Athlon Argos 20-60×85

with No Comments

Athlon is known for being a top value brand in sporting optics; offering competitive performance at a lower price-point. A year ago I bought and reviewed an Athlon Talos 20-60×65 and found it easily outclassed other budget spotters under $150. This year, Athlon offered me an opportunity to test their next tier up: the Argos 20-60×85.

The Argos package comes with a soft padded scope case that is designed with zippered cut out to allow you keep the case wrapped around the scope even while it is mounting it to your tripod. Hunters and birders are able to move and carry the tripod without disconnecting the scope. With the case ads extra impact and weather protection around their optic when repositioning your glassing location.

The scope is well armored with textured plastic coating around the tube and body. External build quality appears excellent without the uneven seams and fitting found on budget scopes. The kit comes with rubber lens covers which seal almost too well.

The scope comes with an Arca/Swiss compatible 360º rotating mounting color, built-in sun shade and eye-cup. The optics focus ring is a large collar around the whole tube. Its large size allows for both fast and fine focus.

The scope features HD glass and a large yepiece with a 1″-2″ eyebox. Despite the almost oversized eyepiece, its eye relief is a somewhat disappointing ~18mm. At maximum magnification, my eye-glasses touch the eyecup.

Looking through the scope I was pleased with a bright clean image. Glassing objects over 1000yrds I found the image to be slightly less sharp than the cheaper Talos. But at the rifle range, glassing reference target at 100yrds, the resolution of the Argos was as good as scope that cost 2x or 3x more. Only the Argos’ chromatic aberrations, hazy cast and tight eyebox keep it firmly in a Mid-Tier performance class.

But don’t just believe me. Outdoor Life magazine choose the Argos as one of the Top 8 spotting scopes of 2022. While they were underwhelmed by its graininess and lack of brightness, they were still impressed enough to rate it a Great Buy. The Argos is a well built HD spotting scope with decent optical performance with a street price of about $340, which rates it a Great Buy to me too.

Purchase this on Amazon through my Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3Am3wwv

The cheapest 1080p webcam on Amazon

with No Comments
https://youtu.be/7VmiFlrn_k0

I bought the cheapest 1080p USB webcam I on Amazon. In fact it doesn’t haven have a model or brand name in the description. Looking through the product description and details, I was able to find a connection to a webcam brand named JIGA but even their Amazon product page doesn’t include this particular model. On the box it says is “Stream Webcam 1080p”. On the side, it reads model: WB-203PRO manufactured by Shenzhen Xinchengxin Technology Co Ltd which after a quick Google search seems to be associated with the JIGA brand name.

But I needed a cheap webcam for my upccycled 2011 Mac Mini which uses an old Apple LCD monitor that doesn’t have a built-in camera. Not that built-in camera from 2011 would look that good (I think they were 720p or 720i back then?) My son needed a webcam to group-chat with this friends for a class project, so went on Amazon and found a $12 no-name webcam that was on sale for $9.99; it seemed to have decent legit-looking reviews.

Opening the box, I was surprised at how large this camera first appeared. It is 3″ x 3″ and roughly the size of a hockey puck but twice as thick. The large size accommodates the design of a built in LED ring-light. It was very light but the plastic body felt very cheap or at least what you’d expect for $10.

Around the camera lens are two “eye-lids” which can be pinched closed as a privacy blocker. The webcam doesn’t have a powered-on indicator LED. You can leave the ring-light on low-power as a reminder that it is plugged in and active.

The ring-light is controlled through the touch-sensitive front plate around the lens. A short press changes the brightness. A long press changes the LED color temperature from warm-cool-balanced-off. The color settings didn’t have that much effect on my apparent skin tone and the ring-light was too small and dim to really work to fill in shadows and provide primary illumination.

But if properly and well lit I found the image quality to be surprisingly good and detailed. Using only it’s built-in LED or in low light, the frame rate is noticeably lower with motion blur. In brightly lit settings, the frame rate appears to be less than 30fps and depending on your computer setup the footage you record may be a few frames out-of-sync with your audio.

