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Various reviews of amateur radio items

Review of Icom 2720H VHF/UHF Mobile Transceiver

This review of Icom’s 2720H VHF/UHF mobile transceiver is not going to be a highly technical review, it will be a review on use of the radio, I am a fan of Icom rigs, so there is also a bit of bias in this review… I have owned and used two Icom 2720H’s for several years now, one in each vehicle .. It is a good rig, but it does have it’s faults… One of them being the programming. If you have a computer, all is well, but if you are on the road, and need to change anything, (anything at all), get out your Nifty Mini-Manual for it… You will need it. Continue reading »

Categories: Icom: 2720H, Info, Radios reviews, Reviews, Station | 2 Comments

Review of N6FN’s Nifty Mini-Manuals

Like many aids I suspected that I would not really use them… Turns out I was wrong, the cards are handy to have in the car, as well as the books. I keep the Kenwood card on me when I take out the HT, and the book for the 2720 in the glove box of the car. The fonts look as if they were selected to be readable, and the use of Bold for headings, and non bold for the actual information is well thought out. Major Categories are in Bold Red, while sub categories are in Bold black, while the actual data on how to do something is in normal black text, all on a white background. all in all it looks very much like an index in a book, and is easy to follow. For instance, in the Kenwood card, the section om Memory programming is titled “Memory Programming”, in red, under that are 6 steps, (in blue), each step further broken down into actions, (in black), covering exactly how to program the memories. It sounds complicated, but if you look at it, your eyes just go where they need to… Very well thought out, and very easy to use. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Info, Reviews, Setups, Station | Leave a comment

Review of the Challenger DX Antenna by GAP

This review of the Challenger DX Antenna by GAP Antenna will not be a highly technical review, it will be performance based. First off what is the GAP Challenger antenna? It is a vertical, which can be ground mounted. It has a limited number of radials, because it is not the traditional vertical, it is a vertical dipole, this gives it several advantages over a standard 1/4 wave vertical. Chiefly the reduced number of radials… Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Antenna Reviews, GAP: Challenger DX, Info, Propagation, Reviews, Station | 15 Comments

Review of the iMate by BetterRF

This review of the iMate by BetterRF was prompted by my entering the last SS contest, and getting really, really tired of saying my call sign over and over… This device allows for remote triggering of the four memories in my Icom 756 Pro 3. Triggering is accomplished by simply pressing a button on the iMate, which is labeled for which memory you wish to trigger. The iMate does not allow for programming, only triggering the playback of a previously recorded message. It also does not store the messages, you only get four messages, four for CW and four for voice. The iMate inserts between your Microphone, and your radio, after any level conversion hardware for digital. This allows for an easy install, without re-wiring your entire station audio chain. The device is a small plastic box, with controls mounted on the top of it. This allows for easy placement on your working surface. Once installed, you just press a button leaving the Icom radio controls set as you normally would. I leave my Band scope up at all times, and after the last SS, (first phone contest for me, I normally do RTTY and CW), I realized that I could not live without the band scope, (the 756 PRO 3 will not show the band scope if you are in memory playback mode without teh iMate), hence the purchase of the iMate. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, BetterRF: iMate, Info, Reviews, Station | Leave a comment

Review of Hamlog by Pignology

This review of Hamlog by Pignology was prompted after a three week trip to Arizona, and one heck of a lot of QSO’s all kept on paper. The entry time involved, and the possible loss of the little scraps of paper which I kept the log on convinced me that I needed a better mobile logging program. I looked for a decent logging program for mobile use. It had to be able to run on my phone and my iPad, as well as be able to export the contacts via an ADIF file. I tried a few progrmas, then found “Hamlog” by Pignology LLC. Hamlog, runs on pretty much all platforms, (IOS, Android, and web interface), and generates the needed ADIF file. It is easy to use, and seems to work fine for my mobile uses. The user interface was important to me, it had to be easy to use, and have large type. Hamlog is simple enough to use, my wife will fill it in for me while driving, all I need to do is to tell her what to put in what field. During our trip I used an iPad 1 as the input device. When the battery on the iPad ran down, I used my Android phone… That feature is what sold me on Hamlog, the ability to have a cross platform logging program. Having the same log on iDevices, and on Android devices is wonderful. Continue reading »

Categories: Info, Pignology: Hamlog, Reviews, Software information, Software reviews | 5 Comments

Review of W8WWV’s S-Meter Lite

S-Meter Lite will graph S-Meter readings in real time, save spreadsheet ready files over very long time frames of your S meter values, assist in generating a pattern for your beam antenna, show RF levels in S units or in dB, and show signal level differences in dB between one signal and another on the same graph. Continue reading »

Categories: Cleanup, Info, Propagation, Reviews, RFI Mitigation, Software information, Software reviews, Tools, W8VVV: S-meter Lite | 10 Comments

Review of the MFJ-856 Directional Noise Finder W/ 3 El. Beam

Overall it was useful to me in locating a few sources of RFI, you point it in the general direction of a noise source, and wave it around until you get a peak in the meter. Once you have that, you walk towards the source, waving the antenna around, following the peaks.

The device is reasonably well constructed, MFJ quality control seems to be good, as the unit I got has no defects in it. It came boxed nicely, and was simple to construct. There were a few items to note… Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Antenna Reviews, Cleanup, Direction Finding, MFJ: MFJ-856, Reviews, RFI Mitigation, Station, Tools | 1 Comment

Review of Ameritron’s AWM-30 Wattmeter

This review of Ameritron’s AWM-30 Wattmeter is short, as this device is designed to do one thing, measure output power, and it does it well. I use the AWM-30 in my shack between the AL-82, (Ameritron amplifier), and the AT-1000 tuner made by LDG. That way I see what the Amplifier sees with regards to SWR. I do not bother to power up the AWM-30 Meter often, as my Ham Shack is in a lighted environment and I don’t need the back lights.

The meter is constructed of heavy gauge metal, painted Ameritron Black, to match the rest of the product line. It has a removable SWR sensor, so you do not have to run your RG-8 coax to the meter, you can just add it where it is most convenient. This allows the control head of the unit to be placed in the shack and not a pair of heavy coax cables around the back wiring of your shack. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Info, Reviews, Station | 3 Comments

Review of the eQSL QSL Service

Overview: This is a Review of the eQSL QSL Service.  I previously did a review of ARRL LOTW, and in order to be fair to eQSL, (which I use as well as LOTW), I decided to do an eQSL review.  The eQSL service is currently running a QSL exchange service, in which one Amateur Operator … Continue reading »

Categories: eQSL QSL Service, Info, Reviews, Service reviews | 39 Comments

Review of Afreet Software: HamCap

HamCap is a very simple front end for a very complex piece of backend software called VOCAP. What VOCAP does would be a paper in and of itself, so just click here to see an overview of VOCAP, if you don’t want to read the nine sections on VOCAP, just assume it is one of the best pieces of software available for prediction of current propagation conditions. In any case, HamCap uses the VOCAP engine to make propagation predictions, and then presents it to the user in a very simple view. Continue reading »

Categories: Afreet: HamCap, Info, Propagation, Reviews, Software reviews, Station | Leave a comment