In case the name doesn’t give it away, a transceiver is a device that lets you both transmit and receive signals.
Needless to say, a ham radio base station will allow you to do that with radio signals. But I bet you don’t just want any transceiver. You want the best ham radio transceiver.
Well, fear not, because after you’re done reading our ham radio transceiver reviews, you’ll know exactly what you need.
Best Ham Radio Transceiver – Comparison
President Lincoln II Plus
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TYT TH-9800 Transceiver
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QYT KT-980 Plus
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What are the Best Ham Radio Transceivers?
If you are looking for a Ham Radio that will allow you to receive and send signals without interruptions, then you should probably get yourself a Transceiver. For the best currently available, check the summary below to know which to purchase.
Best Overall: Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver
It is portable, has a 100watt power output, has a good frequency range, and many features that accompany it make this one of the best ham radio transceivers.
Best Portability: Yaesu Original FT-450D Ham Radio Transceiver
If you are looking for a small compact transceiver that does everything well, you need to get yourself this one.
Best for Experienced Users: Yaesu Original FT-991A Ham Radio Transceiver
This transceiver has lots of dials and controls that might be a little bit too much for beginners but excellent for experienced users to play with.
Best Power Efficiency: Galaxy DX-2517 Base Station 10 Meter Radio
It has low power output, but it uses that power to the maximum, making it extremely power efficient.
Budget-Friendly: Kenwood TS-480HX HF/50 MHz Amateur Transceiver
It has a large functional LCD, 200W power output, and many other small useful features that make this an excellent transceiver.
Best Memory: Alinco DX-SR8T Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver
If you are looking for a transceiver with decent storage, this one offers you 600 memory capabilities enough for your needs.
Ham Radio Transceiver Buying Guide – Features to Consider
There are some most important factors you never underestimate when you want to buy a ham radio to work with.
You need a license to talk on ham radio, so you need a base station that offers the frequencies you are licensed to use. Different licenses authorize you to use different frequencies, so knowing the frequency ranges that your particular ham transceiver supports is important.
This is not as much of a concern, because most ham radio transceivers tend to have output in the range of 100-200 watts, and that’s plenty. If you want a cheap ham radio base station and much less powerful than the standard transceivers that most ham radio users will use, you are probably going to get a device that has about 25watts of output.
Again, this another factor that is likely to be preceded by a lot more other factors that directly affect the usefulness and user experience, it is still something you might give a thought or two about just to get that added bit of convenience from using your ham transceiver. Some LCD displays are single color, others offer multiple colors, which may make it easier for you to use the ham radio base transceiver.
Scan settings are likely to be in one of three possible settings. The automatic scan looks through frequencies to see if there is any transmission in a particular one, and the radio will display that one in particular. Manual scanning, usually done through a dial, lets you manually tune to a frequency. Search scanning looks for transmissions between a set of frequencies and is used to find out if there is any broadcasting at a particular frequency in that immediate moment.
This is probably not for the amateurs who are looking to just get into ham radio, but if you have some experience with them, you might want to explore what degree of programmability your transceiver offers. Transceivers let you do a lot of tinkering around and with them to create channels and select bands and a host of other things. Being able to customize the ham radio transceiver for the way you want to use it will really enhance your enjoyment of ham radio,
You know that buzzing noise that you get when you try to tune your granddad’s 1950s radio? Well, this is where the squelch feature comes in. You’ll want your high-quality ham radio base station to have squelch to make sure that any time a channel does not actually have any transmission in a particular frequency, you’re not left listening to a continuous buzz indefinitely until you change it to something with some actual transmission.
If the title seems a bit confusing, this is basically talking about the different types of standards that are used in both analog and digital radio formats. Yes, I must clarify that even analog and digital are technically two different types of broadcasts. You should be quite familiar with the analog standards, AM and FM. There are a bunch of digital standards too! Find out which one you need.
CTCSS and DCS are basically two different types of squelch mechanisms. They are built-in so that if several users are using a channel simultaneously, you can reduce the noise coming from inactive users. The problem here is that if two users are using different mechanisms, their transmissions might also be negated.
