Best Ham Radio Antenna Upgrade for BaoFeng UV-5R & BF-F8HP

Nutrient Survival GeekPrepper

Handheld HAM radios are great since they are small and portable, but you may find yourself needing to extend their range.

A BaoFeng Antenna upgrade might be exactly what you need.

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  BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade
      How to Manually Program Your Baofeng UV-5R
      How Far Can Your Baofeng UV-5R Transmit?
      Is Owning A Baofeng UV-5R Illegal?

How Antennas Work for Ham Radios

The existing antenna in your Baofeng is just around 5 inches. Having a small communication device and a short antenna is good in terms of portability.

However, the range in which you can communicate is compromised. The range is affected by several variables such as indoor or outdoor use, the weather, or terrain.

As you get better in using your ham radio, you will realize that it cannot be used to its full potential without a good antenna. An antenna is a piece of metal connected to your radio that conducts electricity. Its main purpose is to receive the signal you want to hear and radiate the signal from your radio.

To give your ham radio a better signal, an antenna upgrade is a good option. An upgrade will give your radio a better signal even over long distances and will allow you to deliver clearer communication without unnecessary stress involved.

Baofeng Antenna Lengths – How Long Should Your Antenna Be?

We have now established that longer antennas give you better chances of transmitting and receiving good signal. The best length for your Baofeng antenna upgrade will depend on how and where you’ll use it. Take a look at the different antenna lengths available and see which one best suits your needs:

Baofeng Factory Antenna

The antenna that comes with your Baofeng radio when you buy one is usually called the “rubber duck”. This type of antenna is typically built for 136-174MHzand 400-480MHz amateur radio bands. It is usually around 5 inches and length. With a full battery and if your radio is in full power mode, this antenna will work for you if you only need about 5km in range depending on obstacles.

7.5-inch antenna upgrade

ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios

A 7.5-inch antenna typically has a frequency of 144-146MHz and 430-440MHz.  Depending on obstacles and other factors, this antenna may fit your needs if you want up to 10km range.

14.5-inch Antenna Upgrade

MaxLLTo 14.5" Dual and 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R

This antenna length can also have a frequency of 144-146MHz and 430-440MHz. An upgrade to a 14.5-inch antenna can cover a talk range of around 15km.

My BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade Test

If you’ve read any of our HAM radio or Communication posts, then you know what fans we are of the BaoFeng handheld radios. They can cover the 2 Meters, 70 cm, MURS, GMRS, FRS, Weather, Marine bands and more.

The stock antenna is fine for most, especially if you’re looking right at the repeater tower (ok, I’m exaggerating, I’ve gotten some pretty good distance out of the stock antenna). There are those occasions though, where I wish I could pick up far off signals a little better, or just to get a little more reach to someone I’m trying to communicate with or to the repeater.

I finally decided to see if a simple antenna upgrade would rectify these issues.

The Antenna

ExpertPower XP-771 14.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios

I’ve had the ExpertPower 14.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna on my Amazon Wishlist for ages, and since it runs around $12, I can’t figure out why I hadn’t bought it up until now.

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I decided to break open my piggy bank and use the $12, I had saved, so I could purchase the ExpertPower 14.5″ antenna.

Top: ExpertPower 14.5" Dual Band Antenna; Middle: ExpertPower 7.5" Dual Band Antenna; Bottom: Stock Baofeng 5" Antenna
Top: ExpertPower 14.5″ Dual Band Antenna; Middle: ExpertPower 7.5″ Dual Band Antenna; Bottom: Stock Baofeng 5″ Antenna

In comparison to the stock 5″ BaoFeng antenna, the ExpertPower 14.5″ Antenna is huge. This has to provide a better signal than the tiny rubber ducky antenna.

The procedure to change antennas took 30 seconds and required no tools. If you can twist a knob, you can change the antenna!

Did it Work?

ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios
ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios

I took my BaoFeng outside and tried some frequencies that I could pick up, but not very clearly.

This Antenna allowed me to hear some of them as if I was standing right beside them. Now it didn’t fix all the frequencies, that I had trouble with, but there was a marked improvement on many of them.

I will note, and as you can see from the pictures, this antenna is long, so I might keep the rubber ducky on for general use.

Or, I may use the ExpertPower 7.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna, that I ordered after my success with it’s big brother the 14.5″ version and keep the ExpertPower 14.5″ Antenna, stowed in my backpack (or strapped to the side, if space is an issue).

This way if I need to use comms, and I’m not having any luck, I can switch to the longer antenna as needed.

