At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are the Different Types of Ham Radio Transmitters?

Richard Horgan
Richard Horgan

The types of ham radio transmitters are generally categorized by the range of their transmission capabilities. The low-bandwidth types generally transmit between 30 and 60 megahertz (MHz), while the mid-bandwidth types transmit between 60 and 80 MHz. Other types include FM, which transmits from 88 to 108 MHz; air bandwidth with transmissions from 118 to 136 MHz; VHF, which transmits between 136 and 174 MHz; and UHF with a bandwidth of 400 to 512 MHz. Generally speaking, the most expensive top-of-the-line models within a bandwidth category are the VHF transmitters. Transmitters can come in several models, including desk-top and portable units, and they typically transmit as well as receive signals.

Different types of ham radio transmitters are available for a variety of uses. For example, if the equipment is to be operated primarily at a home or office, a desktop device is typically used. Some types of transmitters are also designed to be used while traveling to and from different locations. Some of these dual-purpose options include that are compatible with a car or truck; medium-sized portable models; and smaller hand-held ham radio transmitters similar in size to a standard walkie-talkie. The wattage of ham radio transmitters is usually commensurate with their size. Hand-held devices range from half a watt to five watts; portable transmitters fall into the five to 25-watt range; and desktop devices can run on as much as 100 watts of power.

Some ham radio operators use Morse code on a telegraph to communicate with others.
Some ham radio operators use Morse code on a telegraph to communicate with others.

The art of ham radio is all about having two-way conversations. To accomplish this, the transmitters also typically function as receivers. These are known as transceivers, and almost all ham radio transmitters sold today have this two-way capability.

Because many desktop and almost all portable ham radio transmitters run off atypical 13.8 volt power, they generally require a power converter when plugged into a normal household AC/DC outlet. Smaller, more modern, switching power supplies are also available and are specifically designed to handle 100-watts communications work. With regard to portable ham radio transmitters, there can be a choice of up to four different types of radio batteries: nickel-cadmium, lead gel cell, nickel metal-hydride or lithium-ion. The last category has the highest life capacity.

Within each bandwidth category, transmitters may or may not cover all modes of transmission. Most, however, cover the major types, including AM; FM; Morse Code (CW); Single Side Band (SSB); Upper Side Band (USB); and Radio Teletype (RTTY). A number of ham radio transmitters are also capable of so-called "All Mode" operation.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Some ham radio operators use Morse code on a telegraph to communicate with others.
      By: emmeci74
      Some ham radio operators use Morse code on a telegraph to communicate with others.