The camera’s built-in microphone is its worst feature. The sound has low volume and thin. My 2015 vintage Macbook’s built-in mic sounded worlds better than the webcam. I would recommend using a separate headset, analogue or USB microphone when using this webcam for better results. But as I mentioned you may have audio sync issues but for a $10 webcam, its to be expected.

Overall this webcam is surprisingly good for $10 and certainly worth the price. If JIGA or whoever makes this camera were to provide a firmware update to fix the 6-frame lag issue, this would be an excellent budget webcam save for the crappy built-in mic.

This product is available through my Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3ALaADm

UTG BugBuster 3-9×32

with No Comments
https://youtu.be/9mDs_EtGc1E

When I bought my Ruger 10/22 TD it came in a neat compact range bag from Ruger that was designed fit both halves of the rifle when disassembled. But I discovered that when I tried to attach a normal sized 3-9×40 scope, not only did it look ungainly large on the rifle but worse still, it would not fit in the Ruger range bag while attached to the receiver half of the rifle. I bought at UTG Bugbuster, which at under 9″ long, perfectly fit on the rear half of the rifle and allowed me to pack it in my Ruger bag.

Up until I testing Leupolds and higher end Vortex’s and Athlons I was perfectly happy with the optical quality of the BugBuster. It had a MilDot style illuminated reticle (though the turrets are set in MOA), adjustable paralax focus, and had lockable exposed turrets.

Optically it is not much better than many no-name or budget Chinese brands under $100. It suffers noticeable chromatic aberrations, milky warm color tint, and isn’t terribly sharp especially around the edges. But it has a decent eyebox and kept it’s zero despite repeated detachments from my 10/22 to test other optics.

For it’s price tier (I bought 4 years before the pandemic) it’s a decent scope. Not great and not the best optically. But if you’re in need of the smallest 3-9x scope its hard to beat.

Available through my Amazon Affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3P39JlS

RESOLUTION
Group: -2
Element: 2

OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Build: 4
Glass: 3
Reticle: 4
Holds Zero: 5
Box Test: 5
Turrets: 4
Eye Box: 3
Value: 4


Specs

Magnification: 3-9x

Objective Diameter: 32 mm

Eye Relief: 4.2-3.2 inches

Field of View: 37.1-14 ft field of view @ 100 yds

Tube Size: 1″

Turret Adjustment: 1/4 MOA

Turret Lock: Yes

Zero Reset: Yes

Reticle Style: MIL Dot

Elevation Adj. Range: 110 MOA 32 MIL

Windage Adj. Range: 55 MOA 16 MIL

Adjustment Per Revolution: 25 MOA

Parallax: AOE 3 Yds – Infinity

Illuminated Reticle: Red/Green

Length: 8.11″

Weight: 13.9 oz

Battery: CR1620

Gardencube Hydroponic Grower

with No Comments

San Francisco is famous for its regular layer of moist fog and blessed with a mild year-round climate. Too cool and mild. I’ve tried without success, to grow vegetables and fruits in the backyard. So I was thrilled to be sent a Gardencube hydroponic grow grow system to test and evaluate.

The unit has a built in bank of LED grow lights so you can set it up anywhere indoors, such as a closet, bedroom, or garage. I choose the laundry sink, the darkest place in my basement. For the test, I purchased heirloom tomato, cilantro, and basil seeds and filled up the hydroponic tank.

It took about 3 days for the seeds to germinate (you don’t need to power the unit for that part). I plugged in the unit and activated its built-in water pump and LED lights. It offers options for standard green leaf growth and a lighting option to encourage flowering for fruits and tomatoes.

After 2 weeks of growth I could identify and differentiate the planets. I discovered I had mistakenly planted one too many cilantro and had to cull it and re-planted tomato seeds. The tomato plants grew the fastest, the basil the slowest. After 3-4 weeks, though small, cilantro and basil could be harvested, one leaf at a time.

Even after only a few weeks, I can confirm the Gardencube works as a hydropnic growing device. It remains to be seen if the small grow pods can provide enough of a base to growing full-sized plants that can be harvested year round. And of course it remains to be seen if my tomato plants will actually bear fruit (I’m not sure if they pollinators?)

