Rounding-Out Your Baofeng UV-5Rs

Final implementation of the dual-band UV-5R importation and sales ban (previously detailed in SurvivalBlog) is now just one month away. I’m confident that the majority of SurvivalBlog readers in the U.S. were cognizant of this and have stocked up on these radios, in quantity. But now I must ask: Are you ready to operate them, practically, long-term? This will surely require a few spares and accessories. The good news is that the accessories fully interchange, and most of them are quite inexpensive. By the way, this runs contrary to a SurvivalBlog aphorism: “Life is cheap, but the accessories will kill you.”  Thankfully in this case the accessories won’t  break the bank.

Here are what I’d recommend, for UV-5R Handie-Talkie (H/T) spares and accessories:

    • One spare H/T, for every three that you plan to operate. (Inevitably, some will end up getting dunked, stepped on, lost, stolen, or otherwise meet their fated doom.)
    • One spare earpiece/mike, per H/T,
    • One “speakermike” handset, per H/T, but only if you plan to operate with a H/T strapped to your belt, harness, or plate carrier, and you prefer a handset over a earphone/mike.
    • One or two spare battery packs, per H/T. (Particularly important in cold weather, where you’ll want to keep a spare in a warm inner coat pocket, enclosed in a small zip-lock bag.)
    • A possible upgrade to an extended battery pack, for each H/T.
    • One spare back belt clip, for every 2 or 3 H/Ts. (These are fairly fragile!)
A Note on 12-Volt Chargers

You should also consider getting a few voltage-regulated 12 VDC vehicular chargers. Set them for 9 volts, since Baofeng UV-5Rs can be damaged or destroyed by excess charging voltage. (Their maximum is 10 volts.) One of the several plugs that come with these will be compatible with your existing charging cradles. Once you’ve selected the correct plug, confirm the correct polarity and then securely tape it on, so that it doesn’t get lost or reversed. And I recommend taking this a step further and replacing the charger’s cigarette lighter plugs with Anderson Power Pole connectors.

Keep in mind that these accessories are not being banned, so put the highest priority on buying the radios themselves, before September 1st, 2019.  The accessories can wait.  But coincidentally, blog reader James H. wrote to mention a big H/Ts plus accessories package deal available from one Amazon seller: BaoFeng Radio UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio (6 Pack) + 6 NA-771 Antennas and Speaker Mics + 12 1800mah Batteries + Programming Cable.

Some Tips for Practical Use

As far as practical use, I’m sure that the hams who read SutrvivalBlog will want to chime in, down in the comments. They’ll have a lot of tips and tricks that make these more comfortable and useful to operate. But here are just a few, to get this conversation started:

  • Zip-lock plastic bags will be you friends, in keeping both the H/Ts and the accessories dry and organized, when out in a field environment.
  • Zip-Lock bags are also a must for storing your manual and programming cheat sheets.
  • As your first bit of programming, I recommend programming-out the annoying “roger beep” that comes set by default.
  • Changing antennas may seem a little tricky, at first. This is because the UV-5R uses a reverse SMA connector–so you may find that it is easier to hang on to the antenna (or antenna cable) and turn the radio rather than turn the antenna or cable. This does take a bit of getting used to.
  • If you are planning to use one of your UV-5Rs as a last ditch back-up to your home ham radio base station, then you will want to get a reverse SMA antenna connector adapter, if you have a different sort of antenna cable arrangement. (For example: reverse SMA-to-BNC, reverse SMA-to-PL-259, or whatever.)
  • If you are planning to use one of your UV-5Rs as a back-up to your multi-band scanner, then you may want to get an external speaker, and audio splitter and an apropos audio cable to connect to your digital recorder (or laptop or other device with which you record audio.) Be sure to to check for matching impedance for the recorder input.
  • Carry a roll of opaque electrical tape. This is useful for securing excess earpiece wire, for covering up panel lights, et cetera.
  • Remember: Operate with minimal power and the smallest antenna practicable to get your traffic though, to avoid interception.

