What Radio Should I Buy?

I am going to attempt to address one of most frequently-asked questions of new hams and even more seasoned veterans. What radio should I purchase?

The simple non-answer is the radio that meets your needs and that you can afford. The real question is what does this mean? There are so many options and selecting a radio can be a very personal decision. What is your goal? Are you looking for a 2m only? Would you like a 2m/70cm dual-band? Do you want an HT that is portable or a mobile radio? Maybe you would like to get into HF? There are shack-in-a-box radios that have HF/VHF/UHF all in the same radio. There are so many options it can be daunting.

I will do my best to provide some useful info but just remember these are my opinions. If you ask 15 hams their opinion on this topic, you will likely get 15 different answers.

Many new hams start out with an HT of some sort. When I started out many years ago even old used HTs were quite expensive. Today you can purchase a Baofeng from Amazon for well under $50. It will work but it is a very basic radio and it can be difficult to program without a computer. Many models are also known to have lots of spurious emissions which can be an issue. Just remember you get what you pay for.

If you are looking for an expensive HT, I would look at the Yaesu FT-65 or the Yaesu FT-70. These are both dual-band 2m/70cm HTs that operate on one frequency at a time. They are slightly more expensive than a Baofeng but the quality is much higher.

On the mobile front, Icom and Yaesu each have a couple of mobile radios that would be good options. Icom has the IC-V3500 which is 2m only and also the IC-2730 which is dual band 2m/70cm. The IC-2730 can receive 2 frequencies simultaneously. Yaesu has the FTM-6000 which is dual band but only one frequency at a time. They also have the FTM-200, FTM-300 and FTM-500. These 3 radios are similar with the FTM-500 being their flagship. The FTM-200, FTM-300 and FTM-500 also support the Yaesu System Fusion digital mode. I am mentioning it but I am not covering digital modes this week. I will cover at a later time.

I have found some really good videos that go through a good selection of radios and summarize their features. None of them are all-inclusive but they do give you a good idea of what is available. I am including a few that I think are helpful and are fairly recent.

Again, it is difficult to find agreement on radio recommendations. Everyone has their own opinion but hopefully this points some of you in the right direction. Just remember that we (EARS) are here to help you! If you have any question at all, please contact us so we can help.

If you have any questions about anything radio (or EARS) related, feel free to contact us at k5eok@k5eok.org and we will do our best to help.

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