For those interested ingrowing other planets, such as the kind you can smoke or ingest for recreational use. I don’t have any experience to share with you. But for growing temperature sensitive vegetables; it works.

Purchase on Amazon through this Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3TNix1f
and help support us.

V3 Micro EDC Light

with No Comments

The current trend in EDC lights is creating ever smaller flashlights that are ever brighter. I was sent a BORUIT V3 EDC light to test and review. This micro-EDC light is the size of a Car alarm keychain dongle and its packaging promises to output up to 900 lumens.

The device has a smoke colored clear polymer body with two buttons and a covered SUB-C charging port. On one end is a twin-head LED emitters and the other end has a keychain loop and a rare-earth magnet end that allows the light to magnetically mounted and used hands-free.

One button activates the primary twin-lights. The device has high, medium, low, and endurance (candlelight) modes. Double-tap for continuous light, short tap for momentary, and long-press activates the devices Turbo mode which BORUIT claims is 900 lumens. It is very bright but in my testing, I suspect this number is inflated.

The other button double-taps to activate small set of LEDs. There is a high, low, red, blinking-red, and blinking-red/blue modes. This appears to be for specialized low-light work when tail-standing, magnetically mounted, or as an emergency signal.

I drop tested and water-jet tested the unit which passed without issue. The beams from the twin-headed unit cast a wide flood pattern that are still able to illuminate objects from over 100ft away. Unfortunately, in lumen testing the unit fell short.

I fully charged the unit overnight and let left it on high output for over 1-minute to stabilize the battery. The device specs claim the unit is 650 lumens on high mode. I measured 360 lumens. I also tested the unit in low which claims to be 150 lumens but I recorded only 50 lumens (less than half its stated output). Based on these numbers, I doubt it is capable of outputting 900 lumens in turbo.

Despite its over-inflated lumen numbers, the light is perfectly sized as an EDC or emergency light. For those that don’t want to carry in their pocket, it’s form factor makes it easy to clip-on to accessories or keys. And given it’s features is a reasonable purchase for less than $20 (some clones for even less than $15).

Available on Amazon through my Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3yPHlOL

Doogee D11 Smart Watch

with No Comments

A lot of people like Smart Watches. Who doesn’t like knowing how many steps they’ve taken, their heart rate, checking the weather. But the Apple Watch costs almost as much as a phone (an Android phone, not an iPhone) and the cheaper Samsung watches have to be charged daily.

Now for the price of a basic Fitbit, you can get much of the bells and whistles of a full-featured Smart watch, the D11. A sample was sent to me by Doogee to test out. I’ve worn it for almost a month now and its a definite step up from my old Fitbit Inspire.

The package was plain white with no logo or branding. Inside I found the watch, owners manual, a USB charging cable, and a replacement set of black wrist bands. The watch came default with a black and orange silicone rubber wristband that was nice but I found the color a bit too distracting for my YouTube videos so I switched it to the black bands.

The D11 was waterproff, surviving daily showers and hand washing. The manufacturer claims 15-days of standby power. In normal use, I averaged about 6 days before the watch shut down and I had to recharge it which took about 20-30 minutes. The charging cable is magnetic and proprietary.

The D11 requires the download of the Gloryfit app on your Android phone to customize and control many of the phones features. I discovered too late for the video review that the Gloryfit app does allow the download of +200 additional watch faces. This process takes about 2-3 minutes to complete and the phone appears only able to have 1 custom watch face memory slot; downloading additional watch faces on the App deletes the previous design from you watch.

The watch has about two dozen built-in Apps but a fair number of them are just settings such as brightness. The rest range from a stopwatch, weather, phone, music controls. There does not appear to be a means to add new Apps to this phone through the Glorfit App.

You can send and receive phone calls. The watch has a built in speaker and microphone and the audio quality was adequate for voice calls. While you can not watch videos or browse the web, you can use the watch as a bluetooth speaker for your phone, but the audio quality sounded tinny and left much to be desired for music.

