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Baofeng UV-5R VHF/UHF HT

Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Bought one of these the other day. I have read mixed reviews about the radio. However, the review dates were varied with the not so good reviews in older posts. The most current reviews seem to be more favorable now that Baofeng seemed to have made some improvements.

The firmware on my UV-5R seems to be the most up-to-date being BFB311. Although power up version check shows BFB297. So at least I have the most current firmware.

The radio is very light weight and feels small in my hand. Regardless of that, it also feels comfortable. My first handheld was a Kenwood from the early 90's but I do not remember the model number. I just remember it was large and expensive. (added: TR-2500 was the radio.)

The main problem with the Baofeng, as reported by other even in current reviews, is the supplied antenna. I have found it to be adequate while others not. In SoCal, I can hit the Palomar repeater (20+ miles) and the Catalina Island repeater (60+ miles). Granted, these repeaters have elevation on them so that is a factor. I have ordered, but not received, a dual band antenna that is suppose to be much better.

Now that I have this radio, I plan on working SO-50 (Saudisat 1C) when it does its fly-by. I believe that is just about the only remaining satellite with dual band FM. There are a few others but I think they are now out of service.

Overall, this seems to be a good buy. Not only can I work the ham bands, the radio can be programmed for MURS bands and Marine bands. There is no FCC certification for these two bands, but we know when in an emergency, one uses what one has available. So my radio has the MURS and several of the Marine frequencies programmed.

I selected the UV-5R over the 5RA, 5R+, and 5RA+ because of the battery compatibility. The 5R will take the 3800ma battery without modification. The other radios require some kind of modification to the battery in order to fit. All the radios are basically the same except for minor cosmetics and case design.

This radio would make a great standby radio for the boat. It is small, compact, and so far has good battery life. Not bad for <$50.00.
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,587
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
Hi Brian,

Thanks for the post on the radio. My old Alinco DJ580 is held together with tape and glue. This would be a nice replacement.

Do you have to mod the radio to access the marine channels (clip diodes etc.) for emergency use?

/73
Allan
N6ZWL
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Allen, no because the radio works 136-174 MHz. You will need several things for programing. This really will make it easier to program.

1. Order a programing cable when you order the radio, if you do not already have one. I ordered the USB Programming Cable for Baofeng UV-5R UV-3R+ Two way Radio With Driver CD... Generic, and it worked fine.

2. Download the latest daily build of CHIRPS (http://trac.chirp.danplanet.com/chirp_daily/LATEST/). You will need this to program the radio. You can build your database before you get the radio with the tools in CHIRP. It makes programming so much easier.

3. Download the drivers for the Prolific USB chip in the cable. I believe it is a clone chip and new drivers will not work. Drivers are at http://www.rudolf.net.pl/sp9kat/wp-content/uploads/stuff/trx/baofeng/uv5r/drivers/ and the name of the driver is Win7Vista_64bit_ProlificUSB_v3200. Load this driver before attaching the cable. Make sure you use the same USB port all the time.

4. Antenna is your call. The stock antenna works for me. I live in Oceanside, Ca. and can hit the Palomar Repeater (20+ miles) on low power with the stock antenna. At the top of the street, I can hit the Catalina Is. repeater (60+ miles) on high power. I am sure a new antenna will work better. But like I said, the stock antenna worked well for me.

The radio I ordered was http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008IYCQSO/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

The cable I ordered was http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008RZJHJU/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also ordered an antenna, Nagoya NA-701, but I got the wrong one, meaning, it is shipping from China and I will not get it for a month. So make sure whatever you order, it is stateside for fast shipping.

(added) This is a must site for the UV-5R: http://www.miklor.com/uv5r/
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,587
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
Hi Brian,

Thanks for all the information. This is great. Luckily I had not pulled the trigger yet so I will go for a package deal.

I live in the Bay Area, so we have lots of repeaters here that cover the entire area including off shore.

Allan
 
Oct 6, 2009
97
Custom Bluehull Kennesaw, Ga.
Now you guys know what they are saying about those radios, they have built in spyware. :laugh::laugh::laugh:
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
LOL! Do they have really tiny people in the radios? :D
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Thought I would give a report on the radio.

So far I am very pleased that I spent the $31 for the radio. Yes, it is not rugged nor is it fool proof, but that comes with the price. A little research and one can find enough information to help make it fool proof. Ruggedness comes with just being a little more careful.

I purchased the Nagoya NA-771 antenna and am using that. However, when I am working simplex and my target in visible, I will use the small antenna that came with the radio.

On the ham bands, I have had no problems hitting repeaters that are considered local. And repeaters that have a commanding elevation (Keller Peak @ 8000 ft) are accessible from my house. So I have no complaints there.

On the MURS front, my work uses one of the MURS channels for in site communications. I have used the radio there and it worked flawlessly.

On the Marine Bands, I used the radio to monitor both channel 68 and 16. The big radio was on 22a with access to 16. I used the small antenna for line of sight between boats. Keeping the radio at 1w I was able to work all boats in my cruise fleet that I could physically see. Even some that were just out of my site. Boat that were more that maybe 5nm I could not talk to. Around the same distance I was able to access CGAux station in my home port.

Again, it was worth the small payment to get the radio. I would recommend that everyone should have one of these on board. One does not need a license to have the radio, but just exercise caution where one uses the radio and what bands one is on.

