Things EVERY ham needs

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

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  1. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been a ham going on 50 years and spent a good amount of that time as a broadcast engineer as well, and have accumulated a vast array of test equipment and tools. While it's certainly nice to have everything I need to troubleshoot anything I run across, here are the ABSOLUTE essentials for any radio amateur. They are all easily affordable, and there is no excuse for any ham not to have them.

    1) A 50 ohm dummy load. These used to be "almost" required by law, but even without that incentive, they're required by common sense. Beg, borrow, buy, or build, but get one.
    2) An RF field strength meter. These are incredibly simple to build....all you need is a piece of wire, a diode and a milliammeter. It doesn't have to be accurate; it just has to exist. No excuse not to know if your transmitter is putting something out or not.
    3) A digital multimeter. You can get one for less than $10 which is every bit as accurate as a $300 just can't run over it with a HumVee as many times.
    4) A soldering iron and soldering paraphernalia.
    5) An ARRL Handbook (any year). (Or an RSGB Handbook, if you're of that English Persuasion).
    6) An ARRL Antenna book (any year). (Same as above)
    7) An RF signal generator of some sort. This can be a grid dip oscillator, an "officiall" signal generator, or any number of home brew boxes for the purpose.

    That is all.
    K8VSY, N8ZL, WG7X and 14 others like this.
  2. K7RQ

    K7RQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good advice. I have them all.

  3. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have #1,3,4,5 and 6.
    I can use a transceiver as a signal genrator with the RF drive down to lowest and into a well shielded dummy load.
    I spent 43 years in two way radio service work and had access to all sorts of high end signal genreatrors and monitors in my service truck or in the shop , and when I retired 9 years ago I discovered I had NO good test gear at home !~!
    I sure miss the good times after work with the other techs on Friday evenings and the neat test gear ..what I DONT miss Are the call outs at 3 AM and a drive 50 miles to find the cleaning crew knocked out the AC power plug to the 911 dispatcher's console computer box.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
    N2IW, W4CP, KN6OBH and 2 others like this.
  4. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    A good watt meter/swr unit
    N8ZL, K8PG, AA5BK and 5 others like this.
  5. AD5HR

    AD5HR Ham Member QRZ Page

    8) Clip leads, the more the merrier.
    N8ZL, K8PG, W4CP and 6 others like this.
  6. GM3ZMA

    GM3ZMA Ham Member QRZ Page

    9) Hand Tools.
    Screwdrivers, small, medium, large. Flat blade and crosspoint.
    Small adjustable spanner.
    Wire cutters.
    Small files.

    Revisiting item 7)
    A crystal calibrator would be good device to have in lieu of a more sophisticated signal source.

    Jim GM3ZMA
    N8ZL, KA0USE, W4CP and 1 other person like this.
  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I have several large bouquets of these. :)
    AD5HR likes this.
  8. K1APJ

    K1APJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, I will challenge that recommendation, not on the basis of accuracy, but on the basis of safety. If you are working on low voltage stuff and never measure a power line, OK, but beyond that, get something from a reputable manufacturer. Yes, I have experienced "exciting" failures with brand X equipment in household use.
    KA0USE, KC3QVD, W4CP and 4 others like this.
  9. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    all of the above plus a scope and freq counter
    N8ZL, W4CP, NA1S and 1 other person like this.
  10. N9LCD

    N9LCD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Inter series coaxial adapters and gender changers.

    I have about four pounds of them and can never seem the find the one I need.
    N8ZL, K8PG, W4CP and 5 others like this.

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