Design and Quality
If you’re the performance-centric type, this isn’t going to worry you too much, but if you want this new addition to your household to blend in well, you’ll want it to look nice at least! And quality matters if you plan to use the ham radio base transceiver for long periods of time (you don’t want heat build-up in the case to kill your ham radio base transceiver).
Number of Memory Channels
This is basically the number of different radio frequencies that your radio can automatically save into its memory. This way, you can quickly access a lot of different radio frequencies with the touch of a button. A bit like how TVs work, really! the top base transceiver for ham radio has good numbers of memory channels.
Antenna and Antenna Tuner
Some ham transceivers come with built-in antennas and built-in tuners. The built-in antennas usually aren’t that great, but having an antenna as a beginner saves you from delving into the world of antennas, another world full of complex tech! A tuner may not be necessary for the antenna, depending on the auto-tuning capabilities of your ham transceiver.
Depending on your preference, you might want to stick to the known, premium brands if you are unsure about the quality. Yaesu, a brand that makes great ham radio base transceivers, might be a safer bet for beginners whereas seasoned veterans may be more feature and price-sensitive and disregard the name tag altogether.
Best Ham Radio Transceiver – Reviews
Some top rated and popular ham radio transceivers are reviewed below. Lets start!
1. Yaesu FT-857D All-Mode Amateur Radio Transceiver
The Yaesu FT-857D is one of the best HF ham radio transceiver on this list, and it offers access to radio frequencies in the high (HF), very high (VF) and ultra-high (UHF) frequency ranges. This all band ham radio base transceiver offers the same quality of performance as a base station, but it’s portable! Just hook it up to an external battery and this unit is small enough to take with you, in your vehicle, in a backpack—it’s your choice.
It has the same 100W input that is required for most transceiver devices. No unpleasant surprises there!
Due to the very versatile range of frequencies, you can be sure that this unit will easily receive all shortwave frequencies and most conventional radio channels. That makes it one of the top-rated hf ham radio transceivers on the market.
The FT-857-D lets you store 200 channels in memory so you can go to your favorites quickly and easily. And 200 channels is a massive selection.
It even includes a microphone that you connected to the transceiver with a short cable and a power supply so you can get it up and running, standalone. It needs an antenna to pick up the signals so you can use it as a ham radio base station.
The controls offer options that will keep the most experienced ham radio operators happy. At 6.1” x 2” x 9.2”, this is a small unit
- The included microphone lets you start talking to other ham operators around the world.
- Power supply is built into the device so external power isn’t necessary.
- 200 different memory channels.
- In addition to the standard ham radio bands, this unit receives public safety broadcasts, weather broadcasts, AM and FM broadcasts, and aviation communications.
- It gives you access to a wide range of frequencies. It transmits on HF, 50 MHz, 144 MHz, and 430 MHz amateur radio bands, and receives the 100 kHz to 56 MHz, 76 to 108 MHz, 118-164 MHz, and 420-470 MHz bands.
- The big tuning dial makes it easy to find and tune in the channels.
- The range of controls makes this best suited to experienced ham operators.
2. Yaesu Original FT-450D Compact Ham Radio Transceiver
With a power rating of 100 watts, this Yaesu Original FT-450D ham radio transceiver comes in at a rather small form factor(9″W x 3.3″H x 8.5″D) that’s ideal for cramped spaces and won’t take much desk space if you want to keep it someplace like the attic or the garage. Since it’s powered by a 13.8 VDC 22 amp external power source, you can take it with you or use it indoors.
This unit handles the HF and 6M frequencies (160 through 6 meters). It features a handy, built-in automatic antenna tuner! So you do not have to spend more money on getting an antenna or tuners. Also, it has a 10 Khz roofing filter that protects the IF and DSP stages.
The LCD frequency display offers larger-than-usual characters so it’s easy to read. And even better, it has backlit key buttons! So if you’re working in low light conditions, you can find the right controls and use them easily.
- Very compact size makes for easy storage and transportation.
- Has a built-in, automatic antenna, making it easier to use the transceiver and saving you the cost of buying an antenna.
- Backlit keys are really handy
- The filter helps to get better signal quality
- Supports digital and analog signals.
- Complicated dials and controls.
