Review of DX Engineering’s Radial Plate

DXE-RADP-3

DXE-RADP-3

This review of DX Engineering’s Radial Plate was prompted by the installation of a Four Square array, and a two element 40 Meter vertical array at NK7Z.  I decided to evaluate each item in the building of the arrays separably, then review the entire system as a whole later.  Years ago I had promised myself I would never spend fifty bucks on a piece of metal with holes in it.  After making the decision to build a Four Square for 30 meters, and a two element phased array for 40 meters, I decided to revisit that decision, as I had a lot of ground radials to lay and connect to antenna bases.

My plan was to buy the needed parts for a single monopole, construct it as perfectly as I possibly could, and then duplicate that process for the other five antenna.  Part of that process was to buy a radial plate for the ground radial system so I could keep all of the wire under control…  I bit the bullet and bought one!  I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived, it is so pretty…  So perfectly built…  So heavy…  I actually didn’t feel so bad about spending fifty bucks on a piece of metal with holes in it!

The photo above, and on the DX Engineering web page does not do the plate justice…  It really looks a lot better than the supplied photo from DX Engineering.  The surface is smooth, the holes are sharp edged, and perfectly lined up, and in general the construction is a 10 out of 10 for quality. Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Antenna Reviews, Info, Reviews, Station | 2 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s SDC-102 Screwdriver Controller

 

SDC-102 by Ameritron

SDC-102 by Ameritron

This review of Ameritron’s SDC-102 Screwdriver Controller was written as a result of perhaps 5 months of use of a new Ameritron SDC-102, in a  2004 Tahoe four wheel drive sports utility vehicle.  The Tarheel 100HP antenna is mounted on the stock Tarheel antenna mount, which in turn is mounted to a Tarheel trailer hitch mount, which lives on the rear of the Tahoe in the trailer hitch receiver   I am working on a quick weatherproof disconnect for that setup.  When finished I’ll add it to the review section, or start a new section on homebrew stuff…

I did not want to use a switch which raised and lowered my antenna with no feedback, of any kind– I wanted some repeatability, and to me, repeatability means numbers used for calibration, not just listening to the background noise and peaking it.  Although that actually works pretty well, the thought of having to re-tune for each band change, (perhaps while driving), to some unknown position of the antenna seemed at best:

  • primitive
  • dangerous
  • a waste of time
  • not good for the output stage of the rig
  • not good for the antenna itself

I have never even used the single switch controller switch, other than to test things out, I went directly to the SDC-102.  The SDC-102 is a well constructed metal box, with a mess of cables coming out the bottom of it.  It is light weight, and somewhat thin so it mounts up pretty well…  See the specs later on in the review for more detail on that.  It is easy to read, and I can attest to the fact that it did not run my battery down when left on overnight…  The photo on the left does not do justice to the brightness of the display, it is a lot brighter than the photo shows. Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: SDC-102, Antenna Reviews, Info, Reviews, Setups, Station | 3 Comments

Review of LDG AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner

LDG AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner

LDG AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner

This review of LDG AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner is a follow up review of the AT-1000 PRO II autotuner…  I sold my LDG AT-1000, (review here), in order to purchase the AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner.

The price set me back a bit, ($539.00 at HRO), but, based on my previous experience with LDG’s quality, and customer service I went ahead and purchased the LDG AT-1000 PRO II Autotuner, I have not been unhappy with that decision at all.

The size of the boxes is very close, with the AT-1000 PRO II being the larger of the two…  This caused me a bit of pain as my setup is VERY tight…  The PRO II is about 1/4 inch wider…  It almost did not fit.  I had to remove the carry handle from my Icom IC-756 PRO 3 to get it to fit, and it was tight…  I do miss the meter, and the thought of paying $130.00 for an external meter makes me take a deep breath and say…  It’s OK…  I have not bought the meter yet…  I hope the meter takes power from the Icom like the tuner does…  See the review for more on this…  I will add to this review on the meter if I decide to shell out another $130.00… Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Antenna Reviews, Info, LDG: AT-1000 PROII, Reviews, Station | 4 Comments

Review of the LDG AT-1000 Autotuner

Review of the LDG AT-1000 Autotuner

LDG AT-1000

I picked up a blemish version of this tuner several years ago from LDG.  I had an issue recently with the tuner, (after five years of contest use), and LDG did such a good job of customer service I decided to do a review of this device.  Actually it was in the works anyway, and their customer service was so good I pushed it up in the queue.  So here is the Review of the LDG AT-1000 Autotuner.  The tuner information from LDG can be found here.  BTW, I have purchased the PRO II tuner, and so far it is running just fine, and a bit faster on tune up…  It seems a bit quieter as well, so I will review the PRO II after a few months of operation as well. Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Antenna Reviews, Info, LDG: AT-1000, Reviews, Station | 6 Comments

Radio Noise from Internal/External Sources at Radio Receiving Sites

The Mitigation of Radio Noise from Internal/External Sources at Radio Receiving Sites

The Mitigation of Radio Noise from Internal/External Sources at Radio Receiving Sites

