Best HAM Radio for Car

If you love to interact with other car drivers and hams on the road, ham radio is for you! A ham radio undoubtedly offers a fresh and fun way to interact with others without using smartphones.

What’s more? It also helps you out in case of emergencies when you are stuck in the wilderness. In this article, we will have a closer look at the best HAM radio for the car. And while we are at it, we will also have a deeper insight into various factors that you should look upon while choosing a ham radio.

Ratings

We’ve analyzed 563 reviews of HAM radios for cars, and compared them side-by-side.

Below you will find a comparison chart.

Rating #1 #2 #3
ProductTYT TH-9800 Car Ham Radio
TYT TH-9800 Car Ham Radio
BaoFeng UV-5R Ham Radio
BaoFeng UV-5R Ham Radio
Yaesu FT-60R Ham Radio
Yaesu FT-60R Ham Radio
Price$212
GET BEST PRICE
editors choice
$34
GET BEST PRICE
$175
GET BEST PRICE
Score
100
0
80
100
0
75
100
0
75
Actual Range
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Audibility
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Ease Of Use
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Durability
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8

Questions to Ask Yourself While Choosing a Ham Radio

First-time buyer? Chances are high that you might be fascinated with its usage, or you might have seen someone using it, and you want it too!

Or, you might be an nth time ham radio buyer, and still, want to be double sure that you pick the right ham radio for your car.

Well, whatever the case might be, here are a few questions you should find answers to before making the purchase:

  • What is your main purpose behind buying the ham radio? Do you want it just for fun, or do you have serious motives attached to it?
  • Do you have a valid license to operate a ham radio? Well, yes, some States need you to have a ham radio license!
  • What bands do you need?
  • What features do you need? Will basic features work fine, or are you looking for some fancy features as well?

Now that you have a basic understanding of your requirements let’s delve deeper and have a look at reviews of some of the best ham radios for the car.

5 Best Ham Radio for Car Reviews

TYT TH-9800 Car Ham Radio

TYT TH-9800If you have been looking for an affordable car ham radio for less than $300, this is it!

Equipped with some of the most advanced features, this quad-band mobile radio provides quick access to UHF and VHF frequencies. Additionally, it also provides access to four amateur radio bands.

It is worth mentioning here that the radio comes equipped with cross-band repeat which lets you piggyback off transmissions from the nearby powerful radios, thus enhancing your mobile station’s reach.

Additionally, it is packed with a range of versatile features including 800+ alphanumeric channels, keypad lock function, and multi-function scanning. It also comes along with a DTMF mic.

Pros
  • Easy to program manually
  • Comes equipped with a durable antenna
  • Cross-band repeat boosts its performance
  • Supports more than 800 channels
  • Requires little power, just 50 watts
Cons
  • Speaker is of average quality
  • Does not come along with an antenna mount

BaoFeng UV-5R Ham Radio

BaoFeng UV-5RIf you have been looking for an amateur radio that is power-packed with a lot of amazing features, look no further than this ham radio from the house of BaoFeng.

The radio consists of a micro-miniature multi-bank FM transceiver which enhances its frequency coverage.

Talking about its build, the radio is well-built with a robust body and consists of a tough metallic casing, which allows you to use it on the go. Further, the internal parts are well-protected with this robust casing, which keeps your radio safe for the years to come.

What’s more? This ham radio is capable of detecting the bands automatically, thus eliminating all the unwanted hassles. Additionally, it also comes with a two-color LED screen which enhances easy readability.

One of the best features of this ham radio is that it is compatible with Li-ion extended batteries. Its wrist hand strap and belt clip comes handy when you are on the go.

Pros
  • Robust build and construction
  • Equipped with bright two-color LED display
  • Works fine with UV-5R 3600mah and 3800mah extended batteries
  • Comes along with a belt clip and wrist hand strap for easy handling
Cons
  • Not as durable as it should be

Yaesu FT-60R Ham Radio

Yaesu FT-60RWhen it comes to choosing a radio which is easy to program and use, in addition to being loaded with a range of useful features, then you simply cannot go wrong with Yaesu FT-60R.

Probably, one of the best features of this amateur radio is its EAI or Emergency Automatic Identification feature which is of great help during search and rescue. This amazing feature automatically transmits a call signal, if you encounter an emergency, even if the phone is disabled!

What’s more? Talking about its amazing features – it can receive 1000 memory channels and issue an NOAA weather alert. Additionally, it also supports a range of emergency channels between 800-900 Mhz. Not to forget, it provides an enhanced coverage, a great audio quality and also comes with an easy to follow user manual.

To ensure your safety, the ham radio is password protected. This prevents its unauthorized use. A well-lit keypad and alpha-numeric display are other equally great features.

Pros
  • Equipped with a range of features including Emergency Automatic Identification feature
  • Capable of supporting a range of channels, issuing an NOAA weather alert and providing an enhanced coverage
  • Comes along with a belt clip and antenna for improved usability
  • Keeps you secure and connected on the go
Cons
  • Battery life could have been better

TYT MD-380 Ham Radio

TYT Tytera MD-380If you are looking for a bit advanced and upgraded ham radio, then your search probably ends here!

This is a digital radio, and first from the house of TYT. This ham radio makes use of TDMA or time division multi-access technology to communicate.

