Product Reviews

PAC-12 Vertical Antenna, 6 through 40 meters.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced multi band portable antenna that is easy to assemble, easy to erect in the field and performs well, this may be just what you are looking for. 

Yaesu FT-710 Field

I enjoy activating a POTA station. I either use 5 watts with an IC-705 or have used my FT-991A at 40 watts. I decided to make a change to a radio more user friendly than my FT-991A. The FT-710 Field really fit the bill. I like it so much I've been using it in the primary station. Yaesu really did their homework when they developed the 710.

RIg Expert AA-650 Zoom product review.

If you are building a ham radio station, whether it would be a contest station, a station for working DX or just daily rag chewing, this may be the tool you need to help you maximize your signal.

 SARK 110 vs Rig Expert AA-600 antenna analyzer

I think both of the these antenna analyzers are top shelf analyzing tools. They pretty much give the same results, but have their pro's and con's. The SARK 110 is tiny enough to fit in your shirt pocket which can be a big plus. The AA-600 is super simple to operate, not that the SARK is all that hard. 

SARK 110  and Rig Expert AA-600 review PDF

Rig Expert AA-230 Zoom

The AA-600 has two features that needed improvements. One is the sampling points, only 80 sampling points are allowed. The other is the OSL Calibration. Once you change either the frequency or span, you loose the calibration and have to start over. 

The AA-230 Zoom has corrected these issues. The AA-230 now has up to 500 sampling points as a stand alone unit. But keep in mind, to use 500 sampling points it will take 1 full minutes to make the sweep. Next they corrected the OSL Calibration. Once you run the calibration, you can move up or down the band and/or change the span without loosing your OSL Calibration. Also, you can turn the OSL Calibration on or off without loosing your calibration. But, once you turn the AA-230 Zoom off, you will loose your OSL Calibration. 

This will now be my, "Go To" antenna analyzer when I do antenna work. It has a lot of features and is super easy to use. 

Battery life is not too bad. If you are going to to some serious antenna work, you may want to take along an extra set of batteries. You can get about 3 full hours out a full set of batteries and that is usually more than enough time to do any antenna job.

Rig Expert has a free downloadable software package to use with their analyzers. By controlling the AA-230 with the software and the using the supplied USB cable to connect the AA-230 to the computer, it opens up a new world. Now you can use up to 10,000 sampling points. 

Update, 25 Sept 2018

    I just received and email from Rig Expert telling me that they updated the firmware for the Zoom. They added an extra selection for sampling points. You can now choose to use 250 sampling points. I also noticed that they now offer a newer version of software, "Antenna Scope 2." It does not read my older saved antenna data files. I kept the original Antenna Scope software on my computer. 

MFJ 223 antenna analyzer video:

The MFJ-223 is a nice pocket size antenna analyzer that covers 160 meters up to and including 6 meters. If you need a small antenna analyzer, like for back packing, and you do not have a lot of extra space to carry items, this little guy is a nice unit. It does in fact fit in your shirt pocket and this makes it nice for field work. Once the battery is fully charged, you can use this thing all day long and have no fear of running out of a charge. 


NanoVNA H 4

I now carry along a NanoVNA H 4 Vector Network Analyzer when I set up for portable operating. With the use of the touch screen to change the frequency range, I find it much easier to use. You can not save a file to the NanoVNA like you can the rig expert. But you can connect it to a computer, run the free downloadable control software and save your work if you choose. As a stand alone analyzer, you can program it for up to 401 sampling points.  I can't say the menu is user friendly ! For what they sell for, you really get a lot for your money. There is somewhat of a learning curve, but once you get a feel of how to use it you'll do just fine. One thing to watch out for is the Nano Knock Offs ! There are a lot of  junk ones on the market and it really is hard to figure out what one is the original one.  I am not trying to promote a business, but R&L Electronics does in fact sell the original one which is where I purchased mine.

Here's a link to the  NanoVNA H4

I am not going to do a review on the NanoVNA, but here are two  interesting videos on how to set up and use the NanoVNA.

Don't leave. There's a five second delay in start time in the above video. Sorry!



MFJ 929 automatic antenna tuner (200 watts): 

The final RF transistors in today's solid state radios are protected from too high of an SWR value. Most of today's SS radios start to fold back the output power once the radio sees an SWR value of 1.5 to 1. The only way to overcome this and have the radio put out it's maximum power is to get the SWR value down so the rig goes back into its normal state of operation. A tuner is usually needed. Also, some of the tuners used in today's radios are not very broad banded. Hence the reason for an external tuner.

 MFJ 929 product review PDF

Yaesu FT 991A:

Need a new, "One Radio Do All ?" The FT 991A may fit your needs. I can't say it's a super easy radio to use, but once you learn how to use it and set it up, you will find that it can be a great radio for all occasions. I would not be afraid to enter a world wide contest with this radio. 

Yaesu FT991A product review PDF

Yaesu FT 897D: 

I found the Yaesu FT 897D to be a great little, "one radio do all" for portable operating. The current drain, for a rig in the 100 watt category, is fairly low. This is a nice feature when one wants to operate off of a battery for an extended period of time.


 Yaesu FT 897D product review PDF