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Apr 192013
 
The UV-5R comes with some accessories to start with, but some additional items will make the radio much more valuable to you.

The UV-5R comes with some accessories to start with, but some additional items will make the radio much more valuable to you.

In our immediately previous article, we recommended the Baofeng UV-5R and/or the Baofeng F8HP as the best general purpose two-way radio.

When you buy a either radio, you usually get the radio in a kit that comes complete with standard Li-Ion battery pack, charger, carrying clip, wrist strap, rubber-ducky antenna, and earpiece/microphone.  That’s a great set of goodies, all for about $35 or $65, but you should consider getting some accessories and additional items to add substantially to the radio’s performance and versatility.

You want to have a better antenna, you must have a way to program the radio, and perhaps you’ll benefit from a spare battery or two as well.  Indeed, with the radios so inexpensive, you should also get one (or more!) spare radios, too!

We suggest the following as being the most useful add-on items to get for your Baofeng radio.  Most of the following are less than $20, and some are less than $10, making them very easy buying decisions to make :

1.  Improved Portable Antenna

The standard ‘rubber ducky’ antenna that the radio comes with has the benefit of being short (4¾”) and reasonably sturdy.  But it is not an efficient radiator/receiver of radio signals.

You’ll get a massively improved range if you replace this with a longer/better antenna.  As we discussed in our article on How to Maximize the Range of your FRS/GMRS Radio, replacing the antenna can more than double the range of your unit and more than quadruple the effective power being radiated (or received).  We suggest you also read our two-part article on adding and optimizing an external antenna to your radio, too.

Noting the test results that were reported in by substituting a Nagoya 701 antenna for the standard antenna, this seems like a ‘must do’ item for everyone and all situations.  The Nagoya 701 antenna is about the same weight, and 3″ longer (7¾”) but still more than sufficiently portable for almost all situations.

There are many other antenna choices as well as the Nagoya 701; we feel the 701 represents an excellent compromise between size/convenience, performance, and cost, but you’ll be delighted with pretty much any other dual band portable antenna you choose.

There is also a still longer Nagoya 771.  This measures about 15¼” in length, but its greater length interferes with the portability of the radio and makes everything more awkward and clumsy, without adding any perceptible extra range.

One word of warning.  We have heard reports of fake/counterfeit Nagoya antennas out there – one way to tell if you have a real one or not is to read the label on the bottom of the antenna.  A genuine antenna will refer to the frequency ranges of the antenna in MHz, a fake may instead say NHz (instead of MHz).  If your antenna has this error, then it is probably not a genuine Nagoya.

Note, when choosing a portable antenna you need to find one with a Female SMA type connector on its end, so as to mate with the male SMA connector on the radio itself.  Otherwise, be sure to get the appropriate connector adapter as well.

Nagoya 701 antenna – $10 or less on Amazon.  Truly the best value you’ll ever get for less than $10 on improving your radio’s performance and range.

One more thought :  Antennas are semi-consumable items.  That is, they are sometimes knocked about, and possibly damaged.  They are also essential – no antenna means no working radio.  At less than $10 each, we’d probably get one or two spares – maybe one spare for each four  radios, ‘just in case’.

2.  Programming Cable and Software

The Baofeng radios have 128 programmable channels that you can define, and in each case you can set a lot of different parameters for the channel, ranging from bandwidth to power to offset frequencies if used with a repeater and CTCSS/DCS type tones on both the send and receive side of the channel.

You can do this by hand, but it is cumbersome and slow to work through many different layers of menus to set all the attributes for each channel.

If you get a programming cable and software, you can do this all from your computer, with a nice large interface screen to work on, reducing the time it would take you from hours of frustration (and possibly making errors that are hard to identify and correct) to minutes of simplicity.  Even better, you can download preconfigured files of repeater frequencies from several different websites that will automatically program up your UV-5R or F8HP for you.

Another huge time-saving is if you have multiple radios – you can create a series of configuration files and then quickly upload them to all the radios.  This also ensures all radios are exactly configured the same, with much less potential for errors.

