Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baofeng UV-B5: Best Kept Secret


[ Don't have a UV-B5 yet? Get one here. ]

Ben (PA2OLD) called me out for being so slow to post about the Baofeng UV-B5. Hans posted some general information about it when he discovered the UV-B5 and UV-B6. (Yes, back in November - just wait, it gets worse.)




On the surface, it is your typical dual band 5W Chinese HT: 136 - 174 MHz and 400 - 470 MHz along with 65 - 108 MHz FM receive. Here are the links to the radios on the Baofeng site: UV-B5 and UV-B6. Of note is the lack of the customary flashlight (for the UV-B5) and, perhaps more importantly, 2.5Khz steps. You can get one at the 409Shop for $53 (USD) along with many of the usual accessories (USB programming cable, serial programming cable, extra batteries or chargers) - no colors or AA/AAA battery packs yet. Give them time and I am sure they will show up. As you will find, the UV-B5 does not share the same form as the UV-5R, so you won't be able to share batteries or chargers. However, the programming cable from your UV-5R should work.

No surprise.. a Yahoo Group has been started for the UV-B5.

Hans, in his full review, says:
"For now this is the HT to compare others with – the receiver is at least as good as the Wouxun KG-UVD1P and outperforms the Quansheng TG-UV2. Overloading is not impossible, but far from easy – almost unreal for an HT this price."
"The Baofeng UV-B5 is close to perfect. The only two niggles are the 5-character limit for alphanumeric descriptions and the belt clip screws which are too short. For the rest: best value for money to date. Needless to say, I’m keeping this one."
Hans also points out that you can save a few dollars if you don't want the pretty box by ordering from AliExpress. I'm guessing price was not the biggest factor when Hans did his "Best/Worst of 2012" and ranked the Wouxun KG-UVD1P ahead of the Baofeng UV-B5. If price had been weighted heavily it looks like the UV-B5 might have been the winner.

Lastly, after living with the radio for a while he found some problems with the FM tuning and memories. He also reports the battery life, while not horrible, isn't great.

And Ben got his hands on one. He's got a summary page here with lots of pictures. He comments:
"The radio works excellent and the modulation is also good, not like some UV-5R types.I also think that the battery is more than enough capacity.
This Baofeng UV B5 cost at the 409shop only 53 Dollar, which is in Euros (with the exchange rate of January 2013) € 41.75 including shipping."
Bob (K0NR) really likes it as well:
"My overall assessment is that Baofeng has cleaned up the issues with the UV-5R (and don’t forget, I really like that radio!). The UV-B5 is a sweet little radio that will make a splash when it hits the US market."
Given my tardiness, the price, and the glowing reviews from the big name ham radio bloggers above, I'm surprised these things aren't the talk of the internet. The Yahoo group is of a modest size and Google searches don't reveal much beyond the links above. (I found one other review, but there wasn't much meat to it.) Here is the best video I found. (Best meaning the better of two.)



So for now, I'm calling the UV-B5 the best kept secret in the world of Chinese radios!

42 comments:

  1. Is the B6 version listed on the 409 site an upgrade?

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  2. Or is the only difference being that the "5" has a tuning knob while the "6" replaces this with a flashlight LED?

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  3. I just ordered a UV-B5 the other day. I am quite excited for it.

    I haven't seen very much info on the BF-V85. Have you already done a review on that radio? Is Does seem like a step back with only one knob.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've not really looked at it - the first thing that catches my eye is the single line display.

      Ben has a link to a video.
      http://www.pa2old.nl/page.php?id=144

      Delete
    2. The BF-V85 is very likely based on an older design I know well, and that worries me. From overheating chargers to bad batteries, this particular design made an ever lasting impression.

      That's why I never bothered acquiring one for a review. This radio is also illegally marketed as Icom IC-V89. Counter fitting makes matter even worse.

      Yet some people seem to be very happy with it, and the radio is sold by well known dealers like KnightRadio. Maybe I'm just imagining things.

