Getting into amateur radio can be a drag if you don’t have the proper assortment of tools and instruments related to the task. Likewise, an old or faulty ham radio can impair your ability to participate in radio wave affairs. Hence, it is in the best of our interests to find and use the most effective ham radio.
But oftentimes, several key factors adjudge of what is the best mobile ham radio available in the market. Some key elements include the range of bands, backlit displays, frequency range, and power output. Taking all of this into account, an ideal mobile ham radio is one that gets the job done.
|Best Overall||Easy to Program||Best Rated|
|Preview||AnyTone AT-778UV||BTECH Mini UV-25X2||Kenwood TM-281A|
|See Details||See Details||See Details|
- Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews
- 1. AnyTone AT-778UV Mobile Radio
- 2. BTECH Mini UV-25X2 Mobile Radio
- 3. Kenwood TM-281A FM Transceiver
- 4. Yaesu FT-2980R Mobile Transceiver
- 5. QYT KT-8900D Mobile Transceiver
- 6. AnyTone Amateur Radio
- 7. Radioddity QB25 Mobile Ham Radio
- 8. BTECH Mini UV-25X4 Mobile Radio
- 9. Kenwood TM-V71A Mobile Transceiver
- 10. TYT TH-9800 Mobile Car Ham Radio
- 11. LEIXEN LX VV-898 Ham Radio
- 12. Icom ID-4100A Mobile Transceiver
- What to Look for When Buying a Mobile Ham Radio
- Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Mobile Ham Radio
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews
1. AnyTone AT-778UV Mobile Radio
I recommend this mobile ham radio for its versatility and handiness in performing the duties comparable to top-of-the-line ham radio setups. This radio–as little as it looks–packs a punch. Chiefly, its multiple integrated radio features that outperform other mobile radios in its price-point.
Covering 136 – 174 MHz to 400 – 480 MHz, this little fella can indeed perform what it’s advertised for. I think it’s fair to say that this radio fares excellently compared to its competitors.
What I like about this mobile ham radio setup is the interactive display it has. I find the radio’s display to be impressive. Much to do because of its informational and colorful screen, which provides the necessary info in operating ham radios. I’m delighted with the amount of detail that can be found in its display.
I also found the operation and programming of the radio to be quite easy. I surmise that this is the top-rated mobile ham radio for beginners. The user interface is easy to work with. And like with other radios, once you get the hang of it–operating this radio can be a walk in the park.
Another feature that I also like about this radio is its reliability. Also, the ham radio’s advertised power is what you truly get. With a tuner setting of UHF and VHF, it’s capable of transmitting your message through the air.
Moreover, it provides the necessary output, depending on whether you will use a wideband (of which can give off 25 watts to 5 watts of power), to narrowband (also at 25 watts to 5 watts of power). I’m sure that this compact and powerful mobile ham is among the best that you can find in the market.
2. BTECH Mini UV-25X2 Mobile Radio
I’m wholeheartedly happy that I chose to buy this mobile ham radio instead of the others available in the market. Now, I say this as an enthusiast of ham radios.
I recommend this mobile ham for multiple reasons. Among those are the synchronous dual display mode of the radio (you can view and synchronize two different channels into your display at the same time!) and the vast frequency range (it can reach up to 520 MHz).
Notably, its high-tech scanning mode allows users to atomize the radio’s frequency scanning and identification. Also, its power setting is quite capable, performing at 25 watts and 10 watts, respectively. The features that I’ve mentioned make this micro radio a great buy.
Based on my experience, the radio’s not just capable, but it more than excels at what it’s supposed to do–communicate effectively in the air.
Moreover, I also like that you can fully customize the display of the radio. From the background up to its text colors, the compact radio’s monitor is quite phenomenal. This is not common for other mobile radios available in the market.
The unit’s compactness is also commendable. BTech’s mobile ham fits like a glove to my car’s compartment. I suppose this is the best ham radio for cars, mainly for its small frame, measuring 10 x 6 x 2 inches and 2 pounds. It also comes with a fan, unlike other units.