The cable runs from your computer’s USB port to the external speaker/mike port on the phone.  As for the supplied software, ignore it.  There is much better free software, that runs on PCs, Macs, and Unix type computers (see our upcoming article on how to get the best use from your Baofeng radio for details on this).  But you do need the programming cable, even if you don’t need the included software.

A programming cable and software costs under $10 on Amazon.  We consider it another ‘must have’ item.  And, yes, you guessed right.  At less than $10 each, this is another thing that it would pay to have at least one spare of – the cable isn’t just a cable, it also has some electronics built into it, so there is the possibility of failure.  A second cable is cheap insurance.

3.  Spare Batteries

In truth, the units get excellent battery life from its provided battery.  For the UV-5R, it is rated for 1800 mAh and is a 7.4V Li-ion type battery.  The F8HP comes with a slightly more powerful 21oo mAh battery.  Both are said to give ‘up to 12 hours’ of life, presumably with a duty cycle of something like 90% listening to nothing, 5% listening to a received signal, and 5% transmitting.  Some reports have suggested that people have got more than 12 hours life out of it.

You can get additional batteries as spares, of course, and at as little as $5-10 each, you’d be well advised to get a few.  You can never have too many batteries, right?  There is also an extended capacity battery available – some models claim 3600 mAh and others 3800 mAh – probably they are the same battery, just with different capacity claims.  These are appreciably more pricey – $22 – $25 each.

So in theory, you can get more battery for your money by buying standard sized batteries, and perhaps it is better, if you think you’ll need more reserve power, to simply stick a spare standard battery in your pocket than to use one bigger, heavier, and more expensive battery.

Both types of battery are of course available at good prices on Amazon.

4.  Car Power Adapters

There are two types of car power adapter for these radios.  The first is a replacement battery back – you take off the regular battery and slide in this back instead, which runs via a coiled cord to a cigarette lighter power supply.

The other option is intriguing, and you should get one of these too, whether your radios will be used in vehicles or not.  It is a cord that plugs in to the cigarette lighter (or other 12V source of course) at one end and plugs into the power-in socket of the charger unit that was supplied as standard with the radio at the other end.

The interesting thing about this device is that it gives you a convenient way of powering the standard charger and recharging batteries if your mains power is down. The other unit doesn’t recharge the battery, it replaces it instead.

Both are helpful and useful.  Normally we use the battery back replacement unit when we have a unit in a vehicle, but we have one of the other connectors as a ‘just in case’ unit so we are prepared if there’s a future grid-down scenario we need to cope with.

Both types of units can be had for under $10 each at Amazon.

5.  Mobile Antenna

If you plan to use your unit in your vehicle at all, then it makes sense to replace your already upgraded Nagoya portable antenna with a true ‘mobile’ type antenna mounted to the exterior of your vehicle.  This will further improve the range with which the radio can send and receive signals.

Again, we suggest you read through our two-part article series on upgrading/replacing your radio’s antenna for a thorough discussion of this issue.

As for specific antennas, perhaps the least expensive and good performing antenna would be the Tram 1185, which costs about $30.  The only disadvantage is the wind noise that whistles through its coil; and if this is a nuisance, you could consider a more expensive antenna with a solid loading device rather than an open coil.

Note you will probably need an adapter to match the fitting on the end of the antenna lead to the connector on the radio body (you need an SMA-F type connector to screw into the radio body output connector).  In the specific case of the Tram 1185 (which ends with a PL-259 connector), this adapter does the trick perfectly.

External antennas on cars have finite lives.  Not only are they slightly stressed as you drive along the freeway at 70mph, but sooner or later, you’re going to drive underneath an object with little clearance, and it is going to collide with your antenna.  Maybe the first few times, the antenna will survive, but eventually it will mechanically fail.  It might break off its mounting, it might break in the middle if it is a multiple element antenna, or in some other way fail.  If the antenna lead is just going through the seal in the vehicle’s door, then depending on the pressure being placed on it, maybe sooner or later the coax cable will short out.  So you need some spares.