Once again, the full import and sales ban goes into effect September 1st, 2019, so the clock is ticking. – JWR


  1. Well, it is late and I’ve got to finish fabrication of a homemade transmission jack, but I’ve got to jump in and alert Baofengs users not to use a 12vdc jack for the Baofeng chargers, it will fry the charger at some point, if not immediately. It may tolerate 12.6 volts for awhile, but if the car is started, the vehicle’s alternator will charge the vehicle’s battery at 14.1 to 14.5 volts, and the Baofeng charger is only designed for 10 vdc. I have many 12 vdc cigarette lighter plug in transformers that use a step down to voltages the Baofeng can use. I bot these at thrift stores. The Baofeng charger will charge the radio’s battery with 8.5 volts slowly, and perhaps not to 100% capacity, but it will do it safely, and in fact the battery may last longer if it constantly on stand by in a charger. Closer to 10vdc is best for a full charge. Universal cigarette lighter adapter usually have a selection of voltage settings from 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9 and 12 vdc. Choose the 9 volt setting and the charger will charge the Baofeng adequately. If the charger is broke (fried), simple remove the transistors inside the charger base and wire the adapter directly to the pins that make the contact with radio’s battery when docked. Another option the universal power adapter has is a selection of plug ends that one choose. One of the optional plugs will plug directly into the 3800ma extended battery. So there are three reasons to get a universal 12vdc cigarette adapter, and I can think of more. Most if not all of my scanners, and radios are adapted to run directly off 12vdc, so that my small pile of excellent Eneloop batteries do not have to be used for that purpose. Of course the thrift store only charged me 50 cents to a buck a piece.

    Here is an example [of a 12 vdc charger] for $14.00

    Real quick, two more tips.

    Use black or other dark color nail polish to ‘black out the led flashlight option, or better yet, artfully or not, apply a layer and cap of JB Weld, or other epoxy over the buttons, above and below the PTT button. This effectively keeps the user from setting off the alarm and light. If you have to have the flashlight option someday, use your K-bar, or pen knife to pry off the cap.

    As far as antenna adapter for the Baofeng, I standardized on the SMA female to UHf, or the alternate description, the SMA female to SO 239 adapter that accepts the ubiquitous PL259 cable end, typically used on vehicle radio antennas. Get this adapter and a Tram 1181 dual band mag mount antenna that is already tuned for 2 meter and MURS frequencies. It is not tuned well for 70cm, but can be. It is very broad banded and most useful on VHF, allowing the Baofeng to be used closer to it’s potential on VHF. The UHF will operate on GMRS as well as the business [band frequencies], but always check every installation with a VSWR meter. Also check every Nagoya 771 antenna with a SWR meter. I have trashed handfuls of counterfeit Nagoyas, and prefer the stock Baofeng antenna, A-V85, only $6. Test rubber ducky antennas using a RP SMA to PL259 adapter. The Nagoya 771’s that showed very high SWR across the entire VHF, also did have better range than the stock Baofeng. With a short duty cycle, the Baofeng will heat up fast. Using an antenna with a high SWR will heat up the finals even faster. Yes, it can transmit and receive at greater ranges, but it will fry your radio faster too. The stock A-V85 is a safe and effective enough antenna that is not too long and is cheap to replace, and performs much better than the other stock Baofeng antenna that are junk. SWR should test good 144 to 154Mhz.

    Tram 1181

  2. You mentioned stocking up on a programming cable, but you should also include a PC to do the programming. I have an inexpensive refurbished laptop stored in an EMP-protected case that I pre-installed CHiRP on, along with hundreds of database downloads from, manuals, etc.

    1. Raspberry PI’s are dirt cheap, can run CHiRP, and all kinds of packet software. They are about 3″x4″x2″ and range from 1GB to 4GB ram. Downside, you should know something about Linux. Perfect for EMP cans. All kinds of monitors from tiny direct attach 2″ touch screens to full HDMI monitors can be used with it.

      Everything but the monitor cost be under $100 and comes with 4GB ram.

  3. Is there a way to set these radios up to communicate over a range of 5-10 miles reliably, so that different folks in a MAG could communicate? (There would be a lot of trees but not much elevation between these two points.)

