Last week over the thanksgiving holiday my son was home from school. as I was retrieving the mail I spotted a catalog and said “Oh Look it’s the Christmas wish book” Boy did his eyes light up and wanted to see what I was talking about. I then showed him the Ham Radio Outlet catalog and his expression completely turned. Oh that. Radio stuff. You get the idea- sometimes it can be hard to to get your point across on what you’d like to get for the holidays. Or maybe you need to shop for a ham and have no idea what would interest them. Never fear- in this video I have my annual holiday gift guide for ham radio operators. In it I’ve selected a variety of items: from stocking stuffers to big ticket items that would please just about any ham. Many of these items have appeared in previous videos so this is a nice recap of some of the thing’s I’ve found really useful over the last year. Sit back‚ relax‚ and pour yourself a Tom and Jerry as I go through this year’s holiday gift ideas for hams.
Starting off the list I have a few stocking stuffers that I’ve found really handy. first off is the Weaver Leather throw bag. Made by the Weaver Leather company‚ this 12 ounce bag is filled with steel shot for a nice supple feel. It’s just the right size and weight to get your line up into a tree 30 feet or so for hanging wire antennas. If you run portable you really can’t be without one. You can use it with paracord or mason line if you want something super lightweight but I’m switching out to this super lightweight‚ strong and stretch resistant Dyneema line. It may not be cheap but you will get better throws and less snags than paracord. Both items are available on Amazon and links are in the video description below.
Another stocking stuffer I find super handy are these RG-8X jumpers available in 1 foot and 3 foot lengths. This heavy duty 50 ohm coaxial cable is manufactured and assembled in the USA by Cable Experts. I’ve used Cable Experts cable for many years and find their cable and connectors highly reliable. The shorter lengths are perfect for using in the shack to hook up switches‚ meters‚ and tuners while the longer 25 foot runs are great to take out into the field for the next Parks on the Air activation. I usually carry a couple of 25 foot lengths and these little barrel connectors for my HF portable work. If your ham radio friend hasn’t bought new cable in more than a decade- then surprise them with a nice fresh supply.
When I bought my Yaesu FT-891 transceiver‚ my intention was to use it in the field. But I also wanted to take care of it so finding some suitable protection for it was important. The Dome F-34L 19 inch protective wrap is made of padded knit fabric with a non scratch nylon backing. Velcro tabs let you make a custom pouch for just about any device. The 19 wrap is perfect for a smaller HF transceiver like the FT-891 or you could use it to wrap a VHF/UHF mobile radio you plan to take out in the field. Their wraps also work great for cameras‚ lenses‚ and other electronic devices. There may be similar wraps on the market but Domke products are proudly made in the USA so you know its a quality item. They really are- I have a canvas Domke camera bag that I bought almost 30 years ago and it still works great
A good multimeter is really handy both in the shack and the field. And a meter is also helpful with those household repairs. One meter i like is the Meter digital clamp multimeter with non-contact voltage detect. This auto ranging meter will test AC/DC voltage AC/DC Current frequency duty cycle capacitance and resistance. Plus the clamp sensor is capable of detecting both AC and DC currents. I will admit it’s no Fluke meter but it is reasonably good and accurate for simple testing‚ diagnosing‚ and repair. and at a retail price of under $30 it does the job and I can afford to keep an extra one in my tool kit.
Every year for my holiday gift ideas I like to pick out at least one book from the ARRL. If you want to build a library of resources on amateur radio‚ the league’s books are a solid foundation. In the past I’ve recommended the ARRL Handbook but this year I’m giving a nod to the updated and expanded Antenna Book. The 24th edition released in 2019 is a fundamental guide covering antenna theory‚ design‚ and construction along with practical treatments and projects. You may never build your own antenna but the information contained in it will give the knowledge and understanding of how antennas work. The newest edition comes two ways: as a limited edition four volume set with hard slipcase or as a 1024 page softcover tome. Either way- this guide will up your antenna game.
A couple of amateur radio groups that I participate with throw some really nice holiday parties. Our local club had there’s the other day and the highlight of the event was the white elephant gift exchange. The only rules are: the more obscure and fun the gift‚ the better. I received this lovely box emblazoned with the word Radio. You just know this is going to be a quality item- so when I opened it up sure enough. It was a Radio brand water bottle. I’m sure this will keep me warm on the cold nights in the shack. All I can say is thank you Tony- you really know how to spot those oddball items.
