Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Baofeng UV-50X3 Radio Released

Baofeng Tech released a new mobile rig today, the UV-50X3.   From their press release:
BaoFeng Tech announced today the release of the BTECH UV-50X3 (, the first available full duplex, tri-band radio with an extended receiver range. The UV-50X3 combines some of the most requested features into one complete radio making it the perfect radio for both base and mobile users alike.
I for one am very excited about this radio!  Having a detachable head is great, allowing greater flexibility mounting options than previously.  A huge addition is the ability to receive Air Bands (and HAIR Bands via AM/FM).  Listening to air traffic is always fun, especially for me, as I am a private pilot.  This is a tri-band transceiver (144/220/440), and should fulfil the role of big brother to the UV-2501+220.

The UV-50X3 has something very unique also, in that it is the first ham radio that is only programed via CHIRP!  This makes programing so simple, and allows users to take the same memory channels from other radios, and import them into the 1000 memory slots available in the UV-50X3 with ease.  You'll have to pick up a PC05 programing cable (also available on Baofeng Tech's website - click on accessories on the right side).  Checkout their YouTube video to see how easy it is to program:

With other features like cross-band repeater (REALLY!!!), full duplex and 5W/20W/50W selectable power, I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on one of these and check out the features!  In the meantime, check out Miklor's review - as always - he has done a fantastic job of reviewing and giving us all the details!

With the progress the Baofeng Tech is making, I sure hope to see an HF rig soon!  What do you think?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

BTech 2501+220

A few weeks ago, I picked up a BTECH UV-2501+220 from Baofeng Tech.  After pulling it out of the box, my first thought was "wow, his thing is tiny!" but this little transceiver performs like a champ!   I was really excited to start using the 2501+22, as this is my first true mobile rig.  I've been using a Baofeng UV-82HP (see my review here) with a Tram 1185 mag mount in my car, so stepping up to this mobile rig was quite exciting!

Because the Tram 1185 antenna is only a dual band, I opted for the NAGOYA TB-320A tri-band antenna, along with the NMO MOUNT MAGNET PL-259 combo from Baofeng Tech (Both listed under "Mobile Radio Accessories") to have the ability to use the 1.25 meter band (220 MHz).

The UV2501+220 is definitely a big upgrade for me, coming from an HT.  Having 200 memory channels for starters is really nice, giving me the ability to program in repeaters all the areas I travel to, and still have room for monitoring channels (no transmit), such as local first responders.  Of course, having the 1.25 meter band, this adds to the number of repeaters as well.  I am fortunate that there are two active 220 repeaters in my area!   I am also able to hit repeaters I was unable to with the HT, and I'm chalking this up to two things: One, the larger Nagoya TB-320A antenna from Baofeng Tech, and two, more power.  The power listed in the specifications are:

  • 2M: 25W (Peak), 20W (AVG) / 10W
  • 1.25M: 20W (Peak) 15W (AVG) / 7W
  • 70CM: 20W (Peak) 15W (AVG) / 7W
So as usual when new toys arrive, I wanted to get up and running as soon as possible, and with the UV-2501+220 this was really easy to do with the included cigarette power cable.  Putting the NMO mag mount on the car (which came with a NMO-PL-239 adapter), screwing in the TB-320A antenna, running the cable into the car via the trunk lid and connected it to the PL-239 in the back of the radio took all of 5 minutes, and I was quickly calling on 146.52!  Because of it's size, I really expected it to heat up, but I've yet to have the built in fan kick on  It seems to be performing very efficiently.
The hand mic fits nicely in the hand, and has a very nice "click" when keying the PTT.  The buttons are easy to push, and makes it very easy to navigate menus, frequencies and channels.  I think my favorite is scanning.  It is really fast, and can be started/stopped right from the hand mic.   Changing channels with the mic doesn't even take my eyes off the road, especially with the (optional) voice turned on.
I have not decided where/how to mount the radio yet.  I lease a vehicle, so permanent mounting poses an issue.  I will probably end up getting something that can mount in the cup holder (like a cell phone holder) and doing a little modding to have it hold the mounting bracket.  We'll see.  For now, It actually fits nicely between the center console and the passenger seat,

The sounds from the speaker is very loud, and extremely clear - which actually surprised me a little!  I didn't think that so much sound and clarity would come from such a little speaker!  I did notice a small noise issue when scanning, but confirmed that it was only when I scanned from 2m to 220.  A small "click" can be heard when the radio switches from/to the 220 band.

Manual programing of the radio is fairly simple, especially if you are used to doing so on any other Bofeng HT.   Baofeng Tech has posted a really great video, showing how simple it is to program manually.