    1. I found that my Baofeng GT-3 radios (very similar) with the Nagoya 771 antennas were able to transmit and receive reliably and clearly over about 7 miles with a lot of trees and rough terrain between.

    2. Antennas are the the way to get that done. Copper pipe j-poles are easy to make, but require an air choke of coil of coaxial cable to have a good SWR, therefore I recommend the slim jim for folks without that background. Copper is expensive today, so it is cheaper to buy the antenna. If the MAG is using MURS then buy this antenna for $45:

      To make the slim jim perform at it’s best, mount it at least 20 feet high and use RG-8x coaxial, or a lower loss cable to feed it. I’ve hit repeaters 80 miles away with a Baofeng using a home made slim jim. It has at least as much gain as the J-pole, but has a much broader band width, about 8 -10 Mhz, instead of the J-pole’s 4 Mhz, and it is broad enough that it can be tuned for 2 meter and the first 3 MURS frequencies. They are also rugged and require no ground, and easier to mount than the excellent roll up ladder line variety made N9TAX. The signal/noise ratio is low, and it picks up weak signals better than a 1/4 wave as well.

      Try one antenna, and note the improvements. Determine the weakest station in your circuit, and if necessary, install an antenna there as well. It must be by trail and error to find out. It may be necessary to use a mobile that has more power, yet there can be a learning curve. And It may be necessary to learn how to relay messages as well which is not optimal. If members are not inclined to install a slim jim, see if installing a Tram 1181 mag mount on the refrigerator will work. If not, they can also use that antenna on the POV (personally own vehicle). If you are the controlling station, or in effect, the central station/dispatch, it may best to install a slim jim has high as possible on the roof as possible and use a LMR 400 cable. Even if you have a mobile that puts out 70 watts, it may not hear the weak signal of a Baofeng without a good antenna. Antennas are under appreciated. Another advantage and reason to install the best antenna you can is use it to hear. If you have set up a Baofeng to scan MURS, GMRS, and FRS, this slim jim will pick the weak signals of possible threats. FRS radios are very short distant, but with a external antenna on a scanner, the odds of hearing them in the area, at a distance of miles, are far greater. There are many reasons to have a good antenna.

    3. To speed up the process, do a survey yourself by transmitting to your base station. Go around to your neighbors locations, and attempt to contact your home station. Use various antennas, and see what does not work, and what works and how well. If on your own, use a VOX operated recorder, digital or not. State location, time, and conditions, antenna type, and useful information in a format. Survey the entire area if you can. Know where the ‘dead spots’ are, and record all findings on map of your area. Determine the maximum usable distances on all avenues of approach, first roads, then foot paths etc. You may need this handy when establishing OPs (observation posts), for road blocks, and planning patrol routes etc.

    4. On 2 meters, 70cm it’s all about the antenna. These frequencies are basically line of site. You can make a simple hack that turns your HT (Baofeng or other) antenna into a dipole. its called a rat-tail. It will improve rx/tx on the radios, but not really the distance. In other words, near the end of range the signal will be stronger, but the distance won’t really increase.

      Get the antenna high and you extend the range. Remember, people make contact with the international space station on 5w because it’s line of sight. There’s nothing stopping you from using rope using to get a long coax attached antenna up a tree.

  4. I would love to see an article about manually programming the radios. I have watched five or six YouTube videos about how to do it and am still confused about some functions on the menu. Simplex programming is relatively easy, but I still am confused with duplex communication via repeaters. A link to a REALLY good video would also be appreciated.

  5. With these radios and any other radio be it a base, mobile, or HT, I recommend you learn how to manually program the radio. If out in the field you may need to program a different frequency/repeater into the radio and you may not have access to a computer with CHRIPS.

  6. Living in an area known for plenty of precipitation, I worried about water resistance. For my UV5R HTs, I found silicone rubber cases for them to supplement water resistance. I have one for every Transceiver plus a few spares. There are many colors available, but most are very bright. There is even a camoflage color with a relatively bright green and black pattern. I opted for plain black since I run mine in pouches typically.

    SainSonic Two Way Radio Protection Soft Case for Baofeng UV-5R, UV5R+, UV-5RE Plus

  7. As per your recommendation last month, I purchased an additional 2 pk. of radios through your Amazon link to add to my existing 3 H/T’s.

