Analyze All the Antennas

Now having purchased a low cost vector impedance analyzer, I feel like I have a hammer and everything looks like a nail.

I’ve complained about questionably genuine NA771s before in my SignalStick review but I thought it might be fun to stick them on the analyzer, sweep them out and see how they compare.

Here it is, the N1201SA by Accuracy Agility Instrument.

(bloom is because it’s still got the screen cover on)

Read more →

Codan 7727

For some reason I now have three HF radios. Picked up the Icom 7100 to start with as it’s one of those shack-in-a-box radios that does (nearly) everything. Managed to end up with a Codan 9323 while buying a Codan 9350 for a very good price (“local pickup only” in a location that is not what you’d call “convenient” but we happened to be going past on a massive road trip…)

But I found a Codan 7727 up for sale. According to the listing, the previous owner was a ham radio operator… but it’s also described as being a CB, which I don’t think I need to point out it’s not, so I’m not exactly sure what it’s set up for.

Here it is in all its glory, painted in a nice 70s green. It’s a little rusty. It’s clearly seen better days.

So let’s open it up and take a look at the dusty inside.

Read more →

Mashed Potato

Ordered two of the Baofeng T1 Mini, and they finally turned up…

… with a small problem.

A full refund from AliExpress was obtained without (much) argument in the dispute system.

Another two have been ordered from a different seller, and we’ll try again.

Read more →

Radiosonde Hunt 2019-02-24 - First P series!

This post is not a story about the sonde chase that Michael Wheeler and I went on today - it was fairly simple, uneventful and recovery was easy.

But you may notice this one looks a little bit different.

Instead of the usual hard plastic case, it features an all foam exterior, and a new look BoM sticker.

Read on and we’ll take a closer look.

Read more →

SignalStick Review

If you’re still running the stock antenna on your handheld radio, you’re probably disappointed with the performance on 2m. Stock “rubber duck” style antennas just aren’t long enough to be a good match at the lower frequencies involved. There’s many options for an aftermarket antenna but here we’ll look at the Super-Elastic SignalStick by SignalStuff.

One thing’s for certain - if you’re a fan of long antennas, this is the one for you. It even dwarfs the quite sizable Nagoya NA-771 - the usual candidate for “unreasonably long antenna”. But is it that inconvenient?

Read more →

NewerTech Macbook Pro Battery Replacement

After 4 years and 624 charge cycles, my MacBookPro11,3’s (15” Mid 2014) battery wasn’t quite functioning as well as it used to. At first, occasionally, during high CPU load the machine would decide the battery was flat, and refuse to switch on again until placed on the charger briefly. Then the shutdowns just started happening at random times when the battery was anywhere below 50%. Then the OS started throwing warnings to replace the battery.

After spending an entire day at a tech event without a working laptop, I decided to do something. Apple weren’t sure they had parts to do it, and quoted a cost that was approximately the same as the value of the laptop.

I ordered the NewerTech NuPower replacement kit from Macfixit. Unfortunately it was out of stock for about six weeks, but despite being given the opportunity to cancel the order and receive a full refund, I kept waiting.

CoconutBattery shows there’s some sort of issue here.

Replacing it, sadly, is not just a matter of wielding a screwdriver. The battery is glued into the top case. NewerTech on their page rates this “DIFFICULTY LEVEL: 5 OF 5: Recommended for experienced technicians.“. iFixit rates it as “difficult” with a full three red bars of difficulty.

Read more →

80s Amateur Radio Fun - Icom 3200A

I was at a local hamfest looking for a cheap radio to sit on the workbench to work a few of the local repeaters - especially the ones where you want a little more power than a 5 watt handheld. Locating an Icom 3200A, I purchased it. 25 watts on 2 and 70, and as many as 8 memory channels!

Yes it’s a little on the “vintage” side but not much has exactly changed about FM Phone in 30 years…

Read more →

Building a Multiband Inverted-V Dipole

Even if I had the space to put up an HF antenna where I live, the noise floor being a constant S9+20 would make actually using it quite difficult. But you can always drive out to a far away place, set up an antenna and get on the air…

The inverted-V dipole is a good choice for this - you need a pole, a balun and a lot of wire.

(more guy ropes will make it less bendy when the wind blows…)

Read more →

A Radiosonde Chase in Two Acts

It started when Mark Jessop sent me a message notifying me that there was a sonde down not far from where I work. The ill-fated RS41 launch RS_N3940146 reached an altitude of only 2083m before descending again. Unlike all the other sondes launched that day that ended up in far eastern Victoria this one came down comparatively close to the launch site.

An opportunity too good to pass up, I decided, after some encouragement from my colleagues, to “go out and get a coffee”. I grabbed my bike and went for a short ride to the landing zone. But a not so infrequent problem occurred…

Read more →