Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ham Radio Horse Power - A Bit Late But Still...

Shack Computer Front View
 Since my previous Dell shack computer crashed shortly after I purchased it (diagnosis, fried motherboard), it was time to do a bit of upgrading. I wanted something a bit more robust so when I choose to do multitasking, I would not see the slow downs that I saw with my previous off the shelf units (Walmart). I could of used this new computer during my active years in Alaska. Now that I don't have a modestly competitive contest station, it's somewhat overkill. However if I can pick the right six numbers on the Oregon lottery, I could see a full blown contest station sometime in my future. 

One of the biggest issues I saw with my previous shack computer(s) is sharing it with my personal use. By the time I downloaded all the other non-ham radio related stuff and loaded all of my other non-ham programs, I feel this led to much of the decreased performance I would see. This new computer will simply be a dedicated shack computer. There were times with my old computer, when sending CW with my contest software, I would see inconsistent sending speeds. Apparently the processor was a bit busy to handle my constant F-KEY and call stacking requests along with all the other garbage running in the background. 

Shack Computer Rear View
So, what did I do differently this time? I opted for stacked drives with the Windows OS going onto a 256 GB Solid State Drive. This will yield much quicker boot times and for those handful or programs I use daily, this drive will allow my world to arrive much quicker. Have you ever heard a new entity or need to get your software up and running before that new entity left the frequency it was spotted on? And while you computer was booting up, you were pacing the floor like an expectant father waiting for news from the deliver room (back in the day) as it could not fire up fast enough!? Many leave their shack computers run 24/7 but I try to save on my electric bill by shutting mine down. It always has been a controversial longevity conversation, is it better to leave em run or shut them off? With that said, most of my software will be on my internal 500 GB secondary spin drive. I will also have an external (for now) TB drive to back up all of the data. I plan on adding another internal backup drive at some point so everything is all inclusive. 

Of course, the main compliment to this hardware is the 16GB of available RAM. This will allow multiple programs to run at the same time with ease. When I got the unit home, I did throw in a serial port card for those older interface cables that I have for my Rigblaster's, etc. My real work now begins as I pull everything from the old backup drive and install it on this machine. I'm looking forward to getting this machine totally configured and once again having a stable but much faster shack computer. I have plenty of room to add on additional hardware if the need arises. Now my next hurdle will be to find the desk space to accommodate two computer screens. Being spoiled with dual screens at work, it's something I've wanted to do in the shack as well. As my eyesight continues to get worse, the wide and much larger computer screens are invaluable. With this new computer, it's obvious it will be main brain behind any AK7DD operating. I'm just hoping it will last much longer than my last.   

1 comment:

  1. Very nice Phil! If you decide to get one of the first Flex radios that came out this PC would be idea for it I think. The new Flex radios have their own CPU and don't require a external computer. Been thinking about selling my FT-1000MP Mark V and AL-80B amp and buying me a Flex 6300, they're $2,500 new and the optional ATU, which I would want, adds another $300 to the cost of one. I think I could get $2,500 out of the radio and the amp. If I couldn't I'd keep them! Right now I use a Dell N7010 17" laptop for all my computing and almost always have 10 programs all running at once, but have had twice that many running OK. It has a Intel i3 M370 2.4 Ghz processor in it with 6 Gigs of physical RAM and uses the Windows 7 (64-bit) Home Premium operating system.
    I had been off the digital modes for several months when the 2 comports I used, one for the FT-1000MP Mark V, and the other for the Rigblaster M8 interface, both stopped working! I bought a 10-port "plugable" brand name USB hub off of Amazon 3 weeks ago and am back on all the most used digital modes, Feld Hell aka Hellschreiber being my favorite and have been running JT65HF as well. Been experimenting with SIM PSK a little also. I probably work more PSK31 than anything, mainly because that's where you find the most people. Glad you got you a hoss of a PC for radio! That's great! Very 73 from KU4GW