    Here are three additional recommendations to add:

    1) an H-250 Military type handset (don’t know if this is the ‘speakermic’ you mentioned and thanks to NC Scout at for the recommendation)

    2) and several Anti-Static bags for storage of any electronics (radios’ laptops’ thumb drives, etc. available in an assortment of different sizes.)

    3) and maybe some aLocSak’s for heavy duty weatherproofing (several sizes to choose from)×12

  8. The BTech mobiles aren’t mentioned but I assume they would be affected.
    These are 25w or 50w and run off vehicle power so you might want a “base station

  9. I would recommend two alkaline battery packs per user so if you have two people using your radios each has a replacement ready to go. Also recomnend Baofeng battery eliminators, at least one per car with backups in the event of failure. Get an antenna for your car as a metal roof will decrease your transmit range.

  10. The 3600ma batteries are another good idea AND a spare charging cradle / base. I found out the hard way that you do not want to reverse the polarity on that charging base or the “magic smoke ” will escape. ALWAYS check the polarity before you apply the 10 volts to the charging base

  11. We bought the radios. Getting up to speed on the tips scrolled here (thanks for the many responses that have rich content). Meanwhile, what does “interception” mean ? If we don’t talk, but just listen, can we be detected ? If we do talk, can we be detected and how ? Please elaborate from someone with experience.

  12. Short answer: “Intercept” means ‘heard’, or ‘detected’ by anyone, or discovered by a dedicated listening station, or station that performs SIGINT (signals intelligence). Always assume that someone is listening, and that they are collecting over time, any and all information contained in your transmissions. I will be listening if I have the manpower, or my digital or cassette player with VOX (voice operated) in operation. As part of a bank of scanners, a Uniden scanner on a big antenna, with a Close Call feature can potentially hear you transmit on any frequency in either UHF, or VHF, but not both. If I were a bad actor, I would begin to look for you, DF your location (direction finding) , or just listen. Assume that that your signal will be detected. Use as low power setting, and antennas that produces the smallest RF footprint. Using antennas that are horizontally polarized will greatly reduce the chances of being intercepted, and yet give omni-direction TX/RX. Also keep transmit times to no more than 3 to 5 seconds, and use brevity codes. Use directional antennas if possible. For the most security on air using voice only, use horizontally polarized directional antennas, ideally 5 element, as a moxon antenna pattern is broad, twice as much, and your lowest power setting. I have used a Moxon and a Baofeng to talk 22 miles. I used a the moxon directional antenna vertically polarized to talk to another Baofeng on an external antenna that was also vertically polarized. But when I turned the moxon antenna to a horizontal polarization, that same receiving station, the Baofeng 22 miles away, could no longer hear me. If that receiving station had oriented their antenna to be perpendicular to the ground (horizontally polarized), they would have heard me loud and clear. If there were two stations, one using a horizontally polarized antenna, and one with a vertically polarized antenna, at that distance of 22 miles, I could choose which station I wanted talk to, and excluded the other station, even if my antenna was point at both stations that could be in the same room. Usually though, the opposite polarized station would receive a weak signal, and may believe that I am further away than I actually am. This is good way to conceal your actual location by reduce signal strength as received by an Intercept Station.

    Keep your transmission time very short, less than 5 seconds, and reduce all traffic during a period to a minimum. Think of the most concise way possible to convey the message using the most obscure terms possible or code, before you key the mike, and the odds that I could find your exact location are slim. Of course, high tech, modern Doppler direction finding equipment used by the FCC or military, can locate an omni-directional transmission with precision, in about a second.

  13. Sorry. I have ruined destroyed and taken out of warranty so many electronic devices. I’m not going to cob a new radio antenna nor buy DC volt charges but “be sure they are only charging to ten volts “ or cob other radio jacks into the mix.

    I use what the manufacturer says. Period on all electronic equipment.

    Then I know it will hold up in battle.

  14. Being a tech dummy I’m sure I could never program a radio. I’m wondering why a plain old three or five channel radio that’s ready to go right out of the box wouldn’t work. It seems to me a simple radio like that would be sufficient to communicate back and forth among the group. A child had to type this for me.

