ETH052 – What Is Good To Have On Your Work Bench?


Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we talk about Workbenches and some things you should have on them, we talk about the  in our amateur radio club spotlight, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and hamfests over the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!

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Tech Corner – What Is Good To Have On A Work Bench



Needle nose pliers

A good set of Needle Nose or Long Nose Pliers are a must for any work bench. Because of the long skinny design you can get into places to hold things that you just can’t do with regular pliers. The Irwin VISE-GRIP Long Nose Pliers is what I use for all my work, not just electronic stuff. They are very study and rugged pliers. I have definitely put them through their paces!

– Features durable nickel chromium steel construction.
– The ProTouch grips provide extra comfort and reduce hand fatigue.
– Machined jaws provide maximum gripping strength. Induction hardened cutting edge stays sharp longer.
– These pliers feature a superior long reach design for work in confined areas.

Along the same lines of a good pair of Needle Nose Pliers, I also recommend getting a pair of Bent Nose Needle Nose Pliers. These kind of pliers are not necessarily a must to have, but the do come in handy when you are trying to reach around something or get under something to hold it. Something else that I run into is that with just straight nose pliers you typically have to hold them straighter than you do the bent nose version of them. The do cost most than the straight nose, and I wouldn’t recommend buying these if you don’t have a straight pair first.

– IRWIN VISE-GRIP durable nickel-chromium steel pliers construction
– ProTouch grips provide extra comfort and help reduce hand fatigue while using the pliers
– Thin nose profile gets into tight spaces and makes it easy to reach around obstructions
– Induction-hardened cutting edge stays sharper, longer
– Machined jaws for maximum gripping strength

Wire cutters aka “diagonal cutters”

The next thing that you really need is a good pair of wire or diagonal cutters. Again I really like the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Diagonal Cutting Pliers. Much like its Needle Nose cousins, these are very rugged and has been great for me. I have had a pair of these pliers for probably ten years and with the exception of a little bit of wear and tear o the grip, they still look like they did when I bought them.

You need a pair of diagonal cutters to cut off the leads of components AFTER you solder them. They can get up close to the board and give you a nice and neat professional looking underside to your project.

– Durable nickel chromium steel construction
– ProTouch grips provide extra comfort and reduces hand fatigue
– Induction hardened cutting edge stays sharper, longer
– Machined jaws for maximum gripping strength
– Meets or exceeds ANSI specifications


Wire stripper

While a wire stripper is not absolutely a must have, it is really something that is nice to have. You can strip a wire using the wire cutters and you could probably crimp pretty much whatever you need with a pair of pliers, this nice all in one kind of tool is handy to have. Not only does this tool make it easier to strip the insulation off the outside or a wire, but it has a crimper and a cutter as well. This crimper/stripper is super easy to use and is very durable as well, I got these when I got all the ones above and it is still stripping along 10+ years later.

– Wire cutter with induction hardened cutting edge stays sharp longer

– Strips and cuts 10-22 AWG

– Pliers style nose allows wire stripper to pull and loop in wire

– Bolt cutter cuts bolts to size and leaves perfect lead thread

– Crimps insulated and non-insulated terminals





What tool set is complete without a regular set of pliers. These types of pliers would be used for the bigger jobs like tightening a nut or holding a coax end in place while you solder it.


    • Constructed from durable nickel chromium steel; induction-hardened cutting edge stays sharper, longer. Machined jaws for maximum gripping strength.
    • Anti-pinch, non-slip ProTouch Grips provide comfort, control, and less hand fatigue. Right angle teeth grip in all directions for maximum bite.
    • Variable-size jaws are a flexible solution for most household needs.
    • All pliers meet or exceed ANSI specification.


Soldering iron


A soldering Iron is probably one of the most important part of your work bench if you want to do any kind of DIY building. There are several things that you need to think about when looking for an iron. A great tip is important and one that will get hot. This iron has a variable power level dial on the handle that will go from 200 to 450 C. This kit has a 29 out of 30 reviews at 5 stars.

The other thing that makes this kit nice is that you will get everything you need in one swoop. You will get the iron with 5 tips, a stand with a sponge, solder sucker, solder, and anti-static tweezer. Best of all it is only about $25!


