How to Buy Best HF Amateur Radio Transceiver / Rig

Key pointers for buying the best amateur radio HF transceiver equipment: what to look for; hints & tips

Setting up an Amateur Radio Station Includes:
How to set up amateur radio shack     Buying best HF gear     Buying best VHF/UHF equipment     Linear amplifier     How to buy kits     Buying used equipment - a guide     Choosing & buying the best antenna    

When setting up an amateur radio station, or replacing some older gear, it is wise to spend some time looking at the market and seeing just what you want.

Although amateur radio equipment these days is very good value for what you get, it can still represent a large investment, so a little car needs to be taken when deciding on what to purchase.

Aspects like performance, specification, cost, size, power output, and the general level of the transceiver all need to be taken into account along with aspects like its suitability for portable or mobile operation.

Amateur radio HF transceiver

Amateur radio HF transceiver aspects

When looking at buying a new amateur radio transceiver, it is wise to look at what its envisaged usage will be. How much will it be used, where, how much space, what antennas are available, how big is the shack, how much power can be run and is there a likelihood of interference.

All these aspect and many more need to be thought through for the existing and envisaged future usage.

There are many different manufacturers of HF amateur radio equipment, and therefore there is a good choice in many different price brackets.

When choosing what equipment to buy, there are many factors that need to be considered.

  • Performance:   It almost goes without saying that the performance is a prime consideration when buying an HF transceiver. The best performance is obviously good to have, but it is worth stopping to think whether the level of performance will actually be used in whatever location the set is used.
  • Computer linking:   In these days when software is becoming an integral part of amateur radio, the level of computer linking and control possible can be a key consideration. Some digital modes these days rely on being able to control the radio using computer software. This aspect of the operation should be investigated before any purchase is made.
  • Amateur radio HF transceiver
  • Power output:   The power output can be a key issue. For base station and some mobile HF transceivers, a power output of around 100 watts peak envelope power is normal. Some of the top line transceivers have higher power levels than this, but normally for reaching the full power output allowed of 400 watts in some countries or kilowatts in other countries, a linear amplifier is normally used. These can often reach their full output with a drive of around 100 watts.
  • Cost:   Cost is a key consideration for many. Buying a rig new is obviously nice, but buying second hand can save some cost, especially if done privately, although there can be additional risks. Whatever approach is taken, there is a really good selection of equipment available in a variety of price brackets.
  • Size:   The size of the HF transceiver or rig can be a consideration for many. It is often possible to have a very compact radio station that has a high level of performance. The top of the range HF transceivers can be very large, but some of the medium budget or low budget and mobile transceivers can be very compact. When choosing an HF rig, it is possible to buy one that suits the space available.

Type of HF transceiver to buy

  • Base Unit Transceivers:   Fixed desktop transceivers generally enjoy more features than portable devices. Commonly known as base unit transceivers, these types of devices are generally set up on a permanent location. Boasting higher output power levels than their mobile and handheld counterparts, they are commonly paired with massive antennas that can broadcast over a large range.

    Ham radio HF transceiver
    Amateur radio HF transceiver in use
    Base units are commonly enhanced with amplifiers, and provided they are fittingly equipped, they can access broadcast on a variety of levels, from local to international.
  • Mobile Transceivers:   Amateur radio mobile operation is popular with many people. To accommodate this requirement there is a good selection of mobile equipment available. This equipment is smaller and less sophisticated than some of the base station equipment. It lends itself, not only to mobile operation, but also portable operation as well, and as a result it can be very useful for emergency communications as well. Often amateur radio has provided a vital means of communications in emergencies when all other systems have been overloaded or damaged.

    Mobile HF transceivers can also be used to good effect in a home station when a highly sophisticated rig may not be needed. It may be worth looking at these, for mobile / portable operation, or when a smaller and lower cost rig is needed.
  • Software defined radios, SDR :   SDR technology is being far more widely used these days. Often the SDR receiver or transceiver occupies a box unit and uses a computer for the controls. SDR technology ahs the advantage that the performance can be changed by changing the software. Additional facilities can be added by upgrading software. Although there are hardware limitations on some areas, software can provide significant changes.
  • Kit building:   Although it is not usual to build a complete HF transceiver from scratch these days, there are many kits available, especially for low power or QRP operation. There is a good selection of QRP low power kits for transmitters and transceivers for Morse code operation on the HF bands.
    Read more about . . . . buying amateur radio kits.

Check out the Electronics Notes: Essential Ham Radio List.

When buying an HF amateur radio transceiver or rig, there is a huge selection available. The major manufacturers all offer excellent performance and value for money. Often there is comparatively little to choose between then, but nevertheless it is worth spending time reading the specification sheets and reviews to decide deciding what is best. If there is a local dealer, it can help to visit the shop to ask their opinion and also use the different rigs to see which is best for you. As you are spending a reasonable amount of money, you need to be sure you are buying the best HF amateur radio transceiver or rig for your station.

More Ham Radio Topics:
What is ham radio     Callsigns     Morse code     Voice modes     Digital data modes     QRP operating     Operating awards     Codes & abbreviations     Ham bands overview     Operating via differnet propagation modes     Repeaters     Callsigns     Contact formats     Setting up a shack & buying equipment    
    Return to Ham radio menu . . .