HAM Radio 101 / Uncategorized

Staying at Home? Discover What’s Missing in Your Ham Radio Toolbox

Lots of Hams are tool folks—an amalgam of, say, TV’s Mike Baxter and Tim Taylor, grunts and all. We like working with our hands, solving nagging problems, busting a knuckle or two, and feeling the satisfaction of maintaining our own stations. Forget fancy colognes or vanilla-scented candles. It’s the aroma of solder flux and Jet Lube for us.

With more time at home, now is a good opportunity to assess your toolbox. Is it time to upgrade the way you strip cable? Is your screwdriver collection missing just the size and type you always seem to need? Check out this list of tools to consider adding to your arsenal. 

Screwdriver Set: Ham Radio work requires a wide range of screwdriver sizes. This Summit Racing 69-piece set includes assorted sizes of Phillips and slotted style screwdrivers, square, Torx magnetic screwdrivers, mini awls, a magnetic bit handle, and an assortment of power bits.

Long Reach Pliers: Here’s a nice upgrade for installing and removing connectors in hard-to-reach places or on crowded panels. Way easier than tackling the job with meaty fingers, the vinyl-covered jaws work well on both Type N and PL-259 connectors. The no-slip grip provides plenty of leverage.

Deburring Tools: Taking the time to remove burrs—those thin, knife-sharp raised edges that appear after cutting or drilling—can ensure your projects look great, tubing sections fit properly without any hassle, and your hands are spared from nasty cuts. The DX engineering reamer-style DXE-UT-2125 tube deburring tool works on all tubing and pipe sizes from 3/8 to 2-1/8 inches O.D. The DXE-UT-3500 tool covers sizes from 1-7/8 to 3-1/2 inches O.D. DX Engineering’s Adjustable Deburring Tool (DXE-22600) is handy for cleaning burrs after cutting or drilling aluminum, steel, cast iron, or brass.

Precision Coax Cable Prep Tools: Preparing coaxial cables for installation of connectors using an open cutting blade can be a dangerous enterprise—and the results are often far from neat and clean. DX Engineering Strippers for 50 ohm Cable make it safe and easy to install solder-on PL-259 connectors. Just insert the cable in one end and twist, then reinsert in the other end and twist again. DX Engineering also carries cable grippers and complete coaxial prep kits, such as the DXE-UT-KIT-CC1, which includes tools to prepare coaxial cable for DX Engineering and Amphenol crimp connectors (strippers, grippers, braid trimmer, coax cable shears, and replacement blades).

F-Connector Coax Cable Tool Kit: Housed in a sturdy case with precut foam, DX Engineering’s DXE-UT-KITF tool kit includes a stripping tool for RG-6U dual shield/quad shield and F-6 size cable, 25 Universal Compression F-connectors for any RG-6U or F-6 cables, F-connector compression tool, coaxial cable shears, F-connector tightening tool, and stripping tool replacement blades. The universal connectors fit any RG6 cable, eliminating the hassle of using color-coded F-connector types.

Connector Assembly Tools: Connector assembly tools allow simple threading of connector bodies onto the vinyl jacket of RG-8/U, RG-213/U and similar size cables. Use the DXE-UT-80P assembly tool for PL-259 connectors and the DXE-UT-80N for two-piece Type N connectors. Both tools can also be found in the DX Engineering Complete Coax Tool Kit (DXE-UT-KIT4) for installation of soldered PL-259 and Type N connectors on only single shield cables including RG-8U, RG-213, and RG-11U.

Helping Hand Work Holder: When confronted with a tricky job and only two free hands, many a Ham has wished they were an octopus. Well, here’s a more practical solution—the Helping Hand Work Holder from ECG. This heavily weighted mini work stand features a universal joint for positioning your work, and an arm with two strong alligator clamps to hold the parts in place. For tiny projects, the stand includes a magnifier that makes minuscule parts look big.

Antenna Analyzers: Any longtime Ham will tell you that working without an antenna analyzer is akin to standing naked in the field. These handy devices let you eliminate guesswork when checking coaxial cables and feedlines. For example, RigExpert’s new lightweight Stick 230 Analyzer (100 kHz through 230) allows you to perform a rapid SWR and resonance check; tune an antenna to resonance with complex impedance readout graphically and numerically; and measure capacitance or inductance of reactive loads including coils and capacitors. To protect this tool, DX Engineering has paired select analyzers with sturdy NANUK cases.

You’ll find many other useful Amateur Radio tools at DX Engineering.com, including multimeters, wattmeters, dummy loads, heat guns, soldering irons and stations, vises, rigid tubing cutters, Loos guy line tension gauges, and more.

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