Rebuilding the radio room

The big project coming up is a completely new radio room build — I will actually have walls around what is currently a radio “area” in a corner of the daylight basement.

[ UPDATE  — Aug. 23, 2016: it’s finished! ]

Initially intended for November 2014, I couldn’t get away from work that fall. So now construction will begin and end within a very carefully choreographed window any time I get a chance to take some actual vacation time.

My intention is to begin teardown on day 1 and have radios plugged back in at the end of day 6. Lofty goal, but achievable — if I stick to the schedule and can get the cabinet work done ahead of time so the desk system is ready to slide into place.

The project includes about 18 feet of 34″-deep work surfaces, 240V power for the 3-500Z amplifiers (I’m running indestructible SB-221s), many new 120V outlets above and below the counters, and recessed LED lighting with emphasis on the work areas, and a beech laminate floor.

Here’s a Sketchup rough rendering of the 11′ x 14′ space I have staked out for the new shack. VA7ST might not sound any better, but he will be very cozy, hi.

BUD ROOM -- Aug 19

And here’s a better view of the desk system I plan to build…

A frugal project indeed

I am starting this project literally from scratch. I’m no carpenter and started only with the basic homeowner tools — a power saw, drill guns, etc. I knew I would need a lot of new tools to get this job done, and while I am not confident in my skills as a builder, I did replace an elevated deck two summers ago and it looks pretty darn good and is still standing.

I am quite confident in my skills as a Google searcher. There’s help for just about anything a person would ever want to do, if you search for the information.

Being a ham, I lean toward the frugal end of the spectrum and decided to challenge myself to complete the entire radio room for $1,000 or less. My rough estimate of costs for tools and materials came in at about $3,000 if I bought everything retail from a big-box hardware store (Home Depot is our local handyman destination).

I intend to reduce that cost by 2/3 by acquiring as much as possible from online classifieds in our region. So far, so good.

During the summer and fall of 2014, I began assembling the many tools and supplies this project will require.  Here’s an example of the great deals I was able to find:

  • Sliding compound mitre saw, $120
  • Stand for mitre saw, with extension arms, $20
  • Craftsman 10″ table saw (like new), $40
  • Router table, $10
  • Router and bits, free from Dad
  • Recessed lighting 3.25″ (10), $35
  • GU10 LED bulbs (10), $60
  • Beech laminate flooring (450 sq. ft), $80

Total outlay: $365, but the retail value was $1,400! I have quite a collection of 2x4s and miscellaneous bits and pieces in the workshed, so my shopping list for plywood, drywall, wiring, electrical outlets and switches, and sundry supplies such as flooring underlay, drywall mud and tape, primer and paint, screws, etc. will come in at about $700. I won’t hit the $1,000 target to be sure, but it won’t be too much more than that. The rest is just time and sweat equity.

Will it ever be built? My wife says unlikely. However, a lot of equipment is stored in the garage awaiting this project so I believe an ultimatum will be delivered to me some day soon: build the room or sell off all this stuff.

And at that point, I will start.

I probably shouldn’t mention that in July 2015 I bought a Nissan Titan crew-cab 4×4 truck, as it will allow me to haul things from Home Depot. I won’t include that in the project expenses. The truck is far too large to fit in the garage, so I now have an entire bay available in which to set up the table saw, compound mitre saw, and a small First Aid station.