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Multi-Use Radio

multi-use radio  When we look over our survival gear, it seems to be a ton of stuff. You need to have multiple use gear. This is why your handheld radio should be able to take the place of multiple radios. You need a multi-use radio, like the BaoFeng UV5R and we’ll show you how to add all the important channels fast.

Multi-Use Radio

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to predict our communication needs for the future?

It’d be awesome to know that a certain type of  radio, like GMRS, would be all I’d need, during an emergency, but we don’t have that luxury.

What if we take our Budget Ham Radio, the BaoFeng UV5R, and configure it to cover all our bases?

The BaoFeng UV5R, is an amazing, yet economically priced radio. It can cover a multitude of channels and frequencies.

The Bands these cover (Not all of these are legal to broadcast on, but listening should be fine – see FCC Part 95 Rules)

  • 2 Meter
  • 70 cm
  • FRS (Family Radio Service)
  • GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)
  • MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service)
  • Marine VHF
  • Public service Frequencies
  • NOAA Weather Band
  • FM radio (listen only)

That is quite a list of frequencies. While it’s not legal to transmit on all these frequencies if your not a HAM or if the device isn’t approved on the FCC Part 95, that really won’t apply after SHTF. I’d take an FCC fine over death any day!

Preparing to Program Your BaoFeng

Software

I recommend CHIRP, to program your BaoFeng, so this post will refer to that software. CHIRP is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux, so regardless of your operating system, you are covered.

Download the version you need and install it.

Programming Cable

Before you can program your radio with CHIRP, you’ll need the BaoFeng USB programming cable.

I did NOT use the driver disk that came with the usb cable, instead I grabbed the drivers over at http://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php (an awesome BaoFeng informational page).

Download and install the proper drivers for your USB cable (probably Prolific).

Programming Your BaoFeng

Step 1

Open/Run CHIRP, connect your BaoFeng and plug it into an USB port on your computer.

First you’ll need to pull a copy of the existing config from your radio.

In CHIRP, select RADIO > Download From Radio

chirp-download-radio

You’ll need to give CHIRP some information about your radio and what COM Port (or which /dev/XXXX  in Linux and Mac OS)  it’s connected to.

Radio-vendor-port

This is on a Windows PC

Once this step has been completed, it should list any channels that you have already programmed into memory.

Step 2

Now in CHIRP go to FILE > Open Stock Config and Select the group of channels that you’d like to add to your BaoFeng (This seems to be missing on the Mac OS version of CHIRP)

chirp stock config

In this screenshot, I have opened Marine VHF Channels

baofeng-marine

You can select the channels or all channels using the hot-key combinations for your OS

Windows (and most Linux systems unless you’ve remapped stuff)

  • Select all = CTRL + A (keys on your keyboard)
  • Select individual Channels = CTRL + mouse click
  • Select Range of Channels = Mouse click to highlight start then, SHIFT + mouse click on the last in the range that you’d like to select

Then CTRL + C  (or EDIT > COPY ) to copy the selected channels

Step 3

Switch back to your BaoFeng Tab

tab

Click on the first unoccupied channel and then select EDIT > PASTE (or CTRL + V) to paste in the previously copied channels from the Stock Config into your Radio’s Config

Step 3A

If you you don’t have enough channel slots, you can add more (Baofeng supports up to 128 memory channels, 0-127)

memory range

Change this from the default, of 25, to whatever you need. Max is 127

 

This is how my BaoFeng Config looks after adding FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine VHF, and NOAA weather (Note: channel 0 is not programmed and channel 1 is my local HAM club’s repeater)

baofeng gmrs frs murs marine noaa weather

Click to expand image

Step 4

Now you just have to upload this config back to your radio. Select RADIO > Upload to Radio and CHIRP will write it to your BaoFeng’s memory.

chirp-upload-radio

 

Alternative Options for the non-nerdy

  1. You still need to do Step 1 (download your radio’s config) above
  2. Download this config (minus my Local Repeater): baofeng-freqs.csv

    Remember where you downloaded this file to (Desktop?).
  3. Perform Step 3A to adjust the number of channels, you’ll need to set this to 60 or 61.
  4. Then in CHIRP Select FILE > Import and import that baofeng-freqs.csv file that you just saved someplace (I told you to remember where you saved it)chirp-import
  5. Now do Step 4 from above to write this config to your Baofeng

 

 

Now your trusty BaoFeng UV5R has all the FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine VHF and NOAA weather channels programmed in it and you still have 68 channels left for your 2 Meter and 70 cm frequencies.  I suggest that you pick up a copy of the ARRL Repeater Directory and program in some of the repeaters in your area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 comments

  1. Thanks for this information I just picked up one of this great little radios and they are almost too great so many features and CHIRP can be a little intimidating to use. This answered a few of my question I had about programming the little thing again thanks. I plan to get a couple of these for the rest of the family and have them handle for go bags, get back home bags, and every day carry.

  2. Excellent approach. Also set config to ‘skip’ NOAA frequencies so you can scan the remaining memory channels for activity?

  3. Hi Bro,

    The Yaesu ft60r has all of these channels too, and even more total number of frequencies to listen to than a Baofeng. It’s certainly more expensive that the Baofeng, but the Yaesu has some valuable advantages over the Baofeng to justify the higher price. Plus, the Baofeng would break during a crisis of survival. The Yaesu is made to endure abusive treatment during an emergency.

    Check out the Yaesu ft60r and compare it to any Baofeng product.

    • /ranton

      Nothing like an equipment snob.

      ” Plus, the Baofeng would break during a crisis of survival.”

