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View Full Version : Gunners UP SOG Winger Coupled to New Dogtra Deluxe Remote Release



jpurban
06-06-2009, 12:36 AM
I'm training my first retriever and I've spent lots of time on this site learning from everyone as well as reading various product reviews. So, I thought I'd give back a little. As you read this, please bear in mind this is just one man's opinion... at one point in time. I'm sure better products will come along in the years to come.

Since I'm not a pro trainer, own only one dog and train by myself most of the time, I've been looking for a solution that will help me ("cost") effectively mark my dog out in the field as we work our way through a yard program. I did lots of research and shopping around and finally settled on a couple of Gunners Up SOG Wingers coupled to the new Dogtra Deluxe Remote Releases.

Why did I pick those items? I went with a Winger design because I only train 1 dog and wanted to throw both birds and bumpers. If I had more than one dog, I might have looked at Bumper Boy more closely, but that would be a difficult choice because the simple nature of the winger design makes it so darn reliable (I'm an engineer and just love the simplicity). I read several reviews about BB's needing servos, having issues with wiring harnesses, etc.

I chose Gunners Up because I was looking for a cost effective solution. I know Zinger has a great reputation, but I failed to find a reason to pay extra. The recent reviews I read by folks familiar with both brands indicated the differences were small, but Zinger had an edge on quality. The quality of the GU SOG looks pretty good to me. So, the Zingers must be quite impressive.

I read a few posts about folks constructing their own wingers and that got me thinking about it too. I'm sure it can be done, but when all is said and done, there is absolutely no way you can make a "one-off" product as good as the GU SOG for under $400 including your time and effort. I'm convinced of that now that I've seen the construction and the design elements involved.

Gunners Up offers 2 sizes of Wingers and the SOG is the smaller of the two. I was concerned it wouldn't throw far enough, but my truck bed isn't big enough for the larger model. So, I took a chance on the SOG. I don't regret the decision after field testing. The SOG throws jumbo plastic SportDog bumpers at least 20-25 yards horizontally with plenty of vertical height, and my dog has no trouble marking them from 150 yards away or so. I'm also glad to have the smaller SOG because it is easier to lug 2 of them of around in the field than it would be the larger models (I can't drive around on the public parks I practice on).

For remote releases we have two choices: Tritronics or Dogtra. There may be others, but I'm not aware of them. I own a Tritronics Sport Combo G3 and recently upgraded to a Pro 100 G3. So, I am familiar with the Tritronics product and obviously prefer their training collars to Dogtra's. However, I went a different direction with my remote releases. I think Dogtra's recent redesign (late 2008) has really put their product out in front of Tritronics remote release.

First, Dogtra now matches the "field programmable" and dual channel options previously only offered by TT. The field programmable feature means much less hassle if you want to add a second or third remote as your dog advances from singles to doubles to triples. Also, the dual channel (left & right) means you can run 2 wingers from 1 release for flower-pot doubles. I don't plan on doing that, but that was one major advantage TT had over the old Dogtra design.

Second, Dogtra's duck call is absolutely fantastic for getting the dog's attention at the line. The very first time I set up my wingers for my dog he had no trouble focusing his attention in the right direction thanks to the duck call. Heck, he even gets excited at just the sound. I understand I may need to add an external horn speaker for the sound to be loud enough on windy days, but that hasn't been a problem yet. Cheap 10 watt CB/PA 5" horn speakers sell for about $15-$20 with shipping (I don't think there is a need to buy Dogtra's version at $40 MSRP). So, that isn't a big ticket item if I do find I need one.

Third, I think Dogtra's transmitter will be more durable than Tritronics design. Dogtra's channel selector design is closer to that of TT's Pro 100, which is on top of the transmitter and has nice, hard stops. The TT remote release transmitter is similar to the G3 Sport Combo that I own and I can see the front face wheel having durability issues over time. There have been plenty of reviews about this issue by others on this forum. So, I won't detail it here. Don't get me wrong -- My Sport Combo has served me well, but it isn't anywhere near the build quality of the Pro 100. I think the Dogtra Transmitter's build quality is somewhere between the two.

My final reason for picking Dogtra over TT -- I live in Nebraska and want to hunt upland with my dog. Dogtra makes some nice upland launchers that will fit the remote releases easily and are very cheap relative to their competitor's products (the PL pheasant-sized launcher is only $94 MSRP). I'm not sure I'll ever purchase these launchers for upland training, but having the option is nice.