3. Yaesu Original FT-991A All Mode Ham Radio Transceiver
The Yaesu Original FT-991A is another all mode ham radio transceiver on this list, with support for the MF/HF/VHF/UHF bands, and 100 watts of power in the HF/50mhz range, and 50 watts in the VHF/UHF bands, the Yaesu Original FT-991Ais slightly bigger than many counterparts. It’s 8.8″ x 3″ x 9.9″ and weighs in at 9.7 pounds. This is one of the best hf transceiver for the money ever made.
With a rather colorful TFT panel in front, flanked by a whole host of different buttons and dials and jacks, you have a lot of versatility with this device and what you can do with it. The best part about the display is that it supports touch functionality too!
It has two connectors on the body for antennas so you can use two different antennas with different frequency support ranges. This should make it slightly better in terms of transmitting and detecting signals.
This is a great choice for experienced ham radio operators. It might be too complicated for new users but this is definitely one of the best all band ham radio transceiver.
- Touch controls on the display
- Full of dials and buttons for additional usability and control.
- High grade auto tuner is built in.
- Includes100 channel memory.
- Support for all frequency ranges up to ultra-high.
- High grade noise filter deafens background buzzing.
- The wide range of options included on this model may be too much for new users.
4. Galaxy DX-2517 Base Station 10 Meter Radio
The Galaxy DX-2517 is also one of the least power-consuming devices, as it uses 25W maximum output power for SSB, and 10W maximum output power for AM.
It has support for a range of radio channels using AM, FM, CW, PA and SSB radio. For a rather weak device in terms of power and features, this is actually quite a commendable thing to have.
This unit comes included with some useful features, including. a noise filter is built into the circuitry, two large, easy-to-read meters; meter scales for signal, power output, SWR and modulation (AM only); red/green Transmit/Receive LED lights and a variable dimmer control.
A small LCD panel in the front lets you see the settings but the large host of analog controls in front is what will most likely catch your eye and definitely one of the best 10 meter radio you can buy.
- Very power efficient and uses low power in general.
- Has a built-in noise filter to cut background buzzing and other noises, making the signals clearer.
- Small but useful LCD display.
- Customization of both reception and transmission gain.
- Low range of frequencies supported.
- Limited to one band.
5. Kenwood TS-480HX HF/50 MHz Amateur Base Transceiver
Coming in at a rather small size but packing a lot of punch, this transceiver from Kenwood offers a 200W power output rating with a DC 13.8V power supply.
The reception capabilities of this device support high-frequency ranges, with this particular model being rated as having support for 0.5 – 30MHz, 50 – 54MHz and the VFO: a continuous 30kHz – 60MHz. Also, it offers a built-in antenna tuner.
The transmitter, on the other hand, can output frequencies of 160, 80, 60*, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6m bands (*USA only).
There is a pretty big LCD display on the front panel that shows you the current frequency settings and tuning settings. This ham radio kits offers backlit keys and LCD display, so it’s easy to use in low light or night conditions.
It also comes included with a remote installation kit so that you can get assistance regarding the installation of the device.
The components in this heavy-duty ham radio transceiver are designed to withstand the heat that can build up inside the case; it has a die-cast aluminum chassis and two fans for enhanced cooling ability.
However, the set does not come included with an antenna or power supply, so you’ll need to get them separately.
- Support over a wide range of frequencies in the HF range.
- Orange/yellow LCD is bright, great for night use.
- Remote installation kit makes setting up a lot easier!
- Built in speakers that have a decent amount of volume.
- Has an auto tuner and is compatible with non-auto antenna
- The standalone control panel can be positioned up to 4 meters (12 feet) away from the main unit.
- Antenna and power adapter need to be purchased separately.
- A bit complex and needs some learning to use this ham radio base transceiver to its full potential.
6. Alinco DX-SR8T 100W HF All Mode Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver
With a power rating of 100W and a voltage requirement of 14volts DC, the Alinco DX-SR8T covers the 160 to 10 meter SSB, CW, AM and FM bands. Power-wise, it offers 100 watts in the SSB, CW and FM bands, and 40 watts on the AM band. Also, it offers a staggering 600 memory capability.
This particular ham radio transceiver has a stated range from 30 KHz to 35 MHz, a decent enough range to fulfill all your transmitting and receiving needs.