Obviously, if you have a choice of programing, doing it via a computer is MUCH easier!  When I first got the radio, it only had the factory "VIP" software available for programing it, and it is not the greatest in the world, but was easier than doing it manually.  Baofeng Tech has another great video showing how to program channels in with the stock software.

Since then however, the great folks that write and support CHIRP has provided support for the UV2501+220 in their daily builds thank goodness!

Regardless of the software you use, you'll need a programing cable.  Don't skimp here.  Get it from Baofeng Tech so you know you are getting a real FTDI chip - not a counterfeit from a multitude of other venders that sell them.  Get it here: USB Programming Cable for BTECH Mobile Radios 

Once I was all programed up, I was quickly on the local repeaters.  I was so clear, several of my "regulars" that I spoke to even noticed that I was on a new rig.  I was glad to brag about being on a "cheap chinese radio" something that some tend to look down on.  I look at it like this:  If it were not for inexpensive Amateur Radio equipment, I would not be in the hobby!  I appreciate Baofeng Tech for supporting the Ham community, and allowing many to get into a hobby that otherwise can be rather expensive.

While there are other "cheap" alternatives out there, none that I'm aware of have the backing nor warranty of a US distributer that Baofeng Tech provides.  Speaking of support, the user manual is GREAT!  I keep a PDF of it on my cell phone and tablet, so it's easy to reference on the go - in case I can't remember how to do a manual programing, or need to change a setting.

Another PDF that BTECH recently posted on their site is how to use two of the UV 2501+220 radios in a cross-band repeater setup.  This looks like a really good project!  I try to keep an eye on their website ( under the "Software and Owners Manual" button, as they seem to keep adding more documentation all the time.  

Also, keep an eye on Baofeng Tech's YouTube Channel - they keep adding new videos too.

As with any Baofeng (and a multitude of other products) Miklor's website is the home of a plethora of information that is well worth your time checking out.

All in all, this radio is my favorite radio now!  I highly recommend it to any Amateur Radio operator, both new and old.  It's an inexpensive transceiver that can go just about anywhere, and performs like one of the "big boys" at a price that most can afford!  I'm looking forward to many years of service with the UV 5201+220 Transceiver.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Baofeng UV-82HP Review

A little over two weeks ago, I received a Baofeng UV-82HP from in “Fire red” color.  Having a black UV-82 already, most the features were familiar to me, but was in for some nice surprises when programing it via CHIRP.  More on that in later in the post, but first let's walk through the features.  

The UV-82HP is a dual band (2m & 70cm) that has three power (1, 5 & 7 watt) levels.  The higher power, of course, is probably the attraction point of this radio.  As an added bonus, features previously only available on the UV-82c made their way to the 82HP, such as locking (via software) the VFO/MR, or frequency mode, switching, and disabling the dual PTT - something that I'm a big fan of, especially when using a single PTT hand mic.

As with other Baofengs, the UV-82HP comes with what you expect; the FM radio receiver, flashlight, alarm mode, and removable antenna.  Speaking of antenna, this comes with a much improved antenna over the UV-5R.  I was able to use repeaters normally just out of range with the 5R, even using 5 watts, not the maximum of 7.  I'm a big fan of the new antenna.  This said, while in the car, I do hook it up to a Tram 1185, with flawless results.  Of course it comes with a desktop charger, the belt clip, lanyard, and a dual PTT headset.  Most importantly, it comes with a very well written (read not chi-english) user manual.  I keep it in my back pack, in case I need to reference it for manual programing in the field.

After using my UV-5R for so long, I didn't realize that I didn't like the keypad until I started using the UV-82HP!  Wow, such an improvement, with larger buttons, and a very distinct "click" when pressed, so there's no guessing if the button was pressed correctly.  On the UV-5R I always had an issue pressing the SCAN button; it was like the button wobbled on me.  Not anymore!  Oh, and the "0" key is in the right spot now, not over on the right.  OCD operators rejoice! :)

The belt clip was the first thing I put on as soon as I took it out of the box.  It's rugged, and very sturdy.  Although it looks like it's in the way, the clip doesn't interfere with the battery being removed or put back in.  Speaking of the battery, it lasts for days.  With an 1800mAh battery, I can use it for about two days before charging.

Only problem I had with the construction is the little "o" screw around the antenna base.  After removing the antenna the first time, the this "o" screw came very loose.  This was quickly fixed with a pair of needle nose pliers.

One thing I really like about the UV-82HP over the UV-5R is the metal plugs (Kenwood style) for the hand mic or programing cable.  When plugging them in, the connection is very snug, and no play at all.  I experienced quite a bit of play with the UV-5R, so this was a nice upgrade for me.

