What radio for a new Ham?

K7ICY/ Ken Tolliver

I have been asked by many new Hams in the last few weeks about what radio they should get. 

It's really hard to say. However, using my 'keep it cheap' philosophy I will let you know what I would recommend for new Hams right now.

In my order of priority:

#1. Don't waste your time and money on a 4 or 5 Watt HT(Name brand or otherwise). You need more power. Get an Cheap 8 Watt HT. Then Get on the air. Be sure to get a Nagoya NA-771 or similar upgraded Whip Antenna for your HT too.

#2. Get a Mag Mount for the HT that will work for a Mobile Radio too. Then get it on the air.

#3. Then get a Cheap Dual-Band Mobile Radio with 20 Watts or more. A 25 Watt Mobile will plug right in to your car's cigarette lighter port. Then get it on the air with your Mag Mount.

#4. Get a 12 Volt DC Power Supply to operate the Mobile at home(using your Mag Mount). Then get on the air at home.

#5. Build a Copper J-Pole Antenna. Then get it on the air.

#6. Buy a GP-3, or GP-6, or GP-9 (or similar) Antenna and coax cable. Install it on your house. See how great it works. 

#7. If you have made it this far, sure, go ahead and spend some money on a name brand Mobile Radio. I'd still stick with the $45 8 watt BaoFeng HT's.

See the attached pdf which lists some radios and accessories.

Some of you more experienced radio operators--- give us your recommendations too. My view is -- don't spend a lot until you know what you are doing and know what you want. You can always buy a FT-8900 later.


Ken Tolliver