OK, you’ve gotten your Technician license. Now what? Well the key part of Ham Radio is the radio part. You will need one if you want to use that hard-earned license! But what do you need? There are so many choices…
Your First Radio
What should you get? Maybe you’re lucky and have a friend that’s also a ham and can guide you, or maybe a better friend has actually offered to lend you a radio. Good, then you’re all set. Otherwise you will need to buy a radio. But which one? Myriad features and price points. New or used. So many choices. But that’s why we’re here!
Your first QSO (conversation with another ham on the radio) will likely be on 2 Meter FM, and likely on a Repeater (more on both of those later). 2 Meter FM is usually for local (within 50 miles) communications, so you don’t need a large, powerful radio – in most cases just a few watts will do. There are many radios that fit the bill, both portable (handheld – sometimes referred to as a “handy talkie” or H/T) and mobile (designed for vehicle installation).
We recommend a “cheap chinese” H/T for your first radio. These radios have flooded the market in the last few years and are widely available for around $30. Will it do everything that you want? No. But can you talk on it until you figure out what your next radio is? Definitely! Once you’ve used it for a few weeks, you’ll have a much better idea about what features you want or need. Then you can make your big name brand radio purchase, and throw your cheap radio into the car for use in case of emergency.