The walkie-talkie is excellent to communicate with others within a range. But when you get out of the reach, there’s pinpoint silence—no way to get in touch with the other side.
That’s where the best ham radios can come to your rescue. When all means of communication goes down, this will keep you in touch with the world.
So, if you’re getting intrigued about it, then you should check out the beginner ham radio reviews to get more insight about the device.
Table of Contents
- Top Beginners Ham Radio – Comparison
- Best Ham Radios – Reviews
- 1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio
- 2. BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio
- 3. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 50 Watt Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio
- 4. President Lincoln II Plus (V3) 10 and 12 Meter Ham Radio
- 5. Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld Ham Radio
- 6. Radioddity GD-77 Dual Band Dual DMR Two Way Radio
- 7. BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Amateur Radio
- 8. Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
- 9. Motorola Talkabout T465 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio
- 10. Baofeng UV5RA Dual-Band Ham Radio
- Best Ham Radio For Beginners – Buying Guide
- Different Types of Ham Radio
- Use of Ham Radio
Top Beginners Ham Radio – Comparison
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Best Ham Radios – Reviews
Like every other thing in the world, the market has many ham radio kits to offer. It’s hard to go through all of them and pick just one.
That’s why, to make the job a bit easier on you, I’ve chosen the top 10 best beginner ham radio here.
1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio
First up, comes a device from the very famous BaoFeng. It’s none other than the BaoFeng BF-F8HP. And this one has many great features to offer.
The first thing that sticks up to you is the range. It uses 3-frequency modulation to do that. You’ve got the FM, VHF, and UHF. Using them, you can get up to 10 miles with the kit when there are minimal obstructions. In all conditions, it offers the same kind of reach with crystal clear sound clarity. And, that’s the average range you get with the V-85 antenna that comes with it. With longer antennas, you can further improve the range. Even maximizing the power output helps with that.
Besides the connectivity, the build quality of the device also gets good feedback. Here, you will get rubber covers for the electrical ports to avoid water getting into it. The plastic build holds together and doesn’t show any sign of wearing. Even the antenna that comes with it is super flexible, which makes the job easier for you.
With the BF-F8HP, you get a 30% larger battery. You will get 17 hours of use with no problem. And using the in-depth manual that comes with it, you can get the hang of the device fast.
- Power output of: 1, 4 and 8 watts.
- 30% larger battery life.
- Comes with an in-depth user guide.
- Frequency range: FM is 65-108MHz, VHF is 136-174MHz and UHF is 400-520MHz
- Has concierge customer help and support
- A PC03 FTDI programming cable for PC programming
- Tri-color LCD display
- Waterproof, dustproof plastic build.
2. BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio
For emergency communication, while going outdoors for camping, take the BaoFeng UV-82HP with you. It’s a powerful dual-band radio system that offers excellent range like the earlier BaoFeng.
As it is a dual-band Ham radio, you can communicate using both VHF and UHF frequencies. What’s great about it is a fact, you can transmit using one band and use another one to receive. You can keep an eye out on both frequencies, which gives you more open channels for communication. And changing between the 3-power outputs, you can make sure to get a more extended range for talk.
The ease of use is another thing that makes the UV-82HP better than many. You get a dual PTT button on the device. Use it two send on two-frequencies by pressing buttons up and down. Here, with this radio, you get 128 programmable channels. You can add or remove them using the software to make things simpler.
Other than that, you get a lot of extra stuff with it like the FM radio, flashlight, and emergency alarm. So, it’s not just a blatant remake of the earlier UV series. It’s more like a new soul to the old body kind of situation here.
- Available in 5-colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Camo and standard black
- Offers 3-power settings: High/Mid/Low
- FM Frequency range: 65-108MHz
- VHF Frequency range: 136-174MHz
- UHF Frequency range: 400-520MHz
- Dual band transmission
- Has a LCD screen.
- Busy channel lock system: BCLO
- Comes with a 80 page in-depth user’s guide
- High gain V-85 antenna
- Offers 128 programmable memory channels
3. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 50 Watt Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio
This mobile radio from BTECH has the setup like the ones you see police cars. It has a scanner box and a speaker mic. So, if you want a different kind of best ham radio starter kit, this can be your top pick.