But use this to your advantage.  Don’t simply order a bulk quantity of identical antennas to start with.  Order two different antennas, and then experiment to see which one you prefer in terms of performance and price.  Then if you get a third antenna, you either know which of the first two is the better choice for you, or maybe you experiment further and get a third different antenna, giving you still more understanding of the ‘best’ antenna in your situation.  You can then use that information to know which antenna make/model to get more of in the future.

6.  External Speaker/Microphone

On the face of it, this might seem like a fairly unnecessary extra accessory,  Sure, if you think you might have a use for it, you can get a speaker/microphone unit that connects via a coiled cord to the handset.  That way you can have the radio clipped to your belt or securely mounted in the car, and conduct a conversation using the speaker/mike unit (which also has a push-to-talk button on it).  But if you need to change any of the radio’s settings, then you’d of course still need to access the transceiver itself.

But there are two important benefits that come from using one of these.  One has to do with safety, the other with the range you’ll get from your radio.

The UV-5R and F8HP manuals say you should keep the radio at least an inch from your head when transmitting, so as not to have problems with strong radio signals possibly harming your head and brain.  While the radio’s frequencies are lower than cell phone frequencies, they are also potentially at least ten times stronger, so just as how it is good practice to always use a headset with a cell phone to keep the cell phone radiation level to a minimum, it is good practice to use some sort of similar device with your handheld radio transceiver.

The other benefit is that if you don’t have to have the radio close to your mouth to speak in to it, you are free to locate it somewhere else for best signal transmission and reception.  You can hold it away from yourself, so your body isn’t soaking up as much radio energy, and you can hold it up a foot or two over your head (you’d be amazed at how much extra signal boost this one simple thing will do).

The good news is the radio comes complete with an included earpiece and microphone, which is all you really need to address these two issues.  But if you don’t like sticking earpieces in your ears, then an external microphone/speaker is something to consider.

They are not expensive, and when we looked at the low $10 – 15 or so cost of these accessories, we ended up getting a couple.

7.  SWR Meter

You’ll need one of these to tune a mobile antenna to your radio (this is explained in the second part of our antenna series).

If you have a friend already with a VHF/UHF SWR meter, you might think that all you need to do is borrow his.  Sure, that would work for now, but you’ll find that you’ll be wanting to refer back to it surprisingly often – any time you move or change your external antenna, and, of course, WTSHTF, who knows where your friend and his SWR might be.

So we recommend you buy one to keep as part of your radio kit.

Using a SWR meter to tune your antenna will give you better range and protect the transmitter circuitry – it really is a must have device.  There are good $40 units such as the Workman 104, and better $60 dual/cross needle units such as this one.  You only need one.

You may also need to get more adapters to connect the SWR meter to the antenna and to the radio – if you can’t tell what you need, simply get the unit and see what can be connected and what you still need after it arrives.

8.  Anything Else?

What else might you want?  Maybe a protective case for the radio – they’re only $10 – $15, although with radios costing only $40 a piece, there’s not a great deal of need to spend too much on protecting them!  On the other hand, in an uncertain future, you might not be able to buy replacements for love nor money, so taking care of your radios is just plain sensible.

Especially if you wear them on your belt, there’s every chance you’ll occasionally bash them in to things, and for sure, you’ll drop them on the ground sometimes, too.  So protective cases are probably a good idea.

Maybe a directory listing repeater frequencies (although we found the directory most useful for pointing us to websites of local repeater frequency coordinator groups and then accessing their more up-to-date lists).

And maybe some type of base station antenna to mount on your house/retreat roof, but that’s another subject worthy of its own separate discussion.

Summary

The best value two-way HT type radio for most purposes is the Baofeng UV-5R or its slightly more powerful and expensive newer sibling, the Baofeng F8HP.  They are both capable of transmitting on Ham frequencies, GMRS, FRS and MURS unlicensed frequencies, and land-mobile frequencies too.

The radio by itself will benefit from adding additional options to it.  We suggest the following should be on your ‘shopping list’, but you don’t need to buy everything all at once.

  • Baofeng UV-5R HT – about $35 each – as many as are reasonably required for your group, plus some spares
  • Baofeng F8HP HT – If you have a slightly bigger budget, you get a lot more radio for about $30 more cost per unit.  More range, better antenna, more power, greater battery capacity
  • Nagoya 701 replacement handheld/portable antenna – less than $10 – one for each radio that will be used in a portable application, plus some spares
  • Tram 1185 or other mobile antenna – about $30 – one for each vehicle that will have a radio in it, plus some spares, plus connector adapters as needed to match antenna connector to radio connector
  • Spare batteries– about $5 – 10 each – most of the time, the standard battery will be sufficient for an ordinary day’s operations, but it is good to have a few spares ‘just in case’ or for extended operations and in anticipation of batteries eventually failing and needing replacement.
  • Mobile battery replacement and 12V charger power supply – about $5 – 10 each.  Any time you expect to have a radio in your vehicle for more than a short time, it makes sense to switch from battery power to vehicle power.  So we’d recommend one of these for each vehicle that will have a radio in it on a regular basis (the same as your plan for mobile antennas) plus a spare or two.  The 12V charger power supply is a great product too, and we’d suggest one or two of those also.
  • Programming cable and software– less than $10 – we’d probably get two, just to be on the safe side.
  • External speaker/microphone – $10 – 15 – or otherwise use the included earpiece with each radio.
  • SWR Meter – units are available in the $40 and $60 price range.  You only need one, but you do need one to ensure best antenna matching on external antennas.

Properly equipped, you’ll find your Baofeng radios a great choice and very helpful for your local/tactical communications.

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David Spero[suffusion-the-author display='description']

  24 Responses to “A Complete System for your Baofeng UV-5R or F8HP Radio”

Comments (22) Pingbacks (2)
  1. OK, Dave, you’ve convinced me; its GMRS and a Boafeng UV-5R for me (although buying a Chinese product really grates on me). Just of of curiosity, though, is there such a thing as a GMRS base station?

    • Hi, Lyman

      I hear you about Chinese products. It is a funny old world, isn’t it – who’d have thought, twenty years ago, that all the best electronics would be coming from China and South Korea; lesserly Japan and Taiwan, and almost none from Europe or here in the US.

      I regularly visit the annual CES shows and have been doing so for 25 years now; and it is tragic to see how the show has evolved from being dominated by US companies to now being almost devoid of US companies. An amazing shift, right under our noses.

      But I’m talking off topic. To answer your question about GMRS base stations, the short answer is ‘I don’t know’. The slightly longer answer (which I know you want, right? 🙂 ) is that while I’ve not been able to find any true GMRS base stations (there are products being sold as ‘base stations’ but they don’t have the power or features you are probably wanting); it seems that some ham radio base stations or mobile stations might also have FCC Part 95 approval, making them officially permitted for GMRS use.

      Due to the limits on GMRS base station power and antenna height, a mobile unit (but mounted in a fixed location at your residence/retreat) would provide all the power you need, and also has the benefit of working from 12V DC as well as from mains power, giving you a more flexible ‘off grid’ solution, should it become needed in the future.

      Look for ham radios that have the 70cm band, and check not just their receive frequencies but also their transmit frequencies (which are likely to be more restrictive). If the transmit frequencies extend to the GMRS band, then look up their FCC approval number (or ask the manufacturer) to see if the unit has Part 95 approval as well as Part 97.

      Lastly, do I need to repeat the mantra – get a Ham license and then start using ‘real’ ham gear, fully legally.

      Hope this helps

      David.

  2. The article (very correctly) recommends having one or more spare batteries — what you left out was that there are dry cell battery packs available that hold either AA or AAA size batteries. These are a little tricky to use for two reasons:

    1) ALL the dry cell packs are third-party after-market items and NONE of them fit as well as we all would like. They ALL fit too tightly. There are some instructions floating around on modifying the dry cell packs for a better fit, but DON’T DO THAT. They fit TIGHT, and they are therefore hard to put on and latch into place, but they do fit.

    If you try to modify the pack for a “better” fit, there is a good chance you will mess it up. The trick is to know how to put the batter pack onto the radio, to not be afraid to push it really hard, and to put it on and off several times (the fit does get a little better and you will get used to how much pressure is needed).

    2) Both kinds of battery packs take 6 dry cell batteries. Six NiCd or other rechargeable batteries will work just fine – but that largely defeats the purpose of having a dry cell pack. Six common alkaline batteries will provide a little more voltage than the radio is meant to use. With 6 alkaline batteries, the radio will receive, but it will not transmit (there is a protection circuit that shuts down transmit to prevent burning out the radio).

    With the AAA battery holder using 6 AAA alkaline batteries, the radio MAY transmit ok – especially if the batteries are not very fresh. The internal resistance of the AAA battery is enough to limit the current so that the protection circuit doesn’t shut down transmit. With the AA battery holder filled with 6 AA alkaline cells, the radio absolutely will not transmit unless the batteries are nearly dead.

    If you want to use the dry cell battery packs with common alkaline batteries, your best solution is to load FIVE batteries and one dummy shunt. The dummy shunt can be a commercially available product that looks like a battery but consists of nothing but a straight wire connecting the two ends. It is easy to build your own dummy shunt by cutting a small bolt or metal rod the same length as the AA or AAA size battery then wrapping the side of the rod with a few turns of tape to make it about the same thickness as the battery. Assemble the pack with 5 live alkaline batteries and 1 dummy shunt and the radio will work perfectly.

    The AAA dry cell holder pack is the same size as the regular 1800 mAh battery; the AA holder is the same size as the 3800 mAh extended battery.

  3. Wow, I sure wish I would have stumbled upon this article before I purchased 4 of the Midland GXT1050VP4 FRS/GMRS Radios and the corresponding base radio for the family.

    We use them at the beach and on walks, etc. for which they are fine however these are much better. I could have even skipped my Yeasu FT-60 and used one of these radios in lieu of that as well and then we’d all be on the same page. My FT-60 won’t transmit on the GMRS frequencies, just monitor so this is really nice, especially for this price (the same as I paid for the Midlands)!

    I ordered a couple to try out and hopefully get the family using them now on the GMRS frequencies (I have a license for that). Hopefully that will be the inspiration for them to go and get their HAM licenses finally so that they can then use all of this radio’s functionality and the local repeaters. I’ve been trying to convince them to take the test for a couple years with the promise of getting them an HT but they’ve been so busy with school and sports that it just hasn’t happened.

    This just might finally do the trick…so thanks for sharing this great info!!!

  4. Just curious, have you by chance tested the range of this radio on the GMRS frequencies with the standard antenna and with the upgraded 701 or 771 antennas on high power?

    My parents are interested in getting a set to talk to me during power outages, etc. like just happened where I live a couple of weeks ago. Cell phones were also out due to circuit overload so they couldn’t get a hold of me and were very nervous. They live a little over a mile from me so I’m hoping these have the range. They are quite frugal so a HAM radio is out (too expensive) but they are very willing to get these since the price is right if they have the range. They also don’t want to take the HAM license test but are willing to pay for the GMRS license…so, hopefully these will work.

    Any range info you have would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • Hi, Redleg

      Thanks for your questions, which are certainly worthy of being carefully answered.

      1. Yes, we report on both 701 and 771 antennas in the article. I can’t think of anything else to add that isn’t already said in this article and the two other articles linked in the section on antennas.

      2. Depending on terrain, these will probably work over a one mile range. If they are to work as base station type units, then I’d get one of Ed Fong’s antennas instead, either the permanent mountable one or the temporary mounting one. They will definitely help you punch out further.

      I’d like to be more specific, but I can’t. It all depends, enormously, on the terrain between your two locations. Also you’ll sometimes get better coverage on the UHF (ie GMRS type) and sometimes on the VHF (ie MURS type) frequencies.

