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My 10m/20m buildout and installing the FTM400XDR.


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Long Preface Sorry. I hope to say you time and money with my pain.

So almost 2 years ago I got my FTM400XDR. Found as small as the body of the radio was I had no where to install it in my 2002 Suburban. The center console when dismantled because of the odd shape didn't have enough room as planned for the radio and additional things I wanted. So a custom front console came into mind.

So in, came a year of procrastination.

Well a year later and I got the bright idea for road trips it would be nice to listen to channel 19 on a CB radio. Ham buddy said, might as well do a 10/12m rig if really all you are going to do is listen on 11m/cb. 

After looking at Harris consoles and the like. It became quite apparent just the console was going to cost me nearly $800 with the mounts. Even in the used market, they were priced for just the console in excess of $200 for a banged up one. So that idea got tossed quickly.

So I choose to start the nightmare project of a custom front center console. I say nightmare because, first it is not a square although it looks like it. More of lopsided "U" and all my wood tools, my dad had taken secretly or destroyed and left behind.

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THE B*@TCH CONSOLE

So lets start off the stock front center console. It is a slanted "U' shape. With an uneven floor. didn't realize how non-symmetrical it was till it was too late. I would of gone with the expensive police/ems console I had known how bad it really was.

I use to build sub woofer cabinets for me, my brother and friends. So why not go with something I knew. 

Console was built with 3/4 MDF for the sides and 1/2 MDF for the front face. Not going to show the template, as it was just a dismantle of the console and tracing on paper. For the initial mock up. Nor am I going to show the first failed attempt.

 

The space I had to work with.

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Showing backside of the console to be used as a template. NOtice the bracket and how skewed it is.large.IMG_20200511_102318_01.jpg.4d3af1a6da90d1ddc494f82bdfe6ee4e.jpge

 

At this point. The WTF moment hit and I realized oh. This is not going to be fun.

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MOCKING THINGS UP & INSTALLING

 

So after a week of cussing my father under my breath and multiple visits to Home Depot, Harbor Freight etc. To replace missing (taken) or destroyed tools. Won't get into it anymore. 

I was ready for placement mock ups.

 

I cut out holes for the Uniden external speaker, and Yaesu MLS 200 speaker. In retrospect I should of gone with 2x MLS 200s. The Uniden is a nice speaker, with noise suppression circuit be requires 12v power. I just wasn't sure at the time if the Anytone AT6666 could handle a non-powered speaker. 

FTM 400 mounted up top and the AT6666 down below.

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I am using the same cheap Amazon Power pole distribution block at home so this got added to the mix to handle auxiliary power. All the power to the center console is supplied via an Auxiliary battery, circuit breaker and isolator setup in the passenger front firewall area.

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So how do I access the fuse box and other things after installation. In come cheap Amazon 3mm neodymium magnets. they are mounted on a lip around the cutout where the cigarette lighter I added. The cigarette lighter port act as a handle to remove the door. Complete pain in the but to wire with power poles. You can see in the lower left the 0 gauge to 4-12 gauge stereo power distribution block I added. The power pole distribution block is behind it. The radios are directly wired to the distribution blocks, sniped the glass fuses off and on went ATC fuse holders with power poles. Again thank god for Amazon.

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ITS IN ITS IN !!!!! OMG

 

So here is a shot of it installed. FTM400 using a Lido ball mount. FTM400 mic comes out the side with a Magnetic Mic mount for the mic.  I wanted to adjust the angle of the radio. AT6666 mounted below it. Button in the top right is a Magnetic Mic Mount. THEY ARE AWESOME.

The RS-70 HF inline SWR meter is off center and didn't go all the way left due to the way the SO239 connections are on it. I had to use to 90 degree SO239 adapters so it could clear things without really stressing out the coax.

The front face comes off. That was important for me to be able to access the USB hub as well as swap SD cards out in the FTM400 for when we head up into Canada.

  • RS-70 can be powered by USB. (the reason I started the Delta Fox thread) Which I did with this one.
    • It is constantly on same with the NOTE 3.
      • Remember it is hooked up to an Auxiliary (housekeeping battery)
    • Negative.
      • No Peak hold (not great for a mobile situation)
      • Doesn't work real well with SSB (no carrier, so it is a bit iffy in readings)
    • Positive
      • Can be powered by USB
      • All Metal Casing (basically the MFJ-844
        • Who are we kidding it is probably the same device. The Chinese manufacturer just doing the copyright thing.
      • Light goes out till RF is detected.
  • NOTE 3 is for the APRS DROID OSM
    • This is connected to the FTM 400 via Bluetooth.
      • HOW? 
        • Via serial to Bluetooth Adapter and a Yaesu SCU-20 cable with gender changer male-male serial adapter.
          • Again thank you AMAZON!!.
  • All USB power is provided by a Hundy QC3.0 USB hub. 
    • I clipped the power leads, ran some test. Installed Power Poles into the distribution box.
  • On the side, not pictured is a Microtek SD media center. So I can play about 300 different videos on the Kenwood which relays it to the rear television.

