You may our may not know that I live on a boat floating on the River Hamble in Southampton. For most of the time we are tided to the marina pontoon and have access to 240volt shore power. but that’s not always going to be the case so I need to be as self-sufficient and use as little power as possible. So I thought I’d share some info on my radio shack set up.
We got the Boat (Kerendia) in may and have been refurbishing her slowly over the summer. A lot of the work as been done by the guys at Knight Marine and they have done an amazing job. We had to strip everything out and start again from a bare interior, this meant new furnishings a new galley (we got one from Ikea and modified it to fit) and some new bulkheads and roof linings etc. etc.
This meant we could design the interior to pretty much whatever layout we wanted provided there was space.
So to (finally!) get to the point of this post what that all means was I was able to make sure there would be room for my radios and computers. So I built a space for them, its not the most amazing looking piece of wood work because Im rubbish at this sort of thing, but its going to look much better once its covered (I hope!).
With that done I thought a about the best way to power the radios and what computer to use. Tempting as it was a big powerful computer was out of the question, and also not really needed, for Amateur radio you don’t need it and it takes up space and consumes energy that I don’t have.
I had been using a Kodlix N42-D to feed weather data to APRS and to its own website (http://riverhamble.net) for about a year. The PC was relatively low cost and had a 12volt power supply. it has no moving parts and I had put an SSD in it as it was quicker than the eMMC drive installed as standard and the Intel Pentium N4200 CPU with 4GB of RAM seemed more than high enough spec for what I wanted to do with it.
To power it from the battery I need a stable 12volt supply, the battery doesnt offer this as it charges at 13.8 volts. A quick internet search found this DC-DC Converter that accepts 8-40volts in and gives a steady 12volts out. As an added bonus it turned out to be RF quiet, at least it is on the bands I have used.
Although I have set the PC up so that I can connect headless to it a monitor will be handy, so for now Im using the 13″ monitor that I have for a portable set up, that is powered by a USB cable so I can power it from one of the USB ports on the PC.
Next I need to be able to connect more than one device to the power source so I got a Anderson power pole distribution panel from amazon which code about £50.
that fits inside the radio cupboard attached with some velcro (I use a lot of velcro to secure things like this aboard, its strong enough to hold quite a weight and you don’t need to drill holes in things to use it!).
My main Radio is the ICOM 7300, which connects to the PC with one USB cable for CAT control and Digital Modes which is fantastic. Ive currently got a choice of 2 antennas for it, a random wire attached to an AH4 tuner and a 1/2 size G5RV held up by the Pontoon Pilings with an MFJ-971 manual tuner. Both antennas work quite well for Digital modes.
Lastly add a wireless keyboard with trackpad and that completes the set up.
The cost of the PC with SSD and the Power supply was a total of about £350 and as well as being a great shack PC its small enough to take portable if I want something with a bit more computing power than the Raspberry Pi.
Ive normally got a 12 or 24volt power supply from the Boats or the Car and of course the couple of 12Ah LiFePo4 batteries that I have so the whole set up can go with me just about anywhere, but I do have other radios for portable operation.
Planned improvements are a Bigger screen, as long as it can be powered by 5 or 12volts. if funds allow I really want to have a dedicated solar charger for the battery and maybe even replace the battery with a 100Ah+ LiFePo4.
And probably another computer 😉
I guess you also might be interested to know what’s running on the PC so here’s a list of the Amateur Radio Related software:
JS8Call (of course!)
Ham Radio Deluxe – logging and rig control
Dimension4 – time sync