KangerTech Mini Protank II Review

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The KangerTech Mini Protank II
The KangerTech Mini Protank II

Of all the developments in the e-cigarette world probably the most significant is the all-in-one atomizer tank or clearomizer as they are known. Long term vapers will recall the hit and miss days 5 years ago. If short battery life wasn’t enough to pull your hair out, getting a consistent “hit” proved more than tedious.

The vaping scene has come along way since the wool filled mouthpiece which tended to be either too wet or too dry. Most hardcore users ditched the wool and dripped instead and this provided the best solution. The “CE” range of clearomizers were a real breakthrough and carto style tanks even better – fill up the tank and merrily vape away with no need to take a bottle of juice when out and about.

Further enhancements led to the systems such as the KangerTech Mini Protank II which we’ll be looking at today.

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Apollo Vtube 3.0 VV/VW Review

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Apolloecigs.com

Apollo Vtube 3.0 waiting to be unwrapped
Apollo Vtube 3.0 waiting to be unwrapped

The Apollo Vtube 3.0 is the latest incarnation of the ever popular Vtube (also known as the Lavatube or Lambo to you and me). As the version number indicates this is the third revision of the Apollo Vtube. The original Lavatube design was pretty much an overnight success – the first low cost variable voltage device meant vapers on a budget could experience the delights of Variable Voltage (VV) without spending a small fortune. I had one, still do. The product was let down by the plastic end caps, but overall a decent introduction to advanced PV’s and ground breaking to a certain extent.

With numerous complaints about the cheap feel, the v1.0 tube quickly got a face lift. A couple of years back Apollo commissioned a unique limited edition stainless steel Vtube. This would be known as the v2.0 and  while the previous example (v1.0) and the v2.0 had identical performance (they both utilised the same on-board electronics) significant external modifications such as a floating (spring loaded) centre pin, built-in ego cone threading, all metal end caps and a choice of chrome or stainless steel bodies added to a growing pedigree.

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Blakemar Briars Stand-up Bent Aristocrat Pipe Review

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A traditional English made pipe from Blakemar Briars
A traditional English made pipe from Blakemar Briars

One thing leads to another and it wasn’t long before I ordered another pipe from Blakemar Briars. Well, I say another, make that 2! I thought I’d give the  very reasonably priced Aristocrat range a go and emailed Mike Billington to see if there was available stock. Mike replied in the affirmative and told me that the current stand-up bent pipes on his website were actually smaller than the sandblast I previously received and would I prefer the larger version as he had a few in stock but not displayed online. I agreed that the larger sized pipe (Peterson 306 size) would suit my needs than the smaller shape (basically the size of a Peterson 304).

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Blakemar Briars Stand-up Bent 9mm Filter Pipe Review

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Superb ring grain revealed by the sandblast
Superb ring grain revealed by the sandblast

Blakemar Briars is a pipe making company based in Northamptonshire, England. The business was established in the 1870’s by Thomas Martin, and has remained in family hands to this day. The current owner Mike Billington has worked there since 1970 – guided by his uncle, Richard (Dick) Martin until his passing in 2003, using lathes, hand tools and knowledge only gained by experience. The end product is a hand made pipe with great smoking characteristics and charm. From time to time Dick’s early pipes appear on ebay which maybe worth checking out if you fancy a slice of history?

Despite not owning a Blakemar, I had for some time been eyeing their wares online. One thing that always struck me was even the most expensive pipes seemed quite reasonable and the more affordable range almost give away. On the face of it the quality looked consistent across the board and  it is fair to say each Blakemar pipe is as good as the next regardless of cost, only superficial grading of briar and its finish really dictates the final price.

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Senior Pipe Reamer Review

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Buy a Senior Pipe Reamer – Amazon.com

A decent presentation box is provided with the reamer
A decent presentation box is provided with the reamer

The Senior Pipe Reamer is a precision tool designed to remove and maintain a suitable layer of cake within a pipes tobacco chamber. I’m pretty sure if you have been smoking pipes for a while you’ll have considered adding one of these to your arsenal? Same here to be honest. I’ve pretty much used a knife in the past and while it does a good job, you have to be mindful of gouging the chamber out of round. Also cake can be quite delicate in places and its all to easy to get carried away and remove way too much or equally bad produce an inconsistent cake depth (thicker one side than the other).

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COAA PlanePlotter Review Part 3

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Download PlanePlotter

USAF JUVAT80 (Gulfstream V, 01-0076) - a successful Mlat!
USAF JUVAT80 (Gulfstream V, 01-0076) – a successful Mlat!

Mlat

Assuming you have a fully operational set-up (GS/MU or just MU), you can now manually “Mlat” non ADS-B aircraft. For the most part these will be military assets, though it will become apparent that there are a fair few civil types that don’t transmit positional data too.

