Offroad and on the Trails

Initial Impressions – Baofeng UV-5R

Baofeng UV-5R and some accessories

(This post originally appeared on my Facebook page, but I decided I should add it here for reference.)

For Christmas Carrie got me a new HT (handheld ham radio), the very popular Baofeng UV-5R.
It lacks the features of the radios from companies like Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood, but it’s a lot of radio for the money. At around 25 bucks from Amazon (which includes a charging stand) it cost just 1/10th of many of those radios, and about half of what companies like Yaesu often (over)charge for just a cable!

Using a good quality data cable (20 bucks) I was able to get the memory channels programmed pretty quickly using my Mac and the free CHIRP software. The software is pretty clunky like most ham radio programming s/w is, but it worked.

It’s interesting to see the difference between this radio and my old Yaesu VX-5R, which seems to have inspired the Baofeng. The latter lacks many of the features of the Yaesu, but being newer it does offer up some things the Yaesu can’t, like voice responses (“Channel Mode. Scanning begin.”)

The documentation is minimal, so I’ve had to do a fair amount of googling and will need to do more.

I picked up several key accessories, which like the radio are cheaper than what you’d pay from the big name Japanese companies. I picked up a spare battery ($8), a remote speaker mic ($6.60) and a thin whip antenna that was more to my liking ($20.) Unfortunately the speaker mic I had is just very slightly the wrong size for this radio, and the antennas use a female SMA connector instead of male like my Yaesu does.

I’ll need to do some more programming, explore some of the other features, and generally get it set up like I want. But so far it’s a real bargain.

Left: Baofeng UV-5R
Right: Yaesu VX-5R

Width and depth are very similar. The Baofeng is a bit taller. It lacks the knob selection of squelch and frequency/channel that the Yaesu has. I greatly prefer the latter but i do like on/off being on the Baofeng volume knob.

Replacement whip antenna.

All of this brand on Amazon say “Authentic Genuine Nagoya” which makes me assume they are fake, especially on Amazon these days, but I’d never heard of Nagoya anyway. (I later read that they are knockoffs of the Diamond brand from Japan.)

This antenna is similar to the Comet whip antenna I have on my Yaesu VX-5R. I prefer it to the rigid stock antenna, which also had a tendency to loosen up easily.

The new antenna brought a new challenge as I learned about “regular” vs. “extended” base screws for SMA connectors… If you look closely you’ll see there is a gap where the antenna has tightened down as far as it will go on the radio. This sent me to Orchard to get a rubber washer to seal that gap.

That wraps up this post. I’ll be adding more info as I feel the need. I’ve already got suggestions from other people as well as a little more knowledge I’ve picked up myself.

January 3rd, 2017 at 2:07 am

One Response to “Initial Impressions – Baofeng UV-5R”

  1. Snuva Says:

    When I saw the post on Facebook, I thought to myself that the gift was not just the radio – it was the tinkering opportunities. Things to research, tweak, figure out the best way to do it, etc – it’s so you! Enjoy! 🙂

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