Top 10+ Best Ham Radio Kits for Beginners in 2020

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An emergency can strike you anytime and anywhere. You might be in a personal perilous situation like getting lost while hiking/ camping or there might be a wide-scale natural disaster. In case of both, but especially the latter a ham radio can help you as well as your entire neighborhood immensely. This is because when the internet becomes inaccessible, the phone network doesn’t work and when all power is gone, then this might be the only way left to communicate. 

Ham radios operate on a broader range of 1.8 to 1300 MHz. But there are gaps in between. This means that using this you will be able to connect to various rescue services when needed. Moreover, using this you will be able to easily communicate with your friends who have the setup too. 

A quick google search for ham radios will make anyone take a step back simply because of how technical, complicated, and expensive this seems. But that’s not the case. As with every field, there’s unnecessary jargon and arguments about things which a majority of ham preppers don’t care about. Once you embrace ham radios you will find that things do get easier.  

Know that you won’t be able to just make a ham radio and then get broadcasting. You need to get a license straight from FCC to work with it. There is a test that you will have to pass to get that certification. So if you are ready to begin working with ham radios then you will be looking for the kits, which are easy to work with for beginners. There are many such kits by many manufacturers, how will you know which ones are the best? To help you out, here’s a list of the very best ham radio kits for beginners. 

Top 10+ Best Ham Radio Kits for Beginners in 2020

When disaster strikes, then ham radios could very well be your only mode of survival. As such it’s always better to begin preparing and using them. If you are new then these are the kits which will help you get started: 

1. BAOFENG BF-888S Two Way Radio (Pack of 6pcs radios) – Customize Package

  • Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 7 x 2.3 inches
  • Frequency: 400-469.995MHz

This ham radio will get you started easily. If you are in a construction space and need to talk to a team member, if you work in security detail, or are heading out with your friends, then this radio is for you. This radio can be used for versatile tasks because it gives you a long-range to work with. With this, you will be able to communicate over a range of around 6kms. 

With this device, you will get a frequency of 400-469.995MHz and 16 channels to work with. You will be able to choose the one which works best for you. To back up this range the radio comes with a battery of a sizable 1500mAh Li-ion. What’s more, is that there’s 50 CTCSS/105 CDCSS to choose from as well. 

The radio also ensures that use is flexible thanks to the Vox function. With this, you will be able to use the device hands-free. In case of an emergency, you can work on something else and still talk. Another feature that will help you is the battery saving option. Using this you will be able to save your battery power so that it lasts longer. 

One of the best features here is the emergency alarm. This can be used as a last-ditch effort for survival. Just sound the alarm and it will be heard for a long-range. As a result, others will know of your location and you might get rescued. Know that there is also a flashlight function that you can use to find your way or even signal someone about your location. 

Pros

  • Vox function
  • Emergency alarm
  • Good battery power

Cons

  • Channels could be more

2. TIDRADIO TD-F6 8 Watt Ham Radio Handheld Upgraded UV-5R with Driver Free USB Programming Cable Dual Band Two Way Radio Includes Full Kit

  • Weight: 220g
  • Dimensions: 100 x 52 x 32 mm
  • Frequency: UHF- 400-520 MHz (Rx/Tx), VHF- 136-174 MHz (Rx/Tx)

This ham radio comes with a monitor which ensures that you can enhance the voice coming even if the signal isn’t that strong. To help you in this amplification there is the squelch feature here as well. You will find that the grades 0 to 9 will help you deafen the background noises so that the sound clarity gets enhanced. A little pro tip: set it in the middle for generally best results. There is a flashlight function as well which will help you see in the dark. 

The radio comes with the Vox function as well to make things easier for you. With the help of this, you will be able to talk and signal handsfree. What’s more, is that with this you will be able to control the given background noise as well. The frequency used here is of UHF- 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx), and VHF- 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). The ranges are good but what makes it better are the 128 channels you will be able to choose from. 

The device comes with voice prompts which will help you know the operations and functions more conveniently. You will get these instructions in two languages- English and Chinese. The radio comes with 105 DCS and 50 CTCSS codes. With this, you won’t have to receive any irrelevant calls while also carrying out private communication. 

The device comes with another useful feature and that is the scan function. Using this you will be able to find the frequency at which communication and talking become easier as well as fast. The radio has a massive battery of 1800 mAh Li-ion which will support a continuous 10 to 16 hours of use.

Pros

  • Scan function 
  • Large battery
  • A huge number of channels

Cons

  • None

3. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 50 Watt Dual Band Base, Amateur (Ham)

  • Weight: 4.19 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.28 x 7.72 x 2.72 inches
  • Frequency: UHF- 400-520mhz, VHF- 136-174mhz

With this radio, the first thing you will notice is the LCD multi-color display screen. You will be able to adjust the entire display and make it just like you want it. But it’s not just the display you will be able to customize the channels too, so that they show their frequency settings or alpha-numeric numbers. 

