Top 5 Best Ham Radio Base Stations 2019

Power is out.

Phone networks are down.

Internet is inaccessible.

911 is overloaded.

In cases of emergencies, the internet and mobile phones are proven unreliable.  So, when disasters come and all else fails, how do you communicate?

Ham radio base stations!

Not only is it a quintessential must-have tool of determined preppers. It is also an excellent accessory for the geeky hobbyists who wish more freedom to transmit via airwaves and meet other hams across the world!

best-ham-radio-base-stations

Ham base stations are more complex rigs with added functions and features than mobile and handheld radios can offer. The problem is that this versatility also means that they can be a bit tricky and confusing to buy, especially for first-time buyers.

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Not to worry, we have you covered and prepared this comprehensive buying guide and a shortlist of the best ham radio base stations out there!

Best Ham Radio Transceivers Comparison Table:

Brand Output Weight Price
Yaesu FT-450D

Yaesu FT-450D Original Compact Radio Base Transceiver

100 Watts 12.9 pounds

BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 Ham Radio Base Station

BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 Ham Radio Base Station

50 Watts 2.65 pound

Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Base Station

Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Base Station

100 Watts 4.6 pounds

ICOM 2300H 05 Amateur Radio Base Station

ICOM 2300H 05 Amateur Radio Base Station

65 Watts 2.43 pounds

Kenwood TM-281A Ham Radio Base Station

Kenwood TM-281A Ham Radio Base Station

65 Watts 2.5 pounds

Top 5 Best Ham Radio Base Stations Review

Yaesu FT 450D Original Compact Radio Base Transceiver – The Best Overall

The Yaesu FT 450D is not only the most popular ham radio base station model but is also the best one ever in the present market. With a medium budget, you will get really advanced features within its small but rugged and durable construction. So you can easily take it with you wherever you go without worrying about damages.

 You may like: Yaesu FT 7900R Amateur Ham Radio Review 2019 

This base station operates at a relatively broad frequency band, receiving 30Khz – 54MHz in addition to all AM and shortwave broadcasts. Plus, you can also transmit from 6 to 160 meters. It features a built-in automatic antennae tuner for audio clarity and signals quality. Or you can purchase external manual tuners to widen your coverage.

The internal system boasts Digital Signal Processing Technology which filters any unwanted signals in favor of your required signals. This super-compact base station features an impressive colored LCD that is super easy to read as well as intuitive button controls.

Pros
  • Compact and portable.
  • Fairly easy to use even for beginners.
  • Advanced features and technology.
  • Good quality at a reasonable price.
Cons
  • Lettering on buttons wear out over time.
  • Built-in auto-tuner has limited scope.
Check on Amazon!

 

BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 Ham Radio Base Station – Best For Customizability

Being Amazon’s Choice for “Ham Radio Base Station“, the BTECH UV 20X2 is loved for its high customizability. First of all, you get 10 different display elements and 9 different colors to play around with and set your display screen however you want. Such flexibility is hard to come by on most ham radios.

Secondly, it has an advanced feature called Dual Sync mode that allows you to simultaneously monitor more than one channel frequency and name. Meanwhile, in terms of RF power output, you get to select either 10W or 50W according to your needs.

Just like the Yaesu FT-450D, this ham radio base station s also geared towards mobile uses, so you can take anywhere you go. For reception, the radio works in the FM frequency range of 65 – 108 MHz. Reception and transmission can be made in range of 400 – 520 MHz (UHF) and 136 – 174 MHz (VHF).

Meanwhile, controls are fairly easy to use with microphone featuring large and intuitive buttons. You get a total of 200 programmable memory channels for easy access and programming through a computer is super easy.

Pros
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Affordable price.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Dual sync mode allows watching multiple channels simultaneously.
Cons
  • Separate programming cable and antenna needed.
  • Tiny display.
  • Transmission may have some noise.
Check on Amazon!

 

Yaesu FT 857D Amateur Radio Base Station – Best For Versatility

Another offering from Yaesu, the FT 857D Ham Radio Base Station is a bit pricier than the previous Yaesu model but comes with better features and performance. With a 160-meter width, you’ll be able to communicate to almost any channel that exists. In addition, it is a UHF, VHF, HF and MF amateur transceiver, so you get multiple radios catching various signals in one equipment, giving you a total value of your money.

Like the previous Yaesu model, the FT 857D also has an impressive 100W output for 6 – 160M, 50W for VHF, 25W for AM HF and 20W for UHF. IT also includes the built-in Digital Signal Processing to filter unwanted signals and noise and offers a memory of up to 200 channels. For added convenience, it allows you to separate the channel memories into 10 groups and even set a Home Channel or a Quick Memory on each band.

It boasts a bright LCD display that allows you to operate several features easily. It has a 1.7 inches main tuning dial with very few keys positioned strategically for easy operation and flawless access. Rugged, durable and highly portable, this ham base station is great for traveling and in-car use.

Pros
  • Crisp reception and clear transmission.
  • Compact and highly versatile.
Cons
  • No auto-tuner like the previous Yaesu model.
  • Small keys.
  • Several complaints about premature LCD display failure.
Check on Amazon!

