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Buying Your First Radio


Which radio will you purchase for your first Amateur Radio station?  Do you want a large, full-featured transceiver for the HF bands? Perhaps a mobile radio for operating on VHF+ or even a tiny handheld transceiver?

Before you decide on your purchase, review the advice offered here to help you focus on the features and functions you will need for the operating activities you plan. 

Your first radio doesn’t have to be new. There are many older transceivers that have years of useful service left in them. These transceivers (“rigs,” as hams call them) are often available for sale at online auction sites such as eBay.  Whether you decide to purchase new or used, check the QST magazine Product Review Archive (Members Only). In every issue of QST the ARRL Laboratory carefully evaluates the key characteristics of transceivers and many other types of equipment.

  • Choosing a Ham Radio

    This guide will help you sort out the features and functions to look for when selecting a radio. Learn More

  • What Rig Should I Buy?

    A collection of articles and advice that will help you decide how to buy a radio that will meet your needs. Learn More

  • Compare Radio Features

    Use this handy spreadsheet to compare radio features-- customize it to focus on features in which you have a particular interest. Learn More

  • Ham Ways Primer

    This guide will explain some of the ways hams communicate that may differ from other types of radio communication. Learn More


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