It includes a built-in speaker that has reasonable clarity.
This top-quality all mode ham radio does have quite some nifty controls, such as the buttons to access the many different radio channels stored in the memory and a dial to manually tune the radio band. Usability is something that users should definitely also factor in.
The build quality is not the greatest and many users have had reservations about the buttons and dials. A lot of them would prefer to have the dials connected tighter than they were. Also, this is a little bigger than many comparable units at 9.45” x 3.95” x 11.54” inches, but it only weighs 9 pounds.
- Offers a whopping 600 memory capability, so you can store every channel you’ll ever want to find again.
- Speakers are built-in.
- Power rating of 100W provides more juice to broadcast stronger signals.
- Build quality is lacking and it may not be too sturdy.
- Keys are not backlit.
7. Yaesu FT-DX1200 HF/50 MHz Amateur Radio Base Transceiver
This is one of the best ham radio base stations. It offers up to 100 watts on the SSB, CW and FM bands, and 25 watts on AM band. The Yaesu FT-DX1200 measures 4.4″ x 4.5″ x 12.3″ and weighs 20.9 pounds, making it best suited for use as a base station.
A colorful TFT display, a spectrum scope, and a high-speed automatic antenna tuner are included. And to keep your ham transceiver working well for long periods of time, the cooling fan is mechanically isolated from the chassis. This reduces vibration and noise, helping the ham radio base transceiver work better.
This unit supports a range of frequencies in the high-frequency range from 1.8MHz to 54 MHz. This will be able to accommodate transmission at a pretty decent range of radio wave frequencies.
The great DSP algorithm programmed into this device strengthens even weak signals enough so that they can be heard properly.
However, with these dimensions and its heavy weight, this is really not a portable system.
- The large, 4.3” color display makes it easy to see settings and configure the ham transceiver.
- A host of different controls for greater usability and functionality
- Solid gain on weak digital signals.
- Support for frequencies in the HF range up to 54 MHz.
- You can connect this ham transceiver to a PC using a USB cable and the optional SCU-17 unit.
- Limited to just the one band, in the HF range.
- This is too big and heavy to be portable.
8. ICOM 7300 02 Direct Sampling Shortwave Radio Black
Coming in at a slightly more robust form factor, this transceiver from ICOM definitely isn’t a cheap ham radio transceiver but it is packed with features and additions that will make the price worthwhile. At 9.26 pounds it’s a little heavier than some other units, and it only requires a 13.8V DC (±15%) power source.
It receives the 0.030–74.800 wavelengths, (not all wavelengths are guaranteed, though), and transmits on 1.800–1.999, 3.500–3.999, 5.255–5.405, 7.000–7.300, 10.100–10.150, 14.000–14.350, 18.068–18.168, 21.000–21.450, 24.890–24.990, 28.000–29.700, 50.000–54.000 wavelengths, making it very powerful ham radio base stations.
The 7300 uses direct sampling, a feature that means that the radio uses fewer analog parts and still maintains the usability of the system.
It is also a better design in terms of less noise interfering with the transmission and has fewer sources of signal leakage due to fewer parts.
It includes a variety of operating modes: SSB, CW, RTTY, AM and FM frequencies that are easy to choose by touching a few buttons. Given that radios channel scan operate over such a wide array of frequencies, this ham radio transceiver is quite versatile!
- Reduced noise, better sound quality.
- A variety of radio modes accessed with buttons.
- Wide frequency range support: 30 KHz to 75 MHz.
- Colorful display with several HUDs for frequency and volume control
- Auto-tuning function.
- Requires purchase of a suitable DC power supply.
9. Icom IC-7200 HF/50 Amateur Base Transceivern
Slightly better than the others ham radio systems, this unit from Icom has a power input rating of 100W and is packed with features that add to the user experience of this ham transceiver.
The IC-7200’s features a “rear bumper design” that lets you stand the radio on its end. This protects the buttons and knobs on the front panel protect against water getting inside the case.
A noise filter is built into this ham radio base transceiver and it allows you to filter out background noises that make it hard to hear. The digital noise reduction reduces background noise and improves the signal-to-noise ratio. The filter has 16 adjustment steps. This improves the readability of both voice and data signals.
