A ham radio is one gadget that won’t let you down when all the other communication gadgets fail. That’s why, it is quite reasonable to buy a good ham radio for use in case of emergencies. You can buy a ham radio for beginners if you are not an expert and it will definitely serve you well.
Also, you can use it for wireless experimentation, self-training, or leisure. What’s more? You do not have to be an expert to possess one.
However, being a beginner also means that you may not be sure of the top quality ham radios to purchase. On the other hand, even experts buy fake products without their knowledge.
Why go through that mess? Not necessary. That’s why we have written this buyer guide to help you select just the perfect one.
Top 5 HAM Radio for Beginners Picked by the Editor:
|Best 5||Brand & Model||Rating||Output||Price|
Baofeng BF-F9 V2+
7 Best Ham Radio for Beginners – Reviews in 2020
#1 BaoFeng UV-82HP: Best Entry Level Ham Radio
Baofeng UV-82HP model is a tri-power ham radio that produces 3 output power levels. These power levels are: 1 Watts, 4 Watts and 7 Watts. That is; low, medium and high power selection, respectively.
The initial frequency range is 65-108 MHZ, which is applicable for only FM commercial radio transmission and reception. The other frequency range is VHF, which ranges from 136 to 174 MHZ. That is; for both transmission and reception.
UHF frequency is also applicable and ranges from 400-520 MHZ for both transmission and reception. You can easily select the broadband and narrowband using the available selectable switch.
It is also crucial to note that this device is a dualband handheld ham radio base transceiver. What’s good is that it has an LCD which enables you to clearly observe the display menu function. This makes its operation easy and fast.
In addition, the VFO variable frequency oscillator makes it possible to control the frequency of this device. This is made possible by the super heterodyne principle. Additionally, the dual push to talk switch is synchronized with the help of the software. This makes the operation of the radio simple.
Furthermore, there’s a special feature that allows high gain antenna V-85. This helps to provide high-quality performance. More so, the accessories of the previous versions are fully compatible with it.
In this product, there are 4 selectable tone burst options that are available: 1000, 1450, 1750 and 2100 Hz. Plus, a user guide manual. This guide helps you to operate the radio with ease. Again, programming of this radio is easy. That’s why; this is the best ham radio for beginners to buy.
There are 128 programmable memory channels. On the other hand, you can easily add or remove a channel from the scanning list with the help of the available free software.
- ProsSingle or dual PTT selectable.
- A unique chipset for high power available.
- There is an emergency alarm.
- Availability of three power settings.
- BCLO busy channel lock out.
- It could be too pricy for some buyers to afford.
#2 Wouxun KG-UV8D: Beginners Ham Radio Review
This Wouxun KG model offers excellent FM commercial radio communication that agrees with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules and regulation.
There are 2 output power selection ranges. One is 5 Watts, which works well with the VHF, while the other one is 4 Watts, which works well with the UHF band.
The good thing is that you can easily program 999 memory channels. Also, with DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) signaling feature for encoding and decoding functions; you can effectively set both low and high power outputs.
Moreover, this ham radio has a VHF frequency range of 136 to 174 MHZ. On the other hand, the UHF frequency ranges from 420 to 480 MHZ for both transmission and reception. The FM commercial radio communication ranges from 76 to 108 MHZ.
Talking of the channel steps; they include 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 25, 50 and 100KHZ. The work mode of this device is F2D and F3E. However, the operating voltage has to be 7.4 volts.
The operating temperature is -20-+40 degree centigrade and the antenna impedance is 50 ohms. However, the item is light since it weighs only 490g. Its dimensions are 124.4 by 61.49 by 33.88mm. The channel selectivity > or = 70db and intermediation < or = 65db.
Actually, this is one of the few radios that beginners can program with much ease. The battery in this ham radio remains active for 12 hours. What that means is that it is continuously receiving the signals as well as playing the audio.
In addition, this radio is well built to offer durability. More so, the push to talk and other buttons are also solidly built. Again, it is built in with cross band repeater which makes it perform better.
- Easy to read due to large display screen.
- Cross band repeater available.
- 999 programmable memory channels.
- 8 channels steps available.
- Rubber duck well engineered for TX and RX.
- Battery charger may be a problem to some buyers.
#3 Radioddity GD-77: Dual Band Two Way Radio
This Radioddity GD model of ham radio comes with several special features. Such includes dual band and dual time slot. This mobile ham radio has 2 frequency ranges. The VHF ranges from 136 to 174 MHZ. The UHF, on the other hand, ranges from 400 to 470 MHZ.