Programming the radio is also quite easy. I hadn’t encountered any trouble when I was setting up the radio systems. The Internet also has a plethora of guides, especially from the manufacturer’s instructions.
Likewise, I assure you that the product works as advertised. At its price point, I consider this to be a bang-for-the-buck radio model. Other radios around the hundred-dollar point typically have some common issues, but not this one.
3. Kenwood TM-281A FM Transceiver
What I love about this radio is the ton of upside it offers. This rig provides features that can compete with, nay, outclass other mobile radios at its price point.
The unit comes with wondrous power radio settings (from 25 watts to 65 watts) and vast memory channels (up to 200 available channels!). It also features Encoders/Decoders and weather alerts/RX.
In detail, I find the radio’s construction to be built for long-lasting usage. The case features aluminum, a material that you rarely find used in other cheap radios. What else do you expect from the products at Kenwood?
I’m also confidently stating that this is the best all band mobile ham radio, basing on my experience with the mobile ham. From the front-facing speakers audio quality to its well-documented sophistication, I truly enjoy using this ham radio when I’m on the road. So much more that I’m planning on getting a new one for my truck.
With its compactness (at 6.34 x 6.71 x 1.69 inches) and lightness (at 2.5 pounds), this micro radio is an excellent ham to work with. The mobile ham radio’s specifications allow me to carry it and transfer seamlessly to my other workplaces.
4. Yaesu FT-2980R Mobile Transceiver
As a ham radio enthusiast, I’m quite satisfied with how this radio performs in my day-to-day ham operations. This 2-meter mobile radio gets the job done, thanks to its capable transmission power of 80 watts and wideband receiver.
While we’re at it, the power output of this mobile radio is quite flexible, transmitting at 80 watts, 30 watts, 10 watts, and 5 watts. Such a diverse selection of power transmission ensures flexibility in your ham operations.
This unit also comes with a built-in heat sink. This feature certifies the stability of the radio when using the highest power setting, without the need for fans and other cooling devices. Hence, this radio is ideal for use in a dry and hot region, solving the issue of heat building up. I often find myself using the 80-watt option without worry.
Likewise, the audio quality of this radio also meets and exceeds our expectations. Due to the radio’s audio power output of 3 watts, I can clearly hear who I’m talking to, even in noisy conditions.
The built-in DCS Encode/Decode and CTCSS is also helpful to my daily ham operations. Additionally, the vast memory channels (at 200!) is a nice offering for a reasonable beginner’s ham radio.
The build of this Yaesu radio is quite good. Unlike other mobile radios, this unit can literally take a beating and still perform its ham capabilities.
5. QYT KT-8900D Mobile Transceiver
What I love about this unit is its ability to get the job done. The radio’s very affordable price paired with its capabilities make this cheap dual-band mobile radio a unit worthy of praise.
The device provides users with a wide array of working frequency, 136 to 174 MHz(VHF) and 400 to 480 MHz (UHF). I consider this mobile radio to be handy in communicating within long distances. Likewise, its advertised power output (25 W, 20 W) is what you truly get when operating it.
Most ham radio enthusiasts, including me, are impressed with the features of this compact radio. It has a nice and clear display with a large LCD screen, powerful audio, and a good quality mic. The set packs all the things you need for breezy installation: DC cable, brackets, hardware, and detailed manuals.
This radio is also quite easy to program, especially since it is CHIRP compatible. It is also Windows compatible and is supported by radio software. This transceiver basically has functions that you can’t find in other radios at the same price point.
6. AnyTone Amateur Radio
After using this radio for three months, I can say that I’m satisfied with how this unit performs in my day-to-day ham operations.
Particularly, I’m happy with the radio’s wide VHF/UHF frequency. Its capability to transmit at 136 MHz to 480 MHz (FM), and to receive 108 MHz up to 490 MHz (AM) frequencies make this a reliable mobile radio.