This unit needs 12v DC power, so this crafty piece of engineering is going to work just fine in vehicles. You can use this portable ham radio transceiver in your vehicle.
Also, you can program the IC-7200 using a PC via the USB port. Just use the CI-V data format.
Unfortunately, the lack of several components mean that you have to spend a bit more money to get all those accessories to get the full functionality. This is only when you want to be able to transmit signals.
- Waterproof controls are handy for using this unit outside..
- Noise filter to cut out background sounds.
- Very small size is good for using in vehicles, taking with you in a backpack, or using in small spaces.
- 201 memory channels so you can program in and easily find your favorites.
- Lacks an antenna, power brick and power chord.
- Lacks auto tuning and manual isn’t that efficient.
10. Icom IC-718 HF All Band Ham Radio Transceiver
Coming in at a moderately size of 9.4 x 3.7 x 9.4 inches, the Icom IC-718 has different modes to access radio-related features. These features also allow the transceiver to access different radio types such as AM radio by pressing the appropriate buttons.
The device has a stated frequency range between 500 KHz and 30 MHz and while it does not include the higher frequencies, it should be enough to fulfill the communication needs of a new operator or an average user.
The unit lets you store 101 radio channels in memory, saving you from having to tune every single channel each time you want to go to change to a different channel. That’s handy!
The speaker is mounted on the front of the ham radio transceiver, making it easier to hear the radio.
The receiver, unfortunately, has given several users problems with too much background noise and unusable for certain modes such as SSB.
- Full of different features that enhance the user experience.
- Large range of frequency coverage; being between 500KHz and 30MHz.
- 101 channel memory.
- Offers USB, LSB, CW, RTTY(FSK) and AM modes.
- Quite a hefty upper limit on the volume of the radio speaker
- Helpful auto tuning feature.
- Lack of proper squelch leads to a lot of background noise.
Ham Radio Transceiver Overview
By now, you’re probably finished reading about all the ham radio transceiver reviews. In case you’re still confused, it will most certainly help you out to know what a base station is, and why you should use one, and how to operate one, in general. Now, operations are likely to vary but all the products come with a user manual, and some aspects are the same in every model.
Why You Need A Ham Radio Transceiver
- Access to Emergency Broadcasts: A lot of emergency broadcasts are done over the radio, particularly storm warnings and weather alerts. They are broadcasted through other means too, but having access to the ham radio channels gives you one extra mode of communication to make sure you receive these important messages.
- Independent Communication Tool: Sometimes, not having access to a cell phone network or access to the internet can render an individual or household without the ability to communicate with the outside world. Ham base stations can be used to broadcast and receive messages when phone lines, cell phones and the internet are not working.
- Community: The ham radio user community is very helpful and you can learn a lot about using the system through it. It’s an avenue to meet new people and find useful information. And it’s fun to talk to people in far-away places!
- Remote communications: Certain remote areas, such as high up in mountains, often do not get proper cellular coverage. Having a dmr ham radio can help to overcome communication obstacles in those locations.
Ham Radio Base Station Setup Guide
So, now that you’ve bought a good HF ham radio transceiver, you have to set it up. Let’s get to it, then!
First of all, your ham transceiver will need a number of things before it works and unless they were provided with the device, you’ll have to buy them separately. These devices include a power supply, a microphone, a speaker, an antenna, a coaxial cable, a cable and software for connecting to a PC, and maybe even a tuner. Find out how many of these components your transceiver of choice has and which ones it lacks.
Components not included inside the ham base station will usually not be that difficult to connect. However, before you get one, you need to check all the connectors and make sure that your device has the right connectors for a particular antenna’s connector. The power source should also have a suitable power rating, especially when you’re using DC power. Make sure your power source is charged!
Attach all the components to the radio device, using the right connectors. Turn on the power and let the ham base station auto tune and identify broadcasting frequencies.
Assign channels to the frequencies you intend to listen to or the bands that you will communicate over for ease of access to them.
Test your microphone to make sure it’s transmitting properly. If so, you’re ready! Now go use your new toy!
FAQs on Ham Radio Transceiver
What is amateur radio base station?
