Baofeng UV-5R+ on APRS – Works Great!

The Baofeng* UV-5R+ on APRS? Yes, it works! The Baofeng UV-5R+ is an incredibly inexpensive Chinese dual-band handheld, putting out 4 watts on its internal battery. See my review here. Today brought gorgeous weather, but I can’t ride because of a broken arm. So, I thought I would repeat an experiment that I did some time ago using my Wouxun KG-UV-3D to see how well the Baofeng works with APRS.

The Baofeng UV-5R+ proved itself competent to work in an APRS setup. The points are along Ouray, Colorado, CR 8 between US Hwy 550 and Vista Point. Click on image for slightly larger version.

The Baofeng UV-5R+ proved itself competent to work in an APRS setup. The points are along Ouray, Colorado, County Road 8 between US Hwy 550 and Vista Point (CR8 is not yet open beyond this—too early in the season). Click on image for larger version.


I assembled the equipment the same way, except I added the Tiny Track 4’s display and a keyboard, to see how well I could send messages via APRS from the mobile unit (KEØOG-5) to my home station (KEØOG-1—which connects my Davis weather station to the APRS network). I stopped at key intersections, pulled to the side of the road and sent APRS messages (yes, there are such things) using the TT4’s display and keyboard (no computer required). Every message came through just fine. In fact, I was quite pleased with how quickly the messages were acknowledged. The TT4 really is two-way. It also works as a standard tracker when used without the display and keyboard.

Overall I was quite pleased. The Baofeng radio acquits itself nicely with its 4 W output power. I connected it to the mag mount on the Blazer’s roof. The GPS itself is something that I purchased at the same time I purchased the TT4. Anyway, the bottom line here is that the Baofeng radio works on digital modes.

[* Baofeng is often rendered BaoFeng on the internet, including in Amazon ads. But it’s Baofeng (only initial capital) on Baofeng’s website, although they’re not entirely consistent, sometimes with Baofeng, BAOFENG, BAO FENG, Bao Feng, and BaoFeng. I’ll take the simple approach— the company’s name is Fujian Nanan Baofeng Electronic Co., Ltd. See below.]

baofeng logo

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18 Responses to Baofeng UV-5R+ on APRS – Works Great!

  1. Jim says:

    I am now using an iPhone app called APRS pro. It is amazing! It has full audio TNC capabilities as well as iGate and digipeater functions. It also has 300 baud mode for HF APRS! I am currently using it as a digipeater/iGate at my home.

    Jim – KH2SR

  2. KN4BIA says:

    Remember there are software based tnc’s too. At least this is true for iOS.

    My baofeng ht setup was as follows:
    Baofeng ht
    BTECH aprs cable ($18) https://www.amazon.com/APRS-K2-Connector-BaoFeng-APRSDroid-Compatible/dp/B01LMIBAZW
    And PocketPacket ($4+) from the apple App Store

    Set the ht to the aprs freq, attach the cable and away you go.
    Side note: either define he lat/long in PocketPacket or set it in the settings to use the iPad/iPhone gps – if not you’ll get location errors.

    There’s a message interface to make messaging easy too.

  3. Mike says:

    Here is the link to Radio Shield 2.0

    https://www.argentdata.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=136

    I have used it very successfully to decode APRS packets from my audio jack using APRS Droid to generate them. It works flawlessly even though the P2P voltage is .3V vs. the 3V recommended. The board seems to be a good product.

    Mie

  4. Dave says:

    Mike, I’ll do some tests with my oscilloscope to compare the TYT with radios I know do work with APRS to see if I can pin it down. Can you send me a link for the Radio Shield board? 73, Dave

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks! I did my own research and have come to the conclusion that this radio cannot be used to receive APRS packets. It seems to filter out the opening tone that the demod board uses to trigger. Either that or it’s slow to open the squelch and the initial tone is just missed, but I don’t think that’s the problem as I have run it in open Squelch and it still doesn’t work. I have some local HAM guys coming over with some other hand held units. If you run across anything that makes the UV-5R work with the Radio Shield board, please let me know. I was unable to, but I am a mechanical engineer that knows enough electronics to be dangerous and am new to HAM also. Thanks.

  6. Dave says:

    Mike, I did try the radio with APRS transmit, but only a cursory look at receive. I’ll have to set it up to see if it will receive APRS traffic. I’ll let you know what I discover.

  7. Mike says:

    I am trying to do the reverse of this. I am trying to use the Baofeng UV-5R as an APRS packet receiver and feed the audio output into the Argent Data Radio Shield (plus Arduino) for demodulation and display of coordinates on a screen. I am a mechanical engineer and have limited HAM experience, but it seems like the UV-5R is filtering out the initial tone of the APRS packet that the Radio Shield uses to detect the incoming packet. Is there an option to play the entire packet thru the audio port? I would think this is a simple question, but I haven’t been able to get an answer from anyone yet. I have looked into CTCSS and some other options, but those are about sending and receiving the initial tone burst to open the channel and not about playing this initial tone thru the audio port. For voice communications, it would make sense to filter out this initial CTCSS tone, but I need it for APRS work.

