the DTR and RTS lines and are what’s used to tell the amp to power on. In order for this to work they must be connected to pins 6 and 8. It occured to me that it should be possible to make a modification to the amp to enable it to support a regular straight through RS-232 cable.

To that end i’ve put together a mod which can be found over at ACOM 600S RS-232 RPON Mod which details how to do this. It’s only useful if you intend to use the RPON capability through the RS-232 port, however it will avoid the need for custom cables and is still backward compatible should a custom cable happen to be used in the future.



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.

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 – Thanks everyone

Following the initial release of the ACOM Director beta the feedback has been excellent and it appears to have been very well received by the ACOM 2000 user community.

Thank you to everyone who downloaded a copy and tried it out, your bug reports, comments and opinions are invaluable in moving the software forward.

I am now working on the next beta release which i hope to make available soon and will be putting up a dedicated page on my site for ACOM Director, this will contain information on what type of cable is needed to connect to the ACOM 2000 and information on what type of interface is needed to support the remote power on features.

Thanks again to everyone who has tried out the software.