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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.