 

ICOM 2300H 05 Amateur Radio Base Station – Best For Quality and Construction

Boasting a 4.9-star rating on Amazon, it’s hard not to include this reliable and high-quality amateur radio base station from ICOM. Packed in a small, yet rugged body, the ICOM 2300H 05 is built for the rough roads. This mobile radio has been tested and passed with flying colors with the latest MIL-STD 810G requirements and specifications including vibration, shock and temperature test.

Not only is it durable, but its sleek design fits perfectly to virtually any truck, car, van SUV or just about any kind of vehicle. It has a basic panel layout with a simple user interface for easy use. The large LCD display offers a great viewing angle for mobile operation and you get to select from green, yellow, or amber backlight colors.

In terms of performance, it supports various scan types for the maximum reception to suit your needs. Its Dynamic Memory Scan system lets you scan selected banks from up to 10 memory bank by simply deleting or adding bank links. It also has a built-in DTCS and CTCSS encoder and decoder for repeater access and quiet standby.

Pros
  • Rugged and durable construction.
  • Multi-scan function.
  • Auto shut down.
  • Affordable price tag.
Cons
  • Some users complained that the included user manual is difficult to understand and lacks important information.
  • User manual comes in CD.
Check on Amazon!

 

Kenwood TM 281A Ham Radio Base Station – The Budget Product

The Kenwood TM 281A is a budget ham radio base station that does not compromise quality and performance. This compact transceiver provides powerful mobile performance with advanced features. It offers high-quality audio thanks to its really large speaker and operating is super easy with large LCD with adjustable backlighting and illuminated keys.

Tough enough for off-road assignments, the TM-218A meets the strict US Department Defense MIL-STD 810 G, F, E, D, and C environmental standards for shock and vibrations. Even with a compact size, the ham base station can deliver at least 65 watts with a choice of High or Low Input.

It has up to 100 memory channels with each memory channels can be used to store receive and transmit frequencies independently. In addition, the memory data can be stored and edited on a computer for your convenience. It also features multiple scan functions such as memory scan, seek-scan resume modern, priority scans, and VFO scan.

Pros
  • Cheap.
  • Good for off-road assignments.
  • Durable construction.
  • Large speakers.
Cons
  • USB programming cable is sold separately
Check on Amazon!

 

Buying Guide: Choosing Ham Radio Base Station Made Easy

Transmission Range

You will need a license in order to talk on ham radio. Thus, you will need a base station which offers the frequencies that you are licensed to use. Various licenses authorize you to use various frequencies, thus, knowing the frequency ranges that particular transceiver support is crucial.

Output Power

Always keep this in mind:

A higher power output means more capacity to transmit signals.

So, when looking for a ham radio base station and depending on how far you want your voice to be heard, consider its power output.

Most starter ham base station offers output from 100 – 200 watts, and that is enough. If you need something cheaper or less powerful than standard ham base stations, then a device around 25 – 50–watts of outputs is enough.

Frequency

The basic radios allow you to listen to FM and AM frequencies. However, ham radios open doors to a whole new world of various frequencies that you can listen to, scan and communicate over. You have the option to select between wideband and narrowband, UHF and VHF band, HF bands and more.

For this, you will need to consider the range of operation you want, whether it is regional, local, countrywide or worldwide, then select the radio which allows you to communicate with the right frequencies.

Scan functions

Scan settings can be one in three possible settings. Automatic scans that look through frequencies in order to see if there’s any transmission in a specific one and automatically displaying that one.

Manual scans are typically done via dials or knobs that allow you to tune to a frequency manually. Search scans look for any transmissions between a set of frequency and are used to find if there’s any broadcast at specific frequencies at the moment.

Filters

A ham base station is only as good as its capability to provide clear communication. And it can only be done by filtering unwanted signals to make way for the more important ones.

Different models employ different types of filters in order to reject any unwanted signal. For example, some use electronic filters while some features Digital Signal Processing filters.

Programmability

Probably not for beginners who are just starting out in the ham radio base station space, but if you have the experience, then you might want to consider the degree of programmability that a radio transceiver provides.

Ham radio base stations allow you to do a lot of tinkering and playing around in order to create channels, selecting bands and a host of other advanced things. High customizability is what really enhance your enjoyment of ham radios.

LCD Display

Probably not a crucial factor for most buyers, but LCD display has direct impact on the user experience and usefulness of the ham radio base station. Some models offer single-colored LCD displays while some have multiple colors and even brightness settings. Meanwhile, large displays make it easy for you to read the information in an instant.

Antenna and Antenna Tuner

Some models offer built-in antennas and tuners like the Yaesu. And although they are usually not great, for beginners, it saves you from diving into the complicated world of antennae tech.

Number of Memory Channels

It’s as simple as it is: this is the number of radio frequencies that the radio can save. This way you easily and quickly access a lot of various radio frequencies with just a touch of a button.

Construction and Design Quality

You want a device that will last longer and can endure whatever you throw at it. And if you want to take it with you wherever you go, then you need to ensure that it can at least tolerate bumps and harsh outdoor weather. In addition, you want something that blends well on your intended space, something sleek and looks really nice, based on your taste and style.

Conclusion

Ham radio base stations are not something everyone uses or hear every day. However, it is your passport to the wireless world where you get to communicate with others locally, nationally, or internationally.

In addition, the best ham radio base stations will help intercepts messages and signal when all other advanced networks fail, making it great for emergencies and disasters.

And the best part of it is that you don’t have to pay for it!

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