Here, on the box, you get a multi-color LCD screen. This display is fully customizable. Therefore, you can adjust it the way you like. For example, you can customize the channels to show up on the screen by their alpha-numeric or frequency settings.
In this unit, you get 200 programmable memory channels. You can use your PC to set up the radio to get it to operate it the way you want. You even don’t need to program for new channels with this Ham radio. This one offers an on-the-fly system that lets you edit tones, squelch information from it.
With this unit, you get a higher power output. Here, you have a 50W high power setting and 10W low power setting. And just like all the other ones, you get the same frequency range with the FM, VHF, and UHF modules. You can expect to get more excellent range with it.
- Has quad watch display
- Frequency modification on-the-fly
- Mic audio gain settings
- Auto-power off function
- Auto scan and scan resume feature
- High and Low power setting: (50W/10W)
- Magnetic mount installation for antenna
- Comes with BTECH UV-50X2, Speaker Mic, DC Cable, Radio & Mic Brackets, Mounting Hardware, and User Guide
4. President Lincoln II Plus (V3) 10 and 12 Meter Ham Radio
Similar to the BTECH is the President. It’s the Lincoln II Plus. The more advanced version of the renowned Lincoln II.
So, what’s special about it?
Here, you get an added 12-meter band with the device. Instead of the CH19/9 key, it offers Emergency channels 1 and 2. And these are programmable. That way, when you need to get in touch with some frequency quickly, you can do that.
This device allows you continuous scanning through channels. Plus, using the Lincoln II, you can store six frequencies. I loved the fact; it has the lock function. So, if you accidentally press something on the unit, no need to panic.
On the right side of the control panel, you will find knobs to adjust the microphone gain and receiver sensitivity. That’s not all. It offers you a handful of other features. From changing the background color on display to adjusting the brightness to increased transmitter power, there is a lot to talk about it.
But what makes the Lincoln II plus unique from the rest is its ease of use. Even though it has a lot of buttons, you will get the hang of it in no time following the guide that comes with it.
- HF output power 35W PEP SSB
- FM output 35W FM
- AM is 12W RMS 48WPEP
- Rotary switch and Up/down channel selector
- Manual squelch and ASC
- Mode switch AM/FM/LSB/USB/CW
- VFO mode with continuous scanning
- Multi-functional LCD Display.
- Vox function
- RF gain/ Mic gain
5. Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld Ham Radio
For a starter Ham radio kit, the Yaesu FT-60R is more than perfect. Here, you will get dual-band support from the device.
This one uses both VHF and UHF bands. This one offers both 2 meter and 70cm band. Therefore, you can expect to connect to long distances with it, as well as it will work great as a short-range device like the walkie-talkie.
On the Ham radio, you will have an AlphaNumeric display, which is perfect to use in dark conditions. The lighted keypad also makes it ideal to use it at night. Plus, you will get scan modes with it too.
Herewith the Yaesu, you will get a lot of other features that make it perfect for regular use. For instance, it has a locking mode that makes sure to avoid those accidental channel changes. And with the thousands of memory channels at disposal, you can add and remove the ones you like with ease. On top of all that, it has NOAA weather alert to keep you updated about any imminent hazard or blizzard in your path.
- Dual band: VHF and UHF
- Frequency range (receive): 108-520Mhz and 700-999.99Mhz
- Frequency range (transmit): 144-148Mhz and 430-470Mhz
- Lock mode
- Has thousand memory channels
- Features NOAA weather alert
- Receives emergency channels in 800-900Mhz
- RF power output: 5W(high)/2W(middle)/5W(low)
- Includes 1400mA battery, antenna and charger
- Offers a belt clip for easy carrying
6. Radioddity GD-77 Dual Band Dual DMR Two Way Radio
If you’re looking for a device to use in a workplace environment, but don’t want to rely on the short ranges of the walkie-talkie, then Radioddity is for you. This GD-77 dual band Ham radio system provides you a better range than the typical communication systems.
The first thing that will excite you is the dimension. Compared to most of the others, this best handheld ham radio for beginners has a more compact and thinner body. It fits right in your hand.
