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What opinions out there regarding Baofeng two way radios?

 

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"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” ― Mark Twain

 

"I prefer dangerous FREEDOM over peaceful SLAVERY" -Thomas Jefferson

 

"Si vis pacem para bellum" - Every wise warrior there ever was.

 

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QST magazine published an article where they tested radios at ham conventions to see how well the radios met the compliance specifications set forth by the FCC.

The results: the cheap Chinese radios such as Baofeng, TYT, and Wouxun, all performed miserably, with sometimes half not meeting FCC standards.   But what does that actually mean?

Typically, the radios transmit “spurious emissions” which means they are emitting RF signal on frequencies outside where they are supposed to be transmitting.   That could show up as a wider bandwidth signal, such as a 25kHz signal actually taking up 35kHz or 40kHz, or it could manifest as harmonics and hash on other frequencies.

This has two effects.   First, because the transmitter is emitting on frequencies we are not expecting, we could be interfering  with other legitimate transmissions. (That is why the FCC has limits on spurious emissions in the first place)
Second, those inefficiencies are wasting RF power on signal that reduce the efficiency of our transmission.  If your radio is outputting two watts of power, but has lots of spurious emissions, only 1-1/2 watts may be on your actual frequency.

What does all this mean for the end user?
First, without specifically testing your particular radio, we don’t know if it meets specs or not.   If, however you are using a cheep Chinese radio, the chances approach fifty percent that your radio doesn’t meet spec.
If your radio is out of spec, it will still work.   When you transmit on a frequency, someone on the same frequency, and in range will still be able to hear you, and transmit back to you.   Everything will seem to be working.   You just will not get quite the range on your radio that someone with a more efficient radio will get, given everything else the same.   Does that matter?  It may, or may not.   It would most notable at the fringe of your range.

The other downside is that the spurious emissions may interfere with other radio users.   If you have a large group, adjacent channels may be interfered with by wider than spec bandwidth transmissions.   Depending on the frequencies involved, it may also interfere with other unrelated radio users, (which also increases your chance of being detected.)

Finally, if the interference is frequent or severe enough, it may result in the FCC getting involved, notices, and possibly even forfeiture of equipment. (Very rare, but still exists within the realm of possibility.)

The gun analogy:   A cheap Chinese radio will transmit radio waves just like a cheap, poorly put together rifle can shoot out bullets.   If all you need is to send bullets downrange, regardless of accuracy, then any rifle will do.   Likewise, if all you need to do is transmit some RF, any radio will do.   If you need better than 20MOA accuracy however, you might need a little better quality gun, and if you need better RF performance, you might want a better quality radio.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for, or in some cases, you don’t get what you don’t pay for.

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I purchased two Baofeng radios and two additional wip antenna's late last year. 

The reviews from HAM radio operators on YOUTUBE was the deciding factor (function, cost and value).  They are challenging to manual program but the free online software CHIRP makes the process much easier.

I was planning on taking the Technician License exam in April at the Frankfort Library but then this Chinese Virus hit and now it is pushed out until October.   SHTF, license or no license won't matter to me.   I wanted my wife and I to have access to communications aside from FM and AM wavelength radio.  The radio's themselves are unproven under adverse conditions but if we make it through until October, I will be able to legally use them.

Until then, there are frequencies that can be used without a license.

https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?aid=7755

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    And transmitting with a Baofeng on those "unlicensed" frequencies is technically illegal.  I consider the Baofengs to be disposable radios.  They should not be relied upon, if your life is dependent upon a radio.  They are inexpensive, and you get what you pay for them.  They are not water resistant, so good luck using them in any wet weather.  I keep a few of them around, which are preprogrammed, to be used as supplemental group radios or as loaner radios, If they get destroyed it's not a big deal.  Baofengs are the "Hi-points" of the radio world, better than nothing, but that's not saying much.

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I have used a tyt 9800 and baofeng uv82 for years. Best bang for the buck. 

If you can't afford to buy a 1,800$ radio it at least gets you on the air to practice using a radio. 


civiliandefenseforce.org

Some one must lead, when others will only follow! 🇺🇸 

 

 

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We had them as our group radios. I learned all there was about programming the radios. I and setup our local repeaters with our local survivor channels. The best we could ever get out of these radios were when we convoyed and remained in a straight line. We were all within 100 yards. We decided to get away from them, because even in close quarters they had a hard time communicating. We have 22 acres here and once you got behind a few trees it was just unnecessary weight. We invested in all the gadgets that went with them and none of it truly worked. We are currently looking into gmrs radios or possibly CB and having them chipped to the channels we want.


Tennessee Commander

Captain of the 19th Tennessee Infantry

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6 minutes ago, Rev.E. said:

We had them as our group radios. I learned all there was about programming the radios. I and setup our local repeaters with our local survivor channels. The best we could ever get out of these radios were when we convoyed and remained in a straight line. We were all within 100 yards. We decided to get away from them, because even in close quarters they had a hard time communicating. We have 22 acres here and once you got behind a few trees it was just unnecessary weight. We invested in all the gadgets that went with them and none of it truly worked. We are currently looking into gmrs radios or possibly CB and having them chipped to the channels we want.