Besides, the GD-77 model walki talki has both the tiers one and two. These tiers are compatible with the Mortola and other digital mobile radio DMR. Having reviewed these 7 branded radios, we realized that it is a top quality ham radio for beginners.
This Radioddity GD model has the necessary certifications. That is; from FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and EC (European Commission).
Without doubt, that is a plus.
You see, the FCC is necessary due to frequency related issues. The EC is on the other hand, necessary due to electronic products. It possesses a high capacity battery which can run up to 18 hrs. However, when working on the standby mode, it can run up to 48 hours.
Amazingly, this is 30% more than other digital mobile radios. Well, that’s money back, right?
Here, the traditional charger has been replaced by the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port charger 12V, which you can conveniently use with the help of car charger adopter. In this device; functions like channel name editing, number editing, channel changing, can all be modified by the keypad of GD-77.
Not only that, the hardware used to construct this radio is solid enough to offer longevity. Additionally, the radio is by far easy to program than most radios. Again, the battery has a high power of 2200mah.
More so, it provides crystal clear sound regardless of the situation. Communication is also fast. On the left side, there’s a programming software tab, which enables you to join a talk group.
- Dual band and dual time slot arrangement possible.
- FCC and EI certification.
- Convenient USB port charger.
- Key pad can provide more functions.
- Editing memory channels possible.
- The receiver sensitivity is poor.
#4 Baofeng BF-F9 V2+: Tri-Power Ham Radio for Newbie
This Baofeng Red model comes with a tri power selectivity that includes a low, medium and high power output. This power output ranges from 1w, 4w and 8w. This helps to ensure that there is a low loss of power while the device is in operation.
In this product, still, there are three frequency ranges. The first one is FM commercial radio communication with a range of 65 to 108 MHZ. The second one, which is VHZ, ranges from 136 to 174 MHZ. Thirdly, we have the UHF which ranges from 400 to 520 MHZ. All these frequencies offers both transmission and reception.
Also, there’s a switchable wideband of 25 kHz and narrow band of 12.5 kHz. VOX (Voice Operated Switch) activate by sound and offset functions are incorporated in this tool. The other features that are included in this ham radio are dual standby, watch and A/B bands, which are independent in operation.
It is provided with transmitter time out timer (TOT) circuit that operates only when the PTT switch on the microphone is pushed up. Here, BCLO (Busy Channel Lockout) is also a special feature that prevents the user to transmit signals when the channels are busy.
Again, this is another high quality ham radio that has a tricolor bright display screen. Also, it is compact in construction and is durable due to external casing. The Baofeng Red BF model has the capability to reduce the noises caused by extensive signal intensity.
It is fully compatible with accessories of UV-5r model ham radio. It has a capacity of 128 programmable memory channels. In addition, the tool kit is provided with helpful programming guides. This Red BF radio can effortlessly be programmed with or without a PC. All you need is a private repeater.
- Tri power output settings possible
- VOX voice operated switch
- Transmitter time out timer
- Easy to read due to bright display screen
- Durable exterior casing.
- Quickly deleting a memory channel may be challenging.
- The battery changing is difficult.
#5 Baofeng UV-5R5: Two-Way Ham Radio Review
This two-way Radio is a compact ham radio transceiver whose VHF ranges from 136 to 174 MHZ. The UHF, on the other hand, ranges from 400 to 480 MHZ. On the other hand, it is compact in construction and includes VHF band of 65 to108 MHZ for FM commercial radio communication.
However, this device is small. Further, this product provides excellent display with dual frequency along with good quality antenna. Additionally, the tool possesses a good ergonomic design, having a 12hour rechargeable battery and a nice desktop charger.
This radio is capable of handling out band signals. Also, it can be used in outdoor activities like adventure sports, manufacturing industries, property management, hotels, hospital and many more areas.
It is equipped with multi functions like dual band and LCD. Moreover, it has 128 programming memory channels. Also this device has 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS encoding and decoding features.
It offers a high performance. Plus, it has wide and narrow bands. Still, it has a battery with a power saving option. Not only that, but it also have a voice operated switch which is activated through a sound. Again, there’s a key lock and built in flashlight.
The frequency selectable steps are 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5 and 25 kHz. This two-way radio comes with a high-quality antenna, SMA-j, high-quality battery BL-5 Li-ion, 1800mah and a 7.4v Ac adopter. You can easily set the frequency in multiple choices.