Here you will be able to choose from 200 channels. You will be able to make your scanning list and then remove or add channels in it. This radio operates are multiple ones in one since the 430 MHz or 144 MHz gets used as the prime TX/RX band. You will be able to do this while watching till 3 more channels or frequently right at the same time.

The device makes use of a powerful chipset that has been upgraded from the incorrectly smaller sized one used by other radios. You will be able to mess with the microphone settings in here and customize the microphone output to get repeaters. A very unique feature that this device has is the Quad-Watch Delay-Time. This makes the receiver stay put on the other channel even after incoming transmission. You will be able to delay the voice fill 50secs. If you are talking on two channels, then this will help you out a little and you don’t have to manually switch channels fast. 

The radio comes with a power-off function which is fully automatic. This will help you save your juice and prevent any unnecessary battery draining functions. There’s also the automatic scanning mode over here that will let you scan using a powerful reboot. With this, you will be able to fix your scanning resume as well as carry out variable-frequency scanning. 

Pros

  • A huge number of channels
  • Enhanced power chipset
  • Customizable channel list

Cons

  • DCS and CTCSS number could be better

4. BaoFeng Walkie Talkie UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

  • Weight: 1.66 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.07 x 8.38 x 2.51 inches
  • Frequency: VHF- 136-174MHz and UHF- 400-520 MHz

This device is entirely easy to use and program. The radio comes with a sizeable battery of 1800 mAh Li-ion that will ensure that you can get around 36 hours full of standby time. There is another extra battery that will let you use the device for non-stop communication. You will be able to charge the battery alone or charge up your radio directly. 

The long antenna here will let you get better frequencies and also receive the more difficult-to-hear stations. You will be able to get a UHF frequency range of 400-520MHz and VHF frequency range of 136-174MHz. With the help of the scan function, you will be able to find the correct frequency. Due to this, you will be able to join in fast and easily. The radio comes with a flashlight which will let you see clearly in the dark. 

The radio ensures that you will hear the transmissions. The mic is powerful and you will be able to send a clear and loud voice without distortions. The monitor here will let you upgrade the voice when signals prove to be too weak for hearing. A very important feature that this device comes with is the squelch feature. This function will help you suppress the background noise and enhance the signal sensitivity. As a result of this, you will get better sound clarity. You will have a range of 0 to 9 to choose from. 

The radio comes with a Vox feature as well. This will ensure that you can use your voice commands to use the radio. As a result, you will be able to use radio handsfree. What’s more, is that you can make use of this radio to control the distracting background noise too. The radio comes with 105 DCS and 50 CTCSS codes as well to ensure that you don’t have to keep on receiving unnecessary calls that keep you from private communication. In the device, you will get to work with 128 channels. 

Pros

  • Large battery power
  • Vox feature
  • Squelch feature

Cons

  • Channel variety could be more

5. BTECH AMP-V25 Amplifier for VHF (136-174MHz), 20-40W Output (2-6W Input), Analog and Digital Modes, Compatible with All Handheld Radios

  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 4.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Frequency: VHF- 136-174MHz

Using this you will be able to create a great mobile radio that comes with a vehicle-mounted antenna. Your handheld radio will easily connect to it and can be easily disconnected as well so that you can take it with you. This kit comes with all the needed cables along with the interface connectors. This will let you connect to other BaoFeng and BTECH radios. 

It comes with a radio-to-amplifier antenna-cable, amp body, mobile-mounting bracket, control cable, as well as a speaker microphone. There is also a hanger and user manual. The user manual will help you out if you feel confused about anything. 

The device will ensure that you can listen to crisp and clear audio. The mic is powerful and you will be able to transmit clearly without any kind of disruptions. This will make the entire communication that much smoother. 

It supports both digital and analog modes. You will find that it has an output of 20 to 40W. The amplifier will make things easier for you, especially if you are out camping or hiking in unknown areas. 

Pros

  • Good output
  • Well rounded kit
  • Supports both digital and analog

Cons

  • None

6. Universal Compact Bench Power Supply – 30 Amp Regulated Home Lab Benchtop AC-to-DC Converter

  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions: 11.4 x 10.2 x 4.7 inches
  • Frequency: n/a

With this, you will be able to convert AC-to-DC. The pyramid-bench power-supply comes with a regulated design which ensures that you can get reliable and convenient AC-to-DC power change. This will get done with a constant and reliable source of powerful DC voltage. Know that it works with CB radio, cellular phone, scanner as well.

