The Best Ham Radio For Beginners On 2019

Best Ham Radio For Beginners

Many think that ham radios are already a thing of the past. However, that should be a misconception that must be ended.

Ham radios, or amateur radios, are essential communication equipment. They can let people communicate from different places--even in space. It has a wonderful mechanism of connecting people without the use of the Internet or other conventional means. Of course, such a capability is useful during times when the cellular and data services are not available.

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Searching for the best ham radio for beginners should be an optimal move. After all, these radios don't have a straightforward interface. You still need to learn their fundamental functions so that you can operate them properly. Once you can understand how they work, making use of other ham radios should become an easy task already.

Here are some beginner-friendly ham radios that you should try!

Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/ 1200/9600 BPS Packet TNC, Built-in GPS, Echolink Ready, 5 Watts

I can definitely recommend the Kenwood TH-D72A as an excellent unit for those who want to get an introduction to the world of ham radios. This one features a robust design and construction that makes it a highly functional device for communication. But at the same time, it has a user-friendly design that is encapsulated in a compact shell. Learning all of its features should not cause you to scratch your head. This device is using a high-performance ARPS firmware so that it can GPS capability. It also has a programming software so that you can configure its settings in your PC.

If used continuously, this ham radio can last for approximately 6 hours. The highest power output of this device is 5 watts, which is powerful enough to reception and transmission. You can still reduce the power output of this device down to 0.05 watt if you want to save power. Furthermore, if you deactivate its radio feature and other capabilities so that it will work as a GPS tracker, its battery lifespan will extend up to 30 hours. Designed with rigidity in mind, you can guarantee that the TH-D72A is made to outlast tough situations.

Pros

  • Capable of receiving transmissions from both bands
  • Features a waterproof construction
  • Highly durable and impact-resistant
  • Power output can be adjusted to save more battery
  • The control pad is easy to read and operate.

Cons

  • No known issues.
Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF / UHF Amateur Radio Transceiver

Another impressive ham radio for beginners is the Yaesu FT-60R. It is a dual-band transceiver that is capable of establishing communication lines in great distances. It is packed with multiple features as well, so that using it will be convenient in your part. It features Alpha-Numeric display and scan modes for optimal user experience. You can appreciate that it has a lighted screen so that you can use it on dark conditions. Furthermore, it is also compatible with CTCSS/DCS system. Because of this, the device can deliver messages clearly without static disturbances due to interference.

This device can be used in different settings and applications. After all, it has been constructed to rugged and durable. Even if it got soaked in the water, the radio would not get damaged. It is something that you would want, especially if you are exploring the outdoors or you are doing rough field operations. This ham radio has over a thousand of memory channels and NOAA weather alert system. It also has a locking mode feature that prevents you from accidentally changing the frequency.

Pros

  • Minimizes interferences and other signal disturbances
  • Comes with a high power output
  • Features emergency channels and weather alert system
  • Includes a rugged high-gain antenna for enhanced reception
  • Battery life is pretty extensive.

Cons

  • Microphone output does not secure external plugs properly.
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) is arguably one of the best ham radios today for beginners. It has been constructed by a well-known radio manufacturer, BaoFeng, which makes it extremely reliable. This one is an upgraded version of the previous UV-5R models. But this doesn't mean that it has been stripped with various user-friendly functionalities. You can always have this device as your starting point in learning the ins and outs of ham radio operation.

This ham radio provides excellent power rating. From the previous 4 watts, the new UV-5R is already running with an 8-watt capacity. It is a great upgrade that serves well those who want to use the radio for long-distance and extensive applications. The shell of this device has been revamped as well. It is so sturdy and robust that it doesn't get damaged if you accidentally drop it. Furthermore, it has a seamless construction so that water and other elements cannot penetrate its system. Meanwhile, its battery life has been extended as well.

Pros

  • Adjustable power setting
  • Receptive with various FM radios
  • Features a compact and hand-held design for more comfortable use
  • Comes with a high gain antenna for improved reception
  • Built to withstand severe environments and weather conditions.

Cons

  • The range is not as vast as other ham radios.
Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver - HF, VHF, UHF All-Mode 100W Remote Head Capability

The Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver is nothing short of impressive. This one showcases the traditional setup of ham radios that you are all familiar with. This one can be brought in your vehicles and boats, thanks to its minimized footprint. It is lightweight but comes with the right durability and ruggedness at the same time. This radio receives the following frequency range: 0.1Mhz to 56Mhz, 118-164Mhz, and 420Mhz to 470Mhz. It has a stable reception and provides exceptional transmission integrity.

This amateur ham radio can be easily mounted in the in-dash slots of vehicles. Despite its small size, it still has the same features as other radios out there. It supports HF, UHF, and VHF bands at the same time. Moreover, this radio has an adjustable power output of 5 watts to 100 watts, which is downright fantastic for a beginner ham radio. It is noted that this device can store up to 200 memory channels. The memory channels can be customized so that you can assign names to them.