Was this Upgrade worth $12?

ExpertPower 14.5" DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna
ExpertPower 14.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna

I think the ExpertPower 14.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna was worth every penny of that $12, just as I’m sure that the ExpertPower 7.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna will be worth the $6, that I paid for it.

Update

ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios
ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band SMA-F Antenna for Baofeng Radios

My ExpertPower 7.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna arrived today, and even though it’s only 2″ longer than the stock BaoFeng 5″ antenna, you can tell that it is much better than the stock antenna. I haven’t used it to transmit yet, but if the transmitting benefits as much as the receiving, then the ExpertPower 7.5″ will be used instead of the stock antenna from now on!

Any enhancement that lets me increase my communication abilities may not be valued by money or costs alone, because if I had to use this radio in an emergency, it might make enough of a difference to save a life.

I am pleased with the performance boost, so yes, for $12, I’d buy this Antenna again!

Additional Recommended Baofeng Antennas

Looking for other options? Check out some of these additional product recommendations:

1. Mirkit Foldable Tactical Antenna 18.7 inch

Mirkit Foldable Tactical Antenna

This antenna has an SMA-Female Connector, Dual Band VHF/UHF (136-174MHz, 400-520MHz) for: UV-5R, UV-82, BF-F8HP, UV-5R V2+ Plus, BF-F9 V2+ Two Way Radios.

If you plan to go on camping, hiking, or other outdoor activities, the Mirkit Foldable Tactical Antenna is a good option. Its talk range is > 6.5 miles and you won’t have to worry about it being bulky or the extra space it might consume because it has an adjustable gooseneck that is adjustable and foldable. You can also easily strap it on the outside portion of your bag.

2. Retevis RHD-771 2 Way Radio Antenna Extension Dual Band VHF UHF SMA-F Antenna

Retevis RHD-771 2 Way Radio Antenna Extension Dual Band

You can use this antenna on Retevis H-777 RT5R Baofeng UV-5R 888S Kenwood Walkie Talkies. 

The Retells RHD-771 made of ABS material and uses heat shrinkable sleeves. It is flexible and foldable, allowing you to easily tuck it inside your backpack or strap it outside. It Is approximately 39cm/15.4inch in length and gives your radio a gain of 2.15db and max power of 20W. These features help in significantly boosting the capacity of your radio to transmit and receive signals.

It works well with most of the radio brands in the market, so compatibility is less likely to be an issue. The maximum frequency range it can give is 144-430Mhz, which makes it also a good option for outdoor activities.

3. Walkie Talkie Antenna 15.6-Inch Whip Dual Band UV VHF/UHF 144/430Mhz Antennas SMA-F

Walkie Talkie Antenna 15.6-Inch Whip Dual Band UV VHF:UHF 144:430Mhz Antennas SMA-F for UV-82 UV-B5 GT-3 BF-F8HP UV-5RA UV-5RE UV-5R by LUITON (2 Pack)

This antenna is an updated model. It is almost 16 inches long and is perfect for outdoor usage. Just like the first two product recommendations, this antenna is also durable yet flexible, which also makes it easy to be packed and carried during travel.

It comes with a rubber spacer (just in case you need it) and an extended antenna cover which will protect the base of your radio from outside elements. The maximum frequency range it can give is 144-430MHz. This antenna is compatible with, UV-5R, 888s plus, and UV-82 series.

4. ABBREE SMA-Female Dual Band VHF/UHF 144/430MHz High Gain Soft Whip Foldable CS Tactical Antenna

ABBREE SMA-Female Dual Band VHF:UHF 18.8-inch 144:430MHz High Gain Soft Whip Foldable CS Tactical Antenna for Baofeng UV-5R UV-82 BF-F8HP Ham Two Way Radio

The ABBREE SMA-Female Dual Band is compatible with Baofeng UV-5R UV-82 BF-F8HP ham two-way radio. Its connector type is SMA-Female and gives you a gain of 2.15dBi and a frequency of 144-430MHz.

This is a newer version of a previous model from the same brand. It comes with a new packaging and better quality in terms of additional flexibility to allow more bending and improvements in signal as well.

This antenna is available in six different lengths: 13in, 18.8in, 23.6in, 28.3in, 39.3in, and 42.5in.

