Without any doubt, mobile ham radio is a fruitful investment for your vehicle. They can be your best friend for long journeys when there is a network instability and you need to talk with others.
I am pretty sure that you are aware of this.
However, the biggest mistake most people commit is by settling with ‘any’ amateur radio.
We recommend you to buy the best mobile ham radio for your vehicle. You need to understand that there is a stark difference between buying the best and a low-quality one. Such as:
- Uninterrupted communication with peers
- Noise-free communication
- High durability
In this article, we have reviewed some of the top ham radios you can buy for your car. We are confident that these radios not only offer quality communication, but they also feature some top-notch technological functions.
Here is a quick overview of our top choices:
Best Ham Radio for Car: Our Top Picks
Why Get a Mobile Ham Radio for Your Vehicle?
Yeah, these radios allow you to communicate with your co-workers, family members, and friends. We know that. But, any other ham radio can also do the same thing.
Here is why mobile ham radios are different:
- Unlike ‘fixed’ mobile ham radio is portable. It does not limit you to stay in one location. You can install it in your car to communicate while driving and carry it to the next place.
- Unlike the handheld ham radios, mobile ham radios can be fixed at a particular location(like vehicles) and can be operated using one hand.
- It features a broad spectrum of channels for you to choose from.
- Depending on the band, you can communicate with people locally or globally! Mobile ham radios offer lot of bands including shortwave bands.
- You can install it as a backup for when all else communication tools fail. Mainly when natural calamities like floods and storms occur.
- They are an essential communication tool in most professions. It works well in defense forces as well.
- Not only does it offer social benefits, but it also serves as an educational tool.
Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews
1. Anytone AT-5888UV –Best Ham Radio for Car
This AnyTone model is a full dual-band VHF/UHF mobile radio and is the best you can get for your car. It has a twin display and receiver, along with a cross band repeater as well.
Not only that, but the AT-5888UV also features a continuous tone coded squelch system. It helps in reducing the unwanted noise that you usually get during two-way communication.
You may ask what makes it better than the other options. Its unique 758 channels, alphanumeric display, remote mountable faceplate, among many other features, make it worthy of appreciation.
Additionally, AnyTone AT-5888UV has a DTMF feature, allowing users to access and operate it remotely.
Its built-in speaker in the microphone and radio is a great feature to look for outdoor operations.
The AnyTone AT-5888UV transmits VHF (136-174MHz) and UHF (400-490MHz). Moreover, it is designed to receive 200-260MHz, 350-490 MHz, and 108-180 MHz.
Having scanned the market for other options, we can guarantee that you won’t find a better deal for a 50-watt transceiver that is also VHF/UHF capable.
Moreover, it has exceptional frequency coverage along with four power ranges! The transceiver delivers a pleasant ham radio experience to newbies and experts alike with its easy programming! And we wouldn’t like to have it any other way.
2. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 – Fast Setup With Ease-of-use
One notable feature on the BTECH mobile ham radio is the ability to edit the channel preferences easily. It allows you to perform the task without needing to program a new channel. You can also select other features like tone, squelch information, or add/remove it from the scanning list.
The dual-band, 50-watt radio is a VHF and UHF transceiver. Moreover, it has a storage capacity of 200 programmable channels. The most incredible feature is that you do need to program it manually. You can set it up with a PC for more accessible programming!
Other remarkable features of the BTECH UV-50X2 include:
- High/low power setting features
- Dual synchronize display mode
- Mic audio gain settings
- Quad watch delay time
- A fully customizable multi-color LCD screen
- Expanded frequency range
What most users love about this ham radio for car is that the frequency range is less than 1GHz. This feature allows it to navigate through walls and buildings, without any trouble!
With so many features, most modern devices have poor battery life. That can cause an interruption in communication and may be troublesome in emergencies. However, the unique auto power-off feature on this rig enables you to save the battery from draining.
3. Kenwood TM-281A – Sturdy and Reliable
Like BTECH UV-50X2, Kenwood TM-281A also offers 200 memory channels.
This model has a matchless audio quality owing to its large speaker. If you’re someone who has trouble listening to audio due to background noise, this can be a feature worth looking at.
The compact and rugged radio produces a maximum power output of 65 watts. Like many other car ham radios, this one also gives weather alerts to notify you of harsh conditions.
