Ham Radios Review
Why Buy a Ham Radio?
Ham radios are a popular choice for getting on the air and in contact with other hobbyists. In the event of an emergency, these devices serve a crucial role in opening the lines of communication with others to help find aid or contribute toward rescue efforts. People use ham radios primarily as a hobby for short-range transmissions, connecting with other operators within their neighborhood or across hundreds of miles.
Worldwide, people regularly communicate with one another through a frequency spectrum on amateur radios. Operators of ham radios number in the millions, which means you can potentially get in contact with people from numerous geographic locations using radios such as the Icom ID-51A, the Kenwood TH-F6A or the Ranger RCI-2950DX. You can easily network with individuals from a few miles away to more than 100 depending on your ability to leverage repeaters and stronger output power signals. Learn more about how to communicate with other hobbyists and stay safe outdoors in our articles on ham radios.
Handheld Ham Radio: What to Look For
Whether this is your first time exploring the world of ham radios or you’ve been doing this for several years, purchasing a radio depends on what you’ll use the radio for as well as your budget. People often overlook handheld and mobile devices due to their limited capabilities compared to larger stationary setups. However, portable ham radios cater more to the amateur and hobbyist and are ideal for emergencies and short-range communication.
Handheld and Mobile Radios
Amateur radio equipment comes in multiple forms, from handheld to mobile transceivers. Handheld devices are ideal for light emergency communication and monitoring public service events. The limited size impacts its battery life, which also shortens the device’s range. You can use mobile transceivers in cars or in a fixed station and they typically come with better ranges and supported frequencies.
Frequencies and Modes
In order to use FM repeaters and simplex channels, your portable ham radio must be capable of sending communication on these popular frequencies. In the world of ham radios, accessing these repeaters is necessary to reach other individuals on their own devices. The most popular radios are dual-band, meaning they can transmit on both 2 meter and 70 centimeter bands. This means you can listen to one band while transmitting on the other, increasing your ability to effectively communicate with multiple operators.
Input and Output Power
Power is imperative because it impacts the handheld ham radio’s communication range. Successfully hitting repeaters and making simple contacts require a device with enough output power to send the signal. Your geographic location is factored into the power levels of a device. Being around flat, open areas naturally requires less power. The typical radio should be capable of three to five watts of output power to adequately send a signal.
Ham radios are excellent devices for getting you on the air. Handheld devices often prove to be the least expensive method, but are also among the most limited in terms of capabilities. While larger models will typically require a greater cost investment, they offer more features. With all devices, you’ll encounter additional expenses to purchase batteries, chargers and aftermarket antennae, but the end-result is still the same: a ham radio that puts you in touch with the surrounding community as a hobby and in an emergency.