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What rig should I buy to get started?

It’s a bit like asking someone to recommend a car – it depends on requirements, features, budgets and how it’s going to be driven. I could recommend a top-of-the-range self-drive Tesla or a third-hand Mini.

The same with amateur radio really – what’s a good radio for me might not be for you. When recommending a radio, here are some of the questions I’d ask:

  • What bands do you want to work? Lower HF, Higher HF, VHF/UHF or something that does all bands?
  • Do you want a handheld, in-car, fixed home station, or one for out-and-about portable work?
  • What modes do you want to work (now and in the future): Voice, data and/or Morse?
  • What sort of power are you looking for? Foundation only permits low power (10 watts), but if you’re planning to progress to Intermediate or Full, you may want a radio that supports higher power, to save upgrading later
  • If VHF/UHF, do you want one or more of the digital voice modes?
  • If HF, do you want a built-in AMU?
  • Do you want a traditional analogue set, or a newer-style SDR with waterfall and touch screen?
  • What extra features do you want? Connectivity to a screen? Voice recording?
  • New or second-hand?
  • Do you want a known name (Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood) with the associated price tag, or cheaper (typically Chinese) import at half the price?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Have you included antennas, power supply, AMU, meter, co-ax, balun, etc in that budget?

It may be that until you’ve done the course, you won’t really know what a lot of this means – in which case, the best advice is to take the course, learn what all of the above means, and only then consider making a purchase.

Not sure if that helps – if not, let me know what you’re looking for and I can give you some pointers on what to look at.

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