BaoFeng UV-5R+ ham radio — incredibly inexpensive dual-band handheld

BaoFeng UV-5R+  -- What's in the box

BaoFeng UV-5R+ — What’s in the box

I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive equipment to recommend to new hams, and the BaoFeng UV-5R+, at around $60 including shipping on Amazon, fits that bill. Here’s the review I wrote for Amazon:

“I put my new Chinese Baofeng UV-5R+ through its paces and it seems like a competent inexpensive dual-band ham radio handheld transceiver. It shares some features with its cousin, the Wouxun KG-UV3D (note the similarity in model numbers). The Baofeng has a better manual, is much easier to operate, and has an English-sounding voice that announces the numbers and such. That said, it still takes some serious button-pushing to put a repeater frequency in memory – the input frequency and the output frequency are set separately, and then you need to wedge in a CCTSS tone. If it’s like the Wouxun, this is all easier to do if you purchase the optional cable to set up the memories using your computer. The key feature of the Baofeng UV-5R+ is its price–by far and away the least expensive 2m / 70cm handheld on the market. Like the Wouxun, it features a flashlight (why didn’t anyone think of this before! – a great thing to have in your handheld radio for use on dark nights or on the road) and FM radio reception. Would I recommend this to a freshly-minted Amateur Radio operator with Technician license in hand? Yes, though I would recommend you find a more experienced ham to help you set it up. The radio as it stands has the same inverted antenna connector as the Wouxun, and you’ll want to attach it to a larger antenna for anything except really close-in communications. Also, it’s a 4-watt radio instead of the normal 5-watts for a handheld. Its features are basic but competent. It comes with a drop-in charger and a simple earpiece with a dangling microphone. For this price, go for it!”

A few additional words here: I’m actually kind of amazed this is considered an FCC type-accepted radio, but it is, apparently under Part 90, not Part 95. It appears to transmit outside the ham bands, though I haven’t tried it. But for an incredibly inexpensive radio, about a third the price of the most inexpensive Japanese competitor, it’s quite a bargain. As noted, it can be frustrating to program, so you’ll probably want to get the programming cable and download the software from the manufacturer’s website.

This entry was posted in Ham Radio blog entries, Product Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to BaoFeng UV-5R+ ham radio — incredibly inexpensive dual-band handheld

  1. I’ve been using the UV-5R for a couple of months now, and I think its a very good radio for the money. Currently I’m running it in my car, attached to a mag-mount antenna, centered on the roof, with the speaker-mic. I’ve talked to several people on the local repeaters, none of them have complained about a “dirty” signal, and one of them expressed how impressed he was that it was a HT that I was using because of the strength and quality of the signal into the repeater in his house. So, it looks like Baofeng corrected that “dirty signal” issue.

    Baofeng also improved the programmability; repeaters are actually fairly simple to program into memory now. I had programmed several using the keypad. I now use the software as I was adding many (80+) repeaters to the memories, as well as the standard simplex frequencies. It is well worth the slight extra investment to get the programming cable and use the software.

    The radio does have the capability of transmitting outside the 2 meter and 70 cm bands, but with the software you can tell the radio not to do that. I personally view the transmit capabilities this way: As a General I can use certain frequency ranges in the HF bands, my transceiver is capable of transmitting in the portions of those bands that only Extras are allowed to use, that is to say, outside the frequency privileges allowed by my license class, it is *my* responsibility, legally and ethically, to not transmit on those frequencies. I can’t blame the radio because it is capable of transmitting on those frequencies. Why should it be any different with this radio?

    In short, this little radio is a great bargain. I got the radio, two antennas, a lapel mic with an earpiece, the drop-in charger and two batteries for less than $50 on Amazon. There are, and probably always will be, nay-sayers, but the truth is that this is a very good bargain for a radio.

    73 de KG6ECW

  2. Mark says:

    Radio did not respond Got this message on two radios. Bad cable?



    Our local club advised me the Baofeng UV-5R+ has a “dirty RF signal” according to a November 2015 QST review and not to use. I cannot find the review for my Baofeng Radios, one member recommended RT Systems Cable and software for programming. CHIRP software via computer-cable would not me to enter club repeaters “radio will not support this software” or similar error message. Am watching U-tube videos for more information to setup radios as scanners if need be. Thanks for the great video series.

  4. Mark Marshall says:

    I am writing to thank you for the video introduction series on the Technician class license I found on Youtube. I am writing this on the UV-5R+ review because the only reason I’m studying for the test is because an acquaintance was so insistent on the need to get that transceiver.

  5. I got a deal on Amazon… 2 of them for about $60. I am pretty impressed. I ended up buying the longer antenna to hit our repeater up on Chestnut Ridge and to hit the WVU Club repeater in town. I can now trip them both. I figured out how to download CHIRP free software and in about an hour had both of them programmed with all sorts of repeaters in the region for when I travel. I loaded the NOAA Weather freqs, too. For the money it’s a nice radio… but get the bigger antenna.

  6. Adam Rondeau says:

    I just bought this awesome little radio. The price has come down even more. I paid $34, free shipping and it came WITH the USB cable that most places charge extra for. Thanks for the review.

  7. Jack says:

    The only stand alone 6 meter radio I can think of is one by Ranger. It is AM/FM/SSB and I think it has CW capability. I believe there is also an optional CTCSS tone board available. The last time I looked at the web site they were asking $319.

  8. Dave says:

    Craig, to be frank, I’ve not paid much attention to 6 meters. My HF rig doesn’t cover 6, although all the new rigs do. I can’t recall seeing a 6-meter-only radio. Some people love it, though. 73, Dave, KEØOG

  9. Craig Phillips says:

    I’m on the lookout for an inexpensive 6 meter unit. Have you done any research on a good unit to do the job without a lot of money. I have a Kenwood v71a and TH-F6 which really enjoy but I’d like to get into the 6 meter band. I’m working on my General ticket.

    By the way, your video for the Tech were a huge help to me, I aced the test. I’m now starting the General walk. I have watched the first 3 video’s so far.

    Tx, Craig

Comments are closed.