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 UV-5R 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. CHIRP is free open source software anyone can download.
It’s used for programming a wide range of amateur radios of different makes and models, and in multiple formats and data sources. It offers an easy to use interface compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux PC’s.
The BaoFeng UV-5R, is an amazing, yet economically priced radio. It can cover a multitude of channels and frequencies. In this post w
The Bands Covered (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 you are 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.
Be sure you buy a cable from a reputable dealer and not a cheap knock off, or you will risk frying something.
I recommend the above cable since it is sold by BaoFeng and works great with the included FTDI chipset.
This cable is plug’n play and should not require separate drivers, but another option is to download the drivers over at Miklor.com, (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 to your computer.
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.
Side Tip: If you are using a UV-5R variant keep in mind this configuration setting will cover a number of the variants (such as UV-5RE Plus).
If there is confusion on this, you can find which models are covered and which you should pick on the CHIRP website.
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
Side Tip: To import from other data sources other than from the stock config, go to Radio from the radio drop down and select Import from other data sources.
Some options available may be RadioReference.com, RepeaterBook, RFFinder, etc. RepeaterBook is the easiest way to import repeater info for your location.
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)
Side Tip: Since it is illegal to transmit from a BaoFeng using FRS and GMRS but you still wanted to import those channels for receiving, you can disable transmission capabilities.
To proceed, click (none) under the Duplex column for frequency you want to disable TX. Then select off from the drop down box.
This will ensure you never accidentally TX on these channels, while still allowing you to receive.
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.
Use the same configuration settings that were used during the initial clone (we did above). You’ll see receive light instead of a send indicator light.
To verify the radio is programmed, switch to Channe/Memory mode, then go up to A frequency and you should be able to scroll through and view the frequencies you added.
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!
This video will show essentially what we did in this tutorial, but is using Mac OS for those who want that perspective. Note, the software interface and process is essentially the same as using a PC (Windows) computer.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you program your BaoFeng using CHIRP and you are left with fewer questions and more knowledge.
If you’d like to see more ham radio programming tutorials, or you have questions on programming your BaoFeng, please leave your comment below.