Also, the power output of this dual-band transceiver is versatile. This radio can tone it up to 50 watts (capable of hitting distant repeaters easily), 40 watts, and down to a measly 5 watts. The advertised power is what you get out of this little device.
Additionally, this radio is also easily programmable. It is CHIRP compatible, so you can plug it into your personal computer and program from there. It also comes with a free USB cable; that way, you don’t need to buy one to program it from a desktop.
The mobile ham radio also includes an illuminated keypad, making it easier to navigate and make proper ham adjustments in the dark. Also, the unit has a body speaker, mic speaker, and an optional external speaker that you can install to the radio.
This AnyTone mobile radio has also 700 memory channels for your frequency storage. Additionally, the radio set also comes with a cross-band repeater mode, a simultaneous ham receiver, and a separate control for the radio’s volume and squelch settings.
7. Radioddity QB25 Mobile Ham Radio
After scouring through the Internet, searching for the next mobile radio for my car, I decided to settle with the Radioddity mobile device.
For around this price point, this Quad Band ham radio offers a lot of features. The radio package comes with everything you need to set-up your station, except for the antenna mount and coax. That, you’ll need to buy for yourself.
This quad-band radio covers quite a spectrum of available frequencies. It transmits and receives from four channels: 136 MHz – 174 MHz, 220 MHz – 260 MHz, 400 MHz – 480 MHz, 350 MHz – 390 MHz, covering a wide expanse of both UHF and VHF. Likewise, it also has a bandwidth selection of wide and narrow, 25 kHz and 12.5 kHz, respectively.
In terms of audio, this radio kills it! The unit’s TX and RX audio performs greatly. I didn’t expect the sound quality to be that crisp and well from the radio’s size. Moreover, the display is clear and radiant with four colors for users to easily read its essential info.
The power settings of the radio is capable of hitting repeaters up to 30 miles. With a maximum power setting of 50 watts, this unit is capable of broadcasting to far distances.
As expected, this CHIRP-compatible product is programmable around 30 minutes. You can also use the available USB connector to plug it into your computer/device.
8. BTECH Mini UV-25X4 Mobile Radio
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the BTECH Mini radio is the best mobile ham radio for the money! This device gets the job done, regarding its build, frequency range, power settings, and other radio functions.
For instance, the radio covers a considerable portion of radio frequencies. From 144 MHz – 148 MHz (VHF), 222 MHz – 225 MHz, 420 MHz – 450 MHz (UHF), transmitting its message clearly across the sky.
At 25 and 10 watts, the mobile unit is powerful enough to reach areas unreachable by other micro radios. On the other hand, the unit also has an integrated auto-power off option, saving the radio’s power source when not in use.
Even though small in size, the bright, clear, and readable font on display allows it to be read from afar. In detail, this mobile ham radio comes installed with a multi-color LCD display screen. A feature unlike any other, the customizable display allows you to fully adjust it according to your needs. Beyond that, you can also customize the display features of the radio program itself.
Moreover, the size of the radio’s unit allows it to be installed anywhere. At just 38.5 x 1.38 x 4.65 inches, this little fella can be hooked up to a car or a tiny radio shack.
This radio set comes with 200 memory frequency channels available for programming. Given that the unit is also CHIRP compatible, you can hook this mobile radio to a computer, making it easier for you to program and set-up the unit.
9. Kenwood TM-V71A Mobile Transceiver
This radio unit is currently on the top of my list as the best mobile HF transceiver. Such a compact dual-band mobile ham accomplishes all the tasks necessary for daily ham operations beyond its price point.
A bang-for-the-buck radio, this unit is regarded to be great for those starting out with mobile ham radio. It’s easy to program and can be hooked up to a computer. Because of this feature, you can transpose some radio repeater data into the radio, lessening the hassle of scanning and finding one.
It also has a wide radio frequency coverage, covering from 144 MHz up to 440 MHz. The power settings on this radio packs quite a punch, capable of powering up to 50 W.