The D11 also has a number of health monitors typical of fitness phones such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, stress/mood, sleep patterns, and blood pressure. Though the accuracy of some of these monitors is suspect (blood pressure is notoriously unreliable using light measurements).

The watch face turns off to conserve power but is slow to wake. It has a look-to-wake feature (that supposedly activates when twist your wrist to look at the face), is unreliable. I almost always have to press the bezel to turn it on and even then there is a 1-1.5 second lag that is just annoyingly laggy. And the screen never seems to stay on long enough. Overall I like core features of the phone but not its functionality and user experience.

Still, I plan to wear this until I wear it out. Be prepared for an update whenever the latter occurs.

The D11 is available on Amazon through my affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3Cf69AD

Sunwayfoto SM-86 Tripod Saddle Mount

with No Comments

The SM-86 is Sunwayfoto’s top-of-the-line ARCA/Swiss compatible saddle mount. This rifle clamp features all metal construction and an eye catching mattalic green finish. An unusual feature is Picatinny accessory rail mounted to the clamp head opposite to the lever/knob. You can mount a simple red dot, flashlight or even a small scope to act as a spotter though I’ve not seen any shooter try this.

Its tri-lever lock knob allows for excellent leverage when clamping down heavy or high recoil rifles. The clamp’s interior sides are lined with rubber pads to provided extra grip while reducing marring on wooden or polymer stocked rifles. The saddle can open up as wide as 3.4″ allowing for clamping of extra-wide chassis or even spotting scope tubes.

I tested the SM-86 on a Sunwayfoto T3240CS tripod. The tripod comes with a replacement 23mm high-rise ARCA/Swiss base which is required to provide clearance for the T3240’s quick-release lever. In testing the setup with my polymer Savage Axis .308 hunting rifle. the SM-86 performed perfectly. After 15 rounds, the clamp kept the rifle firmly attached to the tripod. 

This saddle mount was sent to me by Sunwayfoto for testing. This is available on Sunwayfoto’s website. Use this link and get 5% off using code: MOONDOG https://sunwayfoto-store.com/?ref=pwwCNnfb

Availabe on Amazon through this affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3E5Xcw5

Doogee 65W Wall Charger

with No Comments
https://youtu.be/vAuwvX93xzo

I was looking for a compact travel USB charger that could not just charge my phone but also charge my kid’s Nintendo Switch and if needed also charge my wife’s Macbook Pro. 65W is plenty for most devices including the every model of iPad and Macbook Air but the challenge is that a 15″ 2019 Macbook Pro uses a 85W charger.

Fortunately Doogee sent me a 65W compact charger to try out. This charger features folding outlet prongs, 2 USB-C ports, and a USB-A port. And it does this in a relatively thin 1.25″ wide footprint to the socket, so it can be placed next to another plug on a typical powerstrip without blocking the neighboring sockets by its girth.

Testing on my devices, the charger easily charged my Samsung S21+ phone and Nintendo Switch. Plugging it into a 15″ Macbook Pro, it drew an 40-47W easily below the 65W max of the charger. While below the recommended Macbook power adapter performance specs, this should do in a pinch if we should run low on battery but need to send out that one last email or upload a needed project file.

This charger is available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Rstl4A

SunwayFoto T3240CS Shooting Tripod

with No Comments

Sunwayfoto is known for making high quality photo and video tripods. Their feather light 1.6lb carbon fiber tripod is now my go-to tripod for vlogging. Recently, Sunwayfoto entering into the hunting/shooting market with a heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod with a built-in ballhead that together weighs only about 3.5lbs.

The T32340CS’ carbon fiber legs are 32mm with twist-style leg locks that are environmentally sealed; you can hear the air whoosing out of the top of the tripod when you collapse the legs. The legs locked easily with beefy ruberized locking rings and wide rubber feet which can be replaced with spikes.

The ballhead is recessed in the leg base to “lower its center of gravy”, though how that helps a tripod that already has variable angle legs is questionable. This recessed height does limit the tilt angle of a mounted rifle to 35º; still quite usable for high angles of engagement. The ballhead is topped with an excellent quick-release Arca-Swiss compatible mount.

