Sun, 02 Jun 2013
I have been a licensed ham for some time .
However never had the time to buy a Ham handset and play with it.
So finally I took the plunge and bought a cheapo Chinese Ham radio which seems to be very popular due to its price point amongs online reviewers.It is called Baofeng UV-5R and I bought it for $40 shipped,lots of US retailers selling on amazon or ebay etc .I also bought the programming USB cable for about $8.So for about $50 I could get started on Ham radio.
Here are some of my notes after spending quite a bit of time on understanding Ham etc as I do not have any experience with using a Ham radio.Getting licensed and playing with an actual Ham radio are 2 different things :-).
First find the firmware version by following the instructions at http://www.miklor.com/uv5r/UV5R-Software.html mine was BFB297 http://www.brickolore.com/2011/09/baofeng-uv-3r-quick-start-video-guide.html http://www.brickolore.com/2011/07/repeater-websearch.html
Tried the chirp software on linux and it worked fabulously (it didnt give any errors as i still dont know what i programmed :-))and since i had a usb cable my port was /dev/ttyUSB0 .Alot of people have complained about prolific drivers on windows etc , so you migth want to try on linux as no special drivers needed.
As Im new to Ham I didnt want to inadvertently transmit anything on any of channels.So I disabled most channels by following instructions below.As this unit can transmit on any frequency it receives.Pls note in US you need proper licenses to transmit on most channels/frequency used by this radio.
Trying to follow instructions on comments http://w0hc.com/2012/04/baofeng-uv-5r/ for receive only initially I have discovered that you can Tx inhibit the VFO of these radios using CHIRP. Set the VHF & UHF frequency to 1.000 und uncheck the "Allow Tx" checkboxes. Now only the memory channels can Tx (listen-only channels can be created by setting duplex to "OFF").
Finally, be aware that it has an "emergency alert" function and since the switch that activates this is just below the PTT switch, it's quite easy to accidentally hit it and send this attention-getting tone over the air.
Various alarm modes.For my alarm the setting was SITE which from the video i understand is just like a panic button on a car remote.It does not transmit anything to anyone. For a moment I had got worried that when I hit the alarm button it would send some weird signals as it is very easy to click on the alarm button when you are trying to play with the FM radio.
keeping in mind that you should pre-program the frequency offsets of your local repeater, as automatic offsets (+/-) are not included on this one. Or use the chirp software as it does for you.
Few things to note about Antenna.I'm still using the stock antennae. - the antenna connection is a reverse TNC, so you will need an adaptor if you want to use your other handheld antennas with this radio
It is highly recommended to buy an aftermarket 2/440 (17") F-SMA antenna it will work a lot better. I have a BNC to F-SMA adapter to widen the antenna selection. I use a long range MFJ 1714 antenna for 2M. The original ducky works on 440 better than I'd thought it would.
Best site on what frequencies to program for a newbie http://codegreenprep.com/2013/04/tips-on-how-to-best-configure-and-use-your-baofeng-uv-5r/
Video to program NOAA weather channels for your area https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vszi6d2s5Sk https://www.youtube.com/user/GriffTaylor/videos?view=0&flow=grid
Just to be safe i turned off all transmissions from my unit by following the instructions below
if you set the channel to duplex then the offset to off it will apparently block you from transmitting.
Let me know if this works for you.
Comment by Andor | August 25, 2012 | Reply
if you program your radio in chirp and set the duplex mode to off it will prohibit transmitting if the unit is on that channel.
I have tested and confirmed this yesterday.
Effectively it sets the TX frequency to 000.000mhz.
The U-5R nicely error beeps when pressing the PTT button.
Quite a few people ask if this radio can be used on GMRS frequencies.Unfortunately as it is not FCC part 95 certified it cannot be used on GMRS frequencies.Pls refer to this link for exact details on FCC requirements