Due to its backlit LCD, users can operate it conveniently both day and night. In addition to that, it also features an illuminated keypad. Last but not least, its amber display adjusts up to 32 brightness levels.
Ham radios can be pretty costly considering all the accessories you may want to add to it. In this case, it becomes crucial to purchase a product that shall last you long enough. For this matter, always buy a mobile ham radio that has sturdy construction to withstand force.
What better than Kenwood TM-281A in this regard?
4. Yaesu FT-8900R – Easy Programming
When it comes to high power FM radios, Yaesu FT-8900R is among the top-rated receivers. It transmits 50 watts on 10, 6, and 2M, and 35 watts on 440MHz. It also offers selectable lower output settings for you to adjust according to your needs.
Most users prefer this model over others for its vast memory storage of 800 channels. Additionally, it features cross-band repeater mode, an alphanumeric display, and a backlit keypad microphone.
Some other notable functions of the Yaesu FT-8900R are:
- Ten meters, six meters, two meters, and 70 cm transmit
- Removable faceplate
- Full duplex operation
- Live dual displays
The best feature of this Yaesu ham radio for the car is its easy programming. With the help of a programming cable and your PC, you can program it without much hassle. However, you may need to purchase this cable separately.
Other than that, the device is pretty much easy to set up and operate.
5. TYT TH-9800 – Remarkable, Low-cost Ham Radio
The maximum power output on this TYT ham radio for a car of the VHF 2M band is 50-watts. On the other hand, the maximum output of the UHF 10M band is 40 watts.
The quad-band transmitter has a capacity of more than 800 memory channels that are in alphanumeric mode.
In addition to that, the radio comes with a fan to retain temperature. It helps in avoiding overheating that can damage the radio body.
One of the most appealing features on this device is the handheld microphone and microphone hanger. It becomes troublesome to try and reach for the receiver, primarily if it’s located away from the driver. However, with the help of the microphone hanger, you can hang it at any convenient place.
The TYT TH-9800 mobile ham radio uses the dual-tone multi-frequency signaling. It also features a handy backlit display to allow easy reading in broad daylight, as well as nighttime.
6. Icom IC-2730A – All-rounded Radio
If budget is your top consideration, one economical option on the block is ICOM 2730A. This all-rounder features 1052 memory channels. Moreover, it provides VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF simultaneous receive capability in addition to VHF/UHF.
The display size of the IC-2730A is quite large, making it easily readable. It displays the frequency and channel names against white backlight to provide better contrast.
Customers that have bought this Icom car ham radio appreciate the ease of setup, all thanks to the plenty of instructions and video tutorials available.
Some other incredible features of the ICOM IC-2730A include:
- Remote display
- Optional Bluetooth headset
- Remote control mic
- Auto dial
- Weather channel
- 50-watt output
The audio on this rig sounds fantastic, both receiving and transmitting. Moreover, the screen is quite appealing and allows for easy reading, especially when on busy roads. It also offers an auto-dim feature and a cross-band repeat.
Most importantly, many brands pay attention to the memory channels but tend to forget about the memory management banks. Fortunately, this one has over 1000 memory channels and ten banks.
Overall, we find it an excellent steal for its price. It has a pretty clean and sturdy feel and is exceptional sounding.
7. AnyTone AT-778UV – Top Choice For Portable Versatility
The AnyTone AT-778UV isn’t for the faint-hearted. It delivers an impactful, colored display with large, readable characters. Besides, the transceiver uses DTMF and 5Tone function for remote operation.
This mobile ham radio is another great choice for cars given the fact that it’s very easy to disconnect and take away to any new location.
One intriguing feature of this model is its 180-degree, rotatable LCD. How cool?
The vehicle ham radio also offers 200 channels, lighted keypad mic, built-in speakers. To prevent overheating, it also includes a cooling fan.
If it hasn’t convinced you yet, wait for more!
AnyTone AT-778UV features a single call, group call, selective call, and emergency call.
It is among the very few car ham radios that offer a product warranty. This model has a 1-warranty, along with a money-back guarantee! You can feel free to try out the product for a month and return if you’re not satisfied with it.
If programming the ham radio is your biggest fear, worry not! Instead of managing it manually, you can download the free software from the AnyTone website. It simplifies the process for you making it a complete breeze!