UPDATE: RRS DESIGN
US tripod maker RRS (Really Right Stuff) originated the unique design of the Picatinny/Arca-Swiss clamp. Chinese brands like Sunwayfoto copied it (shocking!). RRS holds the US patent https://rrssoar.com/patents, which is why the T3240CS that are sold in the US have tripod heads replaced by standard Arca-Swiss mounts.
Here are a few legit RRS products that utilize the dual clamp patent:

https://rrssoar.com/tfct-anvil-30-arc

https://rrssoar.com/anvil-30

https://rrssoar.com/bh-scr

https://rrssoar.com/sc-arc

https://rrssoar.com/ta-lbsc/

https://rrssoar.com/ta-2u-sc/

https://rrssoar.com/btc-pro

The box comes with the tripod, padded case, replaceable foot spikes, and Allen keys. The strapped padded case is almost too compact, lacking extra room for add on accessories like Sunwayfoto’s Saddle Clamp head. If this tripod was aiming for the hunting/shooting market, the kit lacks a built-in level, stone hammock, and hook; all of which much be purchased separately.

Firing a heavy DMR style 5.56mm AR style rifle, the tripod provided more than adequate stability for quick follow up shots. I managed a respectable 3.5″ 5-short group at 100yrds in rapid fire. But testing it with a .308 bolt-action hunting rifle, the tripod left a lot to be desired.

The tripod’s light weight of 3.6lbs is ideal if you’re trekking to an upland hunting site but it is also a weakness. Without added weight, its difficult to be repeatable with a .308 or harder recoiling calibers. Furthermore, the ball head also shifted necessitating readjustment after each shot.

To add weight and stability its almost mandatory to purchase an after-market stone hammock for this tripod. It’s inexplicable that Sunwayfoto did not include this inexpensive cloth accessory in their kit or even a simple metal weight hook. I believe they include a hammock with their Explorer series of hunting tripods.

If light weight is a paramount concern with your hunting tripod, this may be the best choice on the market. Just be prepared to purchase a few more upgrades and accessories.

This tripod was sent to me by Sunwayfoto for testing. This is available on Sunwayfoto’s website. Use this link and get 5% off using code: MOONDOG https://sunwayfoto-store.com/?ref=pwwCNnfb

SPECS
Number of Leg Sections4
Max Tube Diameter 1.25″ (32mm)
Folded Height 21.7″ (55cm)
Max Height: 56.7″ (12-144cm)
Tilting Angle: 35º
Load Capacity: 55 lbs (25kg)
Leg angles: 23º, 55º, 85ª
Weight: 3.6 lbs (1.65kg)

EZshot Scope Level

with No Comments

There are many reasons that your shots can go amiss. When you’ve zoned in, concentrating on your target, your horizon isn’t often visible in your scope. Or your paper target isn’t posted up perfectly square in the first place and you are subconsciously aligning your reticle to your target. It’s all too easy to “cant”, slightly turning your rifle so your scope above it is leaning slightly left or right to the center line of your bore: this is Scope Cant.

This is why almost all competitive long range shooters mount bubble levels on their scopes. This allows them to quickly and easily visually check when they’ve accidentally canted their rifles and correct for it. EZshot sent me a sample of their 30mm bubble level to test and evaluate. EZshot makes these levels in common 25mm (1″) and 30mm tube sizes, as well as larger 34mm, and 35mm.

Upon first inspection, I was bit surprised at how much larger this level was compared to the Arken levels on my EP5 and SH4. Despite its beefy size, the entire rig weighed 1.63oz (46.3g). The bubble tube is twice as large as typical bubble levels, which should make its measurements more physically accuracy, as well as making it easier to visibly read.

It mounts very much like a scope ring with two hex screws on opposite sides of the mounting ring. The kit comes with an Allen wrench. I chose to mount mine forward my turrets to allow me clear views of my scope controls and turret markings.

EZshot Scope Levels are available on Amazon through my Affiliate LInk: https://amzn.to/3xInW1s

1 2 3 4 15