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!

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