Letter: Getting Practical and Tactical With Baofeng Hand-Helds, by Wrangler

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:

Imagine for a moment that you are a licensed ham, operating in a tactical situation, observing your target. It is pitch black outside, and suddenly a team member calls you on the radio. Your radio goes “beep” and the screen lights up so brightly that you can be seen for half a mile. That is not a good situation!

One very popular hand-held radio available in the U.S. is the Chinese-made Baofeng UV-5R handheld dual-band transceiver. They cover two bands: 136-174MHz and 400-519.995 MHz. These hand-helds are mass-produced, so they are often bargain
priced at less than $35. There is also an iSaddle upgrade version of the UV-5R with a larger battery pack (3,800 MaH), available for under $40.

These radios are basic, and have their drawbacks. The default programming settings do not have tactical use in mind. But there are adjustments you can make to your programming to correct the aforementioned issues along with several other recommendations to make your radio a more “Tactical” hand-held VHF transceiver.

1. Reduce the transmit power level. There is no reason to be transmitting your signals any farther than you need to.

– You can lower the transmit power level by pressing the “#” key until you see a “L” in the display. Absence of the “L” indicates High power. (Note: 8 watt units have L, M, H, settings)

2. Replace that 16 inch aftermarket flex antenna with either the stock antenna or better yet, purchase a soft “stubby” antenna. True, that longer antenna will get you better
performance, but, catching your antenna on something and breaking it off just rendered your radio totally useless. The shorter one will work just fine in a tactical situation.

3. Turn off the “BEEP” tone.

– Press “MENU”, “8”, “MENU”, then press the “UP Arrow” until the display says ”OFF”, Press “MENU”, then “EXIT”.

4. Turn off “VOICE”.

– Press “MENU”, “14”, “MENU”, then press the “UP Arrow”until the display says ”OFF”, Press “MENU”, then “EXIT”.

5. Turn off the display backlight.

– Press “MENU”, “29”, “MENU”, then press the “UP Arrow”until the display says ”OFF”, Press “MENU”, then “EXIT”.

– Press “MENU”, “30”, “MENU”, then press the “UP Arrow”until the display says ”OFF”, Press “MENU”, then “EXIT”.

– Press “MENU”, “31”, “MENU”, then press the “UP Arrow”until the display says ”OFF”, Press “MENU”, then “EXIT”.

6. Purchase a sturdy aftermarket speaker/microphone. (The ones supplied with radio Baofeng are inferior and will fail after very little use.)

7. Don’t rely on the factory-supplied belt clip to keep your radio on your person. (In rigorous field use, that will surely mean either a broken clip or a lost radio.) Instead, use a sturdy aftermarket case.

For more information: I am a big fan of the MIKLOR.COM web site for information on Baofeng radios. There, you can find almost everything you ever wanted to know about these radios, from programming to troubleshooting.

Closing Note: The aforementioned programming changes can also be made by “offboard” by using either the Baofeng programming software or the CHIRP programming software.