This has been an ongoing project for many months. Agreed there was quite a time when I was dashing to London regularly because my father was ill. And this ended with his funeral. After that I attacked this project with renewed vigour. Quite probably because I didn’t want to think to much about the last few months.
Here is a short video first of it working at home
Anyway I started with a Stanley tool chest on wheels. Best source I found for this box was B &Q who were at the time around £10 cheaper than the other usual suppliers costing £30
I knew it had to be on wheels as I knew even, then this would be heavy when it was completed. I was not wrong.
During the build my Ideas changed quite considerably and I added quite a lot of stuff that I thought would be useful, still do think it will be useful. But it has moved way beyond its original concept and now its aim is to be a complete self contained station, which indeed it is.
Among the items of my Fathers I found a Solar panel and that got me thinking about trickle charging the battery and it can be seen bolted to the lid of the box in the picture above.
I would not have attempted this project unless I had a multi-mode and preferably all bands transceiver. I started looking at the Yaesu FT 857D and as luck would have it I found an Ham friend who wanted to sell his rig, a Yaesu FT 857D as he wanted to pursue another hobby as well as radio and needed the money the Yaesu would release for the equipment he wanted. A deal was struck and It was a very good deal and included PSU, ATU,digi interface and then later on I also acquired a Keyer from another Ham friend.
So I had the radio and the box and it was not time to begin housing the components in the box. I opted for a 3 layer system in the end. Bottom layer having the PSU and Battery in it, along with the SO239 sockets for the 3 antenna’s 2 for HF which the ATU can switch between and one for 2m/70cm. Eventually I decided to include the USB connector and the audio sockets. Along with a fan and the base of the ATU. of course the PSU needed power so a kettle socket was added and this fed 2 13A sockets inside the box. Which in turn also fed the PSU and the battery charger.
There Is nothing mounted on the back of the box, at least not yet anyway . I have no plans to mount anything there though.
Moving up to the middle layer this is where the Radio, Interface and fan are mounted.
The wires route to various places some on the top and some on the bottom.
This is the completed top. Before the radio was wired. Iin extensive testing was undertaken using a car head lamp for all the electrics. Which work as they are supposed to now. Seriously there was not a lot wrong it was just minor faults. I did have a setback where the PSU developed a fault. Turned out to be a short circuit protection diode which was repaired for me by Kelvin G4ZTD. I honestly do not remember any short circuits, but it is of course possible.
Here it is all powered up. Everything is active and in this photo the box is powered by its internal battery.
After an equipment shakedown I decided to make a few changes to the box This is the new layout, almost. Next to the mains switch I have placed a battery isolation switch. The voltmeter has been replaced with a volts/ammeter, this is not fully working yet and is still work in progress. the switch below the meter just switches the charging source between mains charger or solar or in deed off altogether. The charge controller has been relocated and the keyer removed. Though not shown in this picture the solar panel has also been replaced.. Replaced with a bigger one, but the old solar panel was not discarded. It found a use on my associated project. Also not shown in this picture is that there is now a couple of sockets near the loudspeaker for plugging in a Morse Key. I am not a Morse man myself, but some of my friends are and I was asked to provide a connection for the key.The panels have all been replaced with Stainless steel panels which not only look better, but they also feel more substantial. Moving down the antenna so239 socket have been replaced with better ones. and it was discovered the 2m/7ocms adaptor was broken, so that has also been replaced. A bit of a rewire has had to take place and while not yet totally complete I am generally happy with the modifications.
The battery is a bit low here, it does need charging, but it is fine for this demonstration. PSU produces 13.7V and everything works the same with the PSU.
This was something I nearly forgot to test. That it works OK using an external source, which it does.
All the electrical testing is now complete and I am generally happy with the set up .
Next I will be connecting antennas and checking all is well in that way, But I can do this from home. The real test will be when it is out in the field being used.
Ready to roll fingers crossed.
I have tested it on air to a limited degree and all seems to work as it should. My 2m experimentation was not so successful as I was using the dipole I made, but it was merely hung from the curtain rail so receive was severely limited as it was around the middle of the house. but it did work and it seemed happy on transmit as well. I somehow doubt that the 857 will get used for 2m much anyway , as we have the FDK for that and I suspect there will be a selection of radios on our next outing. but I would like to give the opportunity to some of the M6’s to have a bash at HF. The box is quite versatile and it can in theory power more than one radio. Especially if we are on PSU power rather than Battery.
A few things have become evident since this project was completed. We need a portable 2m antenna 2m/70cm would be best a SOTA beam would seem to be a good antenna for this, but I have not been able to find the antenna or a price for the SB 270 which looked ideal from the u-tube video.
I finally managed to chat on line to Richard at SOTA Beams and he tells me they are not making the SB 270 any more. but that a new and better model will be released Summer 2014 , I think I will hang on till then even if I have to make a temporary vertical until it does surface.
Below are all the photographs I took during this project in no particular order. It also includes the battery box pictures the link for which can be found at the bottom of the page.
I also found we need a box to put the Battery in to facilitate carrying it around what I came up with is available to view here