Radio Noise from Internal/External Sources at Radio Receiving Sites is a set of free E-Books created by the Department of the Navy.  I finally located the Internal RFI source suppression link to this public domain document.  I looked at the pdf for help in tracking down the RFI at my home QTH.  Both of these documents strikes me as one of the nicer pair of items I have seen over the past few years dealing with RFI and how to deal with it.  These documents cover all aspects of RFI created within your environment, and external to your environment.  The two books are a very good fit for each other.  They also cover some basic RFI location techniques.  These book starts with a background and general approach chapter, and progresses forward in a clear and easy to read process, showing you how and where to look for RFI.  Here is a brief excerpt from the internal sources book. Read more »

Categories: Cleanup, Info, RFI Mitigation, Tools | Leave a comment

Review of Icom 2720H VHF/UHF Mobile Transceiver

Review of Icom IC-2720H VHF/UHF Mobile Transceiver

Icom IC-2720H VHF/UHF Mobile Transceiver

This review of the Icom 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.

The rig also has some intermod problems as well…  Well, lets be honest, I live in a smaller town, around 150K people, and I get intermod here…  The radio is VERY sensitive to anything else in the immediate area as far as intermod is concerned.  It also suffers from desense as well…  This may not make the 2720H sound like a good radio, but it is…  Sort of…  You have to get used to the issues above to enjoy it.  The rig for all of it’s faults, puts out a respectable amount of power, (oh yes rumor has it there is a final issue with early serial numbered rigs as well), and once programmed is really easy to use, and has two complete receivers in the chassis.  The rig will put out 50 Watts, which is pretty good in today’s world.  It also has a removable control head, so it mounts up well… Read more »

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

Review of N6FN’s Nifty Mini-Manuals

IC-2820 Nifty Manual

IC-2820 Nifty Manual

In this Review of N6FN’s Nifty Mini-Manuals I will cover construction, and use.  I am always looking for a good portable manual to take with me on trips for the two meter rig, or some piece of hardware.  My wife and I recently took a three week trip to Arizona.  I decided that I should take the manuals for all the mobile rigs with me in the event I got things set up wrong…  So I dutifully took my PDF files of all the manuals I needed and sent them to my Kindle for use if needed.  After I got them uploaded to the Kindle  I took a look at them.  While the Kindle will display PDF files, it does not display them like an eBook…  The entire page is presented on the small screen.  One has to expand each part to see the text.  This runs the text off the edges, and forces one to not only expand, but scroll horizontally to read anything in PDF format.  All in all the PDF presentation of the Kindle was not too good…  I thought about copying the pages of the manual I might need, and bringing them with me…  I thought about bringing the manuals with me…  None of those solutions really appealed to me as I did not want to bring several notebooks of manuals with me on a three week trip… Read more »

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

Review of the Challenger DX Antenna by GAP

 

Gap Challenger AnennaThis review of the Challenger DX Antenna by GAP Antenna will not be a highly technical review, it will be performance based, using my existing antennas for comparisons  First off, what is the GAP Challenger, and how does it work?  You must be an ARRL member to get the QST article covering that, it is in the January 1995 issue.  I would provide the article, but copyright forbids me from doing so.  You will have to go to the ARRL’s web site and get it.  Once you read that story, you will understand a bit more on the GAP.  Basically it has a very limited number of radials, and still work well.  Why so few radials?  Because it is not the traditional 1/4 wave vertical, it is a vertical dipole, this gives it several advantages over a standard 1/4 wave vertical.  Chiefly the reduced number of radials…  I also have a 30 Meter Mono Gap, (see review here), and it has the same number of radials needed, three, and they are short.

Mounting:

My setup has the Challenger ground mounted, in the middle of a large field with a metal fence running along one side perhaps 30 feet away.  Other than that, there is nothing within 50 feet of the antenna.  It is on the side of a very gentle slope slightly sloping downwards towards the North maybe 20 feet down in the first 100 feet from the antenna, and sloping up perhaps 20 feet to the south at the 100 foot mark from the antenna. It is mounted in a small hole, using the insulating post supplied with the antenna.  It is not on a tilt base, nor does it need a radial field, which is the number one reason I bought it.  I primarily operate on 40 through 10 meters, so any discussion of 80 Meter operation is useless from my point of view. Read more »

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

MixW Help Files for version 3.x

MixW Main window

MixW Main display screen

Here you will find the current MixW help files for inclusion within the MixW software package.  These files are in Windows Help Format, .chm, and replace all other help files for MixW.  If you install them as per the instructions below, they will be available from within MixW, by selecting HELP.

Download the file(s) below, and then expand them.  MixW help files were last updated for V2.19. However the latest version is V3.1 and some of the data in the help files is out of date. These files have been updated to reflect the changes in V3.1 and other, hopefully useful, information added.  For more information on MixW, see either the Yahoo Support Group, or the review on this site. Read more »

Categories: Info, MixW Contest Setup, Setups, Software information | 2 Comments

Review of the iMate by BetterRF

iMate for Icom

iMate for Icom

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 the iMate), hence the purchase of the iMate. Read more »

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