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Author Topic: An Amateur Operator Reference Library - what's in your bookcase?  (Read 5343 times)

Posts: 1042

« on: December 29, 2011, 07:54:41 PM »

Pursuant to "Do hams read", what are the reference books you turn to most, or you have found the most useful as an amateur.  In print, out of print, whatever.  Here's mine:

Handbook:  I have a few versions, the newest as well as some vintage ones - my birth year, one from WWII, a reprint of the first Handbook.  If you into vintage radio, you probably collect 'em for the homebrew articles.

Antenna Books:  I own a BUNCH of these, of course the Big ARRL antenna book, plus a bunch of their small compilation books, Wire antenna classics, more wire antenna classics, vertical antenna classics, VHF/UHF antenna classics.  These books are full of easy to build designs and better yet, they stimulate thinking about new ideas that might fit YOUR QTH.

Understanding, Building and Using Baluns and Ununs, by Jerry Sevick.  This is the paperback, there's also a much more technically oriented hardcover book.  Some people have the education to debate Jerry on Baluns.  I don't.  I take his work pretty much at face value.  His designs are useful and easy to duplicate.  This is one of those esoteric volumes that does not get a lot of reference but is handy when you need it.

So what books would you add to the shelf?


Posts: 98

« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 06:01:20 AM »

I have two 6 foot high bookcases, each with five 24 inch wide shelves, packed full of radio/electronics books. ARRL handbooks of various years - including 1927! - professional books on antenna designs, historical/ biograhical books on ham radio, operating books like the Compleat DXer, professional books such as Terman, Zepler, Sturley, Scroggie, Manassewitsch, Raab et al, professional antenna books (Kraus, Page, Ladner and Stoner, Blake, old (and in some cases valuable to collectors) radio books, filter design books (Zverev, Geffe) etc. The one book I regard as really useless is an ARRL publication on using Smith charts. Philip Smith's book is far better. I've somehow lost my 1936 ARRL Antenna book, which is sad.

We have around 2000 non - fiction books, and 3800 fiction. The XYL has a Kindle, too. You might figure we like reading....

Posts: 6252

« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 06:24:00 AM »

With the advent of the internet, some people think there isn't much of a reason to keep many books on hand--but there still are many who do, and I'm one of them.  I have the handbook and several texts about the hobby in general.  I also have several texts about specifics of the hobby, and those include self complied books on looseleaf.  If I see an article or a story that I think I could use for reference, I usually print it out and save it.  I have more than a dozen one inch binders with such articles, and several thicker ones too.

I seldom go anywhere without one or two of them with me, since I never know when I'll have some free time on my hands.  Those who have XYLs that like to have their OMs with them most of the time, except...  know what I mean!   Grin

Posts: 84


« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2011, 06:50:23 AM »

People (and their associated lives) being different like they are, we tend to have different things that work for us and fit into those lives. That being said...

I like to read but I almost NEVER read paper books anymore. And I'm really not drawn to reading things on the screen. I've stared at computers for the last 20 years.. at work.. and then at home after work. I like books. Even paper ones. But they don't work for my routine. And I like computers, but it's a different experience from sitting down in a chair or in bed with no other distractions.

While this may sound like an advertisement, I LOVE my Kindle because it's easy on the eyes, portable, has huge potential storage and isn't backlit. (I'm sure anyone with a Nook or any of the other eInk readers like theirs as well). I've been reading like crazy since last year when I got it. It just fits into how I like to read right now. And if I do decide I want to read on another platform (except paper, of course), I can pull up the app and pick up where I left off.

Also, ebooks tend to be cheaper (unless you get into books like the Cisco Press manuals that are only slightly cheaper than the hardcovers and don't include the CDs that come with the book, thereby making the electronic version not so much of a deal at all, which is ridiculous because it's not even a physical thing. It's a duplicate of a file. How much can it cost to make?).

Unfortunately, there are very few ARRL books (or ham radio books, period) in an eBook format. I will occasionally find pdf files online and put them on the Kindle. They're harder to read than a book formatted as an eBook. But you do what you can, right? Right now, I'm going through 9 or so of the pdf files I grabbed from the ARRL site on lightening protection. I've also created some quick cheat sheets on the band allocations and such and put them on the Kindle for a quick reference.

