Things EVERY ham needs

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by KL7AJ, Aug 17, 2021.

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  1. N3EG

    N3EG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Coax jumpers. Handy for such things as connecting 7/8" heliax to small radios, patch panels, radios->amplifiers->tuners->wattmeters need three right there, and so on. You NEVER want to unbox a radio, plug it in, and then burn extra time making a jumper for it.
    At this point, do I even need to mention extra power connectors/cords for your radios?
    N8ZL, K0UO, WA9SVD and 1 other person like this.
  2. KK4JW

    KK4JW Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    A GOOD 40+ watt soldering pencil.

    A quality dummy load. MFJ makes a decent one, you can make a better one with a empty paint can, resistors, and mineral oil.

    A digital voltmeter. Doesn't have to be fancy, or be a Fluke, but needs to be good quality.

    Assorted hand tools. Small screwdrivers, side cutters, needle nose pliers.

    Books on radio theory, antenna design, operating, etc. The internet is great, but books will be invaluable on the bench.

    Sure you can buy premade coax jumpers, but you can make your own for a fraction of the price. Same with antennas. Nothing wrong with buying, but often you can build one for only a few dollars, or even FREE that will work just as well.

    The number one best thing that a ham needs though, is an open mind and a humble attitude. Learn something. Teach something to someone else. Help someone and don't be afraid to ask for help.
    W8VTN, VE3FLB and K0UO like this.
  3. KB0MNM

    KB0MNM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Small adjustable spanner ( translation for those of us 'in the colonies' ) yields Crescent(tm) wrench and/or ignition wrench.
    Nutdrivers between 6 mm and 9/16" or more.
    Phillips is similar to crosspoint, #2 most frequent, followed by #1 and #3 ( larger /smaller ) for screwdrivers. There are different lengths- 6" most common.
    Flat blade screwdrivers can double as pry-bars, if the metal is of reasonable quality.
    Wire Strippers and/or knife- depending upon the skill or dexterity and results desired- especially if the insulation is teflon(tm) rather than PVC.
    Battery operated drill, preferably rechargeable.
    Tapered reamer for 1/4" to 3/4" metal tubing interior cleanup.
    Hack saw or 'Sawzall'.
    Stud Finder.
    Caulking gun and latex or non-acidic silicone caulk.
    Spare static-suppresion device for coaxial cable.
    Repeater handbook (ARRL pocket book) or list from the local area if VHF/UHF repeater use may occur.
    Clipboard, pen, paper, logbook or diary.
  4. W6KCS

    W6KCS Ham Member QRZ Page

    A variable power supply is mighty handy!
    TIERONE, K8PG, K0UO and 2 others like this.
  5. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can NEVER have too many "Interspecies" coax connectors/converters! That's not just UHF<>UHF, or BNC<>BNC, but BNC->UHF, UHF->BNC, BNC->N, N->BNC, N->UHF, etc. etc. etc. ALL combinations, with both male and female arrangements. Never enough... (I keep adding new connectors, even after 50+ years.:rolleyes:)
    KK4NSF, W8VTN, N9LCD and 1 other person like this.
  6. AH7I

    AH7I Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good list.
    If more on a budget for stuff and space.

    A VTVM is much more useful than a digital meter.
    Cheap SW receiver will work as sig tracer and limited sig gen.
    N8ZL likes this.
  7. AD5MB

    AD5MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    if you are a geezer, those advertised on TV close up glasses with the built in lights.

    a USB microscope. I have the kind with the little wimpy two ball joints and a wingnut base. I just ordered the same thing with a proper geared post and a built in monitor

    a tinySA spectrum analyzer is #1 on your second round essentials list/ it is a spectrum analyzer and a signal generator, but not both at once. the first one I got via eBay was counterfeit. I got a real one from R&L electronics.

    I bought a ten pack of the tiniest Weller soldering iron tips available. no more solder bridges on Arduino modules
  8. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    The things EVERY radio amateur should have aren't things you can buy:

    1) Thorough understanding of Part 97 or whatever regulations are in force for the location.

    2) Basic understanding of operating skills and protocols.

    3) Basic understanding of practical radio theory.
    AH7I, KB0MNM, W1PEP and 5 others like this.
  9. N2UHC

    N2UHC Ham Member QRZ Page

    And a really good set of tweezers. I have a set I really like, have used them for years, and I use them all the time while soldering, whether they be through-hole components if I'm building Manhattan style, or soldering tiny SMT components.

    I will also say a well-stocked "junk box" of PC boards or new parts sorted in compartmented boxes. I have built many projects completely from scratch just from gathering parts I had on hand.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2021
  10. M0PTB

    M0PTB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cheap gear:

    TinySA instead of the RF sniffer. Good for finding harmonics and other unintended transmissions.

    NanoVNA works ok as a signal generator as well as a VNA.

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