It makes sense that your handheld radio should be able to take the place of multiple radios. Want to add all the channels you need quickly and easily? Let’s program a Baofeng Radio with CHIRP software to get the job done.
Program a Baofeng Radio with CHIRP
The Baofeng handheld radios are inexpensive but cover many frequencies, making them the Swiss Army Knives of the budget ham radio community.
We’re going to program a Baofeng radio with CHIRP software.
The BaoFeng UV5R, is an amazing, yet economically priced radio. It can cover a multitude of channels and frequencies.
The Bands these cover (Not all of these are legal to broadcast on, but listening should be fine – see FCC Part 95 Rules)
- 2 Meter
- 70 cm
- FRS (Family Radio Service)
- GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)
- MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service)
- Marine VHF
- Public service Frequencies
- NOAA Weather Band
- FM radio (listen only)
That is quite a list of frequencies. While it’s not legal to transmit on all these frequencies if your not a HAM or if the device isn’t approved on the FCC Part 95, that really won’t apply after SHTF. I’d take an FCC fine over death any day!
Preparing to Program Your BaoFeng
I recommend CHIRP, to program your BaoFeng, so this post will refer to that software. CHIRP is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux, so regardless of your operating system, you are covered.
Download the version you need and install it.
Before you can program your radio with CHIRP, you’ll need the BaoFeng USB programming cable.
I did NOT use the driver disk that came with the usb cable, instead I grabbed the drivers over at https://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php (an awesome BaoFeng informational page).
Download and install the proper drivers for your USB cable (probably Prolific).
Programming Your BaoFeng
Open/Run CHIRP, connect your BaoFeng and plug it into an USB port on your computer.
First you’ll need to pull a copy of the existing config from your radio.
In CHIRP, select RADIO > Download From Radio
You’ll need to give CHIRP some information about your radio and what COM Port (or which /dev/XXXX in Linux and Mac OS) it’s connected to.
Once this step has been completed, it should list any channels that you have already programmed into memory.
Now in CHIRP go to FILE > Open Stock Config and Select the group of channels that you’d like to add to your BaoFeng (This seems to be missing on the Mac OS version of CHIRP, fear not, I’ve included most of these “channels” in baofeng-freqs.csv )
In this screenshot, I have opened Marine VHF Channels
You can select the channels or all channels using the hot-key combinations for your OS
Windows (and most Linux systems unless you’ve remapped stuff)
- Select all = CTRL + A (keys on your keyboard)
- Select individual Channels = CTRL + mouse click
- Select Range of Channels = Mouse click to highlight start then, SHIFT + mouse click on the last in the range that you’d like to select
Then CTRL + C (or EDIT > COPY ) to copy the selected channels
Switch back to your BaoFeng Tab
Click on the first unoccupied channel and then select EDIT > PASTE (or CTRL + V) to paste in the previously copied channels from the Stock Config into your Radio’s Config
If you you don’t have enough channel slots, you can add more (Baofeng supports up to 128 memory channels, 0-127)
This is how my BaoFeng Config looks after adding FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine VHF, and NOAA weather (Note: channel 0 is not programmed and channel 1 is my local HAM club’s repeater)
Now you just have to upload this config back to your radio. Select RADIO > Upload to Radio and CHIRP will write it to your BaoFeng’s memory.
Alternative Options for the non-nerdy
- You still need to do Step 1 (download your radio’s config) above
- Download this config (minus my Local Repeater): baofeng-freqs.csv
Remember where you downloaded this file to (Desktop?).
- Perform Step 3A to adjust the number of channels, you’ll need to set this to 60 or 61.
- Then in CHIRP Select FILE > Import and import that baofeng-freqs.csv file that you just saved someplace (I told you to remember where you saved it)
- Now do Step 4 from above to write this config to your Baofeng
Now your trusty BaoFeng UV5R has all the FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine VHF and NOAA weather channels programmed in it and you still have 68 channels left for your 2 Meter and 70 cm frequencies. I suggest that you pick up a copy of the ARRL Repeater Directory and program in some of the repeaters in your area!