    • 7-IN-1 FULL KIT – The Kit comes with soldering iron, 5 soldering tips, a stand, soldering sucker (desoldering pump), Solder Wire, anti-static tweezers and a cleaning sponge.
    • WELL DESIGNED & MADE OF HIGH QUALITY: The Scientific design and high temperature-resistant plastic makes it hard to melt. Certified with CE, FCC, and ROHS.
    • ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE: Accurate adjust temperature, automatic constant temperature, fast recovery and error is only ±5. The thermostat range is 200~450℃.
    • SAFER THAN EVER: With ground wires, it could protect you against electric shocks, and the stand is more stable which ensures your safety.
    • FAST HEATING & POWER SAVING: Heats up quickly (approximately 1 minute), 110v and 60 watts – saves 50% power than normal soldering iron. We provide 12-month Worry-Free Warranty at AngLink.


The most important part to remember when looking at what solder to use is you want to make sure that you use Rosin Core Solder. There are two types that you can get to use with electronics, Lead based and Lead free. The lead based solder use to be the universally used solder, but it is slowly getting away from being used as much. The reason being is due to the health issues of lead. The lead based solder melts about 180-190 degrees where the lead free solder melts at higher temperature so it is a little harder to work with but it typically isn’t a very big deal.

The other thing that you need to think about the diameter of the solder. If you are going to be building a circuit, you should probably use one that is small in diameter. If you are going to be soldering an end on a coax, you should probably use a larger diameter one, so you don’t have to us so long of a piece of solder.

Lead free Solder

1mm Lead Free Solder - Work Bench60/40 Solder

60/40 0.3mm Solder - Work BenchDMM digital multimeter



Proster Digital Multimeter - Work BenchAnother one of the most important items that you will need for you work bench is a digital multimeter. While you probably don’t have to have the most expensive one you can find, you still should have a fairly good one. The good part about this is that technology has come a long way and you can get a decent meter for pretty cheap.


    • 【CE Rated Digital Mulimeter with Over Load Protection】Designed to safely and accurately troubleshoot a variety of automotive and household electrical
    • 【Comprehensive set of features】 Accurately measures current, voltage, resistance, and more.Diode assembly test / Transistor P-N junction test/Transistor hFE test.Maximum reading over time,Auto-ranging and continuity buzzer.
    • 【Easy-to-read large Backlit LCD display】This 2000 count multimetre features large LCD unit symbol display.Back-lightmakes a real difference in low light areas
    • 【Included 9V Volt Battery and Test Probes】The compartment lid at the back is secured by one cross head screw, not difficult to remove at all. The probes and connectors come covered and these covers can easily be reused
    • 【Nice protective yellow shell with stand built】The case with our multimeter is some kind of non slip, slightly soft plastic that will help with drop protection. The stand places the device at a 45 degree angle and makes the screen easy to see hands free.
  • Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital Multimeter (Affilate Link)

Fluke 115 Digital Multimeter - Work BenchIf you do want a really good meter, Fluke is probably one of the best that you can buy and they have come down in price as well.


    • True-rms for accurate measurements on non-linear loads
    • safety rated
    • Large white LED Backlight to work in poorly lit areas
    • Check continuity, frequency, capacitance and diode test
    • Measures 20 A (30 seconds momentary; 10 A continuous)
    • True-RMS for accurate measurements on non-linear loads
    • CAT III 600 V safety rated
    • Large white LED backlight to work in poorly lit areas


Xacto knife

xacto x3000 knife - Work Bench


Good lighting

Screwdriver set

Electronic Screwdrivew Kit - Work Bench

 Jakemy Precision Screwdriver Set - Work Bench

A precision screwdriver set is a must have because of the typical small screws with electronic projects.

Variable voltage power supply

Variable Power Supply - Work Bench

 TekPower Digital Variable Power Supply - Work Bench


A variable voltage power supply is great to have because of all the different voltage requirements of projects. Some require 3V, some 5V and some 12V. If you don’t have a variable power supply, then you have to figure out a different way to reduce the voltage before taking it to your project.

“Helping hands” alligator clips

Helping Hands - Work Bench

    • Built-in magnifying glass (4x) aids in minute detail work
    • 2 Alligator clips on 4-way swivels—holds items securely (leaving hands free)
    • Heavy-duty base for stability
    • Comes in blister packaging

Jumper wires with alligator clips

Jumper wires With Alligator clips

Jumper wires are great to have to hook up power to your project or connecting different aspects of your project together.