Lets move on to some of the bigger ticket items. We looked at quite a few antennas over the last year and I do have a couple of favorites. Of course the Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet 1000 was in last year’s holiday gift guide and I do recommend it‚ so you can certainly check that video out. But one antenna that I think makes the perfect gift is the Chameleon Emcomm III wire antenna.
Basically the Emcomm III is the wire components that you’d find in the pricier MPAS system but without the vertical elements. So with the Emcomm III you can run it as a end fed antenna an Inverted L or inverted V or even an Off Center Fed dipole. All this versatility at the fraction of the price of their more complete MPAS. Plus it packs up super small so you it is easy to throw into your portable kit. Joe and I have used this antenna with excellent results on a number of occasions so it will make an excellent gift for a ham that enjoys portable work.
And what would a gift list be like if I didn’t include a radio? This year the hottest rig is the handheld Yaesu FT3DR. It is a dual band VHF UHF unit with System Fusion and APRS support. This radio is an improvement to their long running FT2DR with an ergonomic form factor and color touch screen. This handheld is the perfect companion to your shack or vehicle if you already have the amazing FTM-400XDR mobile unit. Holiday pricing is in the neighborhood of $350 and the nice thing is that it works with all the FT2DR batteries and accessories.
If you really want to delve into the nitty gritty of amateur radio electronics‚ then one piece of test equipment that you’ll find useful is an oscilloscope. Over here at the channel our resident electronics nut Joe prefers the Rigol DS1054Z digital oscilloscope. This unit has 50 Mhz of bandwidth and 4 channels and is a preferred unit for schools business students and hobbyists. It features an intuitive user interface so even the O scope newcomer will get running with it quickly Plus the large 7 inch color display has a resolution of 800 x 40 pixels so it is easy to view all channels on a single screen.
As we near the end of my list of holiday gift ideas‚ there is one more big ticket item that I just have to mention. No list would be complete without an over the top- want it all type of item and this year it’s the TC Teardrops camping trailer. Yes you’ve seen this trailer featured on a few of my videos and really it’s the perfect accessory for any ham looking to get away for portable radio adventures. The TC teardrop trailer sleeps 2 comfortably on the queen sized bed inside and pop open the hatch in the back for a handy galley kitchen. Perfect for on and off road use the trailer can be outfitted with any number of accessories and will follow you to where ever your your adventures take you. Add some solar and additional storage up front and you can be totally self contained. When we bought the trailer the first thing I said was no more sleeping in my car at field day. What I like about the TC teardrop is that its light enough that it can be pulled by a four cylinder vehicle like my Subaru Outback. Plus they are custom built in my hometown here in Wausau Wisconsin. Models range in price starting at about $5000.
Finally‚ I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t mention my own stuff. A KB9VBR J-Pole antenna makes a great holiday gift or even a stocking stuffer for your favorite ham. If you are new to ham radio then this is a perfect first antenna for VHF/UHF. If the amateur radio hobby is old hat for you- then one of these antennas are great as a backup or field antenna. You can even put one in your attic to hide it from the home owners association or to stay on the air when there is a thunder storm in the vicinity. I make antennas for all the VHF and UHF bands from 6 meters all the way up to GMRS so be sure to check them out on my website at www.jpole-antenna.com
Well there you have it- some of my favorite items from the past year rolled up into a holiday gift guide for your favorite ham radio operator. All of these gifts will make the amateur radio hobby more enjoyable and hopefully spur you to try new things. Links to all the items mentioned can be found in the video description below. Do you have anything on your holiday wish list that I may not have covered? Please feel free to leave it in the comments below. We’ll continue the conversation and add to the list of holiday gift ideas for hams.
For more articles and information, please check out my blog at www.jpole-antenna.com. Your support of this channel drives the production of future videos. So if you like this video, give me a big thumbs up and also check out this video right over here. And don’t forget to hit that subscribe button if this is your first time here. That’s the best way to be notified when a new video is released. I’m Michael, KB9VBR, have a great day and 73.
Weaver Leather Throw Weight
Samson Amsteel Dyneema Cord
Cable Experts RG-8X Coax Cable
Ancable PL-259 UHF Barrel Connectors
Domke F-34L 19-Inch Protective Wrap
Meter MK06 Digital Clamp Multimeter
ARRL Antenna Book 24th Edition
Chameleon Emcomm III Portable Antenna
Yaesu FT3DR Handheld Transceiver
Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope