Baofeng UV-5RTP Two-Way Radio Transceivers

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Baofeng UV-5RTP Two-Way Radio Transceivers
Price: $54.99
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The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) did a test of various handheld radios a few years back, and of the 65 Baofeng radios they tested, 75% of them did not comply with FCC regulations with regards to spurious emissions.

In other words, these are cheap and nasty little radios that can interfere with other amateur radio operators, commercial radio services, and critical emergency services.

Now, it’s possible that you’ll get a radio that works properly and doesn’t cause interference. But without access to a spectral analyzer, you have no way to know for certain. And ultimately, you, the operator of the radio, are the one responsible for proper operation of your radio equipment.

Yeah, I doubt that people won’t be transmitting on these since they are sold in “pairs” with a sternly worded warning that they’re not supposed to be transmitting without an amateur radio license.

These people could care less if they’re screwing with HAMs and emergency services.

If they’re used in receive only mode, the way that unlicensed operators should only be using them, they should not interfere with anything… unless they’re really that crappily made that they transmit even when just receiving.

Just a reminder that there are thousands of amateur radio operators who make it a hobby to track and turn in unlicensed operators, and the FCC won’t think twice about issuing you a fine that would be enough to purchase a small car with if they catch you.

I cringe at the CB speak in a write-up for ham gear.

And i cringe at the thought of all the unlicensed clueless people who will transmit with these.


Would these be good to learn the basics of Ham? I’ve wanted to get into the hobby for a while. Thanks.

From what I’ve seen, the FCC tends to frown on anything that can potentially prevent the airwaves from being used in a emergency-type situation or threatens public safety. This is why a cell phone jammer or a GPS jammer is a big no-no.

They would help you by enabling you to listen to lots of hams operating on the 2m and 440mhz bands. And you could also use this as a ‘scanner’, listening to police, hospitals, fire trucks, national parks rangers, weather broadcasts, trains, Family Radio Service, GMRS, and other interesting things.

It is a good radio for finding out what is going on around you in commonly used frequencies.

If the listening could interest you enough in getting your ham license, a relatively easy task these days, it would be worth it.

I have been a ham for more than 50 years and have had more trouble with expensive brand name units than I have had with Baofeng and Puxing. Although as said above, the signals put out by these radios do not meet certain technical standards although they generally don’t create user problems.

Not advertised here is that I’m pretty sure it receives regular FM radio also. You can set it up to receive FM radio and also to your favorite police/fire etc frequency. Then you hear the radio until there is activity on the other frequency, at which time that frequency breaks in. When it is finished, the FM radio comes back on automatically.

You must be extremely careful when setting it to a public service frequency as it will probably transmit on that frequency if you push the transmit button. You will then be in immediate, serious trouble with the law, no kidding.

You use a computer and the supplied software to program which frequencies you want to listen to AND whether or not the radio will transmit on those frequencies, you must ‘lock out’ all emergency frequencies so you cannot transmit on them and interfere with life saving frequencies.

That’s exactly how I got my start. Picked up a couple of Baofeng BF-F9’s a couple years ago from woot and got my tech license a month later. Now I’ve got multiple radios, including DMR and Yaesu C4FM radios that allow me to talk all over the world. Next goal is to get a general license and start talking all over the world on analog HF!

First, do not but these - they are not good at being a scanner, and transmitting on any frequency with out a license with these radios is illegal. Try “googling” the words
“ham radio club” and your city and state and you will most likely find a club who’s members will be happy to help you get your license. It is possible to self study, but ham radio is a social hobby, so get to know them and let them help you and you will be on your way to enjoying the hobby.

Stay away from this brand. Cheap components, poor manufacturing, terrible support.

I’ve been on the fence with these Baofeng radios for a couple years - largely due to the multitude of versions available on Amazon.

Primary purposes for me:

  1. Curiosity and monitoring transmissions.

  2. The bug out bag.

  3. Having talked to a neighbor a bit about Ham radio, not sure I have the time to dedicate to it, but potentially interested.

The comments here about these radios stomping outside the intended frequencies are a surprise.

While there are all kinds of warnings in the Amazon reviews and Q&As about transmitting on these radios without a license, I haven’t noticed any comments from those Ham folks about stomping.

And a lot of those comments come from Ham operators who happen to own Baofeng radios. One would think they’d be complaining a lot if it were really a large scale problem.