PlanePlotter Multilateration Tutorial PDF – How Mlat works

Unless you have read the Help Topics within PlanePlotter or the PDF file above it may not be that obvious what to do now and how Mlat works. Simply put – if a precise distance from an unknown location (position-less aircraft) can be received by 3 known locations (Ground Stations) it is just a matter of using geometry to determine the position of the unknown aircraft. Of course it is way more complicated than this simplified explanation and I recommend reading the PDF file above for a more thorough briefing.

To use the PP Mlat feature go to View… Aircraft list as position-less aircraft obviously do not appear in the chart view until successfully plotted. It is useful to mark additional sub search parameters from the Aircraft list display options notably: Aircraft without positions (shortcut key U) or Aircraft with Mlat possible (shortcut key M) as this will eliminate aircraft that have positions and make it easier to see what is or not plotted.

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TYT TH-UV3R Review Part 2

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As I recently purchased a new PC I decided to program the TYT TH-UV3R using that – a departure from my Windows XP comfort zone as the new one is a Windows 8 machine. I had heard that the USB prolific serial drivers either didn’t work, wouldn’t work or required a load of hassle to get working so I was a bit perturbed. In the end it was all unfounded (for me anyway). I plugged in the USB prolific serial cable and waited. As Windows 8 didn’t install anything I checked device manager (under control panel) to see what was going on. Com 3 was showing up with an error so I downloaded the prolific serial drivers (Windows 7 as there are no dedicated Windows 8 drivers) and pointed the update driver command to the relevant file, whereupon installation took place. Within a few seconds the error had gone and communication had been established. Result!

No problems setting up a COM port on Windows 8
No problems setting up a COM port on Windows 8

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TYT TH-UV3R Review Part 1

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The TYT TH-UV3R is a compact and well built FM transceiver
The TYT TH-UV3R is a compact and well built FM transceiver

The TYT TH-UV3R is a really compact 128 channel pocket sized radio. But don’t be fooled by its size this little radio packs a punch and is brimming with functionality.

By default the TH-UV3R is a dual band (136-174/400-470 MHz) radio, however by using the official TYT programming software full tri-band operation can be opened up (200-260 MHz) plus a decent extension to the UHF upper limit (470-520 MHz). The EU version doesn’t support 2.5kHz spacing, however the US version does. That said, its not always obvious what you’ll get so double check with the vendor prior to purchase to ensure you get what you need.

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TYT TH-UV3R Preview

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TYT TH-UV3R Camouflage model
TYT TH-UV3R Camouflage model

Just received a pair of TYT TH-UV3R’s from 409Shop. Although the TYT shares the “UV3R” designation with the BaoFeng UV3R, they are actually totally different radios.

The TH-UV3R is an ultra compact VHF/UHF FM transceiver and generally sold as a dual bander (136-174/400-470MHz), however this model is actually a tri-band radio and can be unlocked with the official TYT programming software (available from the downloads section at tyt888.com) to enable 200-260MHz and also extend the UHF range from 470-520MHz.

Power output is a modest 2W on high (touted as 2.5W but we’ll go with the former) and 0.8W low. Features include dual watch, FM radio with presets, scan, VOX, tone scanning, alpha tags amongst others (surprisingly no LED flashlight – now there is a first!). The two things that really attracted me to this model is the scrambler function and price – a real bargain at under $55 direct from Hong Kong.

Available in black, red, green or camo (I chose the latter to be a little different!).

This is a straightforward radio to use and while it has its quirks (and what Chinese radio doesn’t?), so far I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

Full review here…

COAA PlanePlotter Review Part 2

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Now that everything is working (hopefully!), we can proceed to customising the display.

The majority of the aircraft symbols seen will be yellow, but various colours can be assigned and labels expanded or reduced to individual preference. Additional colours are also used – for example expiring aircraft are orange and Mlat white. You may also  catch an aircraft with blue concentric circles radiating from time to time – these aircraft are squawking ident usually as a result of a squawk change.

POLLY01 (F-16 J-632) squawking ident 3635
POLLY01 (F-16 J-632) squawking ident 3635

To change these parameters we need to open up Chart Options (menu or easier via the spanner symbol). Initially the options seem bewildering, however its all quite straightforward, nevertheless I’d recommend changing a few things at a time and re-checking the display to see if its appropriate to your needs.

I've complied a sort of time lapse graphic here that illustrates colour changes as RYR96YE climbs to altitude (note nose colour cyan). In addition the aircraft data labels show what you can do by adjusting the Label settings under Chart Options...
I’ve complied a sort of time lapse graphic here that illustrates colour changes as RYR96YE climbs to altitude (note nose colour cyan). In addition the aircraft data labels show what you can do by adjusting the Label settings under Chart Options…

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