The device comes with a plug-in system which gives a secure source of powerful DC voltage. This allows for consistent, quick, and easier power conversion. The power control is switch-activated and it removes and needs for an additional or external power source. 

The entire thing comes with an inbuilt short circuit and electronic overload protection. This ensures the safety of the connected devices as well as the operator. To make things safer the device comes with durable and rugged housing as well. Know that there is an inbuilt cooling fan as well which ensures that the device doesn’t overheat. 

It comes with great universally hand-wired connection terminals which are screw-type. This ensures that you are compatible with quite a huge range of products, devices, components, and types of equipment. Such a feature ensures that it’s also used for device and component equipment operation, testing, and performance. 

Pros

  • Screw-type terminals
  • Inbuilt short circuit protection
  • Plug-in system

Cons

  • None

7. 2Pack Baofeng UV-5R Dual-Band Ham Two-Way Radio

  • Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.33 x 2.36 x 1.38 inches
  • Frequency: VHF- 136-174 MHz and UHF- 400-480 MHz

This easy to use and program device supports both PC and keyboard programming. The device supports both UHF and VHF frequencies. There are 128 channels to choose from. Using this device you will be able to get crisp and clear audio that will let you communicate with your teammates easily and without any kind of distortion. You will be able to hear easily in a very noisy environment as well. 

Know that the device comes with a squelch technology which ensures that any background noise is suppressed. This also ensures that any kind of communication from your channel gets encoded so that it stays private. The device comes with 128 channels which give you a lot to choose from. There is a scanning function that will scan the channels for you so that you get the best channel to communicate on. 

You will find that you can program your channel name to ensure easy access to it. There are 105 DCS and 50 CTCSS codes which keeps you from getting unnecessary and irrelevant calls. This allows you very easily to carry out private communication as well. There is a voice prompt feature that will let you know about all the features of the radio. You can access it in Chinese or English. 

The device comes with an LCD which will make it easier for you to see clearly. It has a sizable battery capacity of 1800 mAh. There is a power-saving feature that will help you save your battery when it’s not in use. Additionally, there is a low-battery alarm that will alert you if the battery life is dangerously low. 

Pros

  • Large battery
  • Voice prompt
  • Squelch function

Cons

  • Channel count could be better

8. BTECH PC03 FTDI Genuine USB Programming Cable for BTECH, BaoFeng, Kenwood, and AnyTone Radio

  • Weight: 0.634 ounces
  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 6 x 3 inches
  • Frequency: n/a

This device comes with a genuine chipset of FTDI. As a result, it works with all the latest Mac OS, Windows, and also Linux drivers. It is sturdy and long-lasting. You will be able to use it for a long time. 

This cable will give you a break from other kinds of prolific counterfeit chips that don’t work well or for long. You will be able to download the drivers needed from BaoFeng’s website. As such your work will be cut since you won’t have to go looking for them. 

All you need to do is activate the device is plug it in. There’s no lengthy installation process over here. All the kinds of cables and tips you need are available on their website. There is no need to use any old drivers at all. 

The device works with BaoFeng UV-82s, UV-5Rs, UV-5X3, BF-F8HP, and even more. It also works with Kenwood and BaoFeng radios that need the 2-pin KPG-22 kind of connector. But it’s not limited to just these two brands. You will be able to use this device with other kinds of radios that make use or the same kind of 2-pin configuration. 

Pros

  • Versatile compatibility
  • Easy installation
  • Genuine chipset

Cons

  • None

9. Baofeng UV-5R+ Plus UHF VHF Long Range Dual Band Ham Amateur Two Way Radio, Black

  • Weight: 1.17 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.97 x 6.02 x 4.02 inches
  • Frequency: VHF- 136-174MHz and UHF- 400-480 MHz

Straight away, a huge advantage of this device is that it comes with a Vox function. In an emergency, if your hands are tied to them you can use the Vox function to communicate Vox free. Vox also gets rid of background noise so that you can talk clearly. The radio comes with an LED display which is full color and in HD. This ensures that you can see every function clearly

It comes with 104 DCS and 50 CTCSS. This ensures that there’s no unnecessary radio noise when you are talking. Also, it helps in keeping your communications private. There is an LED flashlight here as well, which will help you see in the dark. It comes with a powerful 3800mAh battery which ensures that you will get a lot of hours out of it. 

The radio comes with an emergency alert which will inform others of your location if anything goes wrong. It might just save your life. You won’t have any issues carrying the thing because it has a very compact design which is easy to hold and pack. To make things easier it is lightweight too.  

The device has a very durable structure and shell. This shell is made out of metal and is very rugged. So you can use it outside without worrying about it getting damaged. The radio is easy to use as well as the program. To do that connect it to the PC or keypad. Know that it supports CPS and CHIRP. 