I bought a pair of the UV-5R with extended batteries some time ago here on Woot. Cheap enough as most scanners and I just don’t transmit on it. In fact, I’ve learned quite a bit about how local PD/FD operate just in listening in.
However, in a SHTF scenario, its good to have these at the ready to keep aware.

The Amazon reviews in general about Baofeng seem to like these radios as an inexpensive way to test the waters.

Do you have a recommended alternative at reasonable prices?

Or is there simply no way to “do this stuff” at reasonable prices?


Unless the enforcer happens to parked outside your house/car with their radio signal direction finder on, an accidental mic key isn’t going to get you in immediate trouble. And even if they are parked outside, a single key isn’t enough to confirm direction, much less identify you.

But thanks for the other helpful info.

I am a Ham operator. I got into Ham by buying one of these. I now own three. Why these and not something more expensive? Because I am not into HF yet, and because I have one in my car, one at work, and one in my EDC backpack. I can talk to our local repeaters no matter where I am, and the guys there are pretty cool. I have someone to talk to on my way to or from work when I get bored. Anyway, these radios are a lot better today than they were even a few years ago. They’re not Motorola or Kenwood quality, but they are pretty solid for the money. If one breaks, throw it away and get another one. These radios are so inexpensive and so packed full of features for the money that I doubt I’ll spend more on little handhelds over the course of my life than I would if I bought a more expensive one. Oh, and download Chirp if you get one of these. It will allow you to load frequencies a lot easier than using the keypad. You’ll need to get a cable for that from Amazon, and make sure you get the authentic one. It’s only like $14 and will make programming this radio a breeze.

As long as you are conscientious and pay attention, these are great radios to test the waters with Amatuer radio. Yes, build quality is suspect, and they may not have ideal RF emissions. But for the price, you can get started.

I took the test and got a license 20 years ago, but had no radio (too much $$$) and never got on the air. This past summer I got a Baofeng for $25 from the mother ship and listened in, discovered that there were interesting people talking, and that I could monitor wetherband, commercial FM, and the amatuer bands with it.

So I spent a couple weeks studying online and took the test again, passed the Technician, and the volunteer examiners ‘made me’ take the General, which I also passed. I spent a few months on the air with the Baofeng, talking with local folks and making new friends, joined the local radio club, and now have a Kenwood V71 in my daily driver. The Baofeng is now in my computer bag so I have a backup.

Cheap radios are an on ramp for more people to get involved with Amatuer Radio. With friendly mentoring and Elmering, this is a good thing.

But please, until you are licensed, don’t push the transmit button. It is easy to avoid, and with some Googling, you can disable transmit altogether. With a little more effort, you might even find a local radio club who will be very happy to lead you into Ham radio.

I normally don’t bad mouth hamops in public but since some have a need to lecture noobs and even imply threats (by turning them in), my observation of DX’ng the airwaves has left me with a little bit of disappointment that those who do the deed and get a license butcher the airwaves with their unprofessional (or inability) to use proper radio procedure. It’s written in black and white the proper calling and replay procedures. Heck, the phonetic alphabet is listed in thousands of places according to google alone. But still, after a few beers, it’s a real hoot to tune in the shacks and listen to the same people who would trip all over themselves to rat out a unlicensed user then turn around and annihilate the very rules they are suppose to live by. Not all but most so it sure doesn’t set a good example. But just like drivers on the road, not everyone with a license need to be behind the wheel.

If anything, find a local ham radio club and learn a few things. They will at least keep you legal, but don’t learn the bad habits.

Yeah, I decided my rant was a little harsh to the voices of the airwaves. They are mostly a good bunch and try hard but IMO, the day they dropped CW from the requirements, they lowered the bar.

IF you also want to get into the art of DX’ng, look into Software Defined Radio. Cheap and fun. You go here to check it out and see if you want to spend thousands of dollars and hours of your time to become a full blown ham operator and some even become MARS operators and work with the military. I did my years on the airwaves, both CW and just about every other emissions you can find). Now, I just sit out on my deck, plug my HF reviver into my longwire and listen. Heck, I even still copy code just to stay current.

I used it for that purpose 4 years ago. However, the antenna is a piece of crap. I couldn’t hit the repeater 6 miles away. I had to either use a magnet mount car antenna or build one myself to hit the local repeater. I quickly (3 months) out grew this and bought a new Kenwood TM281a to use. I currently have a General license.