West Mountain Radio

I would like to welcome my first podcast sponsor, West Mountain Radio! For those of you that don’t know who they are, they make some awesome equipment that I have had the pleasure of using over the past 15 or so years. They make several pieces of equipment that are so well built and are so useful. Things like the RIGBlaster, RIGrunner and the DC-to-Go Boxes. I talked a little bit about the RIGblaster in my last episode and I’ve talked about the RIGrunner several times in previous episode but today I wanted to tell y’all about their DC-to-Go Boxes.

These are neat cases that you can put a battery in to protect your station’s floor from an unfortunate battery accident, however, they are so much more than that as well. These boxes have a Super PWRgate PG40 and a RIGrunner 4007U or 4008 built into them as well.

The PWRgate provides you an uninterruptible power supply in case you lose AC power it will automatically switch to the battery in the box. This is a perfect solution for a repeater backup and/or event like the upcoming Winter Field Day!

The RIGrunner 4008 provides you with 40 amps of D.C. Power plug over 8 slots while the 4007u gives you 40 amps across 7 slots but it has some extra feature like a digital load meter and USB charging port as well as a solid state push button on/off switch and an automatic shutoff for high or low voltages!

Both of these are mounted to the side of the battery box. All you have to do is drop a battery inside and hook up the leads and you are ready to roll!!

Here are the links for the premade versions of the DC-to-Go boxes. It you can also Custom make one to your own choices!


Upcoming Events

LZ Open Contest 1800Z-2200Z, Jan 20
Hungarian DX Contest 1200Z, Jan 21 to 1159Z, Jan 22
North American QSO Party, SSB 1800Z, Jan 21 to 0559Z, Jan 22
WAB 1.8 MHz Phone 1900Z-2300Z, Jan 21
ARRL January VHF Contest 1900Z, Jan 21 to 0359Z, Jan 23
Feld Hell Sprint 2000Z-2359Z, Jan 21 (EU/AF) and

 2300Z, Jan 21 to 0259Z, Jan 22 (ENA/ESA) and

 0200Z-0559Z, Jan 22 (WNA/AS/OC)

SKCC Sprint 0000Z-0200Z, Jan 25
CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW 2200Z, Jan 27 to 2200Z, Jan 29
Montana QSO Party 0000Z-2400Z, Jan 28
REF Contest, CW 0600Z, Jan 28 to 1800Z, Jan 29
BARTG RTTY Sprint 1200Z, Jan 28 to 1200Z, Jan 29
UBA DX Contest, SSB 1300Z, Jan 28 to 1300Z, Jan 29
Winter Field Day 1900Z, Jan 28 to 1900Z, Jan 29
*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar







*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar


Illegal Drone Transmitters Could Interfere with Air Traffic Control, ARRL Complaint Asserts


In what it calls an “extremely urgent complaint” to the FCC, ARRL has targeted the interference potential of a series of audio/video transmitters used on unmanned aircraft and marketed as Amateur Radio equipment. In a January 10 letter to the FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, said the transmitters use frequencies intended for navigational aids, air traffic control radar, air route surveillance radars, and global positioning systems.

“This is, in ARRL’s view, a potentially very serious interference problem, and it is respectfully requested that the products referenced…be investigated and removed from the marketplace immediately and that the importers be subjected to normal sanctions,” ARRL’s letter said. Some of the transmitters operate on frequencies between 1,010 and 1,280 MHz. “These video transmitters are being marketed ostensibly as Amateur Radio equipment,” the League said, “but of the listed frequencies on which the devices operate, only one, 1280 MHz, would be within the Amateur Radio allocation at 1240-1300 MHz.” Even then, ARRL said, operation there would conflict with a channel used for radio location.

ARRL said the use of 1,040 and 1,080 MHz, which would directly conflict with air traffic control transponder frequencies, represented the greatest threat to the safety of flight. The use of 1,010 MHz, employed for aeronautical guidance, could also be problematic.

ARRL cited the Lawmate transmitter and companion 6 W amplifier as examples of problematic devices being marketed in the US. Each costs less than $100 via the Internet. The device carries no FCC identification number.

“[T]he target market for these devices is the drone hobbyist, not licensed radio amateurs. The device, due to the channel configuration, has no valid Amateur Radio application,” ARRL told the FCC. “While these transmitters are marked as appropriate for amateur use, they cannot be used legally for Amateur Radio communications.” In the hands of unlicensed individuals, the transmitters could also cause interference to Amateur Radio communication in the 1.2 GHz band, ARRL contended.

The League said it’s obvious that the devices at issue lack proper FCC equipment authorization under FCC Part 15 rules, which require such low-power intentional radiators to be certified.

