Referee Tips


Megaphone Weight Loss Plan – Lose Two Pounds in 20 Minutes!

by Admin Admin | Apr 02, 2014
Have you ever spent hours holding a megaphone at practice or on race day, only to wind up with sore and aching wrists? It is a problem many referees face and that many coaches face as well.
Have you ever spent hours holding a megaphone at practice or on race day, only to wind up with sore and aching wrists? It is a problem many referees face and that many coaches face as well. Whether it is holding the megaphone for a few hours of technical work or for a whole day as a race marshal, the five or more pounds of dead weight takes its toll.

This hack removes over two pounds of weight by swapping D batteries for AAs and doesn’t compromise performance or battery longevity. My own AA batteries lasted through 2 years and 40+ race days of heavy use before needing to be replaced. The instructions below take you step by step through making the adaptation for a megaphone purchased at Harbor Freight. As many referees and coaches can attest, this nationwide chain sells one of the cheapest megaphones available. This same battery swap can be made to other megaphone models, but some of the steps may need to be altered based on the design and circuitry of the megaphone.

Required Supplies
  • Megaphone (Harbor Freight)
  • Small Phillips head screwdriver
  • 9-volt battery snap connector (RadioShack)
  • Electrical tape or heat shrink tubes (RadioShack)
  • Hair dryer or heat gun (if heat shrink tubing is used)
  • Electric wire; Note: red and black wire is preferred, however, having two different colors of wire is not necessary.
  • Soldering iron and solder wire (Home Depot, Harbor Freight, RadioShack, etc.)
  • 8 x AA battery clip (RadioShack)
  • 8 AA batteries
  • Tweezers (optional)

Open the megaphone battery cover, remove any existing batteries and unscrew the single screw holding the megaphone’s battery housing in place.

With the screwdriver, puncture a hole into the center of the battery housing. You should be able to feel a soft spot on the top of the housing. This soft spot is where there is only a sticker with no plastic housing underneath. This is where you should be able to puncture the hole.

Remove the battery housing entirely, being careful not to separate any of the wiring from the rest of the megaphone.

Take the 9-volt battery snap connector and the electric wire, cut two pieces of wire each approximately 4 inches in length. Prepare both ends of the wire sections by stripping the plastic casing off. If you do not have 2 separate colors of wire, be sure to pay special attention to which wire extension is connected to the red wire on the 9V snap and which is connected to the 9V snap black wire.

One at a time, wrap the end of the electric wire around one of the 9V snap connector wire ends. With the soldering iron and solder, fuse the extra length of electric wire to the existing 9V snap connector wire ends. If you do not have experience soldering, please enlist someone who does to assist!

With either electric tape or heat shrink tubes (and a hair dryer/heat gun), cover the newly fused wire sections.

Feed the newly lengthened wires through the hole in the battery housing. The wires should be fed down through the top of the battery housing so that the snap is above the top of the battery housing.

Once the wires are pulled all the way through the battery housing (we needed tweezers to reach down far enough to pull them through) line up the wires with the negative and positive leads on the bottom of the megaphone battery housing.

It is very important that you keep in mind that red = positive, and black = negative. It is equally important that you keep red components paired with other red components and black components paired with black components. Therefore, the red 9V snap wire needs to be lined up with the red lead on the bottom of the megaphone’s battery housing. Same goes for the black 9V snap and black lead.

Solder the red wire onto the red lead and the black wire onto the black lead, being careful not to disconnect the existing wiring in the process.

Once the solder has cooled, place the megaphone battery housing back into the megaphone, being careful not to pinch any wires.

Screw the single screw back into the battery housing

Insert the 8 AA batteries into the battery clip and then place the battery clip, with snaps facing upwards, into one of the megaphone’s battery slots. Clip the newly attached battery snap to the top of the AA battery clip.

Close the megaphone and test it to make sure it works!

When not in use, be sure to keep the battery pack unclipped. This prolongs the life of the batteries, prevents your megaphone from turning on unexpectedly and prolongs the life of the megaphone.

Did you know that in order to meet growing regatta demand, USRowing is in need of more referees? If you are interested in joining the USRowing Referee Corps, please visit for more information. Refereeing is a great way to stay involved in rowing and give back to the community.

USRowing Referee Corps
Electrical Genius & Process Mastermind: Richard Sorensen
Written by: Mary Carol Madigan
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