Some other important features are 1750hz burst tone, low battery alert, transmitter time out timer and keypad lock. The whole package includes one radio set, one li-ion battery, one antenna, one microphone, one belt clip, one adopter, one desktop charger and one user manual. We, therefore, conclude that this, too, is one of the best ham radio for beginners.
- New style from recent models.
- High quality antenna provided.
- Overall good ergonomics.
- Desktop charger is fantastic.
- Multi-function like dual band/watch/display available
- No programming software given.
#6 Baofeng UV5RA: Beginner Level Ham Transceiver
This Baofeng UV5RA model is a compact ham radio transceiver with an output power of 4 watts. It can operate at 65 to108 MHZ in a case of FM commercial radio communication. If, however it is VHF, it can operate at 136 to 174 MHZ. Nonetheless, the UHF operates at 400 to 480 MHZ.
The device is compact in construction and economical HT. It also supports dual reception and dual watch which can be seen alternately.
More so, you can easily program 128 memory channels. Baofeng UV5RA has some other features, too, like selecting wide/narrow band options, battery saving functions, voice operating switch that you activate using your voice or another sound.
The product has selectable frequency steps; 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5 and 25 khz. It also possesses a 2 selectable power output of 1W or 4W. This product comes with flexible female SMA antenna, 7.4v 1500mah, BL-5 Li-ion battery and AC adopter of 8.4v 600ma. It is also provided with a belt clip and PC03 FTDI program cable.
This Baofeng ham radio has PTT and A/B band, which are independently operated. The device incorporates 50 privacy codes CTCSS and 105 codes DCS features. It also has an emergency alarm. Also, the background light can be selected in tri-color and 0-9 VOX selectable.
The other important technical specification is frequency stability 2.5ppm, antenna impedance 50 ohm, standby consumption 380ma and simple or semi-duplex mode of operation. The receiver of this radio has a sensitivity of 0.2mv, intermediation of 60 db and audio of output 1w.
The whole package includes one radio unit, one Li-ion battery 7.4v 1800mah, 18cn dual antenna, one power adopter, one speaker, one battery charger, one belt clip and a user manual. Without doubt, this is one of the best handheld ham radio for beginners.
- Dual push to talk.
- 50 codes for CTCSS and 105 code for DCS.
- Emergency alarm available.
- LED flashlight.
- voice operated switch or circuit present.
- Programming not possible using a CD.
- Sometime the body gets heated.
#7 BTECH UV-5X3: 5 Watt Tri-Band Amateur Radio
This BTECH UV model comes with a tri-band VHF of 65 to 108 MHZ for FM commercial radio communication. The VHF starts at 136 to180 MHZ for both transmission and reception. On the other hand, UHF starts at 400 to 520 MHZ for both transmission and reception.
This ham radio has the features of DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency Decoding Frequency, automatic number identification (ANI) display, remote stun or kills code application.
It is a true tri-band transceiver with an internal filtering feature. This model has the traditional case design, which allows accommodation for a LI-ion battery. The filtering scheme allows full power in all bands.
The receiver sensitivity is fantastic and audio sound is clear and loud. This device has other important features, which are ability to scan frequency range and adding or removing memory channels from the menu.
Since this ham radio has a tri-color display, it has three color options; blue, orange or purple. This BTECH 5X3 mode ham radio has 7-alpha numeric characters. Again, it supports both upper and lower case. Furthermore, the manual programming is quite simple.
Some other important features are voice operating switch, busy channel lock- out and transmission time out timer. The software support can be obtained from daily build CHIRP. In this product, the new chipset RDA5802N and RDA 1846N can easily reduce any kind of noise. However, the programming cable requires extra two pins.
- Tri band frequency range.
- Busy channel can be locked.
- Squelch function available.
- Computer programming is easy to set.
- Dual display available.
- Programming is difficult with CHIRP.
Buyer’s guide to choose the best ham radio for beginners
By this time, we hope that you understand what a ham radio is. We also hope that you have gathered knowledge about its use and benefits. However, we are going to discuss some more important aspects of ham radios.
Firstly, you need to know that there are three type’s ham radios; portable or hand held, mobile ham radio and base station. It is needless to say that detail study and analysis are needed to find the ideal ham radio for beginners.
Both potable and base stations serve almost the same purpose. The mobile ham radio is a bit different in the sense that when you are a driver, you may need one so as to save yourself and others from unnecessary accidents.
