A popular topic on this channel are my product reviews. I will often review amateur radio related products as hams are infinitely curious on how a particular item is functioning. So as we close out 2018, I’ve compiled a list of five items that I reviewed and continue to use on a regular basis. Some of the items were provided by the manufacturer, but others are purchased by me. When I find something that I like, I want to share it with the rest of the amateur radio community. Links for more information or to purchase any them can be found in the video description. And as a general disclaimer, I may receive an affiliate income with some of the links. It doesn’t affect the price you pay and it helps keep the channel going, so thank you for your support. The top five product reviews of 2018, in no particular order, are as follows.
Iso Tip Solderpro 90 Butane Soldering Iron
This review actually came out in December of 2017, but it’s really a good product and I wanted to included in this year’s run down. I’m a fan of butane soldering irons for working on something outdoors. The Solderpro 90 heats up fast and delivers a punch, making it easy to do a quick repair at field day or to put on a PL-259 connector out at the repeater site. The hot air tip is especially handy for working with heat shrink tubing. You’ll find the Solderpro 90 at Iso-tip.com or for sale directly on Amazon.
Iso-Tip SolderPro 90 Butane Iron
Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000
I actually own two Wolf River Coils. I got the 10-40 meter coil a couple years ago and this last year I picked up the longer 10-80 meter coil. The shorter coil is great for portable operation- I used at the National Parks on the Air event a few years back. And the longer coil gets set up in my back yard as the winter time vertical antenna. What I like about these coils, besides portability and simplicity, is the price. You can put together a complete vertical antenna system for about $100. These coils are a part of my camping kit, so if you love portable operation- you should check them out. Details can be found at wolfrivercoils.com.
Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000
Green Egg for Hams NMO cover
I was sent one of these covers to review- and it couldn’t have come at a better time as I was putting in a mobile radio system in my Subaru Outback. The Green Egg for Ham is a novel little cover to protect your NMO mount when an antenna is not screwed on it. I keep mine in the car and use it when I take the Outback through the carwash. The covers are sold on eBay under user name General3D or go to www.general3d.com.
General 3d Green Egg for Hams
Ailunce HD1 dual Band DMR handheld
This past year was a big one for me in getting into DMR radio. It all started when Retevis sent me a copy of their RT82 handheld to review. But my favorite model so far is the Ailunce HD1 dual band DMR handheld radio. A couple of things I like about the HD1 are its beefy battery, which is necessary for the radio’s 10 watt transmitter, audio quality, promiscuous mode, and ability to program and make changes to the settings and channels on the fly. With the promiscuous mode it is easy to monitor all talk groups on a repeater and to quickly switch to a talk group if you wish to jump into the conversation. Early models had some firmware issues, but Retevis addressed them late summer of 2018 but its easy to upgrade and the radio is now rock solid. The HD1 is available direct on the Retevis website, and also from Amazon.
Ailunce HD1 Dual Band DMR Handheld
Retevis RT95 VHF UHF mobile transceiver
And speaking of radio reviews, the other transceiver that I enjoyed reviewing this year is the Retevis RT95 dual band mobile radio. The RT95 is analog only and puts out about 25 watts of power on the 2 meter and 70 centimeter band. It’s priced right and has a couple of novel features such as software programmable buttons, dual watch with a one touch single band mute, and option to invert the display. The TFT LED display is bright albeit a bit cluttered. Of the inexpensive Chinese mobile radios on the market, this is one of the better ones. I continue to use mine as a backup or 2nd VHF transceiver in my shack- which is handy when you are net control for a skywarn weather net. The radio is available on Amazon and from the Retevis website.
Retevis RT95 Dual Band Mobile Transceiver
Was there a product review that caught your attention in the last year? Is there a product you’d like me to review this coming year? Please leave it in the comments below. Don’t bother telling me to look at a $3,000 transceiver unless you are willing to send me a loaner. But I’d love to hear your suggestions.