 

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THE ANTENNA MOUNT

I choose to go with an NMO mount. I wanted to be able to repurpose the mount if necessary. Never know when I like to put another radio in.

So I ended up with a Walcott radio hood fender mount. This particular one was expensive (same style on Amazon $28 this one was $70) but Walcott sold it with an NMO so at first I thought it was close to a wash.

Long story short it came in. I found out why it was expensive. It came with the NMO and coax, the mount, and a 3/8 stud Fire Ring style coax. both Coax are terminated with an FME connector and PL259 adapter, pretty slick if you ask me. Pulling the cable was crazy easy. Even better the Coax for the NMO mount is wait? LMR200???? REALLY!!! AWESOME!!!. Wait it also comes with a nylon centering isolator (the 3/8 stud still needs to be able to go through, but the hole is too big for the NMO to self center)? The 3/8 mount is RG58U.

  • Con
    • The antenna had a backwards rake and outwards tilt.
      • Some grinding and re-tightening sorted that out.
      • Really no space under the mount for the NMO or stud coax.
        • Be real care with cable routing]
      • Because of the shoulder NMOs don't seal well. Just not enough material. 
        • Come on a 1/4 of steel isn't going to kill your profits.
  • NO INSTRUCTIONS.
    •  Install was kinda straight forward and not.
      • Attach the ground lead
      • Mount the NMO/Stud
      • Grind the crap (paint) off the location where the mount will come in contact with the body
        • trust me a single braided strap isn't what you want for the ground plane connection.
      • Install into the hole in the fender.
        • Prepare for cussing, cuts and the likes
      • Mount the antenna
        • Check angle
      • Finish routing coax and ground strap

 

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The Antenna.

I really wanted a Laird CWB270b. Well guess what they don't make it anymore. Couldn't find coil numbers or anything. It seemed ideal about 65" and wide banded.

So I started searching.

Found an article from the ORF/3730 Group in Canada. Apparently, they wanted something similar. Hence, a Larsen NMO30 with 64" whip for 11m/CB and NMO34 with 64" whip for 10m. I have those now.

  • REALLY BIG CON
    • This combo wiggles more then jello. At about 70 MPH the whole thing is canted back almost 30 degrees.
    • Simply getting in and out of the truck the SWR was all over the place on the nano vna, from the jiggling.

When tuning for 10m. I couldn't get the SWR lower then 1.6 at 28.540 or so. After talking to folks at MYGMRS and others. I probably went as short as I could with the coil in question. So I ran around with this for a while.

I really wanted 1(one) antenna for both bands. I really took Marc's words about the antennas being too short now a days into consideration. Part of the reason the antenna is not center line roof was due to height.

The NMO30/34 64" whip combo put it after tuning about 4 inches higher then my Larsent2/70b.

In comes my birthday in a couple of days. Wife has been hounding me for weeks as to what radio I want. Well the THD74a is like a gazillion dollars now, due to the shortage. So that is out.

I asked for an MFJ 1610T 10m Hamstick and Hustler quick disconnect on top of a Tram NMO to 3/8 adapter.

Below here she is tuned in at CH20 on the with a beautiful SWR around 1.14. On 10M tuned in at 28.400 at with an SWR of 1.09. Pretty close to under 1.6 across the band width in both bands depending where I have it set on the whip.

Interesting enough, the marks between 10m and 11m are only about 2 inches.

Overall height?

Under a couple inches below 13'. So objectives met.

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Thanks for the very interesting read! What a journey that was, and no doubt continues to be...

I can see now why you chose to use a fender mount. I'd have probably chosen to use a left rear ball mount. :lol:

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4 minutes ago, n4gix said:

Thanks for the very interesting read! What a journey that was, and no doubt continues to be...

I can see now why you chose to use a fender mount. I'd have probably chosen to use a left rear ball mount. :lol:

Thanks. Moral of the story. Don't get to ambitious and the more expensive route might be easier and actually cheaper :(

 

Thought about that ball mount. Too bad the tank is on the right, since that would have been ideal having it on the rear right. 

On the left side I was worried about clipping trees and such. On the right, at least I can move to the center of the lane to clear stuff. Not so much wiggle room with a left rear ball mount. Lots of low hanging trees in Potomac and Tacoma Park, Maryland.