  15. These radios are hard to program from the front panel so I would definitely recommend purchasing a programming cable with them. And CHIRP works good and is easy to use for programming.
    Incidentally , you need a HAM LICENSE to use these on the ham bands. The license is easy to get and will allow you to practice using these radios in everyday use before you really need them.
    If you want to program them by hand, this website may help…


    Good luck.

    1. That 12vdc adapter would deliver 12vdc to a Baofeng charging base that can only accept a maximum voltage of 10 vdc. It would damage the charging base. Unfortunatley there is a not better option for most folks, than the type of univeral adapter with selectable voltage setting, as JWR linked to. Use the 9 volt setting.

    1. Re: UV-82 vs. UV5R

      Price. Shop around and buy almost three UV-5r’s for every one UV-82. If starting to acquiring radios, attaining a minimum level first, would be my priority. You should have spares as well. JWR prefers 3 to 1, for every 3 radios needed for personnel, have 1 spare. This is probably a good level to shoot for at first, I prefer 2 per person, as the spare radio has a battery that would cost $10, so the battery alone, is almost 1/2 of the price of a replacement radio. Antenna’s do go bad as well. And if in the field, should the primary get wet, they can easily carry the spare. A spare radio is so light weight, and is more important than a another spare pistol mag.

      I see the UV-82 sports a 8 watt high power setting. For every doubling of a power setting there is an increase of 3dBd in signal strength, or perhaps a 1 s-bar on a meter, but the antenna is the limiting factor, as the very short hand held antennas do not radiate well enough to make the extra power (8 watts) useful. Using a Nagoya 771 on a 4 watt radio is better than a stock antenna using 8 watts. And the Nagoya increases the overall cost of your radios as you should standardized on the same antenna, and have to buy after market . And hopefully you do not inadvertently buy a bunch of counterfeit Nagoya 771 that has saturated the market. And using a radio on 8 watts decreases battery life, and possibly the life of the radio itself. It’s like dropping a 454 into a vehicle designed around 6 cylinder motor.

      From a strictly cost/performance perspective, an 8 watt hand held radio makes the most sense when used as a poor man’s mobile, or base station radio that has a 1/4 wave, or high gain antenna attached, especially a very high gain antenna such as a Moxon or 6 element OWA yagi (10dBi) that gives up gain for a much wider bandwidth, and are relatively easy to build because it is direct connect, and no matching device is needed. The Moxon is easier yet to build, and also has a very wide bandwidth, but cast a broader 180 degree footprint. It does however have a huge advantage with it’s outstanding F/B ratio that in some cases be the characteristic that is needed most.
      There are many golf clubs in the bag for a good reason. I have as many as possible.

      If just starting out, simply hooking up a 4 watt UV5R to an externally mounted 1/4 wave, increases the range up to 3 times. If gearing up, use the savings by buying the much less expensive UV5R to purchase at least one external antenna that can be used on your vehicle and at the house. The only antenna I can recommend to preppers with limited knowledge, that is multi-purpose and almost fool proof, is the Tram 1181 mag mount. It will be good enough for 2 meter, and MURS, as well as the most of the VHF Business Itinerants( Business band), and some public service frequencies that are popular with preppers. It is not the best radiator, but it is the most useful. Instead of the more expensive UV-82, get a UV5R and a Tram 1181 mag mount, and you will far more capability for the buck.

    1. No. Those can still be imported and sold. And they’ll undoubtedly introduce single-band versions. But there will be no more dual-band capable UV-5Rs imported.

  16. The accessories will be readily available after the ban & they won’t be affected by the new rules, so if you are on a budget, I’d suggest getting the radios first & then start adding all the accessories, batteries etc. as you can afford them. After Sept. 30th, you won’t (or aren’t supposed to) be able to buy them from a retailer. I’m sure there are people who are buying gobs of them to sit on for a few months/years to sell at a huge profit down the road.

  17. Hi, Mr Rawles, I love your novels!! I thought the ban was on the 30th as well I have bought quite a few sets in this last week I hope they are dual band versions you recommended in the previous post.

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