I'm about to get my amateur radio license (technician class), and with
our house not being all that large I was thinking the garage might be a
nice place to setup shop... we don't really use it for cars, and
currently it just has the mower and some other yard equipment out
there. I was wondering if others have converted their garage into a
home for their ham shack or computer area without doing an entire room
The garage is on one corner of the house with one wall being exposed to
the outside and the garage door. My idea is if I blow insulation into
the attic above garage and also into the one wall, then get a better
garage door that seals better, it should be dueable.
Now the catcher is heating and cooling. We live in Texas, so heating
isn't generally a problem. During the Summer I was thinking a window
unit and a simple space heater during the winter. My concern though is
the heat and cold on the equipment. If the garage is insulated okay
with a sturdy garage door, I'd think that should work, right?
Just curoius if anyone has ever looked into doing this... the garage is
430 sqft of space we're not using, and it'd be perfect if I could setup
shop out there :)
Thanks for any suggestions,
Cant speak to the radio equipment. I've run computers in my garage for
years (wireless) with out any known problem or adverse affects. We
skipped spring this year and went into triple digit temperatures in
I just have a portable ShopCool evaporative cooler I run in Summer,
crack the garage door a little... the PC runs and runs....
Congratulations on becoming a ham. I have a number of ham friends and
I'm jealous of their skills and knowledge. One day I may have to go for
the license myself.
Several of my friends have set up their 'shack' just as you plan -
building a workbench for the equipment and cooling with thru-the-wall
A/C for the summer and overhead radiant heat for the winter. It seems
to work for them, but the temperature extremes don't approach those that
you might see in Minnesota or North Dakota! I'm not sure where you are
Hi Travis and everyone else,
I'm in Central Texas where our summer days get up to about 100-105 at
the hottest but average probably 95-99. Winters are rarely below
freezing, and I'd guess stay around 40-50 most winter days.
My only concern is the garage door, which doesn't seal very well, and
the insulation. If I can get both of these better sealed I think it
would make for a cozier place. Also sealed I hope it'll keep the
varments out as I do find an occasional mouse running around in there.
Thanks for the great info, and if you wouldn't mind asking your friends
who do this what tips they have, I'd love to hear some feedback.
Take care --
Sorry, Alex, I don't know why I didn't read your location in your first
post -- when I went back to re-read it you clearly had said Texas. Must
be old age setting in!
The shacks that I've seen set up in garages have L-shaped workbenches
that still leave room for a car if you need it. The long part of the L
is along the wall and the short part angles off at something less than
90 degrees (maybe even 45 degrees?) near the front of the garage area.
The radio equipment is mostly along the front part of the L with the
operating positon at the apex of the L. The long part of the L is used
for storage, junk boxes, test equipment, etc.
Adding insulation and a better garage door will certainly help with the
You're correct, but I'm trying to do this on a budget for now ...
eventually I'd like to build a seperate garage in the back yard, but
for now we're not quite ready to do a full conversion into a room...
not yet anyway :)
To keep options open for the next owner, and to probably be cheaper than a
new garage door, as well as have usable storage for the mower and such, I
would throw a removable partition wall across the garage. Use 2x4 or even
steel studs, and place the wall right at the end of the garge door tracks.
Screw it to the joists overhead, and to the sidewalls, but don't disturb the
concrete. I would include a fire-rated door, and cover the 'outside' with
fire-rated drywall. No need to mud unless you are fussy. This will give a
nice weather seal, reduce the volume you need to heat and cool, and if the
next owner doesn't like it, it can be cleanly torn out in a couple of hours,
with only a few tiny holes to patch (assuming garage is rocked.) If you
screw the whole thing together, you can reuse most of the materials in your
eventual detached garage with secret clubhouse built onto the end of it.
Keep in mind many or most local codes require a floor height difference
between garages and 'living space', so you don't want it to look finished.
Ham equipment made in the last 50 or 100 years has specs that describe
how hot or cold it can be during operation and during non-operation.
Equipment made in the last 20 or 30 years should have these specs
available (as well as much of the older equipment).
Number of Hams declined a LOT, so the code requirement was dropped for
most classes of licenses and generally its way easier to become a
They really had no choice, no users and the bands would of been
Cell phones likely did more to hurt members as internet. in the old
days amatuers were the only ones with hand held radio telephone patches
Actually there's SO much to do with amateur radio, it's impossible to
list here. I originally thought as you, why get into amateur radio
when I have the Internet, but ever tried using your Internet connection
when there's no power? What about when you're on vacation in the
mountains or driving cross country? Internet is great for retrieving
information, looking up stuff, etc, and it does well for casual
communcation across the globe -- but come a disaster or time where
there's no power when you REALLY NEED to talk to someone, via radio is
the only way.
Most of the folks I talk to in amateur radio point newbies to
http://www.hello-radio.com /, which is a nice site with tons of great
info. Technically though I hope to get into APRS
(http://www.aprs.net /), packet radio, SSTV, and do the many contests
that are out there. When messing with computers to talk across the
globe, what are you accomplishing, but when doing it via amateur radio,
YOU are doing it -- not an ISP, phone company, power company, etc. YOU
are the one reaching out and touching someone :)
Take care --
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