Are hams notoriously picky people to shop for? What is the average amateur radio operator interested in? Today on Ham Radio Q & A, I go through a list of gift ideas that just about any ham would love to see under the tree. This list has items at a wide range of price points, so you’ll find something that works great as a stocking stuffer or as a capstone gift this holiday season.

Shopping links for these products can be found in the show description below or on my blog at

Nagoya NA-771

First on the list, the Nagoya NA-771 antenna for Baofeng handheld radios. If you are using one of the Chinese handheld radios, you really need this antenna. It has more gain and better performance than the stock antenna that comes with the radio. According to the specs, the 15.6 inch model will give you 2.1db of gain. I’d question that actual amount, but one thing for sure is that this antenna will work better than the included one- which has dismal performance.

KB9VBR J-Pole and Slim Jim Antennas

Speaking of antennas, next to an aftermarket antenna for your handheld, the next big way you can increase your handheld’s performance is with an externally mounted antenna like my J-Pole and Slim Jim antennas. Why fight with trying to use your radio in the house when you can install an antenna outside off your deck, on your roof, or even in your attic. The step up in performance will be amazing. Not only will it work great with your handheld radio, but will be ready for you when you upgrade to a full power VHF/UHF base station. You can purchase the KB9VBR 2 meter J-Pole or Slim Jim antennas direct on my website or on eBay under seller ID KB9VBR.

Kenwood TM-281A Mobile / Base Transceiver

Handheld radios are great, I use mine all the time. But nothing beats the power and sensitivity of a 2 meter mobile and base station radio. My favorite 2 meter rig is currently the Kenwood TM-281A. This transceiver has loud, crisp audio out of it’s front facing speaker, it scans fast, and has 65 watts of power. At about $165.00, you can afford two: one for the car and another for the house.

Icom ID-5100A Dual Band Transceiver

ID-5100A-title-blog-postWhat’s the next step up from the TM-281A? It would be the Icom-5100A. This dual band VHF/UHF radio has an innovative touch screen display, Dual receive, D-Star, built in GPS, 500 memories, and bluetooth option for hands free operation. This radio practically does it all. Retail price is $750, so it’s quite an investment. But if you want state of the art in your vehicle, this is the model to look at.

Stepping back from those lofty wishes, here’s a few other gift ideas that may fall into budget.

Weller WES-51 Soldering Station

Got a ham that likes to tinker with electronic projects? The Weller WES-51 soldering station makes a great gift for the ham that likes to wield an iron. Fast warm up, precision heat control, and electrostatic protection, makes this a welcome addition to the workbench. It retails for about $99, but can be found for less on Amazon.

ARRL 2016 Handbook

Finally, how about some books? The ARRL has an excellent library of titles available. Any ham would love a copy of the ARRL Handbook. This is the gold standard reference for amateur radio communications, and is relied on by amateurs and professional RF engineers alike. You’ll find it for about $50 at the ARRL website or on Amazon.

ARRL Operating Manual

Did you or your ham buddy just get their license and have questions? Besides reading my blog, the next best place to go to is the ARRL’s Operating Manual. This book is filled is information on modes and practices, operating techniques, and general reference for the radio amateur. You’ll find it for about $25 on the ARRL site and Amazon.

Pocket Ref 4th Edition

Finally, here’s a stocking stuffer that’s appropriate not only for every ham, but anyone that likes to make and build. The Pocket Ref is a tiny book filled with charts, formulas, tables, and information on just about everything electrical and mechanical. Sure, you can probably find the same information on the Internet, but this compact guide has it all in one convenient spot. From alegebra to zinc, you’ll find in the Pocket Ref. It’s only $12.95 and is available in most hardware stores, bookstores, and online at Amazon.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, these are all items that just about any ham needs or wants. Do you have a gift wish this holiday season? Why not leave it in the comments below. And for more Christmas holiday gift ideas, check out my blog at for past selections. I’m Michael, KB9VBR, thanks for watching, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and 73.

KB9VBR Antennas:
Nagoya NA-771 antenna :
Kenwood TM-281A :
Icom ID-5100A :
Weller WES-51 soldering station :
ARRL 2016 Handbook :
ARRL Operating Manual :
Pocket Ref 4th Edition :