Like the UV-82, the HP has a dual PTT for A/B frequencies, 128 memory channels with alphanumeric names (via a software only), a flashlight, FM radio, and a dual watch receiver.  In the programing software, you can select the priority of the dual watch, or disable it.  I prefer to set B as my preferred, as I usually scan channels on A, or keep 146.52 on A.  For a full list of features, visit BaofengTech’s website:

So that's the exterior of the radio.  As for programing, There's two ways to program; manually and via software.

For programing with software, CHIRP is the go-to choice for programing the UV-82HP.  It's interface may look a bit confusing at first glance, but after you do program once or twice, it's a piece of cake.  I'll say this about the programing cable though:  Purchase a FTDI cable, not a cheap knock-off.  I did, and it was a pain to get working (although I did, but heh... I AM the EverydayNerd right?).  Do yourself a favor, and get the USB programing cable from BaofengTech.  It's 100% worth the few dollars more for no issues on PC, Mac or Linux.

With CHIRP, you are able to program the channels the frequency, an alphanumeric name, set the PL tone & offset for repeaters, as well as transmit power, wide or narrow band, and and scan skipping of a channel.   In addition to channel programing, you can also change the radio settings, some of which you cannot do from the menu, like turning off Dual PTT.  I won't go into all the details of programing with CHIRP, as there are PLENTY of resources out there that do a great job of that already:

Manual programing is not as easy as using the software, and you cannot set the alphanumeric name value, but it is not that difficult to do.  I've done while out of town to program in a repeater in the town I'm in (thanks to the RepeaterBook Android App).  First, you must be in VFO mode, not MR.  So how do you get there?  Being used to the UV-5R, I was looking for the VFO button at first, but after a quick look in the well documented user manual, I found that you have to power the radio off, then on - while holding in the [Menu] button.

Now that you're in frequency mode (VFO) make sure you are on the A bank by pressing the A/B button.  If you have Dual Watch enabled, turn it off [Menu 7].  Find an empty channel number (or delete an existing one [Menu 28]).  Enter the frequency of the repeater, then [Menu 13] and set the PL tone (TX CTCSS) - if there is one.  Next set the offset direction by going to [Menu 25] and the offset shift [Menu 26].  The normal offset shift for 2m(VHF) is .600 and 5.00 for 70cm(UHF).   Now all  you have to do is save both the transmitting and receiving frequencies.  Go to [Menu 27] enter the channel number you want to save to, and press menu to save.  This saves the receive frequency.  Now lastly, press the [* SCAN] button to show the offset frequency (verify that it is truly off by 0.600 or 5.00 depending on the band, and in the right shift direction) and go back to [Menu 27] enter the same channel number that you did for the receive frequency, and press menu again to save it.  That's it!  If you switch back to Channel Mode (Power off and on holding [Menu]) and go to the channel you just programed.  It will show Channel # instead of a name.

My overall impressions with the UV-82HP from BaofengTech is very positive.  I did have some weirdness with the power saver, [Menu 3 SAVE].  The options are Off, 1,2,3,4.  The higher the number, the longer your battery will last.   When I had anything other than Off selected,  the backlight display would flash several times about 5 seconds after pressing any key, then turn off the backlight completely.  I contacted, and they promptly sent me a factory image to flash, and that fixed the issue. See video of the flashing here.

My pros & cons list:


  • Price - seriously, you can't go wrong at this price!
  • Power - 7 watts is great!
  • CHIRP programing
  • Rugged - I dropped mine several times when exiting my car with no issues
  • Antenna - MUCH better than the UV-5R
  • Metal connectors at mic/speaker connection
  • Great battery life
  • Keypad buttons compared to the UV-5R
  • FM Radio - cause sometimes it's just quiet on the repeaters :)
  • CHIRP Settings to disable/enable features (Dual PTT, Menu, VFO Switching, etc.)
  • Great customer service from BafengTech!

So who should buy one?  I’d say any Amateur Radio operator could benefit from having this HT.   It's small, rugged (yeah, I dropped mine a couple of times getting out of the car) and if anything a great backup radio.  Although, right now, this is my primary rig for VHF.  If you're looking for a great little HT, I highly recommend it.

Checkout BaofengTech for this, and plenty other Baofeng products.  They are the best in the business, and have fantastic customer support.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Baofeng UV-5R V2+ Plus (or my first Ham Radio)

I mentioned earlier that I was new to the hobby of Ham Radio.  I didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on a radio, so started looking for budget radios.  That search didn't take long, and after landing on an AWESOME website by John Miklor, it was a quick decision to go with the Baofeng brand.   After I decided on Baofeng, I started watching countless YouTube videos about the different radios offered - mostly the UV-5R and the UV-82.

After much internal deliberations (mostly due to $) I purchased the UV-5R V2+ Plus, which is a variant of the UV-5R.  It came with the latest (at the time) firmware, BFS313.