Pros

  • Large battery
  • Easy to program
  • LED display

Cons

  • Less DCS

10. RTL-SDR Blog V3 R820T2 RTL2832U 1PPM TCXO HF Bias Tee SMA Software Defined Radio with Dipole Antenna Kit

  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Dimensions: 10.1 x 2.6 x 2.2 inches
  • Frequency: 500kHz-1.7GHz

This device comes with an R820T2 tuner, RTL2832U ADC chip, SMA-F connector, 1PPM TCXO, and an aluminum case which allows for passive cooling due to a thermal pad. This helps keep the device cool and prevents it from getting overheated.  

The multi-purpose dipole antenna-kit is perfectly suitable for beginners to work with. The longer antennas work for lower frequencies and the shorter ones work well for ADS-B. If you use it in the v-dipole shape then it will work for the 137MHz weather-satellites as well as the ISS. You will be able to mount this antenna outdoors using the double mounts and cable. 

You can use it for public-safety radio, air-traffic control, radio scanning, trunked radio, ADBS, P25 digital-voice, ACARS, radio astronomy, weather satellites, DAB, meteor scanner, weather balloons, and more. 

This device will let you tune between 500kHz-1.7GHz. It has around 3.2MHz of pretty much instantaneous bandwidth. The device can be used as a computer powered radio scanner. It works on OSX, Android, Windows, Linux, and also on computers like Raspberry Pi.

Pros

  • Great frequency range
  • Versatile use
  • Amazing antenna

Cons

  • None

Buying Guide

Ham radio kits which are made for beginners will let you get started in this field. These radios might be for beginners, but they are really powerful. You will be able to use it for emergencies without any worry. The list above contains whole kits as well as very important parts so that you know which ones to focus on while buying. 

But many manufacturers are making these kinds of kits. How will you know which one will give you the kind of quality and performance you desire? To help you out, here’s a list of the features you should keep in mind while buying for a ham radio kit for beginners: 

1. Durable

A ham radio should be durable, especially if you are buying it to take it outdoors for use. So make sure that the device comes with a sturdy and rugged housing preferably of metal. This will help save the device if it takes falls and lowers the damage. 

2. Frequency

The frequency range is a major part of ham radio. When buying the kits make sure that you get one which gives you dual range. This means that you should get one that has both the VHF and UHF ranges as it will allow you to cover more. Make sure that the UHF range encompasses 400-520 MHz at least while the VHF should encompass 136-174 MHz. 

3. Battery

The more powerful the battery, the more hours you get. In emergencies, this might give you more time to call for help. The battery is something you shouldn’t compromise on. After all, without this, you won’t be able to access any of the other features. So while buying make sure to buy a battery which gives you at least 10 to 16 hours of continuous use. You will get this with 1800 mAh batteries. But if you find better then get better. 

4. Vox function

Vox will let you use the device handsfree. In an emergency, if your hands are occupied saving someone or even yourself then you will still be able to talk without any issues or distortions. This will make things more flexible and convenient for you. So get a kit that comes with this. 

5. Squelch feature

Squelch will allow you to get rid of background noises so that you can properly concentrate on communication with your teammates. This makes the voice communication clearer, but apart from this it also ensures that other channels aren’t able to listen in on your conversation. This gives you privacy. Squelch comes with a range of 0 to 9 to choose from. When getting a ham radio make sure to buy one with this feature so that you get privacy and clarity while communicating. 

FAQs

1. Can you use a walkie talkie instead of a ham radio?

There are certainly some powerful walkie talkies out in the market which you can use in the case of an emergency. But chances are that you won’t get the kind of range, battery, or frequency that you will get with ham radios. 

2. How can you get yourself a ham radio license?

To get a license you will have to sit for a test. Radio communications as a subject are complicated, but licensing is easy. The testing is pretty simplified, especially since nowadays you won’t be tested on Morse code. 

3. What test should you sit to get a ham radio license?

Aim for a General Class License at least. This will allow you to make the most of the ham radio. For this, you will have to sit for an exam where you will have to answer 35 questions. This covers advanced radio regulations, theory as well as operating practices. If you pass it, then you will get most of HF privileges as well as access to UHF/VHF bands. 

4. Can you extend or modify the antenna of ham radio?

Yes, most ham radios are customizable, but sometimes ham radio kits which are made for beginners are not. If you are just starting then make sure to know about antennas fully and then go ahead with modifications. 

Ham radio kits for beginners makes it easy for anyone with interest in ham radios to get started. You will find that in case of national disasters or emergencies, you will be able to rely on this for rescue and communication. You will need to get a proper license for operating ham radios but with some effort and dedication, you will be able to do it. 

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