Then under the PTT button on the side, you will find two-user programmable toggle buttons. These buttons work as hotkeys to give you access to features like scan on/off, Vox on/off, and other ones depending on your needs.
This device offers you a double wait mode. You can now monitor 2-channels at once using it. Not to forget, the tool lets you 10-15 hours of work time with its 2200mAh large battery, which already puts it ahead from the crowd.
You will get crystal clear sound quality in both Digital and analog mode with zero-background noise. No distortion of any sort. Whether you’re just starting with such a device or a pro of using it, you will enjoy it big time.
- Talking range up to 5KM
- Battery capacity: 2200 mAH
- Standby time: 24-36 hours, Work time: 10-15 hours
- Dual band: VHF+UHF
- Digital and Analog Mode
- Works with Hotspot/Repeater
- Comes with programmable PC cable
7. BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Amateur Radio
The UV-5X3 kept the classic design of the previous BTECH but made significant improvements to it. This device has new firmware and features updated that takes it to new levels.
Starting with the display synchronization. It is a new feature that cashes in on the LCD’s dual-line display. With this in play, you can now monitor two channel’s frequency at the same time.
Apart from the improvement in the display, this one has a brand new menu. Before the UV-5X3, you would require a computer to manage the channels scan list. But now you can do that from the device itself. Add or remove on the go with this latest BTECH.
Even they made it easier to use for the newbies. Unlike the previous UV-5 Ham series radios, you don’t need to delete and recreate channels from scratch. You can make modifications on-the-fly without doing any such thing.
What’s more interesting is that you don’t need to scan through full frequencies anymore. You can now browse in a specific range. If you want to look somewhere between 222-225MHz, do that—no need to go through the entire band range.
- Has tri-band Frequency Range
- All new display sync
- DTMF Remote Decode (Receive Remote Commands)
- Remote: Stun, Kill, Revive, Inspect, and Monitoring
- Selectable Frequency Range Scanning
- Remove and Add Channels from Menu
- Accessory Compatibility with ALL UV-5R and BF-F8HP accessories
8. Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
If you want a Ham radio within a tight budget, Baofeng got the Pofung UV-82 just for you. This two-way radio system, like most others, uses dual bands. It got both VHF and UHF bands on it.
Using this device, you can watch two channels at once. The semi-duplex allows that in the machine. And you will be able to do it, using the large LCD on it. You can select the background color on the display as it uses a tri-color system.
Besides that, you get 128 group channels to store your favorite frequency. Not to mention, the shortcut menu operation mode makes it easier to use. Alongside that, there are features like VFO and memory channel scans, emergency alarm, and more.
In many other Ham radios, the VOX feature gets missing, but this one has that too for hands-free operation.
- BaoFeng UV-82 has one built-in receiver
- Can watch 2-channels at once
- A/B band independent operation
- Has 128 groups channels storage
- Shortcut menu operation mode
- Get VFO & Memory channels scan and Emergency Alarm
- Tri-color background light selectable
- Offers VOX selectable and Time-out Timer
9. Motorola Talkabout T465 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio
Looking at the other beginner ham radio reviews, you might find them too complex to operate. So, take things nice and slow with the Motorola Talkabout.
This two-way radio is perfect to accompany you for camping or hunting. Here, you got a simple PTT button to get connected. There isn’t anything complicated about it. You get simply 22 channels in the unit. Each of those channels has 121 privacy codes on them. So, if you do the math, you get more combinations of frequencies to get on with your partner to have a clean line to talk.
Other than that, the Motorola offers you features like the NOAA weather channels and the alert system. So, you know what’s coming towards your way. And if you get into any problem, there is the emergency alert button that will transmit siren to the nearest person.
And to keep your hands free while roaming around, the device has the VOX function. But the thing that you will appreciate the most is the USB charging port, which makes it easy to charge.
- Dual power radio has 22 Channels, each with 121 Privacy Codes
- Offers NOAA Weather Channels and Alerts
- Has a Built-in Flashlight
- Quick Emergency Alert Button
- Splash proof IP54 water rating
- PTT Power Boost
- iVOX/VOX Hands-free operation
- Comes with a Carry Case and 2 PTT Earbuds Included
10. Baofeng UV5RA Dual-Band Ham Radio
The last one on the list is another Baofeng. It’s the UV5RA two-way ham radio. This one is a compact, economical device that offers a 2 meters band with 440MHz frequency.
