Amateur Radio Operator

26 May 2020

Baofeng UV-5R EX

I purchased this handheld to have an inexpensive handheld while I was at home or out and about. For the money, the unit is okay. Can’t expect a $30 unit to perform like a $300 unit.

The build of the handheld feels normal. Its not cheap flimsy plastic, but no Yaesu FT2DR by any means. There are no squeaks or cracking when you hold it or put pressure on it normally to push the PTT button. Everything fits right.

The screen is bright and is perfectly legible. From an angle it is hard to read, but this being a handheld unit I don’t expect to be using it anywhere where I won’t be looking at it head-on. Once you get used to all the icons and numbers in the screen it is actually fairly easy to know exactly what the unit is doing and what settings are chosen.

The battery itself is a 1800mAh 7.4V battery that is not surprisingly large, but is also not small. It is very adequate for the design. The charge time from empty is not horrible – but I haven’t measured it since I just set it and forget it for a few hours. While transmitting during a weekly net, the battery drains quickly as expected when transmitting at full power of 5W.

The speaker is… well… a small speaker. I can understand others normally with it and the volume is adequate for my use. The sound can get a little chirpy if you put it too high so being mindful of that just set it to a normal volume. It has plenty of range in the volume department for my ears.

The microphone sucks. I literally have to have my mouth right next to the unit and speak loudly to be at a normal output level. Using an external microphone worked a lot better than using the one integrated in the shell. There also seems to be some artifact/static when transmitting, but it is not very audible. When I had somebody else try the unit and I listened in my vehicle rig (the Yaesu FTM-7250DR), I noticed the artifacts and tested the voice level needed to be heard properly.

The unit itself is not too bad but it is definitely not a constant-use unit. It has served well during Skywarn events where I stay at my QTH and observe. Good for a first unit, perhaps a backup unit.

Next time, we'll talk about "If at first you don't succeed... turn on the amplifier!"