An amateur radio base station is a device that lets a person transmit and receive radio signals but unlike other kinds of transmitters, come with extra features. The device is one of the best ways to do so when transmitting the signals or distributing the signal across distances.
Who uses ham radio base transceiver?
Anyone can use a ham radio to receive and transmit signals to stay connected with people across the town, city or world or even in space without Internet or cell phone transmission. It can be used for commercial as well as fun and entertainment purposes for voice communications or radio services. However, it has found applications in the management of disasters or security applications.
Hams can communicate with each other with voice and a microphone, radio interfaced with computer or tablet to send images and text, or Morse code. It is also possible to talk to astronauts in International Space Station or communicate with other hams through space satellites. You can also use it to bounce signals from the moon back to Earth. They are also used in “DX contests” where they compete to see how many contacts they can reach with the devices.
Why Ham radio base station different from others?
Ham radio base station, which can be set anywhere quickly and with ease, appeals to many people because it does not rely on the Internet or cell phone technology. As such it can be used where there are none of these network coverage. It can be used when disaster or terrorism has hit all these networks and with minimal interruption. These stations are used to transmit signals. The base station can be omnidirectional to send signals in all directions or directional to send signals to a direct path.
These base stations, unlike the commercial and police or other radio and communication base stations, are easy to install on top of roofs, trees or at home and are very simple, portable and non-bulky compared to other stations. The antennae needs to be at least 1/4 the size of the wavelength. They can also be owned and installed by individuals with minimal license requirements.
What type of Licenses are available for Ham Base Station?
Most of the licenses last for 10 years and require a test. The technician entry license level allows an individual to use amateur bands above 30 MHz. This includes the popular 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands. With a general license level, you get permission to use the low frequency, longer wavelength high-frequency bands. The advantage of these is that they perform better at long distances. You can transmit on your amateur frequency with the extra (advanced) level license.
How can I improve my ham base station reception?
You can use a simple scanner to get information on what is going on and improve the antenna for better reception. You can also improve reception by connecting an external antenna, which come in all shapes and sizes. They also increase the range of coverage of the signals.
The antenna location also needs to be chosen carefully, with the best location being determined by among other factors land, house, and HOA rules. You can try placing it on the deck, railing or at the window.
What is HF Ham radio used for?
Because they run on battery or generator power and not reliant on grid power, they can be applied in disaster emergencies and places with no grid or communications infrastructure because they do not rely on the Internet or other radio infrastructure. They can be used to link remote regions to the outside world and to communicate with each other over vast periods. They can be used to share pictures and other digital data types without needing the Internet.
What is HF ham radio?
High frequency (HF) radio works between 3 and 30 megahertz (MHz).
Can I take the ham radio license test online?
Yes, you can take the exam online if the volunteer exam team where you’re trying to take the exam offer that.
How to prepare for the Amateur (Ham) radio test?
Many websites have a course to help you prep for the exam. For the general license, the technician one, you can find materials online that will help you do good in the test. Plus, there are books on Amazon that you can follow to prep for the highest level of license test too.
Is ham radio a VHF?
FCC allocated frequencies for the ham that lets it operate using both VHF and UHF. So, yes, it uses VHF which might help you to penetrate through obstacles and have a line of communication going in a city area.
How much does it cost to get a ham radio base station?
It depends on how much you want to spend on the base station. Some units are less than 100 bucks. Where else some can go as much as $1000 or even more.
How many questions are on the ham radio test?
For the technician license test, you’ve got to answer 35 questions. The same goes for the second level which is also 35 questions. And for the final license test, you’ve got to answer around 50 problems.
What is a dual-band ham radio?
A dual-band ham radio is the one that lets you take the advantage of long-range while operating on the UHF band. And when you’re in city areas with a lot of obstacles surrounding, it allows you to use VHF to get through the signals to communicate with other radios.
Are there advanced ham radio options for automobiles?
There are ham radio automobiles with many advanced features like multi-bank FM transceiver and whatnot to improve performance on the move.
This is the end of our best ham radio transceiver reviews. So now you have a guideline regarding everything that you need to know regarding ham radios. It is mostly basic stuff, and if you refer the topic to serious hams, they can definitely go into great details regarding things you should be getting. But just get started with this for now and go up later.