Used Ham Radio Transceiver Buying Guide

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Used Ham Radio Transceiver Buying Guide

If a consumer wishes to use his radio as a communication device, what he needs is a transceiver. A combination of both a transmitter and a receiver, a transceiver can be a simple low-cost device and can also be a state-of-the-art, high-end piece of equipment. While low-powered ones are capable of sending only Morse code, high-powered ones come with a number of benefits.

Used ham radio transceivers are a good starting point given that many of them have a fair amount of life left, and apart from brick and mortar shops, one also has the option to look for them online, through sites like eBay. Factors one needs to address before buying a used ham radio transceiver include: establishing whether one needs a handheld or mobile unit; supported bands, such as HF, VHF, and UHF; modes, such as AM and FM; different range capabilities; and prices in relation to the features on offer.

Ham Radio Transceiver Alternatives

Ham radio, or amateur radio, enthusiasts have the ability to familiarise themselves with the different alternatives on offer without buying one, and if one belongs to an amateur radio club, trying out a club’s transceiver and other equipment is a good start. If one knows other amateur radio operators, using their equipment to become familiarised also helps. Doing so not only helps when familiarising oneself with the various features, it also helps one decide upon desired features.

Handheld Transceivers

One has a number of options when looking for handheld transceivers, and based on their capabilities, there are two basic categories from which to choose. These include single-band and multiband alternatives. While single-band transceivers transmit data using just one band, multiband alternatives come with the ability to use more than one band, and alternatives include dual band, tri band, and quad bands.

A good thing to do if one is thinking about buying a handheld transceiver is to extend its range using an added antenna and amplifier, especially if the device is meant to be used for emergency communication. This not only helps to increase the device’s range, it also helps to decrease its consumption of power.

When it comes to multiband alternatives, buyers have different options; here are some that one can expect to find.

The Alternative

The Features

Dual band

Transmits on two bands, such as 70 cm and 2 m

Tri band

Transmits on three bands, such as 70 cm, 2 m, and 6 m

Quad band

Transmits on four bands, such as 70 cm, 2 m, 6 m, and 222-225 MHz

Wide band (receiving)

Scans and monitors from 0.1 MHz to 1300 MHz

These examples are not definitive for all alternatives on offer. For instance, tri-band transceivers can replace the 6 m alternative with 222-225 MHz. In addition, the frequencies scanned by wide-band transceivers include AM and FM broadcasts, MOAA weather broadcasts, as well as shortwave transmissions.

Pros and Cons

Handheld transceivers are ideal for use at small events, as well as for minor emergency situations, and they do not present users with technical difficulties given that most units come in the form of simple buy-and-use designs. Users generally have the ability to add on to these transceivers with antennas, solar chargers for batteries, and packet interfaces, which require little in terms of technical knowledge.

Handhelds can be used for DXing as well as identifying and receiving distant radio signals, although linking to satellites may require a user to be out in the open. Also, someone using a handheld in the UK whilst outdoors may make contact with a transatlantic ham operator.

The flip side is that these units have relatively smaller ranges, and while they suffice for small events, their use could be problematic if one is thinking about covering large areas. In addition, these units are not really meant for “rag chewing”, because of aspects like limited range and short battery lives. In the event that one uses these with external sources of power, it is not uncommon that they overheat.

Mobile Transceivers

Although the use of mobile transceivers is fairly common in vehicles, they may not always be used in this manner. Not only can they be used as fixed units, they can also be made portable when combined with the right type of battery backup. As with handheld transceivers, mobile ones also come with a range of features, and one has the option to look for single and multiband variants.

Pros and Cons

Those looking at full-time packed nodes often look for mobile transceivers; they are also the choice of ham radio operators who partake in rag chewing. They offer better power availability and range as compared to handheld variants, and they generally come with large enough heat sinks to minimise the heat that is generated during elongated conversions. The downside is that they require more power than handheld transceivers, and they also come with additional costs for installing feed lines and antennas. In addition, most mobile transceivers are more expensive than their handled counterparts.

Multiband Mobile Transceivers

One can find multiband mobile transceivers quite easily. These cover both VHF and HF bands, and some models come with the 70 cm band as well. In such instances, users need two types of antennas. One is the mobile HF antenna; and in order to make use of the 70 cm and 2 m band, a quarter wave dual-band mobile whip antenna ought to be used. If one wishes to use such a transceiver in a vehicle, the use of a magnetic or permanent mount is suggested, and used mounts are easily available.

All-in-One Transceivers

When it comes to buying all-in-one transceivers, one ought to take into account that relying on a single transceiver can spell trouble, especially if the transceiver fails or requires any kind of repair. Consequently, investing in a single transceiver that covers all bands is not suggested.

Price and Features

Buying a used ham radio transceiver can result in considerable savings, although one needs to pay attention to aspects like modes and bands that are used later. For example, while one may be tempted to opt for a cheap transceiver, one needs to check if it carries features like multiple modes, multiple bands, dual VFOs, digital signal processing, digital frequency display, inbuilt units for antenna tuning, and general coverage receivers. One should ideally establish what he needs from the beginning, set a suitable budget in accordance, and then begin the search for used ham radio transceivers.

Transceiver Mounts

Finding the right type of transceiver mount is not difficult. Good-quality used transceiver mounts can be found for a fraction of the cost of new ones and they can be just as durable. When looking for one, the first thing one should look for is a sturdy design because it holds the transceiver firmly in place. While a number of transceivers come with mounts, they are typically designed to attach to the head or body, and there is no provision to connect them inside of a vehicle. Inside of a vehicle, the controls of the transceiver should be easily accessible, while also staying out of the way of the vehicle's control and SRS devices, which is why a number of users opt for additional transceiver mounts.

Buying Used Ham Radio Transceivers on eBay

One can come by a number of ham radio transceivers on eBay,, which include alternatives offered by a number of reputable ham radio sellers. Opting to buy a ham radio transceiver through a reputable dealer on eBay is suggested because most of them inspect and test the units they have for sale. In a number of instances, buyers can expect to receive a user manual along with their used transceiver purchase.

Searching through multiple options is suggested, as this gives a buyer a clear indication of what is on offer and the different costs. In addition, buyers can expect to find similar models of transceivers offered by different sellers, and finding similar models for different prices is not uncommon. Users can look for used ham radio transceivers on eBay using the search options or by searching through categorised menus. If one is looking for quick delivery, searching for local sellers is the way to go.


Ham radio enthusiasts searching for transceivers ought to look for used transceivers because good-quality models are not difficult to find. Since there are a plethora of options, one should bear in mind that price alone cannot be a deciding factor and due consideration ought to be given to the accompanying features as well.

Whether one needs a mobile or a handheld transceiver depends on its intended use. In either case, a buyer has scores of options from which to choose when it comes to different aspects, like bands, range, and display. When it comes to mobile ham radio transceivers, one needs to pay attention to mounting alternatives as well.

Buyers should realise that buying a used ham radio transceiver can result in considerable savings, and in many instances, there is absolutely no compromise on quality. With scores of dependable units on offer, there is no good reason to look for a spanking new transceiver.

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