Right now I am chasing SaudiSat 1c (SO-50) with this radio. I can hear it but have not worked it yet. Next pass of the satellite will be at 7a this morning (10/1/13).

73
Brian D
S/V Takara
KF6BL
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,267
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
After programming mine, which was easy, I've only used it once so far and got good reports into a repeater on top of a hospital 10 miles away with the stock antenna. Thanks for the heads up Brian.

Don
 
Oct 6, 2009
97
Custom Bluehull Kennesaw, Ga.
Nice report Brain, Thanks for posting your results. You can't beat it for the price, even if you drop it overboard. But remember the makers have built-in a spy chip. :laugh:
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Just one more update, promise.

So after 5 months of owning the radio I feel like I have made a good purchase. The only issue I have is with the antennas. I did some research and I might possibly have counterfeit Nagoya antennas. I have two of them; NA-701 and NA-771. Without a SWR meter or antenna/SWR analyzer, I am not sure of the status of either antenna.

Next, both the -701 and -771 do not seat all the way into the well of the antenna connector. I read on eham.net that the Hillman Group Neoprene Washer 880370 is the way to go with this issue. I purchase a pack (contains 2) at Lowes for 92¢. The washer fits (after a little fight) over the radio's SMA connector. Then you put the antenna on and it seals the gap. You can remove the antenna later and the washer will stay in place. Just a FYI.
 
Oct 6, 2009
97
Custom Bluehull Kennesaw, Ga.
FYI......Got this info from one of our local repeater groups here. note issue in California.

> One thing that stands out on the 5R, is the unit may be mostly unusable in a Southern California on UHF as they have migrated to 20 KHz channel spacing. The specs indicate 25 or 12.5 KHz channel
I don't see the significance of "25KHz/ 12.5KHz Switchable" when there is
"Channel Step: 2.5/5/6.25/10/ 12.5/25KHz" . Doesn't the 25/12.5 refer to the bandwidth or
deviation, not channel spacing?
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Thanks, Sullyj020. I wasn't aware of that issue. Might have to do some research. Wonder why in Ca. and not the rest of the US there is a difference in channel spacing. That is a requirement based on FCC rules and not local usage. If so, then others outside of Ca. bringing their radios into Ca. would not comply making them also "unstable". Does that make any sense?
 

pateco

.
Aug 12, 2014
2,207
Hunter 31 (1983) Pompano Beach FL
I just bought one of these to use for Marine VHF. It should be arriving tomorrow. My 6 month old Uniden handheld died over the weekend, and is on its way back to them for repair. In the mean time, for $24 I could not pass it up. I added the USB cable and the external mic/speaker to my order. I will be using the stock antenna for the time being.

Once it arrives, I may have questions regarding programming it. How well does it work for marine VHF?
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,267
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
I have on too. The stock antenna is essentially a vertical dummy load. Replace it asap. Ignoring the issue of using it on marine frequencies, mine has some strange spurious emissions when used outside the ham bands making it a potential problem. I checked on my spectrum analyzer and found it might cause some complaints from nearby channel users so I am reluctant to use mine anywhere except 2/440 MHz.

Also, as you likely know, it isn't user-friendly for programming manually but the software is readily available if you have the proper interface cable.
 

pateco

.
Aug 12, 2014
2,207
Hunter 31 (1983) Pompano Beach FL
I have on too. The stock antenna is essentially a vertical dummy load. Replace it asap. Ignoring the issue of using it on marine frequencies, mine has some strange spurious emissions when used outside the ham bands making it a potential problem. I checked on my spectrum analyzer and found it might cause some complaints from nearby channel users so I am reluctant to use mine anywhere except 2/440 MHz.

Also, as you likely know, it isn't user-friendly for programming manually but the software is readily available if you have the proper interface cable.
Bought the interface cable along with it. Figured I would program for marine VHF and channel label it. You say the stock antenna really sucks? Need it mostly to call for bridge openings on CH-9 reasonably short range use.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,083
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Pateco, for what you want to use it for at short range, you should be fine. But if you really want to use it then yes, ditch the stock antenna and get a really nice VHF only antenna from one of the ham on-line stores like DX Engineering or Ham Radio Outlet, or even MFJ Enterprise. Don't go to Amazon or eBay for antennas. Most of them are Chinese copies of the real deal.

For programing, it is difficult indeed. Even the software can be touchy. The cable is probably the PL2303 chip set which is also probably a Chinese copy. Some of the legit drivers do not work with that cable. If you have that issue let us know.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,267
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Bought the interface cable along with it. Figured I would program for marine VHF and channel label it. You say the stock antenna really sucks? Need it mostly to call for bridge openings on CH-9 reasonably short range use.
Like Brian said, your your intended use, the stock antenna is fine. And small which has it's advantages in the cockpit.
 

pateco

.
Aug 12, 2014
2,207
Hunter 31 (1983) Pompano Beach FL
It came in Thursday night. Downloaded the CHIRP software and installed the drivers for the adapter cable.
Backed up the original software and settings, then downloaded the USA and Canada Marine Image file from Radiomaster Reports It was a different firmware version, but I copied the channels into a renamed copy of the factory backup (with current firmware), and was able to upload this back into the radio. Tested it this morning, and it works much better than my Uniden did.