Is it easy or hard to shop for your favorite ham radio operator. This year’s Ham Radio Holiday Gift Picks should make it easier. If you aren’t active in the hobby, it may be very difficult to understand what they like. If you are an avid amateur radio operator, these items may also be a departure from your own interests. But where ever you are on the spectrum, these gift ideas will certainly pique your curiosity in ham radio and should make it easier to shop for that ‘hard to please’ ham.
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This year I’ve taken an interest into go-kits and every day carry items. I’m the first to admit that my pockets are full of too much junk, but here’s some items that anyone who likes to tinker will find useful.
Pocket Monkey Multi Tool Basic
First off is the Pocket Monkey, a 12 in one credit card sized multi tool. In an effort to slim down what I carry, I’ve put the pocket monkey into my wallet. This slim, TSA compliant device, doesn’t contain a blade, but it does have handy things like a bottle opener, letter opener, screwdriver, ruler, wrench, and a lock pick. At around $12, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer.
Opinel No 8 Folding Pocket Knife
Next up, since the Pocket Monkey doesn’t contain a blade is the Opinel No 8 Folding Pocket Knife. The Opinel is an insanely sharp and inexpensive pocket knife. The stylish wooden handle protects the 3.25 inch carbon steel blade (a stainless blade is also available) and a locking collar keeps things in place while you are using it. This knife design has been around for decades and classic design and construction has been appreciated for generations. I be the first to admit, I’m not a fan of the tactical look in pocket knifes. My other every day carry knife is a Swiss Army Officer. Since my uses of a pocket knife are more likely to slice meat or cheese at a picnic than to gut a deer, I’m going to grab this $13 beauty every time.
My every day carry recommendation finishes up with a set of Field Notes pocket journals. These stylish little notebooks are perfect to slip into a pocket and be ready to take a note or craft a list. They have a bit of a hipster quality to them, but they are made in the USA, which is a plus. At $10 for a three pack, it can be a bit extravagant, but I would be glad to find them in my stocking.
BTech APRS Cable
One more stocking stuffer before we look at the bigger ticket items is the Baofeng/BTech APRS cable. This audio interface cable can be used with Baofeng radios, or any handheld that has the Kenwood style 2 pin hand mic connector. The other end of the cable has a Tip Ring Ring Stem connector so it can be plugged into pads or smartphones. The cable lets you use your Baofeng for APRS or packet radio, or use it to set up an inexpensive echo link node. Since just about everyone these days has a smart phone and a Baofeng radio these days, this could be the cheapest way to experiment with APRS.
ARRL 2018 Handbook
Next up for the experimenter is the 2018 ARRL Handbook. I’m told that this year’s edition is a major rewrite, so if your copy is more than a few years old, you may want to update your library. I also recommend the handbook for new hams. The information may be quite technical, but it’s the authoritative reference for amateur radio, so you’d do well in having a copy.
Yaesu FT50DR Handheld Radio
Let’s get on the air with some digital radio. Did you know that Yaesu Fusion is the fastest growing digital VHF/UHF mode. Yaesu has offered some great incentives to clubs to invest in their System Fusion repeaters, so you are quite likely to be within range of a Fusion repeater. The Yaesu FT-70DR, introduced earlier this year, is a digital update to their long running and durable FT-60R dual band handheld. the FT-70DR, like it’s older brother, does analog FM, but it also has the C4FM digital modulation on VHF and UHF. With a retail price of $199, it’s also quite affordable.
SignaLink USB Sound Card Audio Interface
Let’s continue the digital bandwagon with the SignaLink digital interface. Do you want to check out the new FT-8 digital mode? This device makes getting on HF digital insanely easy. It has a USB connection and built in sound card, so it will plug and play with just about any Windows or Mac computer. You also don’t have to worry about setting audio levels or system sounds bleeding onto the air. Check out my video on HF email to see the SignaLink in action.
Yaesu FT-891 HF+6 Meter Transceiver
And of course, the gift any ham would love to see under the tree is a new HF radio. The Yaesu FT-891 is an HF and 6 meter transceiver that is at a very nice price point. It’s compact size makes is a great choice for portable operation, and its full 100 watt transmit power means it also works nicely in the shack. A couple of things I like about this radio is its large tuning knob and easy to read display. The only downside is the lack of a built in tuner, but for the price, you can pick up an accessory tuner to fill out that need.
I hope you find these holiday gift ideas useful. Don’t forget that along with all of these gifts, a 2 meter KB9VBR J-Pole antenna is a perfect companion under the tree. You can find them on my website at www.jpole-antenna.com.
What’s on your wish list? Feel free to leave a comment below. Also check out last year’s holiday recommendations for more gift giving ideas.
Links for these and more items can be found on my Amazon Product Recommendation Page.