Important technical terms about ham radio, must know for beginners
A band or a frequency band is nothing but a frequency interval in frequency domain. Usually, we normally have the FM, HF, VHF and UHF. FM (Frequency Modulation) works only with the local commercial radio communication.
Nevertheless, both the VHF and UHF can be used for local or short distance amateur communications. However, in case you want to communicate longer distance, the HF and VHF band communication is necessary.
❖ Output power:
In reality, most people assume that the more the power a radio can hold; the longer the distance it can cover. Unfortunately, the idea is partially correct. This is why. The whole unit may consume more power according to its size and the component used to construct it.
But it is good to note that the maximum and minimum power range for all type of ham radios varies from 5watts to 65 watts. Nonetheless, it is to be noted that a portable or handheld radio needs less power, while the mobile and base station needs more power to operate.
❖ Compact and sturdiness:
The unit should be compact in construction and sturdy. If the radio is strong enough; it is safe even when it suddenly drops from your hand. Again, a rugged radio can be used even in harsh condition. Plus, you won’t have an issues using it even for a long time.
❖ LCD display and memory channels:
Well, you cannot run a ham radio while in the dark or at night unless there is sufficient light. That’s why; the best handheld ham radios have a high quality LCD, which is very important in dark situations, which in fact are inevitable.
Actually, an illuminated keypad is very essential in such a position. The good thing is that it can easily store programmable memory channels, too.
❖ Weather alert and scan function
When a ham radio possess weather alert feature, you will be able to get weather alert from both the local authorities and NOAA. For instant, as a driver, while on the road, you can also get weather alerts. No doubt, that’s crucial due to your security purposes.
This is because you will be able to avoid hazardous roads. You may also decide to drive back to ensure you are safe.
On the other hand, due to the scanning function; you can easily find the desired frequency very quickly. After all, there are various types of scanning available such as the memory scanning, programming scanning, skip scanning, and full scanning among others.
❖ CTCSS and DCS encode/ decode:
CTCSS means Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System and DCS means digital code squelch. Both of the features are electronic circuits that reduce annoyance to the listeners.
Also, it adds your tone at a certain frequency into your transmission signal. Further, it offers a constant conversation in the same frequency.
Most of the ham radios come with a programming feature. Unfortunately, most beginners are not aware of it. See, programming can be done in 2 ways; one is manual. Here, you use the necessary buttons on the unit.
The other one is via your PC. This is the easiest, fast, and most convenient way. Nonetheless, you’ve got to learn how to go about it. More so, programming using your PC requires special software which you get from the manufacturers.
Get the equipment:
Several equipments are necessary when you acquire a ham radio. They include:
i. Transceiver, ii. Power supply, iii. Microphone, iv. Antenna, v. Antenna tuner, vi. Extra cable
A transceiver is a combination of a transmitter and a receiver. It is always advisable to buy a combined unit as it facilitates in easy use. Plus, it is handy to tackle as well as cost effective. The transceiver is the main unit and it costs around 60% of the total price.
Well, if you can operate the VHF band with a small handheld portable transceiver then, all the other necessary components will serve your purpose as well. When you, therefore, intend to buy ham radio equipment for beginners, then see to it that you also check the quality of the transceiver.
Nonetheless, without power you cannot activate the transceiver. So, ensure that you have it. Again, you should also ensure that it is compatible with the transceiver unit before you purchase it.
A low power may under power the transceiver, while a high power will over power it-both of these states are harmful.
So, you need an exact matching power supply. A quality antenna is very important for quality reception. However, it should not be metal-made. At least go for a dipole or yagi variety. Antenna tuner helps in matching the transceiver with antenna for better performance.
A microphone is a very important unit that sends voice SSB (Single Side Sand) in radio communication. In order to connect all parts and components you need some extra cable in your stock.
For this purpose, therefore, a 5/6 feet cable is sufficient.
In order to choose and buy best handheld ham radios, think of the type you need according to the needs you have. Consider if to buy a portable, mobile or ham radio base station. In case you are a commercial or occasional driver; think of a mobile radio, so that you can have it in your vehicle.
If not you should go for portable/handheld radio as a beginner. To choose the best quality ham radio for beginners, remember to take into consideration all the factors that we have discussed in these reviews.
After all, ours was to make it possible for you to have an easy time buying the radio you want as a beginner. In fact, that’s why we decided to review the 7 portable radios from different manufacturers.
We also discussed the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision. Additionally, we discussed the features, as well as functions so that you get a clear understanding of each radio before you decide to buy it.