8. Yaesu FTM-3200DR – Exceptional Assistance In A Compact Package
The list keeps getting longer and better with the addition of Yaesu FTM-3200DR. This car ham radio has a maximum power output of 65-watts!
If you ask us, we find it a substantial investment, given its robust construction. That particular feature offers value for money, making it long-lasting and durable.
In terms of the technological aspect, the mod modes of it are C4FM with DFR or VFR.
It features a loud and audible front panel speaker with audio output of 3-watts. It also includes a bright, multi-colored screen that vibrantly displays the transceiver’s status.
If all of the above characteristics don’t satisfy you enough, there’s more to it! The Yaesu FTM-3200DR also offers:
- Severe weather alert
- Illuminated microphone
- 220 memory channels
- Digital squelch code
- Automatic mode select
- Digital group monitor
This practical and technical asset is packed with a powerhouse of features. It delivers what it promises and how! We believe it to be a hit among most ham radio operators and rightly so!
9. BTECH Mini UV-25X4 – Ultra Versatile Model
This BTECH mini is a tri-band ham radio that allows you to watch up to three channels or frequencies. It also provides for a simultaneous VHF/UHF, UHF/UHF, and VHF/VHF operation.
You also get an auto-scan mode that resumes scanning after interruption or reboot.
Best of all, it offers two power settings. The auto-off mode on the BTECH mini helps to save battery and prevents unnecessary draining.
You also get a dual synchronization display mode. It displays the channel name along with frequencies.
It is essential to note that this unique BTECH model has a frequency range of 65-108MHz. This type of frequency is mainly used for commercial FM radio reception. It also lets you choose between broadband and narrow band.
What sets it apart from the others is that it works as multiple radios functioning as one mobile ham radio. That is precisely what makes it one of the top choices of most ham operators.
How to Buy a Vehicle Ham Radio
The radio market currently seems to be overflowing with choices for transceivers. In a complicated situation like this, it becomes challenging to narrow down the choices to those that fit your needs best.
Here’s a list of the critical features to consider before buying a mobile ham radio.
Before purchasing any product, you need to have a definite purpose for buying it. It plays a significant role in helping you simplify your options. For example, the purpose can help you identify your desired power range and budget constraints.
Before scanning through online and offline markets, how about identifying the purpose first?
2. Output Power
How far your signals travel depends on the power capabilities of your car ham radio. If you are looking for a device that enables long-distance communication, you need one with higher power output.
The best part about it is that the audio quality is far better, allowing you to communicate with complete ease and comfort.
As a shopper, the most critical step is to decide on a spending limit. Exceeding it can be financially-straining. Moreover, it is wrong to purchase something that is beyond your affordability.
4. Weather Alert
Mobile ham radio is a fantastic communication tool. Most importantly, it comes in handy when traveling in severe weather conditions. For this reason, one crucial feature to look for in your rig is the weather alert feature.
It notifies you regarding harsh weather conditions timely. It saves you from getting stuck in an unsafe place without any help.
Your location serves as a determinant of quality communication. The frequency allocation depends on whether you are cruising on free land or a densely populated area.
A car ham radio should always have an easily readable display. As a driver on a busy road, you cannot afford to look away from the road to perform essential functions. Most brands understand this common problem and now offer radios with backlit display.
It allows you to take readings day and night, without any trouble!
There’s no use of buying a car ham radio if you cannot program it. It becomes especially important when you’re a newbie or beginner.
You can choose one by looking up whether the radio can be programmed manually or by using computer software.
Lastly, before investing in a gadget, it is essential to note whether or not it has all the necessary features. Some of these include a touch screen, auto-power off function, quick scanning, plenty of memory channels, etc.
If you are all set, you can check out this video:
We hope that by now you’ve found your favorite from our list of the best mobile ham radios. We are sure that you have not only found some efficient devices but also pocket-friendly ones.
Purchasing a ham radio for a car can be quite a challenge. Especially since the online and offline market is flooded with weak quality radios. Knowing this, we suggest you do your research before settling on any one product.
Moreover, our straightforward installation guide will help you ace the process without having to spend money on hiring someone.
Make sure to invest in a car ham radio with an adequate product life and durable construction. There are many options on this list that fit the choice well!