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10 Best Ham Radio Base Station of 2021 Reviews (Expert Recommendation)

Although the standard handheld ham radios are portable, going for the best ham radio station is recommended if you care about the transmission range.

Ham radio base stations offer more features and frequency coverage.

That is why a lot of people often refer to them as complex and more sophisticated.

With a typical ham radio base station, you can do everything the handheld radio transceivers will do and even a lot more.

However, these advanced features the ham radio base stations provide means that selecting the best out of the several market alternatives might not be straightforward.

We have carefully compiled a list of our top 10 ham radio stations that might be best for you.

A Table of 10 Best Ham Radio Base Station Comparison in 2021

PreviewBrand NameDetail
President Lincoln II Plus
Yaesu FT-2980R
Kenwood TM-281A
Yaesu FTM-400DR/XDR
Yaesu FT-991A
ICOM 7300 02
Galaxy DX-2517
Yaesu FT-891 FT891
Yaesu Original FT-450D
Kenwood TS-480HX

What is the best ham radio base station?

Generally, the ham radio base stations are known for their larger output power and transmit signals over very long distances than the handheld radio devices.

Thus, the best ham radio station is the type that offers as many features as possible in addition to the farther transmission range.

These features, such as higher frequency coverage, are what we see in the President Lincoln II Plus. They are what we call buying considerations when purchasing a radio station.

We’ll talk more elaborately on that later on.

Why President Lincoln II Plus is the best brand for ham radio base station?

Some of the reasons we chose the President Lincoln II Plus as our best brand for ham radio base station are the classic display, programmable features, easy controls, and high performance.

Other reasons include the emergency channels that this radio base station has.

The emergency channels, which are also programmable, allow you to preset the channels for emergencies.

Top 10 Best Ham Radio Transceiver 2021 – A Complete Buying Guide

01. President Lincoln II Plus – Overall Best Ham Radio Base Station

 

Highlighted Features

  • 35W FM/ 50W AM PEP / 12W CW/ 35W USB-LSB PEP
  • 8 V Power Supply
  • 10 & 12 meter band
  • 890-24.990 MHz & 28.00-29.70 MHz

As the name implies, one can quickly tell that the President Lincoln II Plus is not only a similar product to the Lincoln II, but it’s also an upgrade of the latter features.

The similarity comes in the design with similar specifications like the same 12W RMS 48W PEP AM bands.

However, introducing a 12-meter band and a 35W FM band over the former 28W promises an upgrade in performance.

Also, the higher 25W PEP SSB output power of this President Lincoln II Plus instead of the HF 31W PEP SSB is one reason why this President Electronic’s manufactured product is one of the best ham radio transceivers.

We like this radio base station because it has the user’s programmable “Emergency Channel 1 and 2” instead of the “CH19/9” key.

Besides, the radio controllers are user-friendly and can be adjusted for a better radio experience.

These controller features include knobs for volume adjustment, RF power, and squelch.

There are also control buttons for mode switch, channels scan, menu functions, beep function, echo, split, etc.

Also available is an external loudspeaker port if you want to use an external device to amplify the sound.

Besides, it works well in cars with excellent outputs on the AM/FM/USB/LSB/CW modulations.

Nevertheless, this ham radio base station has its downside. It is designed to focus on channels rather than frequencies.

It would have been better for a more expensive and modern display that shows frequencies instead of too many channels.

Pros

  • Efficient Power Output
  • It’s not expensive

Cons

  • Focuses on channels rather than frequencies

02. FT-2980R – Best Mobile Radio Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

  • 144 MHz Frequency
  • 80W RF Power
  • LCD Display

With the newly supported four output power features, the FT-2980R makes our list of the best ham radio base station.

The overall design configuration is solid and quite robust.

Asides from its outstanding mechanical toughness, this radio transceiver designed by Yaesu boasts of a massive 80W upgraded output power.

The robust design also includes a buoyant heatsink that prevents overheating despite the large power outputs.

Based on the specific circumstance, this mobile radio transceiver offers the user the choice of selecting between the 80W, 30W, 10W, and 5W power capacities.

Interestingly, this Yaesu’s ham radio base station offers more advanced functions such as WX channels with severe weather alert updates.

It also has a versatile scanning option with an inbuilt CTCSS and DCS encoder/decoder.

Besides, the FT-2980R is suitable for outdoor use and even places with a noisy background.

This feature is made possible because of the loud audio output. Other notable features of this FT-2980R are the alphanumeric channel display, advanced programming menu, 200 memory channels, and more.

