Posted in: New Hams Corner

New Hams Corner: Buying that first radio

Buying that first radio

So many people ask, “What should I buy to get on the air?” There is NO simple answer to that question. A lot of the issue is how much do you want to spend? If you have a few hundred dollars then your options are wide. If you only have a few bucks then you might be best to either save up or buy a used HT. As a technician most people will opt for a HT anyway because they can get on a local repeater and talk to people. A lot of fun things happen with the route, you get practice in using a radio and you can participate in so many activities.

If you want to reach further away you will probably want more power. A mobile radio and a power supply would be the best choice for you. There are so many types of mobiles that you might be so confused you forget about it. As a fellow ham for a recommendation on what they use and like. Most hams will tell you to buy a such and such radio because they are the best. Right there I stop them and ask why is it the best. The answers are almost comical…fewer buttons to push, more power or “That is what Joe Ham has bought in the past!”

I like two manufacturers of radios and for totally different reasons. One is the company makes all kinds of radios, not just ham equipment. I work with commercial radios so I look for a lot of features and durability.

The inexpensive portables that have hit the marketplace in recent years are a great first radio and can be thrown into a go-bag as a second radio for emergency communications. A lot of people will buy them in pairs or packs so they always have a spare radio. At $50 or less per radio it is a great investment.

If you want multiple bands in one radio that is a big feature that of course drives the cost up. But now you don’t need double the space. In today’s vehicles that can be a big selling point.

No matter what you are thinking always ask to try out a fellow hams rig to see if you like it. I was sold on a tri-band radio years ago just by seeing one and using it for a few minutes!

Find others who are purchasing at the same time. Often you can get a few dollars off the price because the vendor is shipping all to one address. The beauty in this is for programming everyone can use the same program and it only has to be built once!

Shop online, check with friends and test drive when you have a chance!


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