Here, you have a VHF receive band that has a range between 65-108MHz. The other one is the typical FM broadcast band.
For scanning through frequencies fast, it has 128 memory channels. This one is also programmable. So, you can add or remove them on demand. Plus, you get a power output of 4 or 1 watts using the device.
Other than that, you get a battery save function that keeps it on standby to get long hours of use. You got the VOX to have a hands-free talk, plus the typical DCS/CTCSS encode and keylock features for secure use.
And don’t worry, when you’re camping in the forest, you also get a flashlight with it to show you the way.
- Offers Tri-color selectable background light
- 0~9 grades VOX selectable
- Dual PTT keys
- A/B band independent operation.
- Programmable channels
- Dual band transceiver
- Unit has a nice antenna
Best Ham Radio For Beginners – Buying Guide
The market got so many Ham radios that it’s hard to find the right deal from the sea of options. To make your decision easy, you first need to have a clear idea about the device’s features.
And if you’re lost here and don’t know a lot about the features of the radio, then this buying guide is the right place to start.
Right off the bat, you’ve got to make sure which bands the device uses to connect with others. In most cases, with such tools, you will find the use of VHF, UHF, HF, and FM bands. Of them, the latter gets used mostly for commercial radios.
Now, you can’t expect to buy any device and get all the bands. Many don’t offer the HF frequency. And it’s common when you’re looking into the amateur radio section of this kind of device. Here, they rely on the short VHF and UHF band ranges, which provide you a more extended range than the walkie-talkies.
But to connect with someone who is thousands of miles away from you, you’ve got to get the HF frequency. For that, look for devices that offer a 2-meter band. They should have a 144 to 148MHz range. However, it would be best for you to be ready to spend big on that.
The device looks like a simple walkie-talkie, but there are a lot of parts that go into I that make the unit work. So, let’s take a look at the essential components that come with the Ham radio.
The transceiver is the thing that will give you the ability to transmit and receive. So, if you think about it, it’s what makes the device what it is. Without it, there is no way to communicate. Therefore, having a quality transceiver in the unit is a must.
Without proper power, you can’t make the transceiver work. That means the Ham radio has to offer a powering system. Now, it can be either direct DC connectivity or using some battery. And it needs to have a balance. It can’t be too overpowering, nor can it be underpowered.
The range you will get with the best ham radio starter kit depends on the antenna it has. Without it, you can’t be able to get reception. In this regard, you’ve got to choose an option that has a magnetic attachment, which will make it easy for you to join and remove it from it fast and secure. With an antenna tuner, you will have it easy to match it with the transceiver.
I think this should be one of the things that you might want to consider first. That’s because if you’ve gone through the list, you have seen the radio comes in two distinctive design options.
You’ve got the one that you can handheld. Those are like your phones but a bit bulkier. Then there are the other ones that have a base station and a mic system which makes them more suitable to keep in a place like a car or in your home to use. Can’t carry it around with you. So, that’s something you’ve got to figure out at first.
After that, you’ve got to think about the build quality of the Ham radio. It should be ready for the drops and the harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, and other situations like such. So, pay heed to the quality for sure if you want to use it for several years.
Getting an excellent screen on Ham radio is a must. Here, you will see all the frequency bands and other settings right in front of you. Therefore, having a large, colorful display that lits is something that should be in your checklist. That way, you will have a clear vision like the day even at night conditions.
Programming the Ham radio is crucial to make it work just the way you want. Now, devices come with manual programming or PC programming. Some will even offer both.
In terms of the manual programming, you’ve got to use the buttons that are on the radio to make it set up the right way. Computer programming other hand is simple as you connect the Ham using the cable that comes with the package to your PC. Using the manual guide that comes with the device, you will be able to do them with ease.
Having the memory channels option is always a blessing. You don’t have to program the channels and keep the ones you use often set for a quick connection. Now, depending on the device you’re getting, you can get from hundreds to thousands of such memory channels. And these will be programmable. So, you can remove or add anytime you want.