Pros

  • Multiple Power Outputs
  • Does not overheat

Cons

  • Tiny buttons – not comfortable for big hands

03. Kenwood TM-128A – Best Mobile Ham Radio Station

 

Highlighted Features

  • 65W Maximum Power Output
  • 200 Memory Channel
  • CTCSS/DTCS Encoder/Decoder

As one of the best ham radio transceivers, the Kenwood TM-281A can also function as a radio base station.

The operation is pretty straightforward and has illuminated keys with a backlit LCD to support easy day and night use.

However, the highlight of this Kenwood radio base station is its rugged design and construction that makes it super durable.

According to the MIL-STD 810 C, D, E, F, and G standards, this ruggedness is evident in its ability to withstand environmental vibration and shock.

That also explains its suitability as a mobile radio since the vehicle might occasionally run into bumps and experience shocks.

So, this Kenwood TM-128A is recommended if you need a mobile transceiver that offers superb performance with quality sound.

Overall, its other features are great. The maximum power output is 65W, which is reasonably okay considering normal usage and requirements.

It has a 200 memory channel support with weather alert channels.

Pros

  • Rugged and Compact Design
  • Very Clear Audio Quality

Cons

  • It’s more of a mobile transceiver than a base station

04. Yaesu Orginal FTM-400XDR – Best Digital GPS Mobile Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

Yaesu Original FTM-400XDR is a ham radio base station and unique for its excellent GPS receiver service.

GPS technology is one of the best and allows for a more precise satellite search function.

As a result, problems with slow navigations and telemetry are better reduced since there is a corresponding decrease in the GPS Time-To-Fix (TTF) of this Yaesu’s mobile transceiver.

So, regardless of your preferred use as a base station or not, this Yaesu’s transceiver has got you covered.

Installation after purchasing is pretty straightforward, and there is a manual to guide you if you get stuck.

The display interface is incredible, especially the one for its APRS messages. The look is similar to that of an email with easy navigation.

This Yaesu Original FTM-400XDR also has an inbuilt memory program software that saves you the stress of getting an external one.

The frequency of the dual-band transceiver is 144/430 MHZ and transmits very clear and crisp audio.

Pros

  • Awesome radio. Easy set-up and installation
  • Transmits accurate GPS signals

Cons

  • It might be a bit expensive depending on the store

05. Yaesu Original FT-991A – Best Field Gear Radio Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

  • Real-Time Spectrum
  • Multi-Colour Waterfall Display
  • 100W Maximum Output Power

Considered a slight upgrade to the widely known FT-991, the Yaesu Original FT-991A offers vital advanced features such as its Multi-Colour waterfall display and real-time spectrum.

Together with its rugged and compact design, these new features improve the user’s experience of the radio.

For instance, the added real-time spectrum helps the radio operators to listen and quickly locate their preferred signals.

The spectrum scope allows them to be able to observe the exact signal locations graphically.

The multi-color waterfall display also has its unique purpose as it reveals the strength of desired signals.

Differentiation of weak signals is more straightforward via the “multi-color” feature.

It serves to complement the real-time spectrum since it displays signals that might not have been visible.

Therefore, radio ham operators searching for more accurate and vivid communication signals should consider getting this Yaesu original radio base station.

The maximum output power is 100W. For 2 meters and 70 centimeters wave, the output power becomes only 50W.

Pros

  • Robust and excellent design
  • Provides accurate signals location

Cons

  • It is quite costly

06. ICOM 7300 02 – Best Direct Sampling Base Station

 

Highlighted Features

  • 100W Output Power
  • 030 – 74.800 MHz Frequency range
  • LCD touchscreen display

As one of the best ham radio base stations, the ICOM 7300 02 radio is an excellent buy, considering the features it provides.

One of these includes the single sideband (SSB) design with memory support for up to 101 channels.

The sleek 4.3 inches LCD  touchscreen display with well-arranged radio buttons and controls is another talking point of this ICOM radio transceiver.

It also features an auto-toner with a spectrum scope that aids in locating the location of signals, especially for differentiating the weak ones.

The output power is 100W and could be 25W for AM. Besides, direct sampling receiver type is what the radio transceiver uses.

The audio quality is also excellent since digital sampling is used within the RX frequency range of 0.030-74.800 MHz.

Pros

  • It can be used for detecting weak signals sources
  • It has high output power that supports long-ranged transmissions

Cons

  • It’s a bit expensive

07. Galaxy DX-2517 – Best Galaxy 10-Metered Radio Station

 

Highlighted Features

  • 25W SSB Maximum Output Power
  • USB/LSB/AM/FM/CW Modulations
  • Noise Filters
  • 5 Digits Frequency Readings

Also on our list of recommended ham radio stations is this Galaxy DX-2517.

While it not so much of a powerhouse, it has the main PC board that offers improved stability and sensitivity on the USB/LSB/AM/FM/CW modulations.

