For a new ham getting into the hobby of ham radio, the number of radios on the market (and their prices!) can be quite overwhelming. What radios can give you a good amount of features for a fair price, and get you on the air without getting you into debt?
I asked some other hams for their recommendations for radios for new hams, and these radios were popular choices.
Budget Technician (<$200): HT/mobile recommendations for a new tech licensee just getting into the hobby.
- Baofeng UV-5R+Plus (Amazon): Updated variant of the Baofeng UV-5R, recommended over the original. Dual-band (2m/70cm), extended RX/TX (136-174/400-520MHz), 4W, dual-watch, FCC Part 90. Can be programmed with Chirp or RT Systems BAO-5R. (The MicroCenter location near Philadelphia stocks these locally, though they’re not listed on the website.)
- Yaesu FT-60R (HRO, Amazon, GigaParts, AES): Dual-band (2m/70cm), extended RX (108-520/700-999MHz), 5W, FCC Part 15. Can be programmed with Chirp or RT Systems ADMS-1J.
- Leixen VV-898 (Amazon): Dual-band, extended TX/RX (136-174MHz/400-470MHz); FM Radio; FCC Part 90; 10W; Can be programmed with Chirp.
- BTECH Mini UV-2501 (Amazon): Dual-band, extended TX/RX (136-174MHz/400-520MHz); 25W; Download programming software here.
- BTECH Mobile UV-5001 (Amazon): Dual-band, extended TX/RX (136-174MHz/400-520MHz); 50W; Download programming software here.
Full-featured Technician ($200-$400): HT/Mobile/Base recommendation for someone willing to spend a little more.
- Yaesu FT-1D (HRO, GigaParts): Dual band TX (2m/70cm) with multiple band RX (0.5-774/803-999MHz), 5W, System Fusion Digital Voice (C4FM), GPS, APRS (w/messaging), waterproof (IPX5), FCC Part 15, Dual-receive, FM radio, FCC Part 15, pre-programmed with shortwave, weather, and marine frequencies. Can be programmed with Chirp or RT Systems ADMS-FT1D.
Budget HF (<$750):HF recommendation for a General class licensee wanting to get on HF without dropping a lot of cash.
- Icom IC-718 (Associated Radio, GigaParts, AES): TX (160/80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10 meters); Extended RX (0.3-29.999999MHz); Multi-Mode (USB, LSB, CW, RTTY, AM); 100W (SSB/CW/RTTY)/40W (AM); DSP; CI-V rig control port; optional voice synthesizer unit
Full-featured HF: (<$1500): Something full of features for a General/Extra class licensee, but still at a reasonable cost.
- Yaesu FT-857D (HRO, GigaParts, AES): Multi-mode (AM/FM/USB/LSB/CW/Digital), Multi-band (160m-70cm), 100W (HF)/50W (VHF)/ 20W (UHF), extended RX (0.1-56/76-108/118-164/420-470MHz), data port, detachable face, built-in DSP for bandpass/notch/noise reduction filtering, CAT rig control port. Can be paired with the ATAS-120A antenna (HRO, GigaParts) for one-touch tuning from 40m-70cm. Can be programmed with Chirp or RT Systems ADMS-4B.
- Yaesu FT450D (Amazon): Multi-mode (AM/FM/USB/LSB/CW), wide RX (30kHz-54MHz), TX (6-160M), DSP, built-in tuner, 100W
For radios that can be programmed with Chirp, here is the link.
If you have a radio you would like listed here, please contact me and include a link to a website that currently sells the radio so I can get pricing, specs, and link to it.