      WTF?

      I’m not knocking the Yaesu products, I own a FT-7800 and a FT-857D (the 857 is on now, I’m listening to 40 meters), however, I also own 5 of the UV-5R variants. I’ve not had a single functionality issue with any of the 7 radios I’ve had…and I’m just guessing that the engineers that built the UV-5R didn’t build a circuit that causes the radio to break in a “crisis of survival”.

      Is the FT60R a better radio? Yes. Is it four times the radio to justify four times the price? That depends on the user, I’d say. If all you want is to hit repeaters and have a way to communicate, I’d say the UV5R is a perfect fit. And for the price of one FT60R, I can buy 4 UV5Rs, as well as upgraded antennas, allowing me to have a radio for everyone in my family for an emergency.

      Radio choice is a lot like car choice. Sure I’d prefer to drive a $90,000 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 series, but I can drive my $20,000 Toyota Sienna (used) just as well, and they both offer the same end result – I get to my destination.

      Or compare radios to knives. I carry two knives in my EDC, one is a Randal Camp & Trail, the other is a Mora. The Randall currently is priced at $370, with a FOUR YEAR wait before delivery. The Mora is $17 shipped,and I can have a replacement on my doorstep in two days. I use both. I prefer the Randall, but sometimes I use the Mora because I’d prefer to dish the abuse out to the less expensive knife. They both cut very well, and both handle nicely. I have several Moras for the same reason that I have several UV5Rs – because they work, and are affordable.

      And odds are, neither my Mora or my Sienna would break down in a “crisis of survival” any more than their more expensive counterparts would.

      /rantoff

      Great article, John, as always. Call it convergent evolution, but I’ve come to the same conclusions, and very similar end results with my commo. I also include a PL-880 and an ICF-2010 for listening. Great receivers. Anything that you can listen to SSB transmissions I would consider handy.

      Peace,
      db

  4. Hi DB,

    It sounds like you are a Prepper, a ham radio operator, you know your way around knives, you’re frugal, you’re smart, and you seem like the kind of person who would be an incredibly valuable asset to your family, friends and neighbors during and after a SHTF crisis.

    Thank you for providing me with a chance to clarify my original post to you and to the good audience of Geek Prepper.

    As preppers, we have all noticed that some “emergency equipment” does not appear to be designed and constructed for the crisis-situations that are described in the advertising on their packages. (This is especially true for the AM/FM/Shortwave/NOAA radios.) It is not “equipment snobbery” to acknowledge that higher-quality, more ruggedly constructed equipment exists, that it comes with a higher pricetag, and it will probably last longer during a crisis of survival than the lower-priced choices.

    Like you, I own more than one Baofeng and several ham radios too. At some point in the past, you have surely looked at any two of the radios that you own and made a decision about which one was better suited for the current situation? At that moment, you were not committing “equipment snobbery,” you were using your critical thinking skills and making an informed decision.

    Please let me re-illustrate my point about the Baofeng with another example: Preppers have a choice between a 3D printed pistol, or a Baretta 9mm. Which one costs less? Both will function just fine. But which one do we want in our belts when the lights go out?

    This is not a “WTF” moment as you suggested. I just feel that it would be wrong for prepared people to be forced to tell their children that an essential item no longer functions when we needed it most, and we could have purchased something better before the crisis began but we went with the lower priced choice instead.

    The Baofeng product line and your preowned Toyota Sienna are great purchases that you made, and there is nothing wrong with your decision to own these items. On the other hand, there is also nothing wrong with reminding our brothers and sisters in the prepper community that higher quality, more rugged (and sometimes more expensive) equipment exists and might be a better choice during SHTF.

    Have a great day DB, and God bless you.

  5. Thanks for the info, we are using a different model but the same info applies.

  6. In the same spirit of pointing out some suggestions, be aware that most folks have issues with Chirp because they purchase the cheaper Prolific fake cable (like you suggest) from Amazon or eBay. Those cables have a fake Prolific chipset and will cause the software driver from Prolific to not work, requiring you to start looking for a workaround as soon as you attempt to program your new radio.

    You would be far better off to spend a few extra dollars and get either an FTDI or Silicon Labs programming cable (which haven’t be illegally cloned by the Chinese) and will continue to work no matter how many times Microsoft updates their USB cable drivers.

    For the prepper that wants a better receiver AND more power (the Baofeng UV-5R radios provide 5 watts on VHF and 4 watts on UHF – even the over-hyped 8 watt tri-power UV-5R and the BF-F8HP units only jump to 8 watts on VHF and 6 watts on UHF), you may want to take a hard look at the TYT TH-UV8000D radios that provide 10 watts output on both bands (but with extra performance and features come a higher price of $109.95 at Amazon).

    The only real issue with these radios (the same is true with all Chinese radios) is getting the most up to date versions (the Chinese rarely change model or part numbers when they internally upgrade the radios), so original UV8000D radios (still being sold on the internet by various Chinese sellers) had poor heatsinks and would get warm fast.

    The second generation units fixed the heatsink issue but still had some audio problems. The third generation radios fixed the audio issues but still didn’t support the cross-band feature.

    It’s only the fourth generation of these radios that have everything working correctly, but unfortunately you can’t always get a straight answer from Chinese sellers as to which radio they are offering (but pricing normally dictates the first or second generation of radios). I’d suggest you look for a U.S. based seller with a track record of selling to U.S. customers. I happen to live in AZ, so my choice is easy (RF Gear 2 Go in Mesa), where I also got my RT Systems software/cable kits to program my various radios (including my new fourth generation TYT TH-UV8000D radios).

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