Welcome to a special holiday edition of Ham Radio Q&A, it’s the holiday season and I have a pile of Christmas gift ideas to share with you. Today we’re going to look at some items that would be ideal gifts for any ham, both new and seasoned. This year’s selection has a price range from about $30 on up to whatever you want to spend, so I’m sure there is something here to fit just about any budget. Links for all of these items can be found within this article.
So sit back, watch the video and enjoy:
First off, The Iso-Tip Pro 50 butane soldering iron makes a great stocking stuffer for any ham. I’ve owned several of these through the years and have them stashed away in various tool boxes and go kits. These irons heat up fast, have a variable temperature control, and are perfect for that quick soldering job out in the field or to install a PL-259 connector on the end of a piece of coax.
Speaking of stocking stuffers, how about a KB9VBR J-Pole or Slim Jim antenna. I sell a variety of VHF and UHF antennas on my website and they make the great first antenna for the new ham or a backup antenna for the long time amateur. You can order them direct at www.jpole-antenna.com.
You never know when lightning will strike, so the AcuRite Lightning Dectector is a perfect gift for the ham that’s into severe weather spotting. This compact model will detect strikes up to 25 miles away and works both indoors and out. I used mine extensively this summer and am impressed by the accuracy of the unit. Be sure to check out my video review of that model for more information.
All right, for a review of ham friendly gifts, I haven’t talked about radios yet. So check this out, the Baofeng UV-5X3 tri-band handheld radio. It’s a 2 meter / 220 Mhz / 70cm radio for only $60. The 220 band is way under utilized, and straddling between the 2 meter and 70 cm bands, has some interesting propagation features. Hey, if there’s a 220 repeater in your area, encourage your friends to pick up a radio too, so you’ll have someone to talk to.
Along with the radio, also pick up a Nagoya NA320 tri-band antenna. The stock antennas are notorious underperformers, so an aftermarket antenna like this is a great improvement. Maybe you can put the antenna in the stocking and see if your ham recipient can guess what’s under the tree.
Are you a project person? You like to build kits? One of the biggest problems I have when working with a soldering iron is how to hold everything. So we pick up these cheap third hand devices at hamfests, and they don’t work. The Quad Hands Third Hand Soldering Tool solves that problem. With four gooseneck helping hands that each have strong alligator clips, this device will let you position items where you want them. Plus the heavy powder coated base won’t tip over from heavy projects. This tool will be a welcome addition to any work bench.
Digital radio is hot. With the gaining popularity of D-Star and DMR, more and more digital capable repeaters are coming online. But not every area is serviced by a digital repeater, or the coverage may be lacking where you live. Fortunately you can remedy that with a digital dongle to create a hotspot for you to get on the network. But this also requires a computer- so enter the DVMega Digital hotspot for Raspberry Pi. This little devices uses the inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer to provide a D-Star or DMR hotspot in your house. This is a fun kit for someone that has a D-Star handheld or has an interest in DMR. Even though all the components are included in the kit, I must warn you, some assembly is required, so a little experience in computer technology is required.
Finally, the gift that I would love to see under the tree, the Icom IC-7300. Introduced this past year, the IC-7300 uses new technology to direct sample the incoming RF signal. This reduces the noise inherent in the various receiver stages of conventional radios. The RF is converted to digital data and processed to further reduce noise that can mask weak signals. What’s revolutionary with this rig is that it really is a Software Defined Radio hiding behind the knobs and buttons of a more conventional HF rig. This is the future of amateur radio and it’s priced at under $1400, which is within reach of the majority of hams. I don’t own the 7300 yet, but it’s on my wish list.
There you have it, my ham radio holiday picks for this year. Do you have a ham radio item on your holiday wish list? Feel free to share it in the comments below. Who knows, maybe Santa reads this blog.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and 73.
Iso-Tip Pro 50 Butane Soldering Iron: http://amzn.to/2gci0rL
KB9VBR J-Pole & Slim Jim Antennas: https://www.jpole-antenna.com
Accurate 02020 Lightning Detector: http://amzn.to/2g6KiEi
BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Radio: http://amzn.to/2h7tLwT
Nagoya NA320A Tri-Band Antenna: http://amzn.to/2gcsx1D
Quad hands Helping Hands Third hand Soldering Tool: http://amzn.to/2ghvbpZ
DVMega UHF Singleband DSTAR radio with Raspberry Pi: http://amzn.to/2ghwWn0
Icom IC-7300 HF + 6M Transceiver: https://www.dxengineering.com/search/…
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