Monday, March 12, 2012

The Ham Shack Wall, Ground, and G5RV Installation

When I got back from family holidays in February I started the construction on the future ham shack space in my home office. There was a 30 year old sliding glass patio door in my office which I never used, and it was a horrible heating leak in my home. It's been sealed with a 3M weather insulation kit for a few years now plus full length drapes that I never open. The key point is I hate this patio door, never use it, and wanted to do something about it.

So, rather than drilling holes in my home to start pushing feed lines and ground lines in, I decided to remove the patio door and replace it with a solid wall. I decided to build the wall using screws so it could be torn down easily in the future if I sell the house or want to put a new patio door back in. I also decided that the new wall would have a one foot square section that would be setup as a cable pathway. The majority of the wall is built traditionally with pink insulation, vapor barrier, etc. The square section for cables is a straight through hole to the outside with a screwed on plywood cap on the exterior and interior and solid foam insulation in between. My idea was that I can drill as many holes as I want in the designated square area of the pathway. The drill bit will make a path through the solid foam and out the other side so feeding wires through will be really easy. When the pathway is full of holes or I want to start over, all I need to do is replace the inside and outside plywood caps and the solid foam core, and start again.


On the interior of my office I now have a new 6 foot section of wall to work with. I stained it to match the other wood in my office and I'm starting to build my desk and shelves right onto this section of wall. When I'm done this temporary wall will also be my ham shack desk.

It's hard to describe my grounding system but it's working well. It connects exterior grounding rods to an interior copper pipe that runs across the bottom of the new wall just below the cable pathway hole. Once the bench/desk is built it will run underneath the length of the work surface. I recycled some big hydro high voltage connectors from an old glass plant that closed down a few years ago. Three of these ceramic insulators are mounted along the wall about 15 inches from the floor. A 6' length of copper water pipe runs through each one and the insulators keep the copper about two inches from the wall. Each connector has 8 screw down wire connection points (6 small, 2 large) for attaching your individual grounding cables from my equipment. 

With the wall completed it was time for the antenna installation. I needed to get up as high as I could in two trees so I fired up the old Unimog from it's winter sleep and backed it up to each tree. I used the high roof of the truck as a staging point and extended my aluminum ladder up as far as it would go. Nervously I climbed the ladder and strung the rope that would connect to the insulators at the two ends of the G5RV. While not the optimum height of 35 feet. I'm guessing the ends of the antenna are about 30' up in the air.

Next I assembled a bunch of sections of the army surplus fiberglass poles and made a tee out of PVC to support the center of the antenna. Three support lines off the pole support it vertically and the base is attached to a wishing well over my actual drilled well.

I built an air core choke 'ugly' balun (another first) out of an old bucket and about 100' of RG-8 coax that runs from the bottom of the G5RV's ladder line to the house and through my new cable pathway.

I should add that I did my best to make, build, all the components myself whenever possible. The grounding system, all the feedlines, etc. My soldering iron was working overtime, and I sourced the raw coax cable and connectors locally.

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