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That is a very nice looking mount that you made. Your review of the radio leaves a lot to be desired though. For the price though you're probably in the ballpark of ideal. 

Everyone I know that has used the ham sticks say they bend after about 3 months of wind and gravity.

Does the Yaesu 400 decode aprs without having to connect to the TNC?

 

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The build looks really good so far. I have few questions:

1. Is it 1322, 1377 1740 or 2240 in the second picture? What do you use it for? I use mine (1322 and 2240, both in pistol form) to shoot paper in my very long garage. 15m - olympic pistol range, yo!

2. What do you do with your 10/12m mobile? Working when stuck in traffic? When camping?  SSB, CW, data? Honest question, I'm genuinely  curious.

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On 5/1/2021 at 7:59 PM, tweiss3 said:

That is a very nice looking mount that you made. Your review of the radio leaves a lot to be desired though. For the price though you're probably in the ballpark of ideal. 

Everyone I know that has used the ham sticks say they bend after about 3 months of wind and gravity.

Does the Yaesu 400 decode aprs without having to connect to the TNC?

 

Not a terrible radio. But it isn't fabulous. For what I wanted great, well till I get my general ticket. Then an nice HF mobile, really waiting for a replacement for the FT891 or an amp package for the IC705. A screw driver, with controller. Going to cost some. So need to start saving.

The FTM 400 can decode and send packets. It can not digipeat without an external TNC. Part of the reason it was chosen over the Kenwood was the touch screen. The ability to use SMSGate and Winlink without the need of a laptop. Two things have me not raving about it. 

1.) Please Yaesu implement the near repeater feature like Kenwood and Icom. This would be fricking killer.

2.) No body does it but how awesome would a map display of APRS objects in the head be. 

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I do love my IC-7300. If I was looking to go HF in the car, the IC-7100 would likely be in the picture, with the AH740 antenna ($2100, ouch), but it only covers 80m-10m and is 75" without a mount. There is a Mars Mod (http://www.472khz.org/media/IC_7100mod.pdf) that could get you 11m, not that I'm in to that.

 

I like the 705 idea, but why not get a full powered "mobile" rig for much less.

 

As for C4M, I haven't messed with it, but I don't care for the "nearby repeater" feature of my Kenwood D74, but it's phenomenal for APRS.

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On 5/1/2021 at 10:02 PM, axorlov said:

The build looks really good so far. I have few questions:

1. Is it 1322, 1377 1740 or 2240 in the second picture? What do you use it for? I use mine (1322 and 2240, both in pistol form) to shoot paper in my very long garage. 15m - olympic pistol range, yo!

2. What do you do with your 10/12m mobile? Working when stuck in traffic? When camping?  SSB, CW, data? Honest question, I'm genuinely  curious.

That is my 1322. My 1377 was at home with the others. My daughter wanted to shoot. Her LOP is incredibly short so I ended up with a lot of air rifles. More then I thought. Setup a 5m/10m range in the basement. 

1322 and 2240

1322 the adapter came in finally. Waiting on the Tippman 98 AR stock. 

2240 Bugbuster side focus scope on Intermod rail. British AR stock adapter (Ebay). With XTR AR15 stock with cheek riser (glad i got it with the riser) her sight picture is about 2 inches lower then me or my wife. Moderator is a TKO slip on.

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CMP853 (left)  and Daisey Avant 449b (right)

CMP 853 OMG. This has been the best buy so far. mm peep sight. Single shot around 450 fps. Its a 10m used by JROTC\CMP for marksmen ship training. Comes from the factory with a Lothar Walther barrell. I was sighting it in and it looks like a worm crawling up the target. Highly recommend . Highly recommend Match Grade wadcutter. Only 2 negatives. 1) Used 2) that pellet tray. Cost about $120 shipped. Yes CMP refurbishes them a bit. You also get a new rear peep, target sling and globe inserts with each. Really, only one you can buy without being a CMP affiliate program.

https://thecmp.org/sales-and-service/sporter-air-rifles/

My REDDIT thread on it.

v3rrMkym.jpg

 

Lastly My rat gun. Nova Vista Liberty in .22. 

She is my only PCP. Really hard hitting and amazingly accurate chinese gun about $300. But that is like saying a radio is $300, its the support equipment that gets you. The second gen is the renowed known and loved  Air Venturi Avenger.

 

 

 

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10/12m radio is to listen to CB(11m) for any reports on the road (mostly on ch 19. Emergency coms quaternary backup (lol so not likely). Primary, cell. secondary, 2m/70cm/aprs, tertiary GMRS.