Out of the box, it came with software, rubber duck antenna, and charging cradle, and a "manual" written in chinenglish.

Battery life is great - I've gone several days between

The radio was much smaller than I thought it was going to be, and I liked that!  I was able to put it in my pocket, with the antenna barely sticking out.  Carrying it on my belt using the belt clip was easy, and I didn't even feel it there.  The PTT button and two function buttons on the side are solid, and a good positive click to them.  The number keys are a little squishy, but still very functional.
The two function buttons on the left are multi function.  The orange CALL button if pressed activates the FM radio, which can be manually tuned via the keypad, or scan for channels with the *SCAN button.  Holding in CALL will sound an alarm (either locally, or transmitting - depending on menu setting).

The second function button is labeled MONI.  Pressing it will activate the flashlight (located between the antenna and power/volume knob on top), and pressing it a second time will blink the flashlight.  A third press will turn the flashlight off.  Holding in the MONI button opens the squelch util you let go of the button.  This is very handy for weak signals.

On the front, there is a nice metal grate covering the speaker.  I've not had any issue listening to the speaker, even in the car with the windows down.  My model has two buttons next to the speaker, an orange VFO/MR button, and a blue A/B button.

The VFO/MR button toggles between frequency mode and channel mode.  In channel mode (MR), where I tend to be most of the time the programed memory channels are easlly accessed via the up and down arrows, or numerical entry if you know it.

The VFO, or frequency mode, is where you can manually enter frequencies, as well as offsets, tones, etc.  I use this if traveling to an area that I may have forgotten to program in a repeater.  It takes a few times practicing this, but it isn't hard.  More on that below.

Going through the menu was easy, but I did have to find a reference to make sense of what some of the menu items actually meant.  Jim Unroe - KC9HI made a great PDF explaining them all.

Next step was to go start programing in local repeaters.  Again, I turned to Miklor's website (Are you sensing a theme here?) for the manual programing guide.  I'm not going to repeat what Miklor shows you, but it isn't hard at all.

My overall view of the UV-5R is very positive. There are some things I don't like, such as the cheap antenna that comes with it, the software (but CHIRP rocks).  But the pros definitely out weigh the cons:  The price, at $35, you can't go wrong.  The size is great, and power of 5watt reaches out as expected (with a good antenna - more on that later), and ruggedness.  I've dropped it several times on pavement, and it's gotten a little scuffed up, but not broken.

All in all, I like my UV-5R, it's a fun little radio, and a great way to get into the hobby without breaking the bank, BUT....  I would do something different going forward.  I would have 1) purchased a higher powered HT, and 2) purchased from BaofengTech.  The updated UV-F8HP is available from BaofengTech and has a higher power option.   Also available from them is the UV-82, which I DID purchase, and a review of this radio is coming up soon!

Friday, October 9, 2015

HAM! (or how I started in the hobby)

Nope, not the bacon kind.  Ham radio, also known as Amateur Radio.  I was interested in Ham radio when I was a teenager (I won't tell you how long ago this was) but the requirements for getting a license back then required learning morse code (or CW as it's referred to in the hobby).  For some reason, my ears were not too keen at picking up the dits and dahs, so I didn't pursue getting a license.  About a year ago, I was inspired by a blog post from ITS Tactical to get into ham radio.

I found a wonderful video series on YouTube by a user named The Ham Whisperer for both the Technician and General tests.  He explained them in great detail, even for someone that was not an electrical engineer.  After watching the videos for each test section, I would switch over to and go through the flashcards for that section until I was scoring 85% or higher.  For about two months, I went through the technician videos/flashcards until I was able to score 85% or better, then I started watching the General level videos.  It was much easier than I was expecting, building on the information I learned from the Technician level.  Using the same approach, videos then flashcards, I was able to complete this in about a month.  This was December of 2014.

Early January 2015, I scheduled to take the test at a local Red Cross building where the test administrators (or VE's - Volunteer Examiners) give the tests once a month in my area.  I passed both Technician and General that morning, and in about a week, my paper license came in the mail.  This has changed now, and paper licenses are not mailed, but can be printed from the FCC's website.  I was a licensed HAM RADIO OPERATOR!!!

I was on to radio selection now... but that will be in the next post.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Continue XP Windows Updates until April 2019

Saw this post over on RedmondPie.  In a nut shell, add the following information to the registry:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Save the above text in a text file such as XP.reg (Make sure it has a .reg file extension) and double click the file to import it into the registry.  If you know how, you can also use Regedit to make the changes too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Amazon Fire TV

Released today, Amazon Fire TV is very small, very powerful, running Android, and inexpensive.  Looks like a great alternative to Ruku, Apple TV and others in this category.