My Shack


My Radio Setup

I've come a long way since my first setup in early 2022.  I was licensed in February and didn't have any antennas at this point.  There was no way I was climbing on my roof until the snow melted.  So, I started with DMR and an Anytone AT-D878UVII Plus as my first radio.

Before the snow melted, I purchased a Yaesu FTM-300DR and set up a temporary antenna.  I was able to connect to local repeaters, but that was about it.

On the left is the original temporary antenna I was using.  This was actually a modified mobile antenna that had a ground plane added.  The range wasn't great, but I could hit the local repeaters (<20 miles).

On the right is the same temporary setup after I purchased a Comet GP-9 dual-band antenna.  This antenna has 9.5 dBi of gain at 2 meters and 11.9 dBi of gain at 70 centimeters.  While it wasn't on my roof yet, I increased my range significantly and was finally able to reliably hit a repeater to talk to my father-in-law W0GZL (formerly KF0GZL) using the Ulen (W0QQK) repeater.

April finally rolled around and the snow melted enough for me to put a 5' tripod on my roof.  I used a 12' section of fence rail as a mast and mounted the Comet GP-9 on that mast.  I ran some LMR-400 and installed a PolyPhaser Coaxial Lightening Protector.  

My elevation is about 1,365' above sea level.  Complete, my antenna is about 53' at the top with the tripod, mast, and 18.5' antenna.  With this, I've been able to connect regularly with my father-in-law who is 75 miles from my home QTH.  My range with a simple omnidirectional antenna has been amazing and I would really recommend this antenna!

I also purchased a small 19" wall-mount rack and added caster wheels and some shelves to house my equipment.  I added a wall mount for the monitor and really cleaned up my ham shack.  I finished it off with a fuse panel and a rack mount surge protector to keep everything housed within the rack.

New Mast!

Assembling the new mast and antenna before mounting it on the roof.

Installing the Mast

April 2021, installing a 5' tripod, 12' mast, and my Comet GP-9 antenna.

New Antenna!

The final product, I was finally on teh air in a meaningful way!

My "OSHA Approved" climbing rig to secure the coax cable and ground wire for my new antenna!

Common Ground

Coiled the excess cable and terminated the lightening protection to the common ground.

Lightening Arrestors

Installed a copper ground bus and a Polyphaser arrestor on each cable.

I tested for my General License in April of 2022 and passed.  In June, I added a Par EndFedz long-wire antenna with an East/West orientation.  This is an 80-meter half-wave antenna.  I connected this to the new Yaesu FT-891 that I paired with an LDG Z-100A autotuner for my first HF work.  On May 5th, 2022 I made my first HF contact (which was also my first DX contact) with R5AJ in Russia.


I added a meter to my setup to so I could be comfortable I wasn't damaging my radios.

Fuse Panel

Power distribution via a fuse panel has been an easy, economical way to manage my setup.

My Ham Shack

After getting the GP-9 installed, setting up the rack, and routing all the cables.

Close Up

Note the Yaesu FT-891 in the rack.  This was the first HF radio I purchased and I paired it with an LDG Z-100A auto-tuner.

Around Thanksgiving of 2022, I stumbled across a ham operator who was moving on from the hobby and purchased his equipment.  This included a Yaesu FTdx10 and a Yaesu M-1 desk microphone.  I'd been wanting this radio for quite some time, but couldn't justify the cost.  However, I couldn't pass this opportunity up and I haven't looked back since!  I added a mixer to my setup and paired it with an old, receiver and Bose speaker I had.  I also added a Yaesu FT-2980 (father's day gift!) to the list of radios.  With all the new equipment, I needed a larger rack and more accessibility (open back) to work with the radios.  My father-in-law lent me his Yaesu FT-857d so I could use 2 Meter SSB.  Last, I added an additional PAR EndFedz Long-Wire Antenna with a North/Sound orientation and an Ed Fong DBJ-1 Dual-Band Antenna.

Updated Ham Shack!

I reworked the entire station to be more ergonomic and accessible.  Added some additional rack space and really organized the cables to secure, route, and identify everything.  Additionally, all of the radios are secured to the shelves.

Antenna Termination & Switching

With the addition of the North/South end fed antenna and the Ed Fong dual-band antenna, I needed a better method for terminating and labeling each cable.  

In addition, I wanted to be able to switch between antennas for HF, and radios for VHF.  

So, I purchased two Diamond antenna switches and have been incredibly happy with the price and performance!

I also purchased some DX Engineering Mounting Brackets and UHF connectors (great price point) to terminate the LMR-400 from the antennas and used RG-8x jumpers for connections to the equipment in the rack.

Updated Radio Rack

Here is all of my equipment mounted into a new radio rack in my ham shack.  You can see that I added a DC switch at the top, along with a 2-wire connector, so I can swing the rack to better power easily.  I've also surface-mounted my Raspberry Pi Hotspot for DMR.

The call sign plaque at the top was custom-made by my wife's Grandfather.

Above, you can see the tripod, mast, VHF/UHF antennas, and HF wire antennas I have installed at my home QTH.  After this setup, I started to use HF a lot more and noticed I was getting some pretty regular interference.  On several frequencies, I was picking up a local radio station quite clearly.

Interference on 60 Meters

60 Meters was essentially unusable due to this interference.  I could see harmonics from the local station across the bands on my radio.

Interference on 80M

This is just above the amateur range, but the interference was bleeding over into usable frequencies and really reducing the effectiveness of my transveiver.

The radio station in question is a local AM station that is less than 1/2 mile from my house.  I started by calling Leighton Broadcasting and they were really responsive.  Their engineer, who is also a ham operator (K0VSC), came out to my location and verified they were in compliance with Part 95 regulations and explained it was my proximity to the transmitter that was the issue.  He also identified some noise coming from the power transformer in my yard, likely from a loose ground connection.

First, I did a little research and found an AM Broadcast Band Filter from DLW Associated which I purchased from DX Engineering.  This filter was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but it's amazing and lets me continue to use 160 meters!

Second, I called the City of Detroit Lakes Electric Utility and asked if they could check the ground connections in the transformer the next time they were in the area.  I was surprised to see a technician show up at my house that afternoon!  He said everything seemed ok, but tightened the connections anyway and I was able to see that noise disappear as well!

DLW AM Bandpass Filter

Image Source:

Bandpass Filter Installed

Installed between my antenna switch and the radio.

Once all this was done, I decided to add one more screen (I had an extra one available) to display Simon's World Map all the time.  This is a free app that lets me see some basic information like space weather, greyline, and satellite locations.   I also added a second power switch for battery operation since I have two different fuse panels on the back.  I've split them between VHF/UHF operations and HF operations for power distribution between the two R&L Electronics 30 Amp Switching Power Supplies I have in the rack.  Last, I have added a blue-yeti mic for use with remote control, video calls, etc.

Things are working great in the shack now and I'd like to think I'm satisfied with this setup.  But, I'm confident I'll find something I want to change, upgrade, etc.  It seems inevitable in this hobby...