I only have 1 minor negative to report and it is a small one. The mating of the Dogtra remote receivers to the GU Wingers isn't perfect out of the box. The "set screws" in the back of the Dogtra receivers don't provide enough clearance for the thickness of the GU legs. The fix is pretty easy though. I bought some of the "blue" (non-permanent) Loctite and set the screw depth appropriately. Without Loctite, the set screws would be loose and would eventually fall out and get lost. We'll see how well this fix holds up under field use, but it works pretty well for my hi-vis gun sights. So, I expect it to work well for the Winger too.

Hope this helps anyone else out there struggling with making a decision regarding Wingers and Remote Releases. I held off on making the big $1000+ purchase for a long time, but now that I've done it, I wish I had done it sooner.

John

~~~~~~~~~~~~ Update -- 27 June 2009 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Added some pix for those that asked. They aren't great, but you can see how the Dogtra electronics mount on the SOG.

After some more field testing, I'm happy to report that I'm ecstatic with the SOG throws with bumpers. It throws 12 oz (or so) bumpers about 25 yards with a nice arc. On the downside, I had the opportunity to throw a duck out of the SOG a week or two ago and I was left wanting more. The duck was a half frozen mallard hen -- maybe 2 lbs. or so. My dog was able to mark the duck, but the throws had heights of maybe 10' to 15' with throw distances of 10 to 15 yards -- okay, but not great.

Since I'm an engineer and I've read about folks "modifying" their wingers with aftermarket bungee cords, I thought I'd do some research to see if the SOG could be made to chuck ducks a bit farther. I've come to the conclusion that it can be modified from the factory settings to throw a duck farther without compromising the integrity of the product. Read on to see what I've done...

The first option I investigated was bungee cords since many posts on this forum suggested them as replacements for winger tubing. Bungees will last longer than the standard latex tubing because the nylon outer shell is a UV blocker. However, I found that the nylon shell will limit bungee elongation to about 120% of nominal (zero tension). The (non-bungee) latex tubing typically used in wingers will elastically stretch up to about 300% and still return to its original size (no permanent deformation). Most of the mandrel-dipped latex tubing will actually go up to 700% to 850% stretch before it breaks! So, if you use bungee cords, you're severely limited in the maximum forces you can develop. I ruled out bungees as an option since I want as much throwing force as possible.

I remember thinking the force involved with attaching the SOG tubing to the hooks was pretty low (very easy to "arm" the winger). So, I checked on the expansion percentage... It was a wimpy 140% from the factory. I calculated this by measuring the tubing at rest (about 26") and loaded (about 62.5"). Like I mentioned above, I've read that latex tubing is still very much elastic (no permanent deformation) up to 300% elongation. So, I figured I could easily increase 50% from the factory setting of 140% to 210% expansion. In order to do that, I needed to shorten the resting tube length from 26" to about 20". I would have pushed it farther, but I figured I'd better go slow. When I have to replace my tubing, I might shorten it up a bit more.

Anyway, I did shorten one of my SOG as described and left the other unchanged. Unfortunately, I didn't have a duck to test the 2 set-ups, but I did some comparison testing between the two versions using bumpers. I found the modified version threw the bumper an extra 10% to 15% farther (~25-27 yards vs. ~30 yards). BTW, the modified winger wasn't that much harder to "arm" -- you could tell the forces were higher, but it didn't require extraordinary strength.

I fully expect the difference to be much greater with a heavier object like a duck. Why? The heavier object will accelerate more slowly, which will give the higher tension set-up more time to transfer energy to it. Once I've got another duck to throw, I'll write back and let you know if the modifications made a difference (provided I don't forget).

One last thing... I bought 2 wingers and I noticed that one of them would not stay collapsed. The "locks" are held in place by a screw/nut combination, but the faulty winger had the screw/nut reversed. Once I flipped the arrangement, it worked perfectly and snapped shut. This might not sound like a big deal, but when you are carrying 2 wingers and a bag of bumpers/primers/remotes for some distance, it sucks to have one of the wingers repeatedly popping open on you.

River Hill
06-08-2009, 07:49 AM
John,

Thanks for the great review. Any chance you can post some pics of you setup? I am interested in how the electronics connect to the winger.

Jeff Huntington
06-08-2009, 10:07 AM
John,

Thanks for the great review. Any chance you can post some pics of you setup? I am interested in how the electronics connect to the winger.

