Which radio will you purchase for your first Amateur Radio station? The answer isn’t as easy as it seems. Do you want a large, full-featured transceiver for the HF bands? Perhaps a mobile radio for operating on VHF+ or even a tiny handheld transceiver?
Obviously, price is a big concern, so you’ll want to make sure that your radio will give you the best value possible for your money. Begin by scrolling to the bottom of this page and downloading Choosing a Ham Radio.
Before you decide on your purchase, review the advice offered here to help you focus on the features and functions you will need for the operating activities you plan.
Remember that your first radio doesn’t have to be brand-spanking new. There are many older transceivers that have years of useful service left in them. These transceivers (“rigs,” as hams call them) are often available for sale at online auction sites such as eBay. Whether you decide to purchase new or used, check the QST magazine Product Review Archive. In every issue of QST the ARRL Laboratory carefully evaluates the key characteristics of transceivers and many other types of equipment. They’ve been doing this for decades, so chances are the radio you’re interested in has been reviewed. Hams have learned to rely on QST Product Reviews as the primary source for objective information about new Amateur Radio products.
Note, however, that you must be a member of the ARRL before you can access the Product Review index. If you aren’t an ARRL member, this is a good time to sign up! Just look for the QST sign up button on this page.
Choosing a Ham Radio
This guide will help you sort out the features and functions to look for when selecting a radio. Learn More
What Rig Should I Buy?
A collection of articles and advice that will help you decide how to buy a radio that will meet your needs. Learn More
Compare Radio Features
Use this handy spreadsheet to compare radio features-- customize it to focus on features in which you have a particular interest. Learn More
Ham Ways Primer
This guide will explain some of the ways hams communicate that may differ from other types of radio communication. Learn More