ARRL

Pam’s Shack Bridges the Gap

Pam Ware, AB3PW


Some begging, borrowing and repurposing gets an ARES® station on the air.


Hams are known for their ingenuity — the ability to make something out of nothing or at least very little. I felt challenged to see just how “cheap” my ham shack could be. To begin, loaners are good and free is even better. Read on to see just how low this project could go!

Bridge Over a Quiet Zone

I live in New York, in a quiet zone between the Genesee County RACES / Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club (LARC). Two wise Elmers, Luke Calianno, N2GDU, of LARC and Harold Hay, W2ABQ, of RACES realized that a station at my home could bridge their communications gap. I was no stranger to disaster communications, having attended EmComm East in September 2011. At the conference I installed Fldigi [a digital modem program Ed.] on my laptop and found many Elmers there ready to help me master its operation.

My home office already had WiFi, an HP OfficeJet J4580 All-in-One printer, lamps, and external speakers (see Figure 1). Everything plugged into the APC Back-UPS model ES 750 in the open area in front of the filing cabinet (a discard from my neighbor) so that it would be a quick process to shutdown in case of storms. Free so far…

On loan from RACES was an IC-281H transceiver, a SignaLink USB modem, an Icom HM-77 microphone, and an Astron RS-20S power supply. Free so far…

Luke loaned me a battery charger; he and Harold also talked me through connecting all the components. I looped the extra cable lengths through the filing cabinet handles until I got all the components set up comfortably. Free so far…

Free Is Best

The wall charts in my shack were courtesy of NOAA, ARRL®, and Icom. The certificates came from the New York State Police for participating in their Pumpkin Patrol Halloween kids’ activity. The other certificates and service awards came from LARC. Free so far…

As Minister of Baking for LARC, I had a dozen plastic containers from Crisco sticks, so office supplies could be kept neatly sorted and visible. File folders and additional office supplies came from a previous employer who relocated out of state. Even the furniture in the shack was free— my filing cabinet had been discarded by a neighbor, and the desk and chair were handed down from my childhood home.

Finally, Harold used his homebrew potato launcher to install the outside antenna (see Figure 2) along with an assist from Howard Flint, KC2EZJ, who drilled a hole through the wall nothing fancy there.

Total: $0.00! Success…oh, yes, I did have to pay for taking the FCC exams.


All photos by the author.


Pam Ware, AB3PW, an ARRL member, earned her first ticket WB8UEG in 1975. She was formerly KC2NRM and is now a VE, NOAA Weather spotter, and a member of both the Lancaster, NY, ARES and Genesee County, NY, RACES. She is locally famous for her baked goodies the hams at LARC are her guinea pigs for new recipes. As the daughter of Colin C. Ware, WA2HWL (SK) she remembers watching the display on an oscilloscope in the early years before they had a TV. Pam can be reached at 52 Longs Ln, Corfu, NY 14036, ab3pw@arrl.net.