Different Types of Ham Radio
Ham radio is a hobby for many. There are people in the world that use it to explore the unique way of communication.
If you’re also one of them who wants to learn the craft of using the amateur radio, you’ve got to first know about the types. Let’s check them out here.
Handheld Ham Radio:
The first one is handheld ham radios. It’s like your walkie-talkie’s in steroids. That’s because it offers more power to communicate at more considerable distances.
Now, this kind of device has limited power output. Therefore, compared to some of the other types, it has a shorter range. But with some modification like a long antenna, you can extend the range a bit further. Therefore, in camping conditions, it is a better way of communicating with your team than the walkie-talkies.
Mobile Ham Radio:
Taking it a step further is the mobile ham radio. These are the ones that usually you see mounted in vehicles. And as they use more power for transmission, you get a better range with it.
You can get 100 miles or more with them with ease. But for that, it would require to feed higher amount of power which you can imagine the car’s battery has to provide.
So, be vigilant about that. Otherwise, you’ve got to get stuck in the middle of nowhere as you car battery dies on you.
Ham Base Station:
Now, mobile radios can work as a station system. But some specific models get made to use from home or offices. You can’t move them around like the mobile ones as they require even more power to run. You can imagine the range you will get with them, but there is a lot of local laws that you’ve got to maintain to use them.
Manpack Ham Radio:
If you want a more extensive range while going out camping, the manpack option will offer you that. Here, you will get a device similar to the station models, which is large and compact. And therefore, you’ve got to put it in your backpack to carry.
Now, these devices run on a rechargeable battery. But unlike the mobile radio, they won’t offer the ease of carrying. Nor the battery would last for long.
Use of Ham Radio
Ham radio is a hobby for many. They use it to connect with other enthusiasts all over the world to share their love for this way of communication without any phone or internet. Unlike modern technologies, it requires knowledge to know how to be in touch with others using the device.
And it’s not for everyone. Only the passionate ones genuinely enjoy it. But if you’re new into the amateur radio world, you might want to know some use of it. Let’s figure them out then.
- Many people use mobile Ham radios on their cars. It comes handy as you will be aware of any emergency on the road like traffic in a particular area from them. Yes, there is your google maps and news channels, but the news comes slowly in those media. So, you will already get stuck in the middle of the jam when you get the news. But fellow Ham radio enthusiasts can save you from it.
- You can get news from government agencies about natural disasters or emergencies, too, as they also use such UHF and VHF bands to let know about situations like this often.
- It’s like learning a new skill. You can’t just get the device and start using it. No! You’ve got to get licensed to use the equipment. So, you’ve got to learn it, take an exam, and only if you pass, then will you get certified to use the Ham radio. This hobby will undoubtedly give you a sense of achievement.
- There is a whole community out there of Ham fans all over the world. Even in your locality, you will find such amateur radio clubs with fellow enthusiasts. It will give you a new place to connect and learn. And having the chance to interact with other parts of the world in this way will be far better as there is no toxicity here like the internet. You will only find people who are passionate about the thing.
How much does it cost to get started in ham radio?
If you don’t want a radio with a lot of features and want to get started, then a budget of 20-200 will be enough.
Can I buy a ham radio without a license?
You can. However, that way, you will only be able to listen. If you want to transmit yourself, then getting a license is a must.
Can a felon get a ham radio license?
Yes, he can. But to do that, he/she must provide sufficient proof to FCC to make them sure, he/she is eligible to get the license.
How far can a HAM radio transmit?
It can contact up to 2500 miles or more. But for that, you need to have a powerful device.
Can a ham radio pick up CB?
As most ham radio is a short wave, they can receive and transmit on CB, but it’s not legal.
Do ham radios work without electricity?
Some models don’t need electricity to run. They have their emergency power source. So, now, not all ham radios require electricity to work.
How far can a 5-watt ham radio transmit?
With no obstructions, a 5-watt ham radio can transmit around 6 miles.
Maybe for personal use, or fun or even thinking about emergencies, you can get the best ham radio for beginners.
It is a great way to communicate when all the standard methods fail.
Plus, it looks cool and seems like fun. Whatever your reasons are, try out any of the ham radios on the list and enjoy.