Time is running out to get the ham radio obsessed person in your life the perfect gift. Fortunately, there are plenty options still available, especially if you are looking to pick up a couple of trinkets or odds and ends to fit in their stocking. So here is my list of great little items that any ham would love. Just about everything is under $20 and most of these items are available in local stores, but a couple you may need to send away for; especially if you don’t have an AES or Ham Radio Outlet in your neighborhood.
Yellow Safety Vest
A yellow safety vest should be a required piece of apparel if you ham friend or spouse is involved with ARES/RACES, SKYWARN, or emergency communications. In fact everyone should keep a vest in the trunk of their car. You never know when you’ll need a little bit of extra visibility when parked along the side of the road, or participating in a public service event. Vests should be rated ANSI Class 2. Look for models with velcro adjustable sides to fit over a wide range of clothing. Available at uniform shops, home improvement stores, and farm stores. Price: $10 – $20.
Pocket Ref, By Thomas Glover
This is one book you didn’t know you needed until you picked it up and started to thumb through the pages. Chock full of formulas, charts, and data; this 860 page guide (now in its 4th edition) is required reading for any do it yourselfer. Find it at most bookstores or home improvement stores (look in the electrical dept). Price $12.95.
Scotch Super-88 Electrical Tape
My favorite electrical tape is Scotch Super-88. It’s a high quality, heavy duty vinyl tape that doesn’t get gummy in the heat, nor does it get brittle in the cold. It’s the perfect tape to use in sealing antenna connections as you know you’ll it will keep out the elements and still be able to remove it without a struggle. If you don’t need the cold weather properties of Super-88, then Scotch 33+ is an excellent second choice. Available were electrical supplies are sold. Price $4 – $7.00 roll.
Multi Tool Screwdriver Sets
Another item that any ham should have stashed away in their tool box or go bag. I’m partial to the multi screwdriver sets that have the combination standard, philips, and nut drivers. I think if I only could grab two tools, it would be a channel lock pliers and one of these. Perfect for working on antennas, tightening hose clamps, or installing a mobile radio in a vehicle. Find them in hardware and home improvement stores in the tool section. Price: $2.95 – $9.95
Every ham should carry a pocket knife, especially at Field Day or in participating in a public service event. You never know when you need to cut away some balky tape, strip some wire, or trim a rope. I’m a Swiss Army Knife fan (I love the bottle opener and screw driver), but a lock-blade style Buck knife is also a great choice. Think simple and lightweight, and the receiver of this knife will carry it everywhere. Price: $10 – $30.
2 Meter J-Pole Antenna
I must admit, this items doesn’t quite fit under the $20 price limit, nor does it fit in the the stocking very well. But a ham can never have too many antennas. The 2 Meter J-Pole Antenna makes a great starter antenna for the new ham or as a backup for the experience amateur radio operator. In fact, they even make great scanner antennas. Put a radio or a scanner under the Christmas tree and surprise them with an antenna in the stocking.
You can always stash the antenna in the garage and stuff the instruction sheet and business cards in the stocking for him or her to find. Order your antenna by Friday December 20th for a delivery just in time for Christmas.
What would you like to find in your stocking, besides coal? Why not tell us in the comments below. I’m pretty sure that Santa reads this blog, so you just might get lucky.