Baofeng Radios and CHIRP
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Baofeng Radios and CHIRP

This is a discussion on Baofeng Radios and CHIRP within the Communications forums, part of the Urban and Rural Survival category; In light of current events I suspect Baofeng radios are flying off the shelves. I'm just throwing out a few thoughts for someone who bought ...

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Thread: Baofeng Radios and CHIRP

  1. #1
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    Baofeng Radios and CHIRP

    In light of current events I suspect Baofeng radios are flying off the shelves. I'm just throwing out a few thoughts for someone who bought a Baofeng and they're not sure how to use it.

    The manual that comes in the box is worthless but if you search for 'Baofeng UV-5R manual' you'll find several good manuals in PDF.

    The stock antenna is pretty marginal but there are lots of affordable options for a better one like the 18" ABBREE. Having a Mag-Mount antenna is a good idea if your going to use the radio inside a car/truck. Just about any dual band antenna with a female SMA connector will work. Homemade antennas are typically even better.

    Baofeng's are solid enough radios, especially for the price, but the chargers can be a problem. Having an extra charger is a good idea. You can also get accessories that let you charge from a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug or replace the battery with pack that uses AA batteries.

    A programming cable is a must. You can program the radio from the keypad but it's a huge PITA. There are two types of programming cables: the ones that come with a CD which are also a huge PITA, and the cables that don't require a CD. The cables that don't require a desk are a little more expensive but they work right out of the box and are worth the extra few bucks.

    The best (and it's free) programing software is CHIRP. There a loads of videos on how to use it but it's pretty much just a spreadsheet where you can add frequencies (and much more) to a memory channel on the radio.

    CHIRP also lets you setup the radios settings and open up the Baofeng's frequency limits so you can use it outside of the ham bands, like on FRS/GMRS frequencies. ...it's illegal to use a Baofeng on FRS/GMRS frequencies but if your not being a jerk nobody will ever know.

    There are lots of 'must have' frequencies every prepper should have programmed in their radio before things get really bad. If your in a prepper group you should have, at least, a basic set of common frequencies and a plan on how your going to use them.

    If you 'group buy' radios for your group/family the price drops from about $25 each to about $20 each. Having a 6 pack of radios charged and programmed is a pretty solid idea. Keep one in each vehicle and each BOB and have a few spares to hand out to folks you want to stay in touch with.

    There are good methods for encryption (that belong on a different thread) but take what you see on the internet with a grain of salt. Many of the "methods" I've seen being suggested are pure fantasy.

    Waiting until the SHTF to learn how to use your radio is like waiting until your in a gun fight to learn how to your weapon

    Others will have different/better/additional thoughts, this is just my two cents.

  2. #2
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    Got one headed my way. Should have it come in two days. Expect a lot of questions and cussing from me.
    "Reality is almost always wrong."
    Dr. Gregory House

  3. #3
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    I have 2 of the UV5R baofeng radio's the manual is not totally useless. I found the menu setting charts quite useful. And I did just fine without the programing cable and chirp. Download the "Repeater book" app and then enter in some frequency's for 2m and 70cm No license needed to listen in and get to know your way around.
    Denton likes this.
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  5. #4
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    If you only have a couple of radios and you only need a couple of freqs you don't need a programming cable. But if you want to get all the advantage out of the radio you can, you'll have a whole lot more freqs programmed and a lot of those will be outside the Baofengs pre-programmed band limits. If you want to open up the radios band limits you need a programming cable.

    If you only want to keep in touch with a few folks things are a lot simpler. But if you want to go full-blown, zombie apocalypses the humble little Baofeng is capable of handling most of what you need.

    A short list of handy freqs FWIW... (all of these freqs are available on the internet except the freqs you pick yourself)

    ---with a few mouse clicks CHIRP will download all the repeater info you need right to your radio---
    All the local repeaters for the areas you usually hang out in.
    All the repeaters along the route to your "retreat" location.
    All the repeaters on the evacuation routes out of your area.
    The regular UHF and VHF national calling freqs
    The Non-Aligned Prepper national calling freqs
    Interop freqs for any groups you stay in contact with.
    The 7 National Weather Service freqs
    22 FRS/GMRS freqs
    5 MURS freqs
    NOAA weather satellite freqs if you want to pull down you own satellite weather
    6 or 8 freqs out of the NIFOG (National Interoperability Field Operations Guide) if you want to keep an ear on the government
    -fire
    -law enforcement
    -medical
    -search and rescue
    -etc.
    If you have an established group in your area:
    -group calling freq
    -freqs for encrypted info
    -freqs for group nets
    -separate freqs for the different digital modes
    -rolling freqs that change at specific times
    -X/D freqs to isolate different folks if they've been compromised or someone lost a radio.
    -etc.
    Last edited by NMPRN; 01-11-2021 at 01:38 PM. Reason: typo

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMPRN View Post
    If you only have a couple of radios and you only need a couple of freqs you don't need a programming cable. But if you want to get all the advantage out of the radio you can, you'll have a whole lot more freqs programmed and a lot of those will be outside the Baofengs pre-programmed band limits. If you want to open up the radios band limits you need a programming cable.

