Ticket Green D43, Green D43, as i quickly check my tickets, I won.. EMDRC club has a raffle each meeting, 3 tickets for $5 with a good selection of items raffled throughout the year typically around the $50 mark. My Prize this time, a cheap and cheerful Baofeng UV-5RE hand held, pre programmed and ham band locked by one of the club members.
The radio has a built in FM band receiver, an LED light on the top which is handy when camping, the usual drop in charger, the charger has an input voltage of 10v, which makes it not as handy when camping and relying on my 12v setup, though I’m sure i can make up a simple regulator.
The radio is a single band device that can dual watch, its not a true dual bander like the more expensive Wouxun. Performance seems comparable to the bigger wouxun, battery life is good, and for a pocket hand held, its been good. For a $50 radio, it works as expected.
The operating manual can be downloaded form this link (9mb file)
Now for the bit about loosing hair, having researched and chosen the Wouxun when i paid for a device. The difference in operating of this and the more expensive Wouxun is great, the Baofeng does not play nice with manual entry and is not really suited to jumping around and manual frequency entry, to get the best from the radio, you need to use the Baofeng software or Chirp to program the radio to you’re liking. The configuration that had been loaded onto the radio was good, but it wasn’t 100% to my liking, and given the travels I make, i wanted to load my radio with some different channels and add some vk5 repeaters and other bits and pieces.
So i grabbed my wouxun programming cable (meant to be the same cable), and plugged it in, connected chirp, and got an error message, Radio did not respond. Bugger, is it the cable, chirp, the serial port config, so I get the Wouxun and connect that, it happily connects and downloads the radio content, hmm, maybe the cable isn’t really universal, so onto eBay and search for a Baofeng cable, $10 later I’ve ordered a “UV-5RE specific” cable from hong kong.
In the interim, one of the guys at work saw the radio on my desk and mentioned he had gotten himself one as well, that he had a programming cable that worked fine, and he would bring it in for me to have a play. A couple of days later, and I have the loan of a cable that works and have been able to modify the radio programming to my liking. Much easier using chirp than the menu system.
My new cable arrived in just over a week and it does not work either. The cables look identical in USB properties to the one that does work, though the most recent one may be using the counterfeit Prolific chipset, it won’t talk to the radio on my mac or windows machines, something to tinker with into the future, when i have a week to yell at a screen!
Overall, for the money this UV-5RE is a great little dual band radio (but only when you can program it with the software) my device appears to have originally come from radioshop888.com if you are looking for one.
One thought on “Baofeng UV-5RE”
The Wouxun KG-UV1DP (KG-UV2D, KG-UV3D, and any other variant of the same radio) is also not truly dual-band, FWIW. It is limited to dual watch, like the Baofeng, and for the same reason. Cannot speak to the KG-UV6D as I haven’t gotten one, and due to the Alzheimer’s Bug wherein the radio will eventually forget its current settings or even its memory channels—more than occasionally permanently—I’m not inclined to get one.
The UV-5Rs aren’t really that far behind the Wouxun in terms of quality, and they cost 1/3 of the price. Indeed, going forward as of January 2014 the UV-5RA I got from Amazon is the same board as the GT-3, but with the tri-color screen and the UV-5RA enclosure. As I got it for $30 and the brand new GT-3 is over $60, I’m pleased. Or I would be, if it didn’t have a defective internal mic. I always recommend buying one of these from some seller who will honor the warranty at least so far as being defective out of box goes with Chinese electronics. Wouxun, Baofeng, whatever. My replacement arrives tomorrow—hoping it is also a GT-3! 😉
The big difference with the Baofeng is that given what I paid for my Wouxun, I’d be pretty unhappy if my Wouxun developed the Alzheimer’s Bug even though I’ve had it a couple of years. I paid $130 for it at the time. If the Baofeng lasted me just one year at $30, I’d consider it money pretty well spent. I realize financially it’s not a whole lot different, but it’s much easier to drop $30 if it suddenly breaks than upwards of $100.
The great thing is that the quality of the Chinese radios are improving incrementally. After Wouxun’s KG-UV920R fiasco, they released the KG-UV920P which was much improved. Of course owners of the UV920R were out in the cold because you couldn’t upgrade them. The Baofengs were barely usable, then acceptable especially for the money in the UV-5R, then better, then a little worse, and now a LOT better… To hear Ed Griffin talk, AnyTone has actually been pretty responsive to vendors’ requests, and the hardware’s at least on par with Wouxun.
China’s not seriously entering the ham radio market yet. They produce commercial radios primarily. We just happen to be buying them because they happen to work for us. If they DID seriously enter the market (within the realm of possibility given embedded processors’ ever improving price/performance points and that SDR isn’t really hard to do), they could do so aggressively enough to hit the big three pretty hard.
Of course this probably means an all mode, all band radio for under $500 with a confusing menu that has shortcut access to enable roger beeps and echo… God help us all.