Home Communications Best BaoFeng Ham Radio Antenna Upgrade: UV-5R & BF-F8HP

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

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?

BaoFeng Antenna Upgrade

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

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.

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.


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!

How to Manually Program Your Baofeng UV-5R

Baofeng UV-5R
Baofeng UV-5R

In today’s market, the Baofeng UV-5R is considered as one of the most popular choices when it comes to dual-band handheld two-way radios. And that doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how compact, affordable, and feature-packed it is.

The only downside to this device is how hard it can be to program. The user manual is a bit poorly written and if you do find difficulty in setting it up, the lack of support from its manufacturer can be a huge problem.

So, how do you manually program it for a simplex channel?

The first thing you need to do is press the VFO/MR and get into Frequency Mode. Then, press [A/B] and pick the A-side.

If you choose the B side, the one on the lower display, your channels won’t be displayed.

Next, toggle [BAND] and choose 470MHz or 136 MHz. Choosing the incorrect band will cancel the operation.

Make sure the disable the TDR or Dual Watch/Dual Standby.

baofeng UV-5R 1
BaoFeng BF-F8HP

Use your keypad to key in the frequency into your radio and assign it to a channel. 

If you need to program your radio for a repeater channel, you will have to follow the same steps above. After disabling the TDR, you’ll need to use the keypad to key in the repeater output (receiving) frequency as well as the repeater frequency offset.

Then, remember to enter your Transmit Frequency Shift by pressing [MENU] 25 [MENU] and choose 1 for positive shift and 2 for negative.

Assign and enter the channel number. After that, you can press the scan button to initiate the Reverse Mode and put the transmit frequency on display.

Key in the same memory channel you saved previously and press the scan button again to exit.

In case you need to add several channels, you can do the steps above. Your Baofeng UV-5R should be able to let you program up to 128 channels.

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.


  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)…

  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:


      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.




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