 

VHF and UHF are line of sight bands. Any terrain masking or obstacle that breaks that line of sight is going to impact them. GMRS will likewise have the same issue, UHF tends to perform better at short range in clutter due to knife edge signal refraction off of obstacles.  That's why you can talk to the ISS in space using a low power handheld but can't talk to bill on the other side of that hill.

 

The way we get aorund that is by using a Kenwood TMV-71A as a dual band repeater ground station on the dominant terrain feature with enough antenna elevation to maintain line of sight. Any mobile radio capable of dual band repeat will work, but that line of site is crucial to using them.

 

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2 minutes ago, Rev.E. said:

Will look into that thank you for the info. HOOAH

 

Next time I am over at our comms guys place I'll get a pic of it. Basically what he did was take a piece of plywood and cut it to fit his 4 wheeler cargo rack. Inside one ammo can he mounted the radio with bulkhead connectors for power and the antenna connectors. He also mounted 2 12v boat battery cases to it for power and a .30 cal can for a guy ring and ropes, stakes, and other errata, .  The antenna he's using is a homemade dual band with a removable ground plane that uses USGI camo poles for height. He has a piece of pipe clamped to his cargo rack to hold the antenna up once it's assembled. The antenna cable is rolled up on a small extension cord reel. He has it wired so when the 4 wheeler is running it will charge the batteries, I think he wired that out of one of his aux light jacks.  You could basically build the same type of setup using the radio in a regular mobile mount in any vehicle, and they make trailer hitch swivel mounts for tilt up antennas.

 

Against time he was able to have it emplaced and operational by himself in under five minutes with the antenna at 20' using 5 poles. 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Skillet said:

 

 

 

 

Sounds like a nice set up. We are trying to go total solar array for any and all power here. Our COMMS Shack will be solar powered. We have a SSB Cb that we are looking to have modded. That will run off a dipole mounted at the top of a tall tree. That will be our base. 

 


Tennessee Commander

Captain of the 19th Tennessee Infantry

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1 minute ago, Rev.E. said:

Sounds like a nice set up. We are trying to go total solar array for any and all power here. Our COMMS Shack will be solar powered. We have a SSB Cb that we are looking to have modded. That will run off a dipole mounted at the top of a tall tree. That will be our base. 

 


I've got a Galaxy DX 959 that Bell's hooked up for me.  It's probably the best CB I've ever used.

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Just now, Skillet said:


I've got a Galaxy DX 959 that Bell's hooked up for me.  It's probably the best CB I've ever used.

That is the same one I use in my truck. That is going to be our base unit here soon. Two small solar panels and 4-12 v Batts hooked up in series with an inverter

 


Tennessee Commander

Captain of the 19th Tennessee Infantry

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Guest Highlander 401
Posted (edited)

The UV-5R can be programmed for gmrs Easily via chirp and they are reliable in the field even with thick growth. If terrain is a factor then look up how to setup a pair of them as a repeater using a standard aux cable connecting the two. Ideal for hoisting high into a tree or positioning on high ground. 60 bucks for a throw away repeater is a good deal. Not sure I’d bet my life on it... China product.

 

also not secure if that’s needed ... go digital

Edited by Highlander 401

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It's more of that HAM knowledge that many here seem to hate or think down right un-needed: UHF frequencies around the 450 range have great penetration through structures and VHF has much better coverage through foliage. AM, as in CB, has sporadic coverage that is largely dependent on atmospheric conditions and is very prone to electrical interference and fading. The best frequencies for playing in the woods like we do would be VHF, MURS if you want to keep it legal.

 

Now for radios: The Baofengs are OK, just not the best. If they get you comms and are all you can afford then it becomes the best thing ever. We use the TYT MD-UV390 waterproof walkies. They are dual band (VHF-UHF) and have the added feature of DMR, digital mobile radio. Only a few scanners will pick them up in DMR mode. Point is, there are a lot of hand held radios out there and a little study will help one make an informed decision about what will work the best for them.

 

Power: I hear a lot about radios and power. I have worked a Russian station from SC on 3 watts, so power is relevant. VHF and UHF are line-of-sight frequencies and 5 watts will carry the signal just fine to the 14 mile horizon with no obstructions. More important than power is an efficient antenna, and the range multiplier is height above the average terrain. I can reliably talk into our repeater from 75 miles away with a handheld radio, but the repeater is 1500 feet high. There is also another issue with power,and that is having too much. HAMS use just enough power to reliably make contact, and so should you. When I do interference tracking, my first tool is a spectrum analyzer, a device that graphically shows radio signals. If I am looking for you, I see the big spike when you key the radio that tells me exactly what frequency you are on. If you are running a ton of power it's easy. If you are running on low power, you may be down in the background clutter and make my job harder and maybe even avoid immediate detection. The other issue with higher powers is the chance of your comms being heard or even interfering with someone else. 