I hope the ARRL eventually moves their books to eBook formats. I'd definitely like the handbook and the antenna book. Perhaps a couple books on digital modes. I'd love to go back and review the licensing books. Really.. any resource is good if it's relevant and/or interesting and reasonably priced.

Chris (AK4KZ)

Posts: 1054

« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 07:27:12 AM »

In addition to Handbooks and Antenna Books from ARRL, I have most Antenna Compendiums, Kraus' Antennas, Orr's Handbook, Henney's Radio Engineering Handbook, Maxwell's original Reflections, handbooks by Therman and Lenk, Elements of Radio, several on electromagnetic fields, including Maxwell's, RSGB's HF Antennas for All Locations and HF Antenna Collection, W1FB's QRP Notebook, Antenna Book, Solid State Basics and Solid State Design, Hayward's Experimental Methods of RF Design, Harden's Databook for Homebrewers and QRPers, GQRP's Low Power Scrapbook, Circuit Handbook and Antenna Handbook, Low Band DXing, ITT's Reference Data for Radio Engineers and several others like it, lots of TAB books, and back issues of Sprat, QRP Quarterly and QRPp, and I also keep The American Heritage Dictionary close at hand (but anyone can tell you I don't use it much).
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 08:16:51 AM by W5FYI » Logged

Posts: 283

« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2011, 02:21:20 PM »

Eric:  Great post! 

I really like to build wire antennas.  These are some of the books I have, and recommend:  W6SAI's "HF Antenna Handbook," the RSGB's "Practical Wire Antennas," and the ARRL's "Simple and Fun Antennas."  These should be owned by all new hams who ever intend to plug an antenna into their HF radio.  Other good books that nobody has mentioned yet are Edward Noll's "73 Dipole & Long-Wire Antennas" and W6SAI's "Wire Antennas."  Another is Noll's wonderful "Easy-Up Antennas for Radio Listeners and Hams," which walks the neophyte through building very simple wire antennas and a handy and inexpensive PVC antenna mast.  Some of these books are older and somewhat tough to find, but Universal Radio and Ebay are good sources if Amazon doesn't do it for you. 

Of the above books, if one is a radio novice, he or she should first get Noll's "Easy Up" book.  You won't learn how to build a three element Yagi, but you'll be able to put up a simple inverted vee on a homebrew PVC mast in one weekend with enough time to make plenty of satisfying QSOs.  Any antenna you build yourself is much more fun to use than one you buy at HRO.  Sorry, but that's the truth. 

I am also a fan of vintage radios and short wave listening, and operating on 6 meters.  A great book for receiver collectors is Fred Osterman's "Shortwave Receivers Past & Present," the third edition.  This is a must-own book if you're interested in radios that glow, but you'll pay about $45 for it on eBay, as it's out of print. 

If one is interested in 6 meters, I recommend "Six Meters -- A Guide to the Magic Band," by Ken Neubeck. 

Lastly, a fantastic article that's on the web and is an absolute must-read for the new ham is, "The $4 Special," at  Every ham should spend five minutes reading this simple (and funny) antenna primer. 

73, Tony

Posts: 531

« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2011, 03:40:49 PM »

Just to add a few to the list:

Horowitz & Hill, "The art of electronics", aimed more  at physics students, but a good introduction to the subject, and not too math heavy.
Langford Smith, "Radiotron designers Handbook", If old radios are your thing this is a must have, the reprint has IMHO a poor quality binding, try to find an old one.
Ian Hickman, "Practical RF handbook", does not get referred to much but has a few useful tables in the back as well as a good introduction to  shielding.
Duncan Smith, " Small signal audio design", good for ideas on VLF and audio stages in general.
I have a whole shelf on digital signal processing, and at some point need to add a copy of the "Filter design handbook".
This is by no means exhaustive, but just adds to a reasonable subset of the already mentioned.

I will add a shout for EMRFD, if you experiment with electronics this is a must have, and subscriptions to DUBUS & QEX are worth the money.
Regards, Dan.
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