Baofeng UV-5R : Triumph of Moore's Law


Norm X

I bought a China made Baofeng UV-5R for $45 from eBay. Because of Moore's
Law, silicon devices continue to improve in quality and decrease in price.
Before Baofeng, the popular brand was Icom for $300. The UV-5R is a hand
held digital signal processing VHF/UHF transceiver. It is dual band, which
means it listens to two channels at once. The product is designed for
corporate or ham radio club use. Amateur radio is legislated, so one needs
to belong to a ham radio club and acquire a license to use the Push To Talk
(PTT) button. I have not yet written my ham radio license exam. In lieu of
legal PTT use, the UV-5R provides scanning of three bands, VHF, UHF and
commercial FM bands. This transceiver is set up for frequency modulation on
all bands. It can be set up with up to 128 channels. Scanning the
frequencies, I have found marine, police, ham, corporate and public service
chit chat even from the other side of the Salish Sea. The product is
delivered with a "rubber duckie" antenna* and an SMA connector. Since I had
previously made an eBay purchase of a $20 Israeli made, 15 dB, polarized,
Yagi, log-periodic UHF antenna for OTA HDTV, I ordered a China made SMA / F
connector adapter from eBay for $2. That permitted me to connect the UHF
Yagi to the UV-5R. Needless to say I got even better reception from the
other side of the Salish Sea. UHF should be "line of sight" and restricted
by the curvature of the Earth so I think I have discovered "tropospheric
ducting" of UHF.

The UV-5R may be programmed via a "front panel" of buttons or using a PC
adapter cable and software. Some of the more exotic functions require PC
programming. Ham radio clubs like to set up high power repeater stations at
high altitude for large area coverage and to plug into the phone system.
Repeaters listen on one channel and rebroadcast on another, generally 600
kHz displaced. Being dual band, the UV-5R is designed to be programmed
through repeaters

*The "rubber duckie" antenna has an interesting urban history. The UV-5R
works on the two meter and 70 cm. RF bands. The simplest antenna solution is
a long helical wire collapsed and encased in a rubber protective enclosure.
This provides 0 dBi gain or possibly negative gain as a load on the 5 W
broadcast power. The rubber duckie solution became popular with secret
service men during the reign of JFK. Urban legend says that 5 year old
Caroline Kennedy pointed at the rubber antenna and said "rubber duckie" and
the name stuck.

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