Have done some 10m SSB work. But not getting a lot. Not sure if I don't hear anyone or no one hears me. To be frank lot more traffic on 11m then 10m so far for me.

Plus Super Bowl "ch6" can be entertaining with the WTF moments.

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7 minutes ago, tweiss3 said:

I do love my IC-7300. If I was looking to go HF in the car, the IC-7100 would likely be in the picture, with the AH740 antenna ($2100, ouch), but it only covers 80m-10m and is 75" without a mount. There is a Mars Mod (http://www.472khz.org/media/IC_7100mod.pdf) that could get you 11m, not that I'm in to that.

 

I like the 704 idea, but why not get a full powered "mobile" rig for much less.

 

As for C4M, I haven't messed with it, but I don't care for the "nearby repeater" feature of my Kenwood D74, but it's phenomenal for APRS.

I looked at a IC7100 for the shack. Wife hated spending over 1k on an alarm clock. Plus for mobile everyone has bitched the form factor of the head can make mounting difficult. So she bought me the FT991a as a B-day gift. Love the shack in the box in the house. I would never use that radio for mobile driving operations. The menus require some thing most of the time.

I hate doing Mars Mods. I am terrible with surface mounts. Only time I want to put a soldering iron to them is to see how many I can round up into a ball when a device is unsalvageable. Hence the FT991a is stock. The FTM is CAP modded for emergency GMRS usage.

CF4M wide sounds fabulous, most natural sounding. CF4M narrow sounds like every other digital. Robotic with the added sound of a stuffed up nose.

The nearby repeater feature I want, again for road trips into unplanned areas and such. I am finding with the FTM400 the same frequency pair and tone is being used for repeater up and down the east coast that I have programmed. So I need to delete some. In comes the character limitation. How so, how do I know the callsign of the repeater I am on? Won't be able to. This is where I would find it useful. 

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***UPDATE

After 2 days or so. The reports I was getting have been decent. Some of the signals I am receiving are absolutely beautiful.

One issue has raised its head. It has to do with the bracket. The combo of the hustler disconnect, whip and nmo adapter maybe too much for the L shape of the bracket. It just rocks the entire mount on some bumps. Even if we removed the fender and tapped another hole for a bolt. Where the NMO attaches isn't rigged enough and bounces about a 1/8th of an inch at times.

I am definitely not going to pursue putting a Little Tar Heel II on that particular mount.

I may have to invest in another mount further down the hood. The issue is most hood mounts are L shaped. So I don't expect for it to get better by much. I hope a bit since the other location for the hood mount and style is more compact.

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3 minutes ago, kidphc said:

I looked at a IC7100 for the shack. Wife hated spending over 1k on an alarm clock. Plus for mobile everyone has bitched the form factor of the head can make mounting difficult. So she bought me the FT991a as a B-day gift. Love the shack in the box in the house. I would never use that radio for mobile driving operations. The menus require some thing most of the time.

I hate doing Mars Mods. I am terrible with surface mounts. Only time I want to put a soldering iron to them is to see how many I can round up into a ball when a device is unsalvageable. Hence the FT991a is stock. The FTM is CAP modded for emergency GMRS usage.

CF4M wide sounds fabulous, most natural sounding. CF4M narrow sounds like every other digital. Robotic with the added sound of a stuffed up nose.

The nearby repeater feature I want, again for road trips into unplanned areas and such. I am finding with the FTM400 the same frequency pair and tone is being used for repeater up and down the east coast that I have programmed. So I need to delete some. In comes the character limitation. How so, how do I know the callsign of the repeater I am on? Won't be able to. This is where I would find it useful. 

I can see how the head would be tough to mount, didn't think of that. The 891 might be your best bet, plus the ATAS-120A is only $400 to get 40m-6m vs the Icom's price of $2100. Plus the 891 is on sale for only $600. 

I only mentioned MARS mod because you are in 11m. My 817ND is MARS, but I never tried to even listen out of band, I bought it used with the mod, it was not the reason for the purchse.

As for $$, my wife hasn't noticed my upgrade from a FT-45D to the IC-7300, not that she cares. She rarely comments on my radio purchases. I did probe the waters about putting up a flag pole antenna to gain 160m, and she asked the other day when I was going to install her flag pole. Ultimate plan is to put the 450 on the vertical and keep the 7300 on the EFHW.

2 minutes ago, kidphc said:

***UPDATE

After 2 days or so. The reports I was getting have been decent. Some of the signals I am receiving are absolutely beautiful.

