A quick look at the Baofeng UV-5R

When I decided to get my amateur license, I did a lot of reading before deciding on what radio to buy. Based on a lot of negative things I found written about Baofeng radios, I decided to get a Yaesu VX-60R. It’s a nice radio, but finally the low price of the UV-5R (less than $30 on Amazon) was to much to resist, so I got one just to check it out. For $26, I am pretty impressed.

First, I’ll get the “bad” out of the way. According to some sources, Baofeng radios are prone to spurious rf emissions and/or transmitting out of band. I’m not a radio tech and I don’t have a spectrum analyzer, so I’m unable to test mine to see if it suffers from this problem. I know that I get good signal reports, both in simplex mode and when hitting the local repeaters. Another alleged problem is receiver selectivity/sensitivity. This also hasn’t been a problem for me, but radio traffic where I live is pretty sparse. The final issue is warranty coverage. The only company offering US-based warranty support for Baofeng radios appears to be BaofengTech, and they don’t carry all models. If your radio isn’t one they do, it will have to go back to China if warranty work is needed.

OK, so now for the good. First of all, it’s less than $30. For that price you also get a charger with drop-in charging tray (something that is a $40 extra for the much more expensive VX-6R). It’s a dual band transceiver (2m and 70cm) and can also receive FM broadcast band. There are 200 memory channels and it has a built in flash light. Battery life with the included lithium ion (1500 maH) battery seems better than my VX-6R as well. The only thing you’ll need to make the UV-5R useful is a programming cable and Chirp programming software. You’ll have to buy the cable, but Chirp is free.

Programming and using the UV-5R is easy. First, just plug in the programming cable, fire up Chirp (you can ignore the warning message about Baufeng’s firmware), set up your channels/frequencies, and you’re ready to rock. If you don’t know what frequencies to put in, contact your local amateur radio group for a list of local repeaters which will give you a good start. Power is controlled by a power/volume knob on top of the radio, which is also something I like better than the power button on the VX-6R. The orange VFO button controls frequency/channel mode, and the up and down arrows step you through your stored frequencies or channels. The numeric keypad lets you manually enter a frequency in VFO mode or a channel if in Channel mode. There can be a lot more to it, but that’s all I’ve had time to play with so far and anyway I like to keep things as simple as possible.

Bottom line? I really like this radio. It’s easy to program, easy to use, and the built in flashlight is nice to have. It’s not as solidly built as the VX-6R, but it also didn’t cost $265. Considering the price and what you get, the UV-5R is an incredibly good value.

What are you prepping for?

If you want to get strange looks, suspicious glances, maybe even see people physically recoil, just casually mention to friends or family that you’re a prepper or at least interested in prepping. I get funny looks from both my wife and my mom whenever the subject comes up. I know sometimes prepping gets a bad rap, but of all people you’d think my mom and my wife would know I’m not a “crazy”…

The first time happened when I told my wife I wanted to get five cases of distilled water. She couldn’t imagine why we needed it, after all we have tap water. I asked her what happened if something went wrong with the tap.

“Well, if that happens we’ll just go to the store and get some then. Besides, you don’t have room to store it.”

So I explained that if everyone went to the store at the same time to get water as us, the store might be out of water and we wouldn’t have any.

“Oh come on. That’s not going to happen.”

So I asked her if she didn’t think it was a good idea to have some water on hand just in case, to, you know, be prepared?

“Prepared for what?”

The next time happened when we visited my mom. I’d just gotten a copy of Preppers Blueprint and I took it along to read. My mom noticed the book and asked what it was. I told her it’s a book on prepping.

“What is prepping?”

So I told her a little about it and why I am interested in it.

“Oh, what are you prepping for?

Well, what am I prepping for? First of all, I’m not a doomsday prepper. I don’t believe there is a coming zombie apocalypse, and if there is large scale nuclear war I think I’d be better off at Ground Zero than living through it and dealing with the aftermath. That’s just me, YMMV.

I’m more into prepping for things that are likely to actually happen to me or my family. Boring things like what if there’s a major snow storm and I have to get home from work, pick up my kid from school, and make sure my wife can get home safely from her job. Or the power going out for a few hours or a few days. Silly things like fixing a stuck toilet valve (do you have any idea how much it costs to get a plumber just to take a look?). I’m prepped for a house fire. Major illness. Financially, I’m taking steps to make sure we could survive either or both of us losing our jobs. Putting a plan in place to communicate with family and friends even if the internet is down and the cell phones aren’t working.

When I think about it, most of what I’m doing to prep wouldn’t have been called “prepping” 30 years ago, it was just what people did back then so it didn’t even have a name. I guess if you’d asked somebody to call it something back then, they might have just called it “common sense.” So maybe I’m not really prepping at all, I’m just practicing “common sense” – which doesn’t seem to be very common these days. Maybe that’s why id needs a special name. It’s not an action, it’s just a mindset that leads me to do certain things. And even though I’m not prepping for TEOTWAWKI, I think my mindset and the things I do because of that mindset will help me and my family survive most big events that could happen. Well, except maybe a zombie apocalypse or large scale nuclear war.

So, what are YOU prepping for?