Pros

  • Designed to contain all the features that are present on professional ham radios
  • Compact construction allows you to store it on the in-dash slots of your vehicle
  • Comes with a wide array of power adjustment
  • Features a highly readable screen with a backlight
  • Supports HF, UHF, and VHF frequencies.

Cons

  • No known issues.
Kenwood TM-281A 144MHz FM Transceiver

You can always rely on the performance of the Kenwood TM-281A. It is a compact transceiver that provides powerful means of communication. It has a plethora of features that you can utilize to maximize its capabilities such as scanning function and memory channel configurations. Moreover, this one assures that tit deliver high-quality and audible audio so that you can hear what the other line is telling. This one has a large speaker to boast with, and that's something that cannot be found on other ham radios.

Of course, it is worth noting that this unit has exceptional durability. After all, it is a MIL-STD compliant ham radio. This alone proves that this device is meant to tackle harsh environments. Meanwhile, the ease of operating this unit is second to none. From the large LCD screen down to the illuminated keys, this ham radio ensures guaranteed user-friendliness. The compact construction of this ham radio makes it an exceptional travel-worthy device.

Pros

  • Offers impressive durability and waterproofing
  • Highly ergonomic and easy to operate
  • Comes with a large speaker for highly audible sounds
  • Features a 65-watts maximum power output
  • Illuminated screen and keypad.

Cons

  • Only comes with two power settings.

How To Choose The Best Ham Radio For Beginners

How To Choose The Best Ham Radio For Beginners

Right from the start, I always emphasize that mobile devices are still not enough to replace the services of radio communication. There's no way your smartphone or computer can supersede them, if they can operate even without the help of the Internet and cellular lines.

There's a lot of conveniences that you can get just by having a ham radio. It is for that reason why many are still interested in learning how to operate the device. In fact, others would go as far as getting a license to become technical operators of this radio.

Contrary to the belief of some, ham radios are not difficult to use. Although they have technical aspects that require learning, this doesn't discount the fact that anyone can have mastery over these radios.

Fortunately, commercial ham radios are already available today. You no longer need to find antique versions of ham radios just to have a grasp about them. But of course, there's still a need for you to know which ham radios are good for starters. I prepared a guide below that should help you out if in case you want to do the shopping by yourself.

Sound Clarity

When it comes to radios, audio clarity is a must. You will never want a radio that generates audios that are too low or inaudible. Of course, you must avoid those that tend to crackle. You will never hear the other line clearly if you are going to pursue them.

The audio integrity of various radios is dependent on their speakers. The better the fidelity of the speakers, the clearer and cleaner the sound that the ham radio can produce. Luckily, modern entry-level ham radios are not lacking when it comes to this capability. For instance, most of the ham radios I featured here are notably excellent when it comes to sound delivery.

Here is a video that further explains some of the basics of ham radios:


Rigidity

It is essential for ham radios to be rugged at all times. After all, most of the applications that these radios are used usually involve the elements and harsh conditions. For instance, it is pretty common for these radios to be taken on areas where the conditions are not that friendly. If you are going to expose them to rain, dust, or snow, you have to make sure that they survive.

Even if we are just looking for some beginner-friendly ham radios, this doesn't mean that it is completely okay to settle with flimsy and shabby units. One way or another, you need to make sure that the device is waterproof. Furthermore, it should come with a seamless design so that tiny particles can penetrate the device and compromise its circuits.


Frequencies And Modes

There are different types of ham radios today. Most of the time, they are differentiated based on their compatibility with various frequencies. According to some, the more frequency band that ham radio can support, the better its performance becomes. But of course, this is just based on some subjective preferences.

Many radios today can support both Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF). The same story goes with walkie talkies, CB radios, and other modern radio equipment. When a radio is compatible with VHF and UHF frequencies, it means that it is a dual-band. Therefore, it is capable of transmitting on the 70 cm band (420MHz to 450MHz) and 2-meter band (144 MHz to 148 MHz). Keep in mind that high-end ham radios are capable of monitoring several bands simultaneously while listening to only one band.

At this point, the ham radio you choose must have at least compatibility to both of these frequency bands. In this way, it can access different channels. You have to keep in mind as well that it depends on the area if your radio can cover the following bands: 1.2 GHz, 222 MHz, and 50 MHz. The first one is commonly used in areas where there is a dense population. Meanwhile, the remaining two are typically used for emergency purposes.

Still confused? Check this video for extra explanation:

Bottom Line

When choosing the best ham radio for beginners, it is crucial that you can consider all of the things that I have mentioned here. They will guide in finding the right ham radios that you can utilize efficiently. You can also consult local ham radio operators if you want to have a further understanding of the technicalities of this device.

Meanwhile, you are also free to choose the radios that I have featured here. All of them are great for those who are still new to the world of ham radios. They come with simple operation. However, you can guarantee that they are complete enough to serve your intended applications.

That's it for now. If you have questions about radios and other communication devices, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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