One issue has raised its head. It has to do with the bracket. The combo of the hustler disconnect, whip and nmo adapter maybe too much for the L shape of the bracket. It just rocks the entire mount on some bumps. Even if we removed the fender and tapped another hole for a bolt. Where the NMO attaches isn't rigged enough and bounces about a 1/8th of an inch at times.

I am definitely not going to pursue putting a Little Tar Heel II on that particular mount.

I may have to invest in another mount further down the hood. The issue is most hood mounts are L shaped. So I don't expect for it to get better by much. I hope a bit since the other location for the hood mount and style is more compact.

Yea, you are going to have to find some billet mount, as the moment of that hamstick is huge. You may want to look at the breedlove mounts, and perhaps do a hood mount NMO and just drill the hole. Can always put a rain cap on it.

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30 minutes ago, tweiss3 said:

I can see how the head would be tough to mount, didn't think of that. The 891 might be your best bet, plus the ATAS-120A is only $400 to get 40m-6m vs the Icom's price of $2100. Plus the 891 is on sale for only $600. 

I only mentioned MARS mod because you are in 11m. My 817ND is MARS, but I never tried to even listen out of band, I bought it used with the mod, it was not the reason for the purchse.

As for $$, my wife hasn't noticed my upgrade from a FT-45D to the IC-7300, not that she cares. She rarely comments on my radio purchases. I did probe the waters about putting up a flag pole antenna to gain 160m, and she asked the other day when I was going to install her flag pole. Ultimate plan is to put the 450 on the vertical and keep the 7300 on the EFHW.

Yea, you are going to have to find some billet mount, as the moment of that hamstick is huge. You may want to look at the breedlove mounts, and perhaps do a hood mount NMO and just drill the hole. Can always put a rain cap on it.

Lol... wife and I had a conversation about the flag pole antenna last night. She said she should have ok'ed it. She doesn't like the idea of the bird feeder attracting deer and pest.

Her: was the feeder because you want to watch birds? Or was it always the antenna?

Me: Antenna of course...

Her crap should of just bought the flag pole. At least I could of chosen some flags.

Trust in the fact your wife knows that it is a new radio... lol.... It has just entered the rolodex for potential memo later.

 

I am looking at alternative mounts and antennas. The general ticket is on the back burner for a bit. Here is the conversation with a fellow ham last night.

Him: So why not just a straight HF rig in the truck

Me: only a technician

Him: get the ticket

Me: too lazy

Him: Oh one of the 4 banes of the amateur radio operator.

Me: 4???

Him: Yes. 1.) Not enough money for the toys 2.) Too lazy to do it right now 3.) XYL 4.) HOAA

Me: so many abbreviations in amateur radio

Him: QRM, 73

Me: WTF, QRM??? you are standing in front of me.. hey get back here.

 

 

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Awesome man! Great airgun porn. The 1322 could be little hard to pump for a girl, no? I have blisters on both palms after 100 pellets from 1322.
I pump she shoots. Really 1322 was just a pinker where I did not have to use the hpa tank or co2.

Personally, it cuts my right hand behind the thumb. Since I grab the grip when I pump. Hoping the tippman stock is strong enough to be used as a lever.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk


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Just a Crosman Phantom break barrel for me, all I do with it is trigger practice.  With the aftermarket trigger and the right pellets I can consistently hit a 1 ½" target from 44 yards (my back step to my target back stop in front of the neighbor's fence).   It did take some time to learn the open hand front grip for springers. 

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Just a Crosman Phantom break barrel for me, all I do with it is trigger practice.  With the aftermarket trigger and the right pellets I can consistently hit a 1 ½" target from 44 yards (my back step to my target back stop in front of the neighbor's fence).   It did take some time to learn the open hand front grip for springers. 
Terrible.. you are on the beginnings of buying something like an fx impact ot auschund now.... j/k..

Yeah, break barrell springers are tough because of pellet seat constitency and artillery hold. Actually, impressed if you are grouping 1.5" at 44yrds with the gun.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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For what it's worth, last night I turned my IC-7300 to 27.185 AM and it does receive CB well. I think any real HF radio will tune to CB for listening without an issue.
Yup. Did it last night on my ft991a.

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15 hours ago, kidphc said:

Terrible.. you are on the beginnings of buying something like an fx impact ot auschund now.... j/k..

Yeah, break barrell springers are tough because of pellet seat constitency and artillery hold. Actually, impressed if you are grouping 1.5" at 44yrds with the gun.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

Yeah, I am super happy with it.  Bought it second hand and got the trigger when it was on sale.  Took a while to find the right pellet and a lot of practice to get that good with it.  I don't need anything else for home practice.   I hang the 1 ½" juice and tea bottle caps on chain and wack the heck out of them, very satisfying.  

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