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All about the Baofeng UV5-R

A Most Popular Hand-held Transceiver Choice

A lot has been written about Baofeng transceivers. They are affordable, multi-band, and deliver a pretty good bang for the buck given that they can be had new for less than Cdn$50 (less than US$30). There is now a video on YouTube that claims to perform the ‘Extreme Test’... watch, you’ll be surprised!

Loved or despised, many people are passionate about the Baofeng UV-5R.  Why? Simply because it is a basic dual band radio at a very affordable price. Where once you paid $250+ for a dual-band handheld, you now pay less than Cdn $50, perhaps much less. The UV-5R had a 5-year evolution.

The Basics:
  • Frequency Range: 65-108 MHz (Only commercial FM radio reception), VHF works from 136 to 174 MHz( both Rx/Tx), UHF works from 400 to 520 MHz (both Rx/Tx)
  • Channel Names customizable and many other adjustments by using the PC03 FTDI Programming Cable (which by the way, is highly recommended)
  • UV-5R model is equipped with a 1500mAh Battery (1800mAh Label); 
  • Broadband (Wide) 25khz / Narrowband (Narrow) 12.5khz Selectable
  • AUTO Keypad Lock, Dual Band, Dual Display and Dual Standby
  • 1(low) or 4 (high) watts output
  • Selectable frequency steps of the cheap radio include 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5 and 25 kHz
  • Dual watch and dual reception, and it can store up to 128 memories; plus:
  • selectable wide/narrow, battery save function, VOX, DCS/CTCSS encode, key lock and a built in flashlight.

This Radio Comes With:
  • an SMA-Female antenna,
  • flexible antenna,
  • BL-5 Li-ion battery (7.4V 1500 mAh,
  • belt clip and wrist strap,
  • AC adapter (8.4V 600ma) and a drop-in charging tray.
Accessories , such as a hand-held mic, extra batteries, car adapter, better antenna and external antenna adapter, a programming cable and software and cases are mostly less than $10 each.
    Baofeng radios have proven to be reliable and inexpensive. Hams buy one to use just in case of emergency, camping, chatting on a repeater with other fellow amateur radio operators, and, at the price, you can keep one in your glove compartment permanently without losing to much sleep worrying about theft of your expensive gear. Moreover, the Baofeng UV-5R is the perfect first radio for a new operators after they passed their exams.

    I doubt he has a ham license but yes, this militia member uses a Baofeng UV-5R.

    Baofeng started to sell the UV-5R Dual Band, Dual Display radio in 2012. Since its introduction the UV-5R has seen a massive growth of its sales. There were  two major releases after its launch, with the second generation being signified by BFB297 Firmware in early 2013 and the N5R firmware tweak in August of 2014. Variations include the UV-5R v2+, UV-5RA, UV-5RE, UV-5R+ (Plus), along with several other lesser produced variants.

    At the end of 2013, the Baofeng UV-5R was released with a new variant featuring  the inverted display series and the introduction of the BF-F8+ and its own aesthetics variants (the GT-3 and 997-S). During the fall of 2014, the Baofeng UV-5R was replaced by the brand new Baofeng BF-F8HP.  There are lots of new UV-5Rs still available. This is why today, the Baofeng UV-5R is the least expensive VHF/UHF radio ever available.
    The BaoFeng UV-5R is able to operate on narrowband (12.5kHz) and wideband (25kHz). It is a dual watch receiver. The BaoFeng UV-5R has one built-in receiver but can “watch” two channels (semi duplex). Monitor two different frequencies (even on different bands (VHF/UHF)) and the radio will monitor both frequencies, giving priority to the first station to receive an incoming call.

    If you purchase a Baofeng UV-5R you can listen to the FM Broadcast band, because your Baofeng will be able to receive your favourite FM station in the background. Any incoming call will be given priority insuring you never miss an important call while listening to the radio.

    The BaoFeng UV-5R supports the most common Analog Tones. It supports CTCSS, DCS, and DTMF calling methods. Configuring your calling methods to call by group tones it’s easy. A simple tone call is required by most repeater applications and the Baofeng UV-5R is able to supports the latest standards. The BaoFeng UV-5R can send DTMF tones. This allows for sending ANI (Caller ID) or remote commands that require DTMF tones.

    You may program your BaoFeng UV-5R exactly how you want it as there are 128 programmable memory channels ready for you. And it is easy to add or remove channels from scanning list using free CHIRP software. You can name the channels alphanumerically, display the frequency or a channel number.

    You can easily program from a PC to set-up the radio as shown in the video at:

    I do recommend a better antenna. All handheld antennas are compromised and inefficient because of their length. A company called Nagoya sells an after-market antenna (model NA-771) that is about three times the length of the stock rubber duckie. It is much more efficient and very flexible so it doesn’t get in the way (see below).  Another good investment is a mobile or base antenna. You’ll need an adapter (photo right) to transition from Baofeng’s reverse SMA (M) to SO-239 (F).  

    The other recommended purchases are an AA battery holder, so that when your power drains you can simply replace the battery with dry cells, a programming cable and perhaps a car adapter, which powers your radio from your car battery.

    The Nagoya antenna referred to in the article

    Hopefully you found this review useful. When I bought my first handheld, a single-band 2m iCom, it cost Cdn $600 from a local dealer, and had a whole lot fewer features. Is the UV-5R the best handheld out there? No, but there are lots of choices out there, and  I don’t think this handheld will disappoint you at the price; I’ve even worked satellites with it.

    The Surrey Amateur Radio Club has a programming file for CHiRP with frequencies in use for the Vancouver area. Download the file in .CSV format at

    The most common programming complaint is caused by the wrong firmware version number. What firmware do I have? 


    1. Just what I need! I am trying to get back into the hobby after 35+ years away. I have one of these, or at least the current UV-82 version. I have bought one of the adapters (Lee Electronics on Fraser Street in Vancouver)and I have an X30 antenna to connect to the radio. The antenna is on a stand outside. My unit came with a lapel microphone. I have very little insight into programming the unit other than that I did manage to get VE7RPT to work. I have the programming cable. My only quibble so far is the consistent reports of low audio with this radio. I've stopped using the front panel mic and only use the lapel mic. It is a little better. I will be studying this article further. Thanks for publishing it.

    2. Here's a good comparison between the 5R and the 82 units.


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