The term radio shack, is simply the place
you keep your radio and ham equipment.
For some hams, the entire shack consists of a hand-held radio or two. Other hams operate on the go in a vehicle. Cars make perfectly good shacks, but most hams have a spot somewhere at home they claim for a ham radio.
Here’s what you can find in a ham shack:
The rig: The modern radio or rig combines both in a single, compact package about the size of a large DVD player. Like its ancestors, a large tuning knob controls the frequency. Unlike them, state-of-the-art digital displays replace the
dials and meters.
Computer: A majority of hams today have at least one computer in the
shack. Computers now control many radio functions (including keeping
records). Using digital data communications simply wouldn’t be possible
without one. Some hams use more than one computer at a time.
Mobile/base rig: For operating on the local repeater stations, hams may
use a hand-held radio, but in the shack a more capable radio is used.
These units are about the size of a good-sized hardcover book and you
can use them as either a mobile or base rig.
Microphones, keys, and headphones: Depending on the shack owner’s
preferences, you see a couple (or more!) of these important gadgets, the
radio’s true user interface. Mikes and keys range from imposing and
chrome-plated to miniaturized and hidden. The old Bakelite headphones
or cans are also a distant memory , replaced with lightweight and comfortable, hi-fi quality designs.
Antennas: In the shack, you find switches and controllers for antennas
that live outside the shack. Outside, a ham shack tends to sprout antennas
ranging from vertical whips the size of a pencil to wire antennas
stretched through the trees and on up to super-sized directional beams
held high in the air on steel towers.
Cables and feed lines: Look behind, around, or under any piece of shack
equipment and you find wires. Lots of them. The radio signals pipe
through fat, black round cables called coaxial (coax).