RigExpert AA-230 Zoom Antenna Analyzer Review

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An antenna analyzer is one of those things that every ham should have, or they should at least know where they can borrow one. Naturally, being a ham for 20 years, I’ve never owned one, but I’d always read great things about RigExpert so when they came out with the new AA-230 Zoom, I decided that this was the analyzer for me. Why the AA-230 Zoom specifically? I’ll tell you why!

The AA-230 Zoom seems to be an odd solution on the surface. The AA-170 covers almost the same range and unless you really need to cover 1.23cm band, why not spend just a little bit more for the fabulous AA-600? Sure the AA-230 Zoom has a great screen and some sort of “zoom” functionality, but the AA-170 is less than half the price, so why not get that one instead? I asked myself those same questions and did some digging. Let’s see what led me to purchasing the AA-230 Zoom over those other choices by comparing the key specs that influenced my decision. (more…)

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Fixing a Loose Knob on a Kenwood TH-D72A

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I bought a beautiful like-new Kenwood TH-D72A on eBay for a great price and was saddened to discover that the encoder knob was quite loose. The seller insisted that this was normal, but I didn’t think that seemed right. I talked to many people online online, some of whom said that their TH-D72A had a loose knob, and many who said it was rock solid. I took a chance and opened it up, knowing that doing so would mean I would no longer be able to return it.

In a nutshell, the encoder assembly sometimes works its way loose on these radios and needs to be tightened. It’s a pretty simple thing to fix, so why pay Kenwood to fix it when you can do it yourself? After posting my experience on eHam and Reddit and getting a few emails from people asking how I fixed it, I decided to write this article in hopes that it might help others out.

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Diamond X50 Antenna Camouflage

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After many years of my wife resisting the addition of a ham radio antenna on the side of our house (I have a nice 7-band off-center fed dipole in the woods), she finally relented. Since I didn’t want to disturb the thin veneer of domestic tranquility by installing a garish monstrosity, I decided to alter my bright white Diamond X50 antenna with the most upscale dressing such that any style-consious wife would be sure to adore: leaf-pattern camouflage! (more…)

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Antenna Rigging for the Lonely Ham

In this article I will describe how to install a dipole antenna fifty feet up into the trees without any help. Why? Because self-sufficency is a good thing, especially if you’re lonely.

First, let me set the stage. The first thing you need to know is that I am an idiot. Now, I’m not your typical idiot who is blessed with something as simple as a low IQ. No, I am a special type of idiot: one in which my measured intelligence is in the top two percent of those measured, but whose propensity towards doing stupid things nears infinity. (more…)

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The Yellow Box of Power

After Hurricane Sandy, I became slightly obsessed with alternative power, but focused most of my energy on generators, always remembering that I can only store so much gas. The natural alternative to engines and gasoline is solar power, but I wasn’t sure I was looking for a whole-house solution since we don’t have room for batteries and I’m not a fan of selling my surplus energy back to the power company. An idea for a portable solar solution rattled around in my head for years, and while studying for my Amateur Radio Extra Class license exam (K2GAD/AE!), plans started to germinate that resulted in what you see here. I present to you the Internet unveiling of The Yellow Box of Power.

The Yellow Box of Power is a very yellow Pelican box (size 1550) loaded up with 36 amp-hours of 12-volt battery capacity that can be charged by way of normal 120V household power or through one or more solar panels. It is mostly self-contained, is completely portable, will charge laptops and phones, run a ham radio station, or just light up a room. It will even float! Actually, it won’t float for long since I cut a bunch of holes in the side, but it’s pretty darn water resistant. Read on to learn how I made it after a quick rant about the term solar generator(more…)

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Annie and the Antenna Muffins

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me. Actually, I’m going to reveal two, but only because both secrets are germane to the tale. The first secret isn’t very scandalous, and it’s probably not much of a secret either, but I’ve been bearing the burden of this boring secret for too long, and so the truth must be revealed. You see, I like bran muffins.

Shameful, I know.

Being the quirky, pain-in-the-ass, control freak that I am, I will not settle for just any bran muffins. The bran muffins I demand are made by our local supermarket chain, ShopRite. I should also mention that of all the ShopRites I’ve ever visited, only one makes bran muffins the way I like them. Did I mention that I’m a quirky control-freak who is also a pain-in-the-ass? Check with my wife. She will confirm every last bit of that last compound-adjective-laden sentence. (more…)

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