Moreover, the simple interface of the radio is also among the selling points of the unit. It has no unnecessary, flashy features. Instead, its LCD offers a clear display with two backlights in amber and green.
This radio unit comes with unique features. Namely, an automatic dialer, thus making it easier for you to find and dial available frequencies for contact. Also, you can access any transceiver node around the world, given that the radio is connected to a desktop computer and is running the EchoLink program in the background.
Moreover, the radio’s control head can easily be linked and coupled with any other remote cable; make it easier for you to attach and modify your radio connections.
10. TYT TH-9800 Mobile Car Ham Radio
Next in the list is the TYT TH-9800 Quad Band radio model. This model hf radio provides all the necessary capabilities of competent radio units for ham operations.
What I love about this unit is its capacity to transmit in four quad-band frequencies with fantastic o.2uV sensitivity. For instance, with a 10-meter antenna, you can transmit at 29 MHz. Also, with a 6-meter antenna, you can then transmit at 52 MHz. And, with a 2-meter and 70-centimeter band, you can transmit at 146 MHz and 440 MHz, respectively.
Furthermore, the receive range of this unit are as follows: 26 MHz – 33 MHz, 47 MHz – 54 MHz, 110 MHz – 180 MHz, 350 MHz – 399 MHz, 430 MHz – 512 MHz, and 750 MHz – 947 MHz. This radio indeed has a wide receiver range
This unit can also receive both FM and AM frequencies. Moreover, it can also receive additional frequencies than stated above, given that the conditions are met for optimal ham operations.
The mobile radio unit provides a variety of power settings. At 50 W for a VHF transmission on a 2-meter antenna, it can also output a maximum of 40 W for a UHF transmission on a 10-meter antenna.
This radio set can also carry around 809 radio frequency channels in its memory slot. Moreover, the unit also has a programmable channel name function for editing and easier access.
11. LEIXEN LX VV-898 Ham Radio
When checking out this Dual Band Amateur Ham Radio from LEIXIN, I was amazed by its functions and features, which in my opinion, went beyond its price point capabilities.
This affordable mobile unit performs the basic functions of a ham radio. In detail, the dual-band radio delivers a frequency range of 400 MHz – 470 MHz and 136 MHz – 174 MHz. Moreover, it allows you to enjoy a total of 199 channels. And for your favorite ones, you can edit their names for quick finding when needed.
Its power output stands at a reliable 10 W down to 4W. If you want a radio that isn’t that much power consuming, this one’s for you. It performs all the necessary functions of a ham radio at a lower power setting.
The mobile ham radio offers voice companding to reduce cross-talker and noise during communicating. It also features a scrambler for manipulating your messages before transmitting them to the reader.
At 120mm x 90mm x 40mm and just 315 grams, this compact ham radio can truly fit anywhere in your car.
12. Icom ID-4100A Mobile Transceiver
Completing the list is Icom’s reputable mobile ham radio. This Icom ID-4100A VHF/UHF Dual Band Mobile Transceiver has a lot to offer, proving its worth to those looking for a portable radio.
Featuring a full dot display matrix, the radio’s interface and display is clear and concise. The advanced display tech that’s installed with the unit helps ham operators to adjust and fix their radio settings easily.
Additionally, the unit is also built-in with a GPS system, showing your position, altitude, and other details. This function makes it easier for you to transmit your position over to other ham operators and/or available repeaters.
Moreover, the RX frequency range of this radio is at 118 MHz – 174 MHz and 230 MHz – 550 MHz. Likewise, the power output setting of this ham provides three options: 50 W, 15W, and 5 W, ensuring that ham operators have an ample option when it comes to their power transmission needs.
Besides, the radio is also Bluetooth-compatible. You can connect your mobile devices to the radio, making it easier for you to set-up and operate the device.
What to Look for When Buying a Mobile Ham Radio
Check out these are essential points as they will significantly impact your ham operations.
The radio range is an important factor to consider when looking for suitable mobile ham radios. You should take into consideration the type of terrain you’ll be constantly roving and ham-ing around. Likewise, the city you reside in plays a huge role in determining your capacity to do your daily ham operations.
