Well, as you can see, the shack is overdue for a seriously needed overhaul! Follow along as I tear this all down and rack mount it. It’s a BIG job, and will have to be finished before March 3rd. The Rack Mounting Project is officially underway!
There’s no room for any additional equipment, and trying to work with any of the cables behind the current setup is nearly impossible! I tried adding a TV riser so I could stack more gear, but I still ran out of space.
I came across this 44U server rack as it was heading for the scrap heap, and got the idea to “go vertical” and transform my radio room into a much more productive space. The idea for the rack mounting project was born!
Yes, this would involve significant planning…<grin>
I started with a measuring tape.
Will this rack even fit in my room?
Could my gear fit in this rack?
How many rack spaces will I need exactly?
What hardware will I need in order to mount everything?
How will I move it around?
There are Grounding and DC distribution considerations
Vertical Layout Planning
Once I could see all these numbers were falling into place, I made arrangements to get the rack dropped off. I got the idea sometime in September or October and started measuring. I had the rack delivered in early November, and started ordering all the parts.
At this point I’ve resolved the mobility issue (Craftsman Mobile Base), rack mounted all 3 PC’s and removed all the unwanted furniture and clutter from the radio room so I’ll have room to start the build.
The PC’s went into the rackmount cases without a hitch. I’ll mount them once the shelves arrive.
Today I took a second look at WordPress and decided to install it on the web server here in the shack. It was easy to install, and appears to be up and running OK.
I plan to document the steps taken to complete this rack mounting project as I go along, while at the same time learning WordPress and planning the repair bench that will follow the rack conversion. Right now the rack is still in the garage and will likely stay there until after the holidays.
I have just enough space to rackmount everything. Considering I also have rear rack rails, some less important items can be mounted from the rear. This is all about the ergonomic layout. I may even build some breakout panels for the antenna and audio connectors. I’ll be using a combination of 2U and 3U rack shelves (special thanks to the folks at Gator Rackworks!) I had to go 3U for some shelves in order to get a useable depth. Most of the radio gear will sit on shelves.
The current layout plan (from top to bottom):
ROTOR SHELF 4U
AT-AUTO HI 4U
AT-AUTO LO 4U
2M RADIO / TNC 1U
FLEX VU5K 6U
FLEX 6300 2U
FLEX 6700 2U
AC POWER 1U
PC#1 W7 4U <<< DESKTOP
PC#2 W10 4U
PC#3 SERVER 4U
ASTRON RS-70 4U
I need the radios and amplifier close to the desktop, placing other ‘less touched’ items either down below or up above. I think the ergonomics are OK at this point.
Before I can start building I have to empty the shack so I can remove all the dust. I have a significant dust problem. And the problem was most apparent as I swapped out the cases on the two production PC’s. Choking on dust.
The plan is to empty the room, and mitigate the dust. I plan to use an air compressor to blow off the dust that’s embedded in the stucco-like ceiling, then, I’ll thoroughly vacuum before having the carpet steam cleaned. Going forward I will employ an oversized HEPA filter in the radio room which will run 24/7 to capture all particulates and hopefully eliminate or at least vastly improve my dust problem.
I just figured out how to add plugins to WordPress. I installed the ‘Head Meta Data’ plugin that inserts information for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your page code. I am unable to find a single Google search result for this website. The plugin is now running with all the correct metadata.
Update: I am unable to validate my URL through Google Services. Probably because of the .ampr.org domain name. It may finally be time to register a commercial URL.
02/19/18 – I was finally able to validate the website through BING. Later for Google, too much of a hassle.
All this gear is soon to be rack mounted. I did some major dust removal today. Now the room is empty and we will haul the rack up the stairs tomorrow. I’ll start by installing the shelves and mounting hardware etc. The following day (New Years Day) I’ll start placing the equipment and start the wiring.
Made some good progress again today on the radio build:
Sorted cables and cleaned the desktop
Mounted the two remaining PC’s
Ran AC supply lines and UPS
Setup Common Mode Choke
Completed some PC wiring
Common-Mode Choke: Research lead me to this great article by Chuck W1HIS. This design will easily handle 1KW output. The choke is inline with my 130ft (height compromised) dipole antenna that I use on the lower HF frequencies.
I mounted the last of the PC’s today. The server is back online after approximately 10 hours of downtime. Temporary cable connections were made to get the workstation and server back online asap.
One of my measurements was incorrect. Can you tell which one? You are correct! My measurement for the CPU cooler was way off. I could change the cooler or leave the top off. The PRO 2500 power strip will go in the rack space above this PC since it is only 9.5″ deep, no problem.
Tomorrow I plan to complete all the internal wiring. Everything will be reconnected with proper fitting snap-on ferrites on both ends of every cable. The antennas will be reconnected using temporary cables until the rear antenna breakout panels are ready. In the previous setup I had several long USB extension cables, long monitor cables, and long audio cables which acted like antennas and introduced RF into the PC’s and other shack devices. I eliminated any RFI problems by choking off cables one by one anytime trouble came around. On some cables (like my Heil headset) the snap-on ferrites could be ‘unsightly’ and/or create cable strain.
Another benefit of the rack installation is the elimination of all the long cables. Replacing them with short (correct length) cables with ferrite chokes on each end will absolutely eliminate all RFI issues, and, improve RX quality.
The next phase of the remodel will be the furniture movement. Since the rack is 22″ wide and will be placed in between the 45 degree mitre joint of the two desktop pieces, calculations show the desktop pieces must each be moved a minimum of 16.5″ in order for the rack to fit. The left desktop is free to move the 16.5″. However, the right side is not. It butts up against the sliding door to a closet (see photo above).
A decision will be made to either reduce the desktop surface by cutting off 16.5″, or, remove the sliding doors on the closet to allow the 16.5″ of desktop to extend into the closet area and eliminate the need to cut the desktop. (using a hand saw)
Where the heck am I gonna put these friggin’ closet doors….
As it turns out, Those sliding doors won’t come out easily. I decided instead to cut the 17″ I need off the desktop. I masked off the the line where I need to saw. Once the desktop is shortened, the rack will fit squarely into the corner.