Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bad things about the Baofeng UV5R

Hey guys

Probably you already found a ton of articles telling you how awesome the Baofeng UV5R is, today
I'm going to do something different, I'll tell you all the defects I found in it.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's an awesome radio, specially considering the bang for the buck factor,
and I would buy another one without doubt, but I didn't want to write just another UV5R article...

So, lets get down to business.
- The manual sucks. The manual is just a few pages long, doesn't give you much details about the unit
and doesn't explain clearly how to program it. Lucky for us there is a great website with a ton of
information about the UV5R, check it here:
- There is no reception power indicator, the indicator is binary, you are receiving something or you

- You can't update the firmware. The microcontroller is an OTP (One Time Programmable). Once 
'flash' programmed at the factory, it cannot be changed.

- There is a known 'quirk' with the UV5R receiver. If a scanned channel has an R-CTCSS (PL) tone 
of 136.5 Hz or lower, the receiver will not stop on that channel. R-CTCSS (PL) tones of 146.2 and 
higher work fine.

- Scanning speed is really low, to scan 1 MHz at 5KHz steps it takes 59.65 seconds, while my Yaesu 
FT270 only takes 7.45 seconds. Test was performed scanning from 147 to 148 Mhz without finding 
any station during the scan.

- The charger input voltage is 10v, so you wouldn't be able to plug it directly to your car battery.

- Some people report a low mic volume, didn't happen to me, the solution is to carefully enlarge the 
mic hole.

- The Alarm function. Man, WTF is that crap? When you push a button named "Call" to the side of 
the unit, it will start emitting an alarm sound and turning on and off all the lights, and depending on 
the mode it is configured it will also start transmitting the alarm! You gotta see that for yourself, 
check it HERE. Biggest problem with that is that the button is in a position that is very easy to push 
by accident, in a tactical situation you are dead meat if that turns on. Also, there is no way to 
deactivate the function programmatically, so I think the solution is to open the unit and break that 
button, the problem is that you'll lose the FM radio if you do that.

- The flashlight, its very useful with the exception of the strobe mode that is totally useless, but the 
problem is that is turned on by pushing the MONI button, so the chances of turning it on by accident 
are really big, and in some situations that can ruin your day. Best solution, put some tape over the 
LED or when you open the radio to break the CALL button, also disconnect the LED. 


Dvc Prepper said...

Glad I found this article, I was considering adding these to my preps instead of more TYT or Wouxans because of the price but the ALERT issue is a no go for me.


sparks31 said...

Find a used/good condition late 1980s-present vintage HT at a hamfest. Try to find one that has a AA pack available for it. Clip the wire/diode for the MARS/CAP mod. Get some fresh rechargeable battery packs for it. Might cost you a little more than one of those China-made radios, but you'll have a much better piece of equipment.

Anonymous said...

Instead of breaking the button rewire it to a normally closed jack and use it as a tripwire alarm.

Anonymous said...

As an owner of 9 baofeng radios, i'm quite happy. Sure they dont have all the features of offerings from the big 3 but that's what i like the most. They are simple, cheap, and get the job done.

Anonymous said...

Nice article, was searching for a method to speed the scanning speed of my UV5's and found this page.
The Yaesu scan's its channels in 7 seconds because it only works between ~130 - 170MHz.

The Baofeng spans 136-174 and 400-520 parsing more spectrum the Yaesu would uselessly skid across if tried to do so in 7 or even 10 seconds.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sheep said...

I've bought this radio and when I found your article I said what the heck? APX? Ha! Same tastes :P

vilma tan said...

The above website miklor says that you can scan a ctcss code on menu #11.I tried to no avail.
I have the more recent uv5rtp and gt3tp.
r-ctcs menu function number 11 doesnt scan at all.Is it because of diff firmware or am I doin something wrong.Any imput??

Jackster said...

Lol Tactical.... This isnt a "tactical" radio. Its a cheap Chinese ham radio. I wear mine on the outside of my pants pocket 70+ hours a day and have yet accidentally kicked on the alarm or led. Im a large engine and hydraulic mechanic, not a desk jockey.

The 8W version has different firmware an chipset. Never had a problem scanning low PL codes. Then again no one around here uses R-CTCSS codes. Only T.-CTCSS. Thats more for modes like bubble pack radios have on FRS. If there are so many people on one freq, we just move to a new one. Its easier than setting a receive-PL. typically for repeaters you only need Transmit tones.

The alarm feature is a nice thing to have. Its more likely that you will be hiking instead of sniping zombies or enemies during civil-unrest. A PAS (personal alarm system) is nice to have as incase you are stuck under rubble in an earthquake, in a fire, etc. There are plenty of reasons to keep the alarm. It doesnt transmit if you are in VFO mode afaik. Transmitting is good if you are lost because rescuers can direction-find your body.

Ive had to use strobe features on lights before... Like when my friend and i towed a woman out of the ditch at night in the rain. Drivers respond to strobes flashing lights, automatically register as "caution".

I bump the menu/program buttons and turn the volume down more than anything. Auto-lock helps with most of that.

Its far more "tactical" to make use of what you have instead of breaking it. The call button is also good for morse. When people talk to me and my friend radios in (i wear an ear piece), i just tap "QRX" in morse which is Q code for "wait a sec". People that talk to me in person dont even know it and my friend understands as he works in another department and cant see me. We dont talk about work on the ham bands fyi.

They sell car chargers for these... $5 on amazon. I have the extended battery charger and the pass-thru cig lighter power pack.

I dont need a receiving power indicator, the signal strength is good enough if i cared. Chances are im not looking at the radio while listening.

I do agree that the scan feature is slow as hell. I may get a scanner for that but i find myself staying on repeaters that i programmed in. SARS repeater and a local club repeater 28 miles away.

The manual is awful. I agree with that.

The only real defect that i have found is the belt clip hinge pin sometimes wiggles out of place. I also dont like how light is. When i use a 771 whip, bumping my table knocks ot over from being so top heavy. Then again, light is what i want for backpacking.

Again, the Tactical trend is so over played. Zombies and civil-unrest isnt what you should prep for. All the guns and molle straps in Texas didnt help the flooding. Gettin involved in ARES or RACES is better as establishing comminication is a primary objective in any situation whether it be flooding or nuclear winter. I highly recommend a roll-up nelson slim jim uhf/vhf antenna. Its light and small. I keep one in my go-bag. String up a tree and get heard on low power mode from far away. I can wake up a repeater 70 miles away on 4 watts and got a 5/9 back.... Havent tested further.

Anonymous said...

I have a UV-5R and knew there was someone close by using 177mhz but the uv-5r supposed to go from 136 to 174, so i used chirp to take it to 178mhz and as if by magic, there was activity going on.. Someone said trying to alter the frequency from 0mhz to 900mhz might seem to work in the software but once you tune into these frequencies they are dead, ie the radio just wont accept it. So maybe you can get away with a few Mhz at each end of the scale but not too many..

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