Here’s a neat little project for those of you who like using a 3D printer to compliment your radio hobby. It’s an SDR antenna patch bay.
Over time, a lot of us add equipment to the radio room and find things get out of hand. Lots of wires for power, USB and network connections and antennas. Connections floating in and out of our radios and computers. Recently, I wrote about how I organized my SDR radios and active antennas on a small board.
This week, I added a 3D printed plastic SDR antenna patch bay. My design is just a bunch of holes in two rows on a vertical panel. My patch bay is mounted very close to the SDR receivers and active antenna control boxes.
As you can see above, the top row has six connectors for the radio antenna inputs. These are SDRplay RSPduo and Afedri SDR-Net (dual tuner radios) as well as the Perseus and Flex 6300 (Antenna 2 input). My bottom row connects to the AAA-1C loop control, main ham antenna switch, and noise probe antennas.
By the way, I took the plunge and ordered a second AAA-1C kit from LZ1AQ. I should have that installed in a week or so. This will provide me with two active loops, spaced around 100 feet apart on the border of my yard. Even more tools for diversity reception and spatial filtering.
My SDR antenna patch bay is about 200 mm wide and 55 mm high, supported by a flange and braces to keep it firm and vertical. I simply printed some labels on a laser printer, and attached them with glue stick to the front panel.
SDR Antennas Patch Bay Parts
Other than the plastic mount (about a dollar’s worth of filament), parts for this project are cheap and readily available on eBay. I bought ten BNC Female Jack to BNC Female with nut bulkhead straight adapter connectors for US $6.00. These screw securely into the 5 mm plastic panel.
My patch cords are CCTV type BNC male to male cables, around 18 inches long. You can get these for around one dollar each, also on eBay. Also, some BNC to SMA cables for connecting to the SDRplay gear. At HF, any mismatch between 75Ω cables and 50Ω inputs is not an issue.
Yes, I know there is additional insertion loss for each BNC connector. But, at HF, we are probably talking about 0.5 dB at most, which is negligible. And it sure is easier to switch antennas to different radios on a patch bay rather than on the radio itself. No more stress on the receiver PC boards.