      Assuming you’re the same guy who posted a comment a week or so back, you can get a general feeling for easy/hard/impossible ranges with your present GMRS units. Don’t expect a huge difference with the Baofeng units – a good antenna might double the range, maybe a bit more.

      3. I think you’re very confused when you talk about the extra cost of Ham radios. These Baofeng units are Ham radios. They are NOT approved for regular GMRS service.

      That’s not to say that many people don’t use them in that context, but to tell it like it is, these are not approved for GMRS frequencies. Furthermore, being very frugal, you’ll find that a free Ham licence is less expensive than a GMRS license. 🙂

      Hope this helps

      David.

      • David, sorry that my e-mail came out so confusing.

        I understand that the radio is not approved for GMRS use however they’re willing to risk it as it will be transmitting within allowable power limits so the chance of discover is probably next to nil and will only be used for emergencies.

        As to the frugality issue, the UV-5R is much cheaper even with all of the accessories (40% less) than my Yeasu FT-60 all by itself. I understand that the HAM license is $70 less and good for 5 years longer however they are unwilling to spend the time studying and then traveling the 45 minutes to the nearest city which offers the test every quarter like I did since they are in their 70s and don’t like to travel so the GMRS license makes the most sense for them in their current situation. Hopefully down the road they will eliminate that license requirement altogether as has been discussed.

        As to the increased antenna range, I was just looking for some sort of numbers to qualify your statement above of “replacing the antenna can more than double the range of your unit” to see if this radio would work for them or not. If you would have said something like initial tests gave you 1/4 mile with the rubber duck and 1/2 mile with the 701 then this obviously wouldn’t work for them due to their 1 mile distance so I was just looking for some sort of quantifiable numbers. Since they live in a condo mounting an exterior base antenna is a no-go. I guess I could put a stealth antenna in their attic but again being old that’s probably more than they are willing to deal with.

        Anyway, thanks for the great site and all the great content!

        73
        Redleg

      • P.S. What are “Ed Fong’s antennas?” Can you post a link?

        Thanks!

    • Sorry, Redleg, but if anyone here had tested the operation of the radio on a frequency where its use is illegal, I doubt they would be inclined to publish that fact.

      That much being said, I see no reason to doubt that the radio’s performance on a GMRS frequency would be any different from its performance on an adjacent Part 90 frequency, or even on a UHF amateur frequency. I won’t attempt to offer any specific range information because the radio itself is generally just about the least important factor in the range of a UHF radio. A mile might be typical for a pair of these radios, operating simplex, over reasonably flat open terrain — less is likely in urban terrain — more is easily achievable over water or from hilltop to hilltop. As with any HT, simply moving one step in any direction may very well double or halve the range of the radio.

      If you know where you expect to need communications, it is easy to determine what you need to do to achieve reliable communications under the specific conditions involved — but the conditions at one location will not be the same as the conditions elsewhere, and neither will be the solutions.

      • Understood, thanks! Once they get them, I’ll let everyone know if they cover the mile and what the conditions were like so hopefully others can benefit from my experiences with these.

        Anyone have any recommendations on a simple and reasonably priced antenna to put in my parents attic that could be used with this particular radio to both transmit on the GMRS band and to receive the public safety frequencies?

        Also what feed line is recommended for use with this radio and on these frequencies. I still am not sure which ones to use (and are optimal) for which frequencies (RG-8 vs. RG-58 vs. Rg-174, etc.).

        Thanks for your patience! I have only had my Technician license for a year so I know just enough to be dangerous and look stupid.

    • As has been stated, programming this radio to work on GMRS is a grevious violation of FCC Part 95 because it is not type accepted, it has an external antenna jack, and the NA-771 only has a 66% efficiency on UHF.

  5. For a attic antenna for this rig, I’m particularly fond of the N9TAX Dual Band Slim Jim — which is available either cut for the ham 2M&70cm bands _or_ for MURS & GMRS. Either will work fine as a receiving antenna for public safety frequencies, although the MURS/GMRS version is actually a better match.

    See http://www.n9tax.com and pick the link for Slim Jim antennas. His other pages are also worth reading.

