Equipment Recomendations:

 

General InformationHam Equipment

  • Name Brand Radios: Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom
  • Radio Retailers: DX Engineering, Ham Radio Outlet, The Antenna Farm, GigaParts
  • Mobile radios because of their 50+ watts of power and inherently better antennas have significantly better range. Mobile radios are great for a base station, automobile or go-kit. They don’t make VHF/UHF base station specific radios anymore.
  • Handheld (aka Handi-Talkie or HT) radios are nice because of their portability, but they have compromised antennas and are typically limited to 5 watts, so will not consistently “hit” all local repeaters.
  • Below are what I believe to be the best radios at different price points. All of these radios are Excellent. Do not think for a second that in order to get a good radio you need to buy a radio at one of the higher price point, because that simply isn't the case. What you are getting in purchasing a radio at a higher price point are more features. Think of it like buying a car; all the radios listed below are high quality Toyotas that will get you from point A to B, it just depends if you want to buy a base model Toyota, or can afford to buy one that is fully loaded with all the bells and whistles. Unlike cars, Amateur Radios have excellent resale values, so if you decide later on you want to upgrade radios you should have little problem selling your old gear and getting most of your money back. 

First Radio -Mobile or Base

  • 2m single band, single VFO, Mobile Radio
    • Yaesu FT-2980R $140 (Name Brand, Quiet/no fan, 80 watts, affordable)
  • 2m/440 dual band, dual VFO, Mobile Radio
  • 2m/440 dual band, dual VFO, Mobile Radio
    • Icom ID-5100 $380 (Name Brand, Cross Band Repeat, simultaneous VFO/Alpha display)
  • 2m/440 dual band, dual VFO, Mobile Radio
    • Kenwood TM-D710G $580 (Name Brand, Cross Band Repeat, simultaneous VFO/Alpha display, TNC for packet($100-$200value), APRS)        

Second Radio -HT

  • 2m/440 dual band, single VFO, HT
    • Yaesu FT-4XR $80 (Name Brand, affordable, receives 65-108, 136-174MHz, 400-480MHz)
  • 2m/440 dual band, single VFO, HT
    • Yaesu FT-60R $155 (Name Brand, highly recommended, receives 108-137MHz, 137-520MHz, 700-999.990MHz)
  • 2m/440/220 Tri band, dual VFO, HT
    • Kenwood TH-D74A $520 (Name Brand, great display, simultaneous VFO/Alpha display, TNC for packet, APRS, D-Star)

Other Mentionable Radios

    • Baofeng, $35+ (The cheap option; have poor directions, difficult to program, and questionable reputation)
    • Icom IC-7300, $1,100 (HF Radio, The undeniable best bang for the buck HF rig, for General & Extra Class operations)

VHF/UHF Antennas

  • Diamond Base Antenna, X50A OR X300A From DX Engineering. (The X300A is a bit better, but it is taller)
  • NMO Mobile Mount
  • Magnetic Mobile Mount

Power

To plug your mobile radio into your home wall outlet you will need a power supply. A high amperage switching power supply such as the Kenwood KPS-15 will work fine for most applications. If however you will also be powering an HF rig, you will want something such as the Astron RS-35M-AP, which is a higher Amperage and “Linear” supply. "Linear" power supplies do not create RF noise, but they are physically larger and heavier than “Switching” power supplies.

Power Supplies:

    • Kenwood KPS-15, 23 Amp Continuous “Switching” Power Supply $146
    • Astron RS-20A, 16 Amp Continuous “Linear” Power Supply $153
    • Astron RS-35M-AP, 25 Amp Continuous “Linear” Power Supply $236 (Only Needed If you plan to get your General license and do HF)

Optional Power Accessories:

    • West Mountain Radio PWRgatePG40s (This device is used in combination with a Power Supply to charge and maintain a 12v deep cycle car battery AND create an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS))
    • Anderson Power Pole Crimper, Connectors, and Wire (If customizing power connections Anderson Power Pole connectors are the unofficial standard, but they are costly)

Feedline

Programming Software & Cable

If your radio does not come with programming software and a cable to connect your radio to a computer for programming purposes, I suggest you buy software and cable from RT Systems. RT Systems makes great after-market software and cables for nearly any Amateur Radio in existence. The only exception being, if you have a Baofeng radio, in which case you will want to use free “CHiRP” software that you can download from the web. You will need to buy a cable, I recommend the “Tenway Baofeng USB Programming Cable Win 7/10, 64Bit for Baofeng UV-5R, BF-888S, H-777” from Amazon.