“Of most concern is the capability of the devices to cripple the operation of the [air traffic control] secondary target/transponder systems,” ARRL said. “These illegal transmitters represent a significant hazard to public safety in general and the safety of flight specifically.”

The surge in sales of drones has been dramatic. The FAA has predicted that combined commercial and hobby sales will increase from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million by 2020.

In Exhibit A of the January 10 letter, “Illegal Drones Threaten Public Safety,” the League noted that some of the drones and associated equipment it has come across “are blatantly illegal at multiple levels,” with some drone TV transmitters described as “particularly alarming.”

“Rated at six times over the legal power limit, and on critical air navigation transponder frequencies, these devices represent a real and dangerous threat to the safety of flight, especially when operated from a drone platform that can be hundreds of feet in the air,” the exhibit narrative asserted.

Nebraska Sesquicentennial Celebration QSO Party Set for February, March


Radio amateurs in Nebraska will celebrate the state’s 150th anniversary during the Sesquicentennial Anniversary Celebration Week QSO Party, starting on Saturday, February 25, and continuing until Sunday, March 6. That time period includes the actual anniversary date, March 1. Nebraska amateurs may operate from their own stations or as part of Nebraska historical site activations, appending “/NE150” to their call signs. A Facebook page has been established.

Nebraska stations transmit name, signal report, and Nebraska county (plus historical site, if appropriate). Non-Nebraska stations transmit name, signal report, and state, Canadian province, or DXCC entity. A special QSL card will be available with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and QSL to the Nebraska station contacted.

Contact ARRL Midwest Division Vice Director Art Zygielbaum, K0AIZ, or ARRL Nebraska Section Manager Matt Anderson, KB0BOJ, for additional information. The Nebraska Sesquicentennial Amateur Radio Commemorative QSO Party is an official Nebraska Sesquicentennial event sanctioned by the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission.


Maxim Memorial Station W1AW Receives Equipment Donations from Heil Sound, Radiohaus/America


Maxim Memorial Station W1AW has received equipment donations from Heil Sound and Radiohaus/America.

Heil Sound recently gave W1AW a Gold Grill PR781G Studio Microphone, a PR40 Gold microphone, a couple of PRO7-DY headsets (pink and red), a PS Elite 6 PRO-SET Elite headset with HC6 element, three FS-3 single footswitches, two “Topless” mic booms, and replacement PRO-SET Plus cords and PS3 cables. W1AW Manager Joe Carcia said most of the gear will repair or replace items at the station that have seen a lot of visitor use over the years.

W1AW has also received a “Callsight” lighted call sign display from Erwin Hübsch Neto, PY2QI/KK4CGD, at Radiohaus/America in Brazil. A remote control allows the user to change the display color as well as choose flashing or strobe display mode.

“We’re extremely grateful to Bob Heil and Erwin Neto for their generous donations,” Carcia said.


New “Amateur Radio Parity Act” Bill Introduced in US House of Representatives

H.R. 555 — a new “Amateur Radio Parity Act” bill — has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill’s language is identical to that of the 2015 measure, H.R. 1301, which passed in the House late last summer but failed in the waning days of the US Senate to gain the necessary support. As with H.R. 1301, the new measure introduced on January 13 in the 115th Congress was sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), with initial co-sponsorship by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR). Walden now chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to which the new bill has been referred. H.R. 555 will get an initial airing in the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. When H.R. 1301 came up in committee, Walden spoke forcefully in favor of the measure, which ultimately attracted 126 House cosponsors.

“Rep. Kinzinger has again stepped forward to introduce this important legislation,” said ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF. “His commitment stems from exposure to what the Amateur Radio community brings to the service of all communities. The ARRL and radio amateurs nationwide owe Rep. Kinzinger a resounding ‘Thank You!’ for his efforts on their behalf.”
The new bill would entitle a radio amateur living in a deed-restricted community to install and maintain an “effective outdoor antenna.” The bill’s language preserves the existing language of the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1, as well as all important case law with respect to municipal land use regulation.
H.R. 555 calls on the FCC to establish rules prohibiting the application of deed restrictions that preclude Amateur Radio communications on their face or as applied. Deed restrictions would have to impose the minimum practicable restriction on Amateur Radio communications to accomplish the lawful purposes of homeowners association seeking to enforce the restriction.
The ARRL Board of Directors is expected to discuss the pending legislation when it meets January 20-21.

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Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM


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