5. Authentic Genuine Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip VHF/UHF Antenna SMA-Female

Authentic Genuine Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip VHF:UHF (144:430Mhz) Antenna SMA-Female for BTECH and BaoFeng Radios

The Nagoya NA-771 antenna is compatible with Baofeng and BTECH radios. It is almost 16 inches long and is also a good alternative to improve your radio signal during outdoor activities. Just like the ABBREE antenna previously mentioned, this brand also has a rubber spacer and extended antenna cover included in its kit.

This antenna is flexible yet durable and can withstand tougher usage than thestock antenna your Baofeng radio currently has. Its maximum frequency is 144-430MHz with maximum power of 10 watts. This Nagoya antenna can give your radio a gain of 2.15dBi and is compatible with almost all BTECH and Baofeng models.

How Far Can Your Baofeng UV-5R Transmit?

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R)
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R)

There are a lot of factors that can affect the range of your transmitter. However, with a full battery and when used in full power mode, you should be able to get a decent range of 10 to 20 kilometers. If you are in a big city, you’ll probably get less.

If you want to somehow maximize your transmission range, you can consider using a repeater. The range you’ll get from doing that will depend on the presence of different obstacles.

Is Owning A Baofeng UV-5R Illegal?

If you don’t own a Baofeng UV-5R yet and you’ve been doing your research to see if it’s worth your money, then you’ve probably seen a couple of articles saying that the devices are illegal.

Well, generally speaking, owning a UV-5R isn’t illegal in the United States. It’s how you use it that can get you in trouble.

For example, as a radio amateur, you’re not really allowed to operate it outside of the designated HAM bands. You’re also not allowed to go on certain business frequencies that you’re not authorized to use.

11 COMMENTS

  1. WOW Ham Radio Store. Why don’t you take the time write an article on your experiences? I am sure you have more to share with the rest of us.

  2. I have read some sites that bash the BaoFeng radios… I am just gathering info on what would be the best fit for my needs. I have an ant related question. On the UHF radios I use in my job, if I need to get better reception (in deep woods where line of sight to a repeater is very limited), I would use “comm” wire (like speaker wire), twist it into the base of the antenna and toss the 50′ or so wire in a tree and talk away.. Could one do something similar with this hand held. (My plan is to have a “base” set with as good an antenna as the lightening around here will allow, as I can jump on to the tons of repeaters within the National Forest near my house – to get to my house from work, I will need to move through these woods – hence LOS issues)…
    Thanks,
    ~Blue

  3. What I use for a “Deep Woods” antenna is a “Roll-up” J-pole made from 300 ohm twin-lead TV antenna wire. The J-pole antenna needs no grounding and has a high angle of signal radiation. These are very easy to make or buy off of E-bay. It needs to be made for the VHF / UHF frequency you will be using. With a tennis ball attached to a 60 foot piece of heavy fishing line, you can haul it 30′ or so up a tree. I use 40′ of RG8x coaxial cable with an adapter to connect to my Baofeng HT.
    With this setup I can easily hit repeaters 30 to 40 miles away. For VHF / UHF you need coax with low loss, so stay away from the “mini” type of coax cables on lengths over 10 feet.

    Here is an example from you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USdnLE0tWxw

  4. Adding a tiger tail is easy and will give that handheld a little more umpa if the J pole idea is not feasible. There are many how to’s on the internet.

  5. I just ordered the waterproof Baofeng UV-9R (not a prepper or survivalist yet), so that I could get up to date weather while heading out fishing on the lake (lake St.Clair is nestled North of Windsor towards lake Huron). Will the 14.5″ upgrade fit ? Once I familiarize myself with the hand held ham, will get my license, and use it more often.

    • Paul, I am familiar with your area, and here in Scio Township I have no trouble getting the NOAA weather reports using a Nagoya NA-177 – no counterpoise needed. I have a UV-5RV2+ and it works well on the frequencies which broadcast out of the White Lake NOAA weather station in Adrian.

      Here is a link to help you determine the best frequency to hear them on in your area:

      http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/Maps/PHP/MI.php

      There are a couple of charts that give you the county covered by the stations and the maps show which location is closest to you along with the corresponding frequency for that station.

      I got my Tech license last October after waiting for 40 years as a short wave listener. There is a lot of opportunities waiting for you after you get that license, and I encourage you to get it so you can also get involved in the community service aspect of amateur radio, as well as meet great people who are willing to help you along with your interest in radio.

  6. More o Less, This Boufeng Radio has a tendency to Saturate so much.
    The Brouncasting (88-108Mhz) has Big Impact.
    This Radio is working better with Original Antenna or you need to use the Nitch Filter 88-108Mhz.

    IV3GWX

    pIETRO

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