The New Shack - Before

When I returned to Amateur Radio a few years back, I obviously needed a shack. There were a couple of options and I decided to use an old kitchen oven cabinet in my outside workshop, to house the rigs etc. Over time this proved to be rather unsuitable, due to it rapidly getting too cramped and cold in the winter. Enough of wearing an overcoat to operate, I decided to build a new shack in the attic of our home.

I had previously boarded the area for storage, so the floor was mostly in place, but the collection of 'stuff' had to be moved or disposed of. Over many months the shack plus a new toilet was built, mostly by me but where I didn't have the necessary expertise or physical strength, I had help from local Amateur Radio friends and a really good plasterer. The really difficult part was to build a staircase and I'm really indebted to Bryan, G0SIU and Graham, G8BZL for their assistance with that task. The final building task was to have a Velux window fitted, to allow for some natural light and ventilation. Main artificial light is by Philips GU10 LEDs (QRM free) and over the operating area I've used MR16 halogen downlighters with a dimmable driver (no QRM)!

Shack desk area

Once the plaster was dry it was time install skirtings and architraves, then paint the ceilings and walls. Power outlets (you can never have enough of them) are a dedicated ring main fed from a 40A isolating switch which is in turn fed by a 6mm T+E cable from the house main consumer unit and protected by a 40A MCB. This allows me to kill all power in one go, when the shack is unattended. There are also separate oulets on their own ring main, which provide power for servers and network adaptors that need to be permanently on.

The opposite side of the room runs from the same power source and has outlets for the electronics workbench. It was soon realised that there were far too few sockets to cater for all of the tools and instruments which would be housed on shelves at different levels, so more were added later. All of the cables run in trunking round the outside walls of the room, so it's easy to make additions by simply boring another hole through the wall and feeding the cables through. Also note the difference in colour temperature between halogen and LED lighting.

Shack bench area

The door that can just be seen on the RHS leads to the remainder of the roof void, which continues to be used for storage. I've installed some racking to carry spare cables and equipment that's too big or heavy for the interior cupboards and the rest of the household 'junk' is stored on the floor, along with the vacuum cleaner.

Shack window area
Shack operating area

The LH image above shows the area under the Velux window, with escape ladder in case there should ever be a fire. The radiator is fed from the main CH system and all walls and ceiling are insulated with (min 2") Celotex. I have a small portable air conditioner for the summer months.The RH door leads to the toilet and stairs.

The RH image above shows the operating position with alternative doors into the roof void storage area, toilet cystern and cable ducts. The ducts that bring the co-ax cables and rotator cables in from outside the building are in fact 2 x 2" waste pipes with 'pond' flanges fitted with a rubber air-barrier to make a neat entry through the soffit and the interior walls.

Next page - 'After'