Interesting gadgets I wish I had time for
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
I’m on a lot of mailing lists and participate in a bunch of amateur radio forums. As a result, I see a lot of interesting gadgets that guys are buying or are thinking about buying. Here are three of the latest that look interesting to me. I wish I had time (and money) to purchase all of these and try them out.
Android antenna analyzer
On Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/amateurradio/comments/60nnp1/finally_got_my_mini60_ebay_antenna_analyzer_time/), some of the guys have been talking about the Mini60 Antenna Analyzer (http://www.ebay.com/itm/CW-USB-Interface-Cable-WINKEYER-compatible-3-5mm-plug-/132121085623?hash=item1ec307c6b7:g:up8AAOSw241YeTei). Its frequency range is 1 – 60MHz, but the cool thing about this device is that you can use it standalone with the built-in LCD display or with some software (http://www.jtelectronics.co.nz/information_links/MINI60/Add-Bluetooth-Module-To-MINI60-Antenna-Analyser.htm) and a tablet with a Bluetooth interface to get fancy frequency vs. SWR plots. See http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/mini60-ant-analyzer.jpg for a photo of the Mini60 Antenna Analyzer being used with an Android tablet.
Of course, this is made in China, but how can you beat the price? It costs $112 shipped.
Multi-functional component tester
Here’s another marvel of Chinese engineering and manufacture – a smart component tester (http://www.banggood.com/3_5inch-Colorful-Display-Multi-functional-TFT-Backlight-Transistor-Tester-p-1083042.html) for only $30, shipped. It identifies and characterizes NPN and PNP transistors, capacitors, resistors, diodes (including Zener diodes), N-channel and P-channel MOSFET, IGBT, JFET, triacs, and batteries.
This isn’t the first smart component tester to hit the market, but the unique thing about this unit is that it has a graphical display that not only identifies the type of component that you’ve connected to it, but also draws the schematic symbol of the part. You can see a video of this tester in action at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07FH6tjzwWg.
Make your Raspberry Pi into a desktop PC
Newark/element 14 will soon start selling a kit of part that will make it easier to turn your Raspberry Pi into a desktop PC (https://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-83477?CMP=e-email-SEPO-210317-e14PI&et_cid=28941683&et_rid=1231362216&cmp=). The kit includes:
•Intelligent and Safe Power Controller
•Interface to connect mSATA SSD (upto 1TB)
•Real Time Clock to keep track of time
They don’t list the price just yet, but this might be what I need to actually make use of the Raspberry Pi 3 I bought several months ago.
If you have one of these gadgets, or buy one in the future, please let me know how you like it. I’ll put your review up on my blog, so that everyone can benefit from your experience.
When he’s not drooling over electronic gadgets, Dan blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com, writes the “No Nonsense” amateur radio study guides, and teaches ham classes. You can contact him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.