    If you only want to keep in touch with a few folks things are a lot simpler. But if you want to go full-blown, zombie apocalypses the humble little Baofeng is capable of handling most of what you need.

    A short list of handy freqs FWIW... (all of these freqs are available on the internet except the freqs you pick yourself)

    ---with a few mouse clicks CHIRP will download all the repeater info you need right to your radio---
    All the local repeaters for the areas you usually hang out in.
    All the repeaters along the route to your "retreat" location.
    All the repeaters on the evacuation routes out of your area.
    The regular UHF and VHF national calling freqs
    The Non-Aligned Prepper national calling freqs
    Interop freqs for any groups you stay in contact with.
    The 7 National Weather Service freqs
    22 FRS/GMRS freqs
    5 MURS freqs
    NOAA weather satellite freqs if you want to pull down you own satellite weather
    6 or 8 freqs out of the NIFOG (National Interoperability Field Operations Guide) if you want to keep an ear on the government
    -fire
    -law enforcement
    -medical
    -search and rescue
    -etc.
    If you have an established group in your area:
    -group calling freq
    -freqs for encrypted info
    -freqs for group nets
    -separate freqs for the different digital modes
    -rolling freqs that change at specific times
    -X/D freqs to isolate different folks if they've been compromised or someone lost a radio.
    -etc.
    I put in manually exactly what I wanted. Yes it took a little time but it's good practice to learn how to use the radio without chirp and the cable.

    Pick the frequencys you want https://www.radioreference.com/
    "The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath." W. C. Fields
    You can find me at the Hidden Content

  7. #6
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    Just want to say I appreciate this thread.

  8. #7
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    One very very very very important fact that is rarely mentioned about the programming cables: They require a driver. They're not just plain-jane USB cables. They have circuit boards in them that need to communicate both to your computer and the radio. Without the proper driver, you can't program the radio.

    What driver to get and where? If you're lucky, your computer will search, download and install it automatically when you plug the cable in. If not,.... well, there's a website for that. Which driver to download? I didn't bother determining which one.... I just downloaded all of them and called it a day.
    My New Years' Resolution is 240p.
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  9. #8
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    Using CHIRP I programed 200 Baofeng radios for work. If you have a lot of repeaters in your location, I understand using chirp. For non-technical personnel it helps using CHIRP to program the frequencies by channels. Locally we have 4 repeaters, if they are working. I personal enter the frequencies I need on my radios as I need them, that way I can remember how to enter the frequencies, offsets and tones. This system works great on the ICOM V-80, U-80 and the Wouxun KG-UV3D radios that make-up my system. For me, I consider chirp another tool in the toolbox. de KA5SIW

  10. #9
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    Me and my neighborhood prep/security group all snagged a few Baofeng radios for each of our households. I was in charge of programming, though I'm a relative newbie to Ham. I actually bribed a buddy who I used to work with. He's a Ham geek, and works in local government emergency management. He's got all the cool frequencies, and gave me a crash course (and lent me a program cable, though I later purchased my own). All this cost me lunch at a local bar/grill.

    Here's one suggestion: If the SHTF, it's possible you'll have to rally neighbors to support in security details, and many people have FRS and GMRS radios (bubble walkie talkies that run standard 1-22 channels). My group got all their radios programed with these freqs in the 1-22 spots to coincide with the FRS channels that might be used by other supporting neighbors. We have a number of business (MURS) channels for our own private security communications. If the SHTF, I'm not counting on repeaters...

    We did get all the local emergency services freqs programmed in, along with a number of common repeaters my buddy recommended. I also got a number of local and national mutual aid frequencies that will likely be used in cases of major disaster (to coordinate between agencies).

  11. #10
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    A good rule of thumb (at least from my experience): the $5 programming cables use the old chips (Prolific PL-2303 or counterfeits) and can be a real challenge to get working. The $25 cables with the FTDI chip work right out of the box (if the ad doesn't specifically say it has the FTDI chip it probably doesn't).

    I maintain a lot of radios in my 'area,' each radio has a lot channels programmed. The list of programmed freqs changes fairly often to stay in sync with other 'areas' we keep in touch with. Trying to keep those radios current with manual programming would be a full time job and there would be lots of errors.

 

 
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