There is a bracket on the winger with 2 holes that match 2 lugs sticking out from the back of the receiver. YOu put lugs in holes and slide down to lock. I also put the bell of the receiver down in case the winger falls.

Also when the rubber wears out, search RTF for discussion of the bungee cords that replace the winger rubbers and last quite a while.

Jeff

Steve Peacock
06-08-2009, 04:30 PM
I just ordered 3 GU's and electronics and was called this morning to tell me they are shipping today. Can't wait to get them in. Sold my 2 Bumper Boy 8 Shooters and used that money to buy them. Mostly for the same reasons - want to be able to throw anything not just bumpers. Had good luck with my Bumper Boys but have a training partner with a couple Zingers and have wanted remote wingers for a while.

Jason E.
06-09-2009, 10:34 PM
I have been using Gunners up with Dogtra electronics for several yrs. now. Best investment i have made for dog training top notch equipment.

SPIB698
06-15-2009, 12:54 PM
Nice thorough review. Thanks for posting it.

KYshooter
06-18-2009, 11:22 PM
Thanks for the review. I'm in the market for some of these as well and being an engineer I can't help but dive into the details.

Matt R
06-20-2009, 07:31 AM
Great review. I had been looking at that set up and your review pushed me over the edge. Should have it next week. Thanks!

dnf777
06-23-2009, 02:51 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful review. I sought advice on this list recently, and was directed towards a winger type set up as opposed to a bumperboy. I'm not an engineer, but I do appreciate the eloquence of simplicity! (I don't have power windows on my 09 truck)

I decided on the Zinger and TT electronics, based upon Zinger's reputation and design...and my personal experince with several TT collars. I have found TriTronics to be a true consumer advocate when it comes to making sure you're satisfied with their products.

dave

Socks
06-24-2009, 02:36 PM
Cool to see other engineers on here!:)

I too thought about building my own, but with a infant, wife, job, and untrained dog; I just wouldn't have time.

I went with Zinger with TT electronics for no real reason other than that I won a 30% off coupon for a launcher at a hunt test. My only complaints about the TT electronics is that I am worried about the durability of the dial on the transmitter and there's not a way to do duck or pheasant sound. I'd rather have that than the loud "Beeeep". I've got a buddy thats good with circuits that I've thought about having modify the recievers after they're out of warranty. I figure a speaker is a speaker and maybe a cheap mp3 player hooked up somehow to the reciever will give me what I want.

jpurban
06-28-2009, 01:29 AM
Cool to see other engineers on here!:)

I too thought about building my own, but with a infant, wife, job, and untrained dog; I just wouldn't have time.

I went with Zinger with TT electronics for no real reason other than that I won a 30% off coupon for a launcher at a hunt test. My only complaints about the TT electronics is that I am worried about the durability of the dial on the transmitter and there's not a way to do duck or pheasant sound. I'd rather have that than the loud "Beeeep". I've got a buddy thats good with circuits that I've thought about having modify the recievers after they're out of warranty. I figure a speaker is a speaker and maybe a cheap mp3 player hooked up somehow to the reciever will give me what I want.

A fellow gearhead? Fantastic!

I had a TT Sport Combo G3 and the intensity dial became pretty loose after a year of use. It eventually fell off while the dog and I were walking home after training one day. TT honored their warranty and fixed it, but I just don't like the intensity dial design. It is bound to wear with use and there is no mechanical way to tighten it up.

Maybe TT has updated their design... You'll have to let us know if the intensity dial holds up for you.

jpurban
06-28-2009, 01:33 AM
John,

Thanks for the great review. Any chance you can post some pics of you setup? I am interested in how the electronics connect to the winger.

Posted some pix for you. The Dogtra electronics mount "sideways" because the mounting pins aren't level. Looks kinda funny, but it works.

dnf777
06-28-2009, 12:07 PM
A fellow gearhead? Fantastic!

I had a TT Sport Combo G3 and the intensity dial became pretty loose after a year of use. It eventually fell off while the dog and I were walking home after training one day. TT honored their warranty and fixed it, but I just don't like the intensity dial design. It is bound to wear with use and there is no mechanical way to tighten it up.

Maybe TT has updated their design... You'll have to let us know if the intensity dial holds up for you.

Funny you mention that. I just got my TT, and that is the first thing I commented on, the selector wheel. With that knobby of a wheel, they could have shrouded it in the housing with a display window on front, and left a "thumb wheel" on the side.