It is compatible with Motorola TRBO radios including Hytera, Vertex, Motorola, and Kenwood. This upgraded digital ham radio features a well-built LCD which is easy on eyes in addition to providing a high-resolution display.

The radio is also equipped with a built-in priority scan, CTCSS/DCS, and channel scan, and has a remarkable capability to handle 1000 channels!

Coupled with best hi-tech features, this ham radio is definitely worth a buy.

Pros
  • Value for money, as it comes equipped a range of prominent features at an affordable price
  • Can be easily programmed with the help of a USB cable
  • Great audio quality
  • It is a DMR radio, different from commonly available UHF/VHF radio
Cons
  • Has a bit of learning curve involved

BTECH Mini UV-25X4 Ham Radio

BTECH Mini UV-25X4If you have been looking for the best, crispiest and clearest sound quality, look no further than this ham radio from the house of BTECH.

Packed with some of the amazing features, this ham radio is very compact and lightweight, and weighs just 2 pounds, which makes it easier to handle. It is worth mentioning here than it is much smaller than most of the radios available in the market today.

Thus, if you have a compact car, or somehow, you don’t want that radio eats up a lot of room, this is perhaps the best addition. Not to forget, its small weight does not let you compromise with sound quality and coverage.

The radio has some impressive features. It has a dual sync mode which allows you to sync single or two channels at a time. Further, it also allows you to edit your channel preferences without you requiring to program anything.

Additionally, it is backed with an easy to read and follow user guide, and is easy to use. However, it is worth mentioning here that the radio comes with a handheld mic and a transceiver box. Thus, to complete your mobile station, you would need to invest in an antenna!

Pros
  • Lightweight, robust and compact, when compared to other ham radios
  • Provides clear and crispy audio output
  • Packed with some amazing features
  • The user manual is easy to read and follow
Cons
  • Does not come with an antenna

Buying Guide

Pick the right ham radio for your car, and this buying guide would help you out! In this section, we will focus on various aspects you should pay attention to before finalizing the deal:

Choose between mobile and handheld ham radios

Majorly, when talking about ham radios for the car, we have two options with us – handheld ham radios and mobile ham radios. It is essential that you make the right choice between the two.

When compared to handheld ham radios, mobile ham radios provide a better coverage and reach. This is mainly because of the additional power you get on connecting your radio with the vehicle.

To further boost the coverage and reach of your radio, you can also attach a larger antenna. Generally speaking, handheld radios generally provide 5 watts of power, while a mobile ham radio can easily make it to 50 watts or more.

Choosing the right bands

All radios communicate over a band. Thus, the choice of the band you want to communicate is also an important factor. Here is some insight:

  • For emergency and short-range communication: In such cases, a VHF/UHF radio would work fine, with around 5 watts of power
  • For home HF communication: You would need an HF transceiver for this
  • For local communication: To make this happen, you would need a radio with at least 25 watts of power with coverage in UHF and VHF bands

Features

You can find ham radios with a range of features. It is essential that if not high-end, at least your ham radio should be equipped with basic features like LCD, scan functions, weather alert, memory channels and the like.

Build

This goes without saying, if you are buying a ham radio, it should have a wonderful build and quality. Since you need it for the car, you would always be on the go. Your ham radio could even fall sometimes, and might even have to handle shocks. Thus, make sure that your ham radio features a robust build, and is shockproof to an extent.

Size

Size and weight is another factor to look upon. It is a no-brainer – choose a compact and lightweight ham radio which is easy to handle and can fit in your car snugly without eating a lot of space.

Sound quality

When it comes to ham radio, the sound quality is an important factor to consider. The ham radio chosen by you should provide a crisp and clear sound quality without any interferences and noises.

Programmable

Most ham radios we have with us today are programmable. It is essential that you pick a model which is easy to program. The least you would expect is spending hours to understand functioning.

Generally, ham radios can be programmed either with their keypad or through a computer. The latter is the better option here.

Do You Need a License?

Well, the best practice here is to check the rules and regulations of your State, to be on the safer side.

However, there is nothing to worry about even if your State requires a license to be able to operate a ham radio. This is because the rules have been simplified now, over the years. Let’s have a look at the commonly available licenses:

Technician license

This is an entry-level license, and you need to pass an examination to get this license. On successfully getting the license, you get access to a range of frequencies over 30 MHz, in addition to certain HF band frequencies as well. This license allows you to communicate locally and regionally on the go.

General license

Again, to obtain this license, you need to pass an exam. Once passed, you are allowed communicating internationally. However, for this to happen, you must have a technician license first.

Amateur extra license

Similar to the above-mentioned licenses, you need to pass an examination to obtain this license as well. Once obtained, you get access to all modes and bands. However, for this to happen, you must have a General License.

Final Words

This brings us to the end of this article. That said, having a ham radio is fun. You get to communicate with the fellow drivers on the road, and you can even set up your mobile station. Further, ham radio can also come to your rescue in the times of distress, or when you are stuck in the wilderness.

However, there are a range of choices available and picking one is no easy task. We would highly recommend you to go for BaoFeng UV-5R Ham Radio. This is because it features a great build quality, has a robust construction, provides better coverage and has two-color LED display. It also works fine with extended batteries, which makes it an easier option to go with.

What are your views on this? Have you ever used a ham radio? How was your experience? Which is the best ham radio according to you? Do sound off in the comments below.

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