  8. Dave says:

    Hi Willem,

    You will need to take the audio out from your PC and connect it to microphone in, and radio speaker out and connect it to your PC’s microphone input. Also, you’ll need a way to key the radio. There are several devices on the market that will do this if you don’t want to build your own. See my video on getting set up for digital—the instructions apply for VHF as well as HF. Good luck!

  9. Willem Prinsloo says:

    Hi

    How do I get the HT (UV5R) to connect to my PC to use aprs ? is it a setting in aprs software? or my HT? I am not using it mobile so I don’t think I need a tinytrack.

    I hope you can help me in this regard

    73’s

    Willem Prinsloo (ZR5ZS)

  10. Dave says:

    Hi Eric, sorry to hear about the setup woes. If you’re hearing tones in another radio, that’s a great sign. There should be some method in the Argent for setting tone levels. Set your radio to transmit and listen with another radio. Set it so that as you increase the tone volume, it gets to the point that the tones in the monitor receiver don’t get any louder. Back off a little bit from there. Also, you may want to ensure your antenna is sufficient for the APRS node to hear you. Given the “radio smog” in Los Angeles, this could be an issue. When I use APRS from my Polaris RZR, the antenna is a J-pole made of ladder line. This bigger antenna helps around here especially given how sparsely populated we are. Good luck and keep trying! 73, Dave, KEØOG

  11. Eric J says:

    Hi Dave.
    I have a Baofeng UV-5R that works great on simplex and repeaters. I am trying to get it to work with the Argent Open Tracker USB that I just bought from Argent including the interface cables and GPS puck.
    I cannot get a single packet out. The tracker will key the radio, I can hear my tones on another radio but that’s it. I have tried to adjust the high and low tones, the transmit delay on the tracker. I am using WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2 – no luck at all. I am 11 miles away from digipeater N6EX-5. I am located in Los Angeles, CA.

    The Argent owner told me “Make sure you check the manual for the part about setting transmit audio levels. The most common problem is setting the audio level too high, so that the tones get distorted and can’t be decoded properly. The best thing for that is a service monitor to check the deviation directly”. I unfortunately don’t have a service monitor.
    Do you or anyone reading this have any suggestions? Is there anything I have to set on the UV5R? Could anyone give me what each setting is on their UV5R? Is there anyone that has had success with the UV5R and Argent Open Tracker USB?

    Thank you all for taking the time to read this.

    Eric

  12. Dave says:

    Justin, welcome back to ham radio! I think you’ll find that HF is the fun place to be. During the day, try listening on 20 meters. A technique that works well both on HF and VHF/UHF is “tail-ending.” That is, listen to a QSO. Then, after it’s finished, call one of the hams who was in the QSO. Very often they haven’t yet tuned to another frequency and haven’t yet shut off their radio, so this gives a high probability of an answer. This is especially effective if your station doesn’t put out that strong of a signal. Tell the other station that you’re new to this and they will likely try hard to help. And, if you don’t succeed at first, keep trying. Persistence is key. 73, Dave

  13. Justin O'Donnell says:

    Hi Dave:
    I recently got back into ham radio after a 30-year hiatus! Man have some things changed. For one thing it appears my old 2-meter rig won’t work with the repeaters anymore. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are a lot of decent handhelds for only a few bucks. Anyway, I’ve been practicing up on my theory thanks to your videos. They are invaluable. I plan to pick up the exam prep books and do some studying too. I wasn’t all that interested in theory way back, but am a bit more now. I recently joined a local ham club. I desperately need someone to help me get on HF. I bought a yaesu 450D and with the help of my son recently strung up a dipole. I can now be found in my shack eagerly listening hoping to pick up tips. I was sort of shocked though when I went to the club meeting. The average age was about 60. There is nothing wrong with that, but I found it unsettling that the younger crowd was not represented. This is a very active club too. Anyway, there was an old neighbor of mine who just joined the club and his grandson is a new ham. The kid offered to help me, so I guess not all is lost. Since I’m newly retired (I wouldn’t be able to keep up with you) I hope to spend more time on the air. But my plans are sort of taking a hit. We acquired a very active yellow lab and I can’t take him into the shack. I spend a great deal of my time babysitting this hurricane of energy. Oh well. I’m just writing again to thank you for your videos. They are still working as an aid. With winter nearly here in northeast PA, they will give me plenty of pleasure in the coming months. I plan to do the extra ones after I get the general theory down. Thanks again.
    73
    Justin O’Donnell
    KA3AUD

  14. Dave says:

    James, the same cable that connects the Wouxun HT to the TinyTrak 4 will also work with the Baofeng HT.

  15. James H says:

    Dave,
    Thanks for the reply. The USB programming cable works to connect the HT to a TinyTrak4? I’m confused… I’m trying to connect a Baofeng HT to a TNC, not programming software.
    Thanks es 73!

  16. Dave says:

    James, I used the same cable I use to program the Wouxun. It’s available from PowerWerx here. It looks like PowerWerx has some updated software too.

  17. James H says:

    What sort of cable did you use to connect the Baofeng HT to the TT4? TU es 73!

  18. Matt G says:

    Been looking at these lately to pair with the new mobilinkd TNC and APRSdroid OMS on an Android phone, to have real time APRS mapping in hand. Thanks for the various reviews and tests on these.

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