I'm not an engineer, but when I take things apart and put them back together, they usually work better. At least for a while.

KYshooter
07-03-2009, 12:04 AM
The man in brown delivered my first Gunners Up today. Haven't thrown anything with it yet, but very well made. Should recieve the Dogtra electronics tomorrow. I went with the full size version based off Jason's recommendation and the extra length didn't matter in my truck.

Matt R
07-03-2009, 06:37 AM
The man in brown delivered my first Gunners Up today. Haven't thrown anything with it yet, but very well made. Should recieve the Dogtra electronics tomorrow. I went with the full size version based off Jason's recommendation and the extra length didn't matter in my truck.

Ha, you'll be ordering a second soon! I did the same thing... ordered one and electronics a week ago. Quickly realized I needed another and UPS dropped it last night. Hopefully electronics tonight. Don't tell my wife! ;)

Howard N
07-03-2009, 12:04 PM
I'm also glad to have the smaller SOG because it is easier to lug 2 of them of around in the field than it would be the larger models (I can't drive around on the public parks I practice on).

You'd think this would be true but I haven't found it so. I own 2 SOG's and 3 regular GU's. I always go to the larger ones to carry off for the long gun. The longer ones are easier to carry balanced on your shoulder and supposedly weigh only half a pound more.

Both I, and a training partner who owns a couple of regular GU's, dislike the SOG's because they are harder to carry than the GU's. I don't know how they did it but the littler SOG feels heavier.

I think the SOG throws are OK but the GU throws better.

jpurban
07-03-2009, 11:02 PM
The longer ones are easier to carry balanced on your shoulder and supposedly weigh only half a pound more.


Howard, I've never tried carrying the SOG over my shoulder -- I guess the shorter SOG doesn't lend itself to that technique. I just grab them in the middle and carry them like suitcases. I can see how the longer moment arm of the full size GU would be better for carrying over the shoulder, like a ladder.

You make a good point about the weight difference -- there isn't much of one. If I had a longer truck bed, I'd have considered the full-sized wingers. However, I'm happy with my SOG now that I've bumped up the tension in the bands. I'm getting enough vertical height to break the horizon pretty well even at 200+ yards with bumpers (which is what I typically use). I haven't tried any ducks at 200+ yards yet...

dnf777
07-04-2009, 07:02 AM
My new winger. Very heavy to carry around, but the wheel kit is on order.

KYshooter
07-06-2009, 03:39 PM
Simple question, but what is the "correct" way to load a duck or dokken into the winger pouch? I was putting a dokken in tail first yesterday and something wasn't right. The first time the winger fell over during release with a pitiful throw and the second it went even less distance and sounded like the dummy may have hit something on the way out. Should it work this way or should I lay it flat? It threw bumpers very well.

FOM
07-06-2009, 05:12 PM
I put the dokken in head first and with ducks I tuck the head behind a wing and tuck neck in first with belly up so when it comes out of the winger it opens up - of course this assumes your birds are fresh or thawed.


FOM

jpurban
07-07-2009, 08:58 AM
...The first time the winger fell over during release with a pitiful throw and the second it went even less distance and sounded like the dummy may have hit something on the way out.

You'll have that happen to you if the duck hits the lower cross bar. You need to make certain that the duck/dokken/bumper is not hanging out the bottom of the pouch. Alternatively, it can hang out the top -- there is nothing to hit on the release, unlike the bottom. (Hope this makes sense.)

How do I know this? I had just the same experience last weekend for the first time. Took me a minute to figure out what the heck happened.

Socks
07-09-2009, 03:42 PM
A fellow gearhead? Fantastic!

I had a TT Sport Combo G3 and the intensity dial became pretty loose after a year of use. It eventually fell off while the dog and I were walking home after training one day. TT honored their warranty and fixed it, but I just don't like the intensity dial design. It is bound to wear with use and there is no mechanical way to tighten it up.

Maybe TT has updated their design... You'll have to let us know if the intensity dial holds up for you.

Gearhead is too generous term! I have great ideas(I think), poor follow through, and very few skills. ;)

It also make take a while because I'll wait until they're out of warranty before I attempt this, that and my buddy lives in FL and I live in MI. He's hand built detectors for his dissertation so I figured he'd be able to help me out.

I know a guy that had to the same problem with his sport G3. He sent the 1st one back and it happened to the second one too. He didn't send it back because he found that there was almost no way the intensity dial could accidentally get changed. I'm thinking it's something they need to work on.