The following gift ideas are all under $100 US, save the few radios we also mention at the bottom of the post. Note that Amazon, eBay, and ABR links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.
The ARRL POTA Book
Hot off the press! I wrote about this book in a previous post (click here to read). In short, it’s the perfect gift for the field radio op in your life.
As a contributor of this book, the ARRL have given me a coupon code to share with my readers and subscribers; this will give you free shipping.
At checkout, simply enter my callsign as a coupon code: K4SWL (UPDATE: the coupon code is working again. ARRL staff have kindly extended this coupon code until December 10, 2023!)
A good arborist throw line kit
My opinion? Every ham that likes to play radio outdoors and lives in an area trees should have a good arborist throw line and weight. It makes deploying wire antennas so easy and effortless. Plus? It’s fun!
We have an article in the archives that covers pretty much every throw line option, but if you want one that should suit everyone? I recommend this particular combination: the Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag.
Ara (N6ARA) makes a number of ham radio accessories in kit form and fully assembled. All of them are affordable, tiny, and perfect for the QRPer in your life. Ara offers tiny Morse Code keys, tiny SWR meters, and tiny common mode chokes. Check out his full product line at N6ARA.com.
Wire antennas all made by real hams!
The following are a few wire antenna manufacturers I highly recommend. Some of these are kits and some are fully-assembled:
- K6ARK End-Fed Antenna Kits: These wire antennas are some of the smallest, most compact out there. They’re quite fun to build but might not be ideal as a first antenna build since the parts are pretty small.
- KM4CFT End-Fed Antenna Kits: These kits are new to the market and quite small. They’re only slightly larger than the K6ARK kits above, and a little easier to build from kit form.
- Tufteln Antennas and Accessories: Joshua makes a wide array of amateur radio products. His antennas are outstanding and I use them all the time. They’re available as kits and pre-assembled. He also has a number of 3D-printed ham radio accessories.
- PackTenna Antennas: PackTenna–run by George (KJ6VU) and Mark (N6MTS)–makes some amazing and incredibly sturdy wire antennas. I’m not sure if they’ll have stock ready to ship before Christmas or not.
There are so many excellent antenna manufacturers out there, I simply can’t include them all. These are primarily antennas I’ve used and tested in 2023. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section of this post!
Morse Code Keys
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”: A brilliant all-around key ($44.95)
- CW Morse Outdoor Double Paddle With Steel Base: A brilliant, stable key for both the shack and field ($69.95)
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles: Super compact precision paddles for those of us who like to pack light. Designed by N0SA ($92.95)
- CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Paddle: I call this my heavy-fisted paddle. It’s built to be incredibly sturdy. It’s more substantial than some of the other paddles in this list, but still light enough for SOTA! ($129.95—yes, slightly over $100, but still…)
Here are some of my favorites:
- Talentcell Rechargeable 12V 3000mAh Li-Ion Battery: I have purchased a total of three of these over the years. They will power almost all of my QRP radios for hours at a time. The provided barrel connector fits most Elecraft, Penntek, and QRP Labs radios. One of the best battery deals out there. ($26.59 US)
- Bioenno 3 Ah LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB): This is the workhorse of my battery collection. I find that one charge will take most of my radios through 3-5 field activations. ($64.99 with charger)
- USB-C Rechargeable 9V Li-Ion Batteries: Do you own a Mountain Topper radio? If you do, these little 9V batteries are amazing, I find that they will power my MTR-3B for more than an hour on one charge! I only recently discovered these thanks to Adam (K6ARK). Note that I’ve gotten feedback that some other brands of these 9V cells produce RFI/QRM. These have not, so I’d stick with this same brand. ($15.29 US for two batteries and a charging cable)
A good cable assembly
I’m a massive fan of ABR Industries and have written about them pretty extensively on QRPer.com. I’ve been a customer of theirs for more than a decade.
This year, they became a QRPer.com affiliate and even offer a 10% discount for our readers. Many of the links below allow you to choose the length of cable. If you’re buying this for the ham radio op in your world and you’re not sure what length, I feel 20 or 20 feet is a good all-around length.
- ABR Industries RG-316 cable assembly (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- ABR Industries Cable Assembly Builder (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- High Visibility Jacket ABR240-UF with PL-259s and 5 Ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
Randall (W7UDT) recommends the following product:
Thomas, I’ve used these earbuds for several months. I bought 6 of them, given their simple robust design, sound quality, and price. I like that they are comfortable to wear, and/or loud enough to be used as a mini speaker. The right-angled plug provides for compact strain relief. Perfect for the QRP enthusiasts. eBay, ten bucks for two! No battery to charge, works great…
Thanks, Rand! I would also add that I love these Sony earbuds. They’re only about $9-10 for a pair and I think the audio quality is excellent. They also provide passive sound isolation if using them in a noisy environment.
HF QRP Radios
- The QRP Labs QMX: This is a small five band radio is capable of CW and Digital modes. Price ranges from $95 (kit) to about $165 (assembled) depending on the options ordered. Keep in mind, the pre-assembled units ordered now might not sip until the summer of 2024.
- The Elecraft KH1: I’ve been using this radio for a few weeks and really love it. It’s one of the most portable HF radios on the market. Keep in mind that it is CW only, so if you’re buying this as a gift, you need to make sure the recipient knows Morse Code. The radio costs anywhere from $550 – $1100 US depending on how it’s configured. As with the QMX (above) if you order now, it might not ship for a few months.
- Xiegu G106: If you’re looking for an affordable QRP radio that does both CW and SSB, you might consider the G106. It’s not a stellar performer, but it certainly gets the job done. A great radio to keep in the vehicle for those impromptu radio outings or even for emergencies. Before purchasing, I’d highly recommend reading my full review of this rig and maybe considering ordering a BCI filter kit, too. This link to Radioddity will save you $10 of the price. Just search the site for “G106.”