As a radio base station, the audio transmission is very audible. The Galaxy DX-2517 filters out the noise signals and also uses a noise blanker or automatic noise limiter.

So, you can be sure to enjoy a top-quality audio experience.

Other features we liked about this Galaxy’s radio include the switchable talkback circuit design with controls for volume, mic, and receive gain.

The display, especially for the frequency, is easy to read. It has a digital meter that gives the frequency values up to 5 digits.

There are also two sizeable analog scale meters with readings for signals, AM modulation, and output power.

Depending on the modulation band, the maximum output power is 25W for SSB and 10W for AM.

Pros

  • Produces high-quality audio signals
  • Easy to read display for frequencies and other parameters

Cons

  • It seems to be a little overpriced

08. Yaesu Original FT-891 – Best Compact Mobile Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

  • 100W Maximum Output Power
  • 32-Bit DSP
  • USB to PC Connection Port

With significant improvements in the audio quality and compact design, the Yaesu Original FT-891 is regarded as an upgrade to the 857 models.

It has a USB to PC connection support and can serve as a mobile or stationary base station.

Output power for the radio is 100W or 25W for the AM bands. Other modulations like FM, LSB, and CW are also supported to provide you with the best possible radio performance.

This performance can be further enhanced using the 32-bit floating DSP point feature.

This 32-bit DSP is vital in offering more precise signals with minimal noise. Stronger signals can be obtained by using an FC-50 antenna tuner or ATAS service.

The frequency range is also great and falls within 1.8 to 54 MHz and 30 kHz to 56 MHz for transmission and received signals.

However, this Yaesu FT891 has a downside compared to the 857 models. It has no VHF/UHF support, which is surprising considering the other top attributes of the radio base station.

Pros

  • Cheap with regards to its quality
  • A comparative advantage over similar radio station types

Cons

  • It does not have VHF/UFH support
  • There is no autotuner as well

09. Yaesu Original FT-450D – Best DSP Technology-Based Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

  • 100W Maximum Output Power
  • Illuminated Buttons
  • CW Filter
  • FM/USB/LSB/AM/CW Bands

Like the other Yaesu’s radio base stations, the Yaesu Original FT-450D proves the high-quality standard that the manufacturers are renowned for.

Whether you’re a radio enthusiast or not, the classy display of the Yaesu Original FT-450D is going to awe you.

With a range from 0.03MHz to 54MHz range, the frequency is easy to read, particularly with its 7-digit display.

The control buttons are also well-labeled and have illuminated buttons that aid the smooth operation of this mobile radio transceiver at night.

What’s more interesting is the 100W output power that helps you to enjoy both local and far-away channel stations.

Besides, there is a continuous wave filter that reduces the amount of energy consumed.

Available modulation bands are the FM/USB/LSB/AM/CW with a built-in antenna tuner to increase the quality of signals transmitted or received.

The CW filter operates within 500 and 300HZ but might be up to 400MHz with Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

Altogether, the features of this ham radio base station are incredible and quite an upgrade to the initial FT450 and FT 450AT radio stations that are no longer manufactured.

The only issue, however, is the limited scope of the antenna tuner.

Pros

  • The backlight and illuminated keys help to operate the device at night
  • It has a CW filter that improves the audio clarity

Cons

  • The antenna tuner’s scope is limited

10. Kenwood TS-480HX – Best Amateur Base Transceiver

 

Highlighted Features

  • 200W Output Power
  • 8V DC Supply
  • 16-bit AF Digital Signals
  • TX Frequency Band 1.8MHz – 50MHz

The Kenwood TS-480HX is another of the best ham radio transceiver that provides quality digital signals over very long distances.

What makes this radio peculiarly interesting is its compact and portable design.

Contrary to the assumption that portable radio devices are usually just for local signals, this Kenwood’s transceiver is different.

Its output power is 200W with a 13.8 V DC supply that promises to provide you with a top-notch radio transmission experience.

This amateur radio base transceiver functions with a distinguished control panel that makes it very suitable for base station use.

The control panel design also comes with a speaker that operates on all amateur radio bands from 1.8MHz to 50MHz.

Pros

  • It can transmit over long distances
  • Very Portable design

Cons

  • It is expensive

Buying Considerations For Choosing The Best Ham Radio Base Station

What does a ham radio do exactly? What should you look out for before buying a ham radio base station? What makes one ham radio station better than the other?

These are some of the questions that might probably be on your mind right now.

Before picking what radio is the best ham radio base station, we have first to understand the function of a typical one.

A ham radio base station is a radio device that transmits and receives signals over specific frequencies.

The ham radio base stations are just like mobile or handheld radios, except that they send signals over longer distances and offer more advanced functions.

We have several ham radio alternatives that offer outstanding features. So, selecting the best one can be pretty tricky.

