Hello, Frank here.
Hope everybody is well. In my last radio post, when I gave you the new Romanchik Technician manual, I told you that you could get into ham radio for around $40.00. The radio I’m going to talk about is the Baofeng UV-5R Plus. But I’ve also seen that the company is changing it’s name, it is now called Pofung UV-5R Plus. It is the same radio.
This radio is an HT or handy talky. It operates on UHF and VHF. It puts out about 5 watts on VHF and 4 watts on UHF. It comes with a charging cradle, a battery, antenna, manual and occasionally they will have packages that include other assorted gizmos. At the site that is provided, this radio retails for about one penny short of $39.00.
This radio comes blank, no frequencies programmed into it at all. This radio is not a ham radio, per se. It is a commercial radio. This means the frequencies on UHF and VHF are much wider than your traditional ham radio. Okay, you can program this radio to operate on all of the ham VHF/UHF frequencies. It will transmit simplex, which is radio to radio, or duplex, which is radio to repeater, back to another radio. It will do offset, PL tones, CTCSS and everything that your basic ham radio will do.
Okay. Follow me now. Being a commercial radio, you can also program other frequencies, which include police department, fire department, Wal-Mart, and many other frequencies that you should not transmit on. But, if you do search and rescue and you have the authority and permission to operate on, let’s say, the fire department, then these little radios will perform that function also. They will function on MURS, GMRS/FRS. So, as you can see, they can be handy little radios. They also have a scan feature. But, remember, this is a transceiver that will scan. It is a slow scan. It’s not like some scanners that will do 300 channels per second.
You will need to program this radio yourself. You can do it by hand manually, or you can buy the programming cable for a few dollars more and use the provided downloadable program on your computer. There is also a computer program called Chirp, which is free. There is also a programming system called RT Systems. It is not free, and for about $45.00 to $50.00, you get the programming disc and their programming cable.
There are some things this little radio will not do. It will not cross band repeat, but then most HTs don’t, but some do. You cannot listen on one frequency and transmit on another at the same time, and it does not have the greatest transmit and receive qualities. But it is more than adequate. This is a $40.00 radio, not a $150.00 radio, or $300.00 radio. If you are wanting to get your Technician license and transmit and receive on VHF and UHF, this radio will do the job.
Now, things to consider. If it is pouring down rain outside, then you may not be able to reach that repeater that you can on a nice pretty, sunshiny day. But this is true of all handhelds. If you are inside of a metal building, or inside your car, then you might have trouble reaching that same repeater. But these are standard characteristics of any handy talky. There are things you can do to increase your transmitting range, and I covered these in detail in other posts, but I will mention them briefly here.
If you want to put a mag-mount antenna on your car, with the appropriate adapter you can connect your radio to this antenna. You can attach a handheld microphone, and for power, you can use a battery eliminator. All this does is replace the normal battery in the radio, and it plugs into your 12 volt outlet. So, what you have now is an external antenna, your power is now supplied by your vehicle, and you can use your microphone instead of having to hold the radio up to your face. This will extend your range dramatically. There are many people that use this type of setup.
But, this article is about a $40.00 radio. The basic radio comes with a battery, an antenna and a way to charge that battery. This is all you need. $15.00 to take your Technician’s test. So, for right around $55.00, you can play with ham radio. Or, you can help search and
rescue. Or, if you really want to show your friends and neighbors how really stupid you are, you can transmit on the police and fire frequencies. Don’t do that. They can find you, and they will. Because if you get on your radio and you interfere with fire department transmissions, and a fireman dies because you were trying to prove how stupid you are, then you might go to jail. Do not do it. Now, if you are a volunteer fireman in little town America, and you have permission to transmit on these frequencies, then good for you. If you don’t, then don’t. You can program the radio to receive only on the frequencies that you shouldn’t be on.
By the way, this little radio will transmit and receive on the marine band frequencies. You can also receive weather transmissions from the National Weather Service. These are handy, handy radios. They are not illegal, they are 100% legal on the ham frequencies, and they are legal to transmit on any frequency that you have permission. Remember, it is legal to listen to any radio transmission, so you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble listening.
Go back and read the posts about GMRS and MURS under Frank’s Radio Communications. Pay attention to safety. Safety is always first. These radios don’t put out enough power to do damage. If you want to put one in your car with an added mag-mount, great. If you want to get your
Technician license, all of the information is provided under Frank’s Radio Communications. You’re going to hear people in the ham world criticize these little $40.00 radios. But I know lots and lots of ham radio operators that have these little radios, especially if they’re going to be out doing a dirty job. $40.00, and they work. Some small town fire departments use them, because sometimes fire fighting can be a nasty job. You’d rather lose a $40.00 radio than a $400.00 radio. These little radios are changing the ways people see the world. If you’re interested give one of them a try. The site I provided here shows all of the options sold with these little radios, just scroll down. They also come in pretty colors, too.
Here’s an example. You know those little GMRS and FRS radios you use during hunting season? These radios will do the same thing. Make sure you read up on the rules and regulations, and of course I’ve got to put this in here, do not transmit on frequencies that you are not licensed to transmit on. Take care.
We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank