Top positive review
63 people found this helpful
on 21 March 2013
I have been a HAM radio enthusiast for quite a few years now and my original radio was a tri-band Yaesu V5R handset - if I remember correctly it set me back nearly £300. A year or so ago the Wouxun handhelds came out and I purchased two - the 2m/70cm one and the 2m/4m units - both for circa £100 each and thought I had an absolute bargain. Now I have two of these Baofeng UV-5RA units - and they cost under £40 each with charger and mobile phone-style microphone and earpiece also included.
The first observation is that they are quite solid in build and first tests suggest that they are petty capable units. There is a simple on/off/volume control on the top with a useful flashlight LED separating this from the antenna - which has the SMA antenna coupling the "wrong way round" as per the Wouxun radios. This is useful as it facilitates the use of stronger bayonet and PL259 plug adapters (not included).
As seems to be common with the Chinese handhelds - this radio is effectively a business frequency radio - it is not locked for just the HAM radio channels - so care is needed if you only have a HAM Radio license. Tx/Rx band are 136MHz - 174MHz on VHF and 400MHz - 480MHz on UHF. On the other hand - if you need a cheap business radio to use in conjunction with, for example, a Simple Business Radio License, then you are onto a winner with these units. Whether use of a programming cable and computer will allow locking out of some frequencies I have not yet had chance to investigate. Again, as with other Chinese handhelds, the Baofeng can receive the commercial Fm channels between 65MHz - 108 MHz. The radio also has scan facilities over the covered frequencies.
Transmission is FM only at either 4W or 1W - wide or narrow band switchable - and the Lithium-Ion battery mAh 7.4V/1800 is quite suited to casual use. I have not yet had chance to run one of the units into the ground on the battery - but I know that the Wouxun unit which uses a similar battery runs all day on monitoring and occasional transmit during an event without issue. I expect the Baofeng units will be the same. Other HAM users I know who have been using these radios have reported no problems in this area.
On the side of the radio are found the PTT button flanked by two others, one controlling the flashlight and surprising alarm function and the other opening up the squelch for monitoring and switching to the Broadcast Frequency Radio function. As per other radios which function is activated depends on how long the button is held. (Yes - I made the mistake on the flashlight and ended up with the alarm!).
On the front are found the keypad, the cursor control keys, the A/B selector, and the band selector. Frequency is set using either the keypad or the up and down keys. Also on the front is the menu key by which the programming and various functions such as squelch and CTCSS/DCS, etc can be accessed. The LED screen is quite readable - with a basic colour change option available. These appear to be accomplished by having two LED lights - one orange and the other blue - which in theory gives a bright orange, a searing blue or an odd purple lighting. I say in theory because on one of the two units I have the orange LED does not appear to be functioning giving the choice of blue, blue or no backlighting. It isn't a serious enough fault for me to return the radio as everything else appears to be working fine - I can forgive much at this price!
The microphone socket is on the opposite side from the PTT button and can take microphones compatible with those used on the Wouxun radios - the computer programming cable also uses these sockets and it is also compatible with the Wouxun programming cable. Memory channel operation is available.
Overall - highly recommended handheld radios. An ideal starter radio for a new Foundation license holder who wants to get on the air without breaking the bank, great to keep with you for the odd natter, and an ideal radio for users of the Simple Business Radio Licenses. I, for one, have every intention of purchasing further units.