Ever wonder what the remote base station looks like? The answer is that it’s surprisingly like a typical ham radio station anywhere, sporting a radio, power supply, and that all-important station accessory: the shack computer.
In this first photo we see the Kenwood TS-480HX transceiver paired with matching SEC switching power supplies. The Systemax rig control computer is in the background, interfaced to the radio with a RIGblaster nomic from West Mountain Radio. The RIGblaster is on top of the antenna tuner, an LDG AT-200PRO. On the wall above the radio there is a board with a two-position coaxial antenna switch that allows us to switch the output of the radio to a dummy load for testing. Our vintage sign, “Amateur Radio Station W0ZSW” sits atop the computer, just beneath the LCD monitor screen. This sign has been in the Handiham radio room for as long as anyone can remember, so it seemed appropriate to keep it in place at the remote base station. Partly obscured by the control head of the radio is a W0ZSW QSL card.
The two power supplies are needed to accommodate the TS-480HX’s requirements, since it is capable of running at 200 watts. The same is true of the LDG AT-200PRO antenna tuner. At our sister station, W0EQO at Courage North, the radio is a Kenwood TS-480SAT, which is capable of a maximum 100 watts and thus needs only a single power supply and an LDG AT-100PRO antenna tuner.
This dual-position switch is mounted upside down, which seemed to be the best way to accommodate the heavy RG-8 cables. George, N0SBU, gave me the switch, and I mounted it on a scrap of pine board for stability before affixing it to an outer wall near the point where the antenna cabling goes through the wall. This switch allows for a dummy load antenna to be placed into the circuit so that testing can be done off-air.
Here is a close-up of the RIGblaster nomic interface by West Mountain Radio. In our installation only the microphone audio is interfaced through this device.
Next, we head outdoors, to the other side of the wall above the antenna switch. We see the coax exiting the wall and dropping down from the entry point so as to prevent water from following the cable into the wall when it rains. The coax is coiled into a five turn choke coil to prevent RF from following the outside of the coax back down into the shack. Under the plastic radome (really just a poly food container) is a rehabilitated MFJ 4 to 1 current balun. 450 ohm ladderline exits the top and goes out to the center insulator of a 200 foot double extended zepp antenna commonly known as a “W0OXB Special®”. This photo was taken late last summer, so don’t go on the assumption that the greenery on the nearby bush is common in Minnesota in January!
Finally, here is the view from the point of a remote user: The W4MQ screen shows up on a computer monitor and a USB desktop microphone does the honors for voice communications. Remember that there is no microphone at the station itself, since the rig’s microphone port is connected via the RIGblaster to the rig control computer’s sound card. The W4MQ software will also run CW and PSK-31 with its built-in interfaces for those modes.