Now, your radio’s range typically is dictated by the following: city setting, range of frequency and wavelength, transmission power setting, the size and quality of your ham antenna.
For instance, the common radio range of mobile ham radios play around 10 – 30 miles. Now, to improve your radio’s range, you should carefully situate your antenna to a place with the least obstruction.
A ham radio’s band dictates the number of frequencies your radio can tune into simultaneously. A dual-band radio can tune into two frequencies, while a quad-band can tune into four.
Now, when you’re looking for a radio, you should first know what type of ham-ing you’ll do. Is it for personal or emergency usage? Or just for listening to the news? This way, you can quickly determine what type of radio fits your needs as a ham operator.
Different radio bands offer different experiences. For instance, a broad coverage band allows ham operators to pick-up transmissions from AM and FM stations. Even so, some advanced radio bands are even solely for Morse code transmissions.
Determining your mobile ham radio frequency range is essential to consider when you’re looking into buying one.
However, you should also remember to keep in mind the type of license you hold, as there are certain restrictions to specific radio licenses. Now, the restrictions usually depend on what country you’re based on.
But mostly, the radio frequency range set aside for ham operations lie around UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency), or about between AM Band of 1.6 MHz to 1240 MHz.
Knowing this, you should look into the frequency range of the radios you’re eyeing for, as they may not be capable of transmitting in the frequencies you desire to partake in.
Another key area that you must carefully take into consideration. Your device’s power supply essentially dictates your ham’s capability and power to transmit messages across the radio waves.
Thus, if you’re looking forward to transmitting to long-distances, you should get a mobile ham radio that packs a power punch (in terms of power output settings).
If you want your ham radio experience to go all fine and dandy, you should find a mobile ham radio that can be easily programmed. Likewise, a unit that could be hooked up to computers.
The reason being: there are several helpful radio software available on the Internet that could help your ham experience go smoothly. An example of a radio software would be CHIRP, an open-source programming tool for radios.
The following are the important factors to consider before buying a mobile ham radio of your choosing.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Mobile Ham Radio
Aside from the important factors outlined above, here are some additional factors that you should take into consideration when buying a mobile ham radio.
The mobile ham radio’s display will ultimately dictate your ability to navigate and read the radio’s important details when you’re operating.
For easier reference, the optimal radio display is one that uses LCD technology. Particularly because of the display materials’ wide brightness range. Likewise, a font that generally isn’t too crowded is recommended for better display functions. The colors of the display shouldn’t also contest with one another; in fact, it should complement each other.
Thus, it is recommended that the mobile ham radio that you’ll get is bright and easy-to-read enough.
Your mobile radio’s capacity to save the important details and information from transmitting relies on the number of memory slots offered by ham radio. If you’re utilizing your ham radio for long-distance, international, and even for weather affairs, it is recommended that the mobile ham radio you get has a substantial amount of memory slot in it.
On the other hand, if you’ll mainly use it for local communications, you may not need a radio with a lot of memory slots in it. In the end, it mainly depends on how you will use your mobile radio.
What is Mobile Ham Radio?
A mobile ham radio is a portable version of a ham radio station—a device that allows amateur radiomen to communicate through the radio frequency spectrum.
The practice of utilizing the available public radio frequency spectrum is colloquially known as ham radio. Moreover, amateur radio is a famous hobby enjoyed by many people interested in electronics and meeting other people.
Amateur radio operators often engage in conversations with other ham operators, typically through radio frequencies. They do this by introducing themselves in the public frequency (by their callsign) and then by calling-out the callsign of the ham they’re talking to.
How does Mobile Ham Radios Work?
Now, mobile ham radios work by having these main components: A transceiver, antenna, tuner, power supply, and a microphone. These are the main components that a mobile ham radio must have for it to work.
Moreover, aside from the material, mobile ham radios also need radio frequencies for it to work. But before amateur radiomen could have access to these frequencies, they must first be licensed to operate and transmit. Thus, aspiring ham operators must first be accredited by radio governing bodies before working on amateur radio operations.