Therefore, this section briefly covers those essential features to consider when making a ham radio purchasing decision.

Output Power

As we said earlier, the ham radio base station should transmit over longer distances than the conventional handheld radio transceivers.

One of the significant determinants of how far the radio can convey signals is the output power.

Hence, a good ham radio base station produces a minimum output power of about 100W.

Such power capacity is higher than the normal 3-5W of the typical portable radios sufficient for local communication.

With a 100W outpower or more, your radio can connect with far-away radios with much ease. Therefore, the output power is an essential property to consider.

The Durability of the Radio Base Station

Generally, ham radio base stations are expensive and are not economical to start looking for a replacement within a short time of use.

So, the best approach is to think longevity over which radio base station is cheaper.

Check for the ham radio base station’s quality over anything else. Regardless of the cost, a long-lasting radio pays in the long run.

Compare the materials used to construct the radio and the material of the control buttons too. Another thing to look out for is the ease of maintenance and repair in case a fault occurs.

Display

For this case, your intended use of the radio base station determines what display factors would be of priority to you.

Individuals who prefer to operate their radios more at night can opt for the types with illuminated control buttons.

Besides, some people might want to go for radios with straightforward displays to figure out the present frequencies or channels quickly.

Others might like radio displays that are sophisticated with many parameters.

Frequency Range

When choosing radio base stations based on frequency coverage, you have to think about the surrounding area of transmission.

Intended use in areas with lots of obstruction to the wave signals like buildings or high walls will require waves to penetrate such obstacles easily.

That explains why frequency ranges under 1GHz are recommended for use in ham radio base stations.

They usually provide more quality communication signals since they are capable of penetrating obstacles in dense environments.

Programmable Use

Although most ham radios are programmable, what is important is how easy it is to program them.

There are two basic programming methods for your radio base station; manual programming or programming through a computer.

Programming manually is usually the easier of the two options, but both alternatives have their different benefits.

The advantage of using a computer to program the radio is that it saves time and is cost-effective.

However, programming the radio manually often provides you better flexibility and freedom regarding the technically related options.

You can choose just exactly what you want, and not a rigid computerized program.

Therefore, most ham radio base stations always ask for manual programming to deal with smaller tasks because computer use is faster.

User Manual

Aside from programming-related issues, challenges with transmissions and other basic radio station settings can be pretty tricky.

Hence, having a well-drafted and easily understandable user manual is one feature that makes radio the best ham radio base station.

Although most manufacturers try to include one, always check that it is not missing during the product’s packaging.

Noise Filters

Remember we said that the advantage of getting a ham radio base station is its ability to transmit over longer distances than the regular handheld amateur ham radios.

That gives the possibility of the radio receiving some unwanted signals or noise, along with the near and far-away signals it accepts.

Therefore, a quality radio base station must be one that can sort out the unwanted/interfering signals from the expected transmission signals.

The noise filter is what the radio uses to carry out such operations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of Best Ham Radio Base Station

Does the Ham Radio Use VHF or UHF?

Depending on the license available and transmission areas, ham radio base stations can use VHF and UHF spectrum.

However, the UHF bands are less reliable, with a shorter wavelength easily obstructed by high buildings or solid structures.

That explains why many ham radio operators usually go for VHF bands over the UHFs because the former is less prone to interferences and noise.

What are Dual-Band Ham Radios?

The dual-band ham radios are radio types capable of transmitting or receiving signals over two frequencies.

A practical example is the Yaesu Original FT-991A  that allows you to transmit over frequency bands of 144-148MHz and 420-450Mhz on distances of 2 meters and 70 centimeters, respectively.

What is the Difference Between Ham Radios and CB Radio Stations?

First of all, the ham radios require a license to operate, while a CB radio does not need one.

This license is in the form of an exam that tests the operator’s fundamental knowledge about telecommunication. The ham radios are for longer distances communication.

These communications are usually person-to-person, rather than commercial purposes. So, ham radio cannot be used for local news station transmission.

Conversely, CB radios are short-ranged and informal communication between people who are not too far from one another. For example, people going on a trip or traffic routes.

Is it Possible to take the License Test Online?

Yes, you can! Before the FCC’s announcement on April 30, 2020, individuals taking the license examinations were required to be physically present at the test centers.

However, online license exams are now supported.

You just have to search for a Volunteer Exam Coordinator (VEC) that the FCC has approved to conduct the license exam.

Many of them still do not offer online examination support, so carefully selecting a VEC is crucial.

Conclusion

With our recommended best ham radio base stations, you’ll agree that there are just so many options to pick from.

However, a careful examination of the features of each product we discussed compared to their buying considerations should significantly be of help.

Also, compare the advantages and features of each based on how you intend to use the ham radio.

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