The World’s First Disposable HT

Baofeng UV-5RA few weeks back, I was wasting time doing important research on the internetz when I came across the Baofeng UV-5R Dualband Handheld Transceiver.  This radio seemed to have a boat load of features but the sale price was $65. So I am thinking to myself, just how good is a $65 radio?

The last time I went out to a nice restaurant, I blew through $65 pretty quickly so this was not going to be a large purchase. In fact, I realized that we now have HT’s priced low enough to be an impulse buy. As one of my ham buds told me, “filling up the gas tank of my truck costs more than this radio!”

So, of course, I soon broke down and ordered one and it showed up on my doorstep a few days later. I’ve been using it off and on for a few weeks now. I’ve also noticed that there is a real buzz on the interwebz about this little radio. There is usual Yahoo Group (baofeng_uv5r) and youtube videos.

Here’s the short story:

While not perfect, for $65, this radio is impressive.

Besides using the radio and receiving good signal reports, I did check the receive sensitivity, transmit power and frequency — all good. There are quite a few reviews out there, so take a look at articles by W0HC, PD0AC and OE1RFC. Also, there have been quite a few reports of quality problems with this radio…probably more defects than equipment from the more established ham equipment vendors. See the Yahoo Group discussion to understand this better.

Similar to other radios from China, this radio has a quirky user interface…not as easy to use as my Yaesu FT-60. This means that the programming software is a necessity to get the radio set up correctly, which is the major downfall of the rig. The free software program is crapware, with many people reporting a variety of problems with installation and operation. I did finally get it to work, but it was very frustrating.

I find myself grabbing this HT when I head out the door and leaving my other radios sitting in the desk charger. Someone pointed out to me that the low price of this radio makes it an easy choice — if it gets dropped, broken, lost or stolen, I am only out a tank of gas. While I am kidding about the “disposable radio” idea, the low cost does affect how I use it.

73, Bob K0NR

5 Replies to “The World’s First Disposable HT”

  1. These are quirky little radios.

    One of the best things is that they come with a drop in charger, which usually is an expensive option from the BIG 3. I hate peeling away a plastic cover to plug in a charger.

    But, I wish the radio and base used a common coaxial power connector for the charger, so that when traveling I could leave the base at home.

    Watching the yahoo group about receive frequency, squelch, and re-programming topics.


    • Randy, I was going to mention the drop-in charger but forgot. It comes standard, compared to the optional drop-in charger for my FT-60 which (coincidentally) costs $65.

      I am a fan of drop-in chargers. See
      I suppose they are a little less convenient under some situations, such as traveling with minimal luggage. But for everyday use, a drop-in charger is the way to go.

      Bob K0NR

  2. I have the Yaesu VX-3 and love it. My 14 year old son is a Tech and I bought him the very similar Baofeng uv-3r for about $50 shipped. It’s a very impressive little radio. Well-worth it for the money. Recommended.

    The two of us talk simplex and via repeater on these two radios frequently.

  3. I have a couple “beater” chinese HTs that I bought via ebay more than a few years back. The programming on them seems to follow an odd form of logic as foreign to us as the chinese alphabet, but it is solid once you figure it out. I bought them to save my more expensive mainstream HTs when Iam out doing things that tend to destroy radios, like climbing towers, trees, mountains, hunting, fishing… typical outdoor things. The irony is they took a better beating than my more expensive Icoms an Yaesus. So I guess I better give this one a try,,, I’m still waiting for the release of a chinese dual band mobile for my 4x4s…I hate to risk more expensive dualbands when I take the 4bys swimming,,, and NO I am NOT Joking,,, they do go swimming on occasion, and sometimes even on purpose!

  4. I bought UV-5R and surprised at its performance.
    I did not expect much from extremely cheap radio,
    but Chinese radios are improving day by day.

    I also have much expensive HTs such as Yaesu VX-8G (APRS) and ICOM ID-31 (D-star radio).
    UV-5R has almost the same basic performance (transmission and reception sensitivity) as those expensive HTs.

    Of course, VX-8G is much rigid and waterproof and has many convenient functions such as ARTS (automatic range transponder system), CW code training, and wide-band receiver,
    but if you are looking for simple walkie talkie with DCS/CTCSS, UV-5R is sufficient.
    The TX power, modulation, and sensitivity of UV-5R are just the same as those expensive radios.