In short, for mobile ham radios to work, amateur radiomen must have the necessary equipment (e.g. transceivers, et al.) and a valid, legal license from the proper authorities.
Types of Mobile Ham Radios
In your search to find a mobile ham radio that fits your needs, you may have encountered the words “dual-band”, and “quad-band.” These two distinct properties of “band” are what separate and distinguish the capability of mobile radios.
Dual-band radios are what they are, mobile ham radios capable of supporting only two differing frequencies at the same time. Dual-bands are much more common and affordable compared to quad-bands.
In essence, this type of mobile radio allows hams to operate and communicate on two distinct radio frequencies.
Unlike dual-bands, quad-bands are more comprehensive than the aforementioned. This type of radio can support four different frequencies, unlike dual-bands, which can only support two.
The ability to support more radio frequencies allows quad-band hams to access more radio channels.
Why do you need a Mobile Ham Radio?
If you’re someone who’s looking to communicate with other people without the need to be with them physically, then acquiring a mobile ham radio is for you. Likewise, if you’re interested in the electronics that make radio communication possible, then radio would also be for you.
But for those already with a ham radio shack already, having a mobile ham radio is a godsend. Having a mobile ham radio allows you to continue your ham operations, even when you’re on the road.
Aside from those above, mobile ham radios also help in community building. In times of disasters and crises—where there are no phone signals available—where, more often than not, ham operators serve as the communicating force for the affected community.
Likewise, having a mobile ham radio helps develop and foster technological skills. With the amount of intricacy required to maintain a ham rig, you’re sure to learn and grapple with the basics of electronics, among others.
All in all, having a mobile ham radio helps you learn various skills and opportunities to meet other people. This is why you need to have one.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted mobile ham radio brands?
There are a lot of mobile ham radio brands available in the market. Generally, the best brands out there are the ones that are well-marketed and received well by the ham community. In this regard, the most trusted mobile ham radio brands would be Yaesus’, Kenwoods’, BTECHs’, and AnyTones’.
What is the range of mobile ham radios?
Usually, mobile ham radios have a maximum distance of 1-2 miles. However, this typically depends on the terrain, situation, and the number of radio repeaters that your unit could hit while transmitting.
The answer to this question is much more nuanced than numbers; there are several factors to consider, such as the power output of your unit, a clear LOS, and several other factors.
How to install a mobile ham radio?
Installing a mobile ham radio is much more different than installing a regular one. Firstly, you must consider the size of the car you’re installing your radio in. Likewise, you should also see and check the cables that you’ll connect to your car’s battery. And even so, there’s the clearance for your mobile ham radio antenna.
Now, before installing your mobile ham radio, you must first survey the comfortability of your selected area of installation. Once you’ve done that, you must ensure that you have the needed materials before pushing through with your installation process. Some of these materials include zip ties, power pole connectors, fuses, clips from the radio package.
Likewise, always refer to the installation manual of your selected mobile ham radio and the Internet when you’re unsure about installing your mobile ham radio.
How to use a mobile ham radio?
Using a mobile ham radio is just like using a regular ham rig. The only difference being, the compact body of the unit itself. Now, you should acquaint yourself with the set-up of your radio. Likewise, you should also familiarize yourself with the knobs and buttons of your own unit. Always refer to the manual if you don’t know what to do next.
Hopefully, with the amount of detail put into adjudging and determining the best mobile ham radio in the market, you’ve come to learn and realize what the best mobile ham unit is for you.
Moreover, always remember that the mobile ham radio that you’ll buy is only an instrument of communication; and that you, yourself, is a vessel full of human experiences and tales seeking to be shared to the airwaves.
Richard Pennington is the one to consult when you need professional insight into electronics. With over a decade of experience in the field of electronics and communication engineering, he now serves as our chief content editor.
He is an advisor for multiple articles and videos with topics revolving around ham radios, electronics devices, and communication.