    The N9TAX Slim Jim is built from 450 ohm twin lead (think old style 300 ohm TV twin lead but about twice as big). It is most often used as a portable emergency antenna because the flexible antenna can be rolled up for easy transport (the antenna is about 4′ long) then unrolled and hung from a tree or other non-metal support for use. The N9TAX Slim Jim is similar to the more common J-Pole antenna but provides better dual band performance. There are many suppliers of J-pole and Slim Jim antennas – N9TAX is one of the best, and the only one I know of who builds a MURS/GMRS tuned version as a regular listed product (a few others will make one up on special order).

    The antenna works well indoors – preferably hung so it hangs well clear of walls, especially walls with wiring in them – it is well suited to installation in an attic. It is a little more complicated to install above the roof because it should not be inside or against either metal or PVC pipe. (This is actually true of all antennas, but especially J-pole and Slim Jim designs).

    • Thanks for the link to N9TAX. I ordered one of his slim Jim antennas to give it a try.

      • Hi, Redleg

        You mentioned elsewhere that you have now ordered a couple of Ed Fong’s antennas, too. If would be very interesting if you have a chance to compare them and form any opinions as to the relative merits of both. Do let us know, please. 🙂

        • Will do. I haven’t gotten any feedback from N9TAX besides an order acknowledgement so I’m not sure what’s going on with that but it would definitely be interesting to compare them both.

  6. Yes as I was going to say a Ham License is’t really free, you have to pay for the test, if you want to pick your callsign you pay for that as well but yes alot cheaper then a GMRS radio Lic as I hold both

    • So then I can not use the HAM radios for GMRS if so equipped? That’s a bummer. I was ready to get a 5R too. Dang…glad I didn’t. I can get a new one for $30 with free shipping.
      Is the power too much it causes to someone? I would think the extra power would be awesome and extend the range. Not sure why that would be a bad thing??? Is it just a rule from the govt?

      • Hi

        You are correct, unless a radio has been formally certified by the FCC as being permitted to be used on GMRS frequencies, it can not be used on them.

        There are various reasons why this is so, relating to various technical differences between different radios and their types of transmitting and receiving, and, as you say, the power output too.

        As for power, extra power seldom extends the range (see our discussion on power and range in other parts of our radio articles) but it definitely can interfere with other local users. So power is not often a good thing, and often a bad thing.

        On balance, having the FCC coordinate the use of the radio frequency spectrum is probably a good thing. Without some sort of coordination, and, yes, without some sort of control as well, there could be utter chaos. Think of the FCC a bit like road signs and lanes and speed limits – if, like me, you’ve driven in some foreign countries without any of these things, you know that the driving there can be beyond dysfunctional, whereas the road rules etc in the US generally result in smoother better and safer traffic flow.

        My goodness me! Am I now writing in support of government regulation? 🙂 I guess sometimes it can be a good thing.

  7. Thanks for this article. It’s as complete an article as I could have hoped for. There’s so little well done compilations for information on hand held radios out there, but this just answered almost every question I have.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. You should own a waterproof radio, unless your “Prep” is fair weather only. You really shouldn’t advise people to break the law. This radio is not type accepted under Part 95 for GMRS Operation – operation of an unapproved transmitter/approved equipment by unlicensed personnel carries a fine of between $10,000 and $30,000 per day, per violation.

    • I fixed and built radios in the Marine Corp and even got a degree in EE. So the FCC is only regulating for their purpose and there is NO reason to ban them from their use. Its their way of control. That’s why I left the Marines and also that’s why there will be a reason to use them in “prepping”. My Friend builds the FEMA camps. He does the welding on the gates. Wonder who will be there and my other Friend works at NSA and told me all about them, and my other friend works in the Pentagon for some General. So I know all this FCC and Govt is full of crap now!!!! Opss……bad word.
      Oh so I can use them if I get a HAM license then?? How funny…more money…more control…BTW…I do have a license.

      In your last quote, so then cannot use it for GMRS if you have a GMRS license? But only use it on HAM if you have a license???

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