 

I know this will cause a flame war, always does. First it'll be about HAMS. Well, HAMS have the largest section of radio spectrum alotted to private citizens, and we keep that by being self-policing. The next argument is always how CB is the best thing ever. Or your new Motorola $700 handie-talkie. Save the flames and use whatever works for you.I threw this out for info, I have spent many years working with radio systems and am currently a broadcast engineer. Not bragging,just sayin'. I'll be more than happy to assist anyone in any way I can.

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50 minutes ago, Tempstar said:

I know this will cause a flame war, always does.

 

Ohhh no it won't. Gents, word of warning for all upfront; remain civil. If you disagree say so without personally attacking the other member and state your case.  And if someone flings poop the admins will deal with it. Don't reciprocate because you'll snag a penalty as well.

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I bought a yaesu ft-60 thinking I would pick up my local police..I was told by someone online that I needed to perform a mars/cap mod..so I looked on YT to see if I could find any examples of how its done..I found a video that was pretty straight forward and explained it step by step..COGRATULATIONS! I'm now the proud owner of a brick.

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8 minutes ago, s b said:

I bought a yaesu ft-60 thinking I would pick up my local police..I was told by someone online that I needed to perform a mars/cap mod..so I looked on YT to see if I could find any examples of how its done..I found a video that was pretty straight forward and explained it step by step..COGRATULATIONS! I'm now the proud owner of a brick.

 

Yeah, those mods really need to be done by someone that has the skills and experience, especially when you start dealing with surface mount components. You're not the first and you won't be the last.

 

Most Law enforcement systems are standardizing around trunked digital systems. If you research RTL-SDR there's a lot of good info out there on monitoring: RTL-SDR Digital decoding page

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On 7/23/2020 at 12:35 AM, s b said:

I bought a yaesu ft-60 thinking I would pick up my local police..I was told by someone online that I needed to perform a mars/cap mod..so I looked on YT to see if I could find any examples of how its done..I found a video that was pretty straight forward and explained it step by step..COGRATULATIONS! I'm now the proud owner of a brick.

 

Im betting your "local police" uses a trunked digital setup (Project 25 Phase II like my county) so I dont know how you thought that FT-60 would work with the mod.

 

 

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On 7/21/2020 at 1:17 AM, LetFreedomRing said:

What opinions out there regarding Baofeng two way radios?

 

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Personally I wouldn't touch one with your 10' pole, they are poorly designed are not rugged at all and for a lot of communications applications are illegal to use, they lack FCC type acceptance for commercial use.  

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 Baofengs are POS, but they're better than two cans and a string.   The big problem with Baofengs is that they transmit spurious emissions.  What that means basically is that they transmit on one frequency, and simultaneously transmit on many other frequencies at a lesser amount of power.  Due to these spurious emissions you could potentially interfere with other stations further up the radio spectrum.  These spurious emissions also increase the possibility of being located by people with radio frequency direction finding equipment.  Radio amateurs enjoy the challenge of locating random transmitters.  The military and the FCC have even more sophisticated equipment for locating rogue transmitters.  It's in your best interest to use equipment with the least amount of spurious emissions, your life may depend upon it.

16 minutes ago, MBR said:

 

Personally I wouldn't touch one with your 10' pole, they are poorly designed are not rugged at all and for a lot of communications applications are illegal to use, they lack FCC type acceptance for commercial use.  

      Uh oh, someone comes from the LMR world, but what he says is true, for most Baofeng models, though they have at least one model that is FCC type 90 accepted.  Radio users would be better off using almost any radio that does not originate from China.  Commercial acceptance shouldn't be a factor unless you plan on using the radio on either commercial or public service frequencies.  So, the users need to decide how the radios will be used, and what frequencies are to be used.  Many commercial radios have the ability to encrypt voice signals.  But amateur portable VHF/UHF radio can go to digital mode, which can be difficult to decode unless you're using some RTL-SDR equipment.  Price may ultimately be a deciding factor, as the Baofengs are by far the cheapest in price and in quality

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12 hours ago, JackalopeinTN said:

 Uh oh, someone comes from the LMR world, but what he says is true, for most Baofeng models, though they have at least one model that is FCC type 90 accepted.  Radio users would be better off using almost any radio that does not originate from China.  Commercial acceptance shouldn't be a factor unless you plan on using the radio on either commercial or public service frequencies.  So, the users need to decide how the radios will be used, and what frequencies are to be used.  Many commercial radios have the ability to encrypt voice signals.  But amateur portable VHF/UHF radio can go to digital mode, which can be difficult to decode unless you're using some RTL-SDR equipment.  Price may ultimately be a deciding factor, as the Baofengs are by far the cheapest in price and in quality

DMR is an excellent way to go, but is a common CODEC and is easy to monitor. 

 

And there is a huge secondary market for commercial radios, as such they can be had at very low prices and unlike a lot of Ham gear is very easy to operate.

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