      Hans

      Delete
  4. I thought this blog was keeping me hip to Chinese radios until I first heard of the UV-B5 when listening to the Winsystem 2 weeks ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, I'm behind the curve. Heck, Zombie Hunters were talking about the UV-B6 in August!

      http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=98347

      Delete
  5. Hi Brick,
    Thank you for the nice article!
    What will the future bring us, more and better portable radios? Also great mobile dual or more band radios? And that all for Baofeng prices?
    We will see in a few years.
    73, Ben de PA2OLD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ben - you are welcome, but really thanks should go to you guys who have actually used these radios and test them. You do the hard work - I just summarize.

      Delete
  6. And if you need the password for the service settings (power, squelch etc)
    This is KT511

    Walter

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. How do you get into the test mode?

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    2. It's an option in the software.

      Couldn't get it to do anything useful though.

      Delete
  7. The manufacturers want to sell.
    And live the dealers want (if the device is misadjusted).

    It should work only with instruments, nothing to play around!

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  8. There is an error in the UV-B5 user manual, regarding the function of the battery saving feature. The manual says that the activation of the battery saving feature reduces the TX power based on the strength of the last received signal (of GSM heritage, I suppose). Therefore, I deactivated it, just to note that the battery was lasting only a day on standby, with no TX or RX activity at all. I later measured the current draw from the battery on stand-by to be 70 mA with Battery save deactivated, and 20 mA (average) with the battery save activated in the menu. I have seen no effect on the TX power of the UV-B5, which draws 1.4 Amps on High TX power, and 700 mA on Low TX power.
    With the FM receiver on, the UV-B5 draws 100 mA at low volume, and 200 mA at max audio volume. The display backlit LED draws 20 mA, and (on the UV-B6) the torch LED draws 30 mA.
    Hope this helps
    Anthony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. so basically Power save goes into effect when there is no signal present.

      Delete
    2. so basically Power save goes into effect when there is no signal present.

      Delete
  9. from all the pictures I have seen of this radio I have not once seen a FCC # on it yet. so that would mean they are not legal to use in the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Show me a picture of the back of the radio without the battery installed where it doesn't show a FCC ID #. Before stating something as FACT, maybe you should ask a question first and ASK if it's FCC approved. Because YES it is. It has a FCC ID # on it which I'm looking at while I type this, and it is RoHS compliant as well. So maybe you should tell us why you are trying to dissuade people from buying this awesome radio (due to price)?

      Delete
    2. hmm, I have not seen one with a FCC#. I just watched the video on this blog which clearly shows the back of the radio with a CMIIT sticker and no FCC sticker.

      I must side with the 1st poster and not the 2nd poster. Perhaps that is why he made his posting.

      Delete
    3. You can buy it and issue the process to get the FCC id. It's not impossible, but expensive because you'll need lab tests.

      Delete
  10. Como se bloquea el teclado y el dial del UV-B6 ??? Gracias.......

    ReplyDelete
  11. Con mernu apretado mas de un segundo se bloquea y desbloquea.Saben como borrar una memoria, no sobreescribirla,ok saludos Jose

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just bought one of these from a ham via craigslist today...and now just read this page. Guess what? no FCC sticker... chalk this one up to education, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shouldn't matter if you are a ham (public service band use is a different matter).

      Delete
  13. Hans, got one of these a while back, used, (live and learn), it works, but when I transmit there is a VERY high pitched squeal in the background. The person I am talking to can still hear me, but this high pitch whine is very annoying.. is there anything I can do or did I get a lemon? thx

    ReplyDelete
  14. Can you get a AAA adapter for the UV-B5?

    ReplyDelete
  15. No battery adapters at all yet. The B-5 is approved FFC 90, I'm not sure why there is no sticker but due to the fact that on the internet the FCC does recognize the B5 I would assume the B6 is as well since they are the same radio.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The folks on the Yahoo group just discovered it has a 2 watt output on the 220 band, and have updated the Chirp files to support this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering about this. I saw in certain software there was an option for the 220 band. Can this radio actually be programmed to be used on 220 (or whatever that ham band is)? I haven't tried because I thought it *could* damage it for all I know. Would the antenna supplied even be usable on that band?

      Delete
    2. Found an answer here: http://www.miklor.com/UVB5/UVB5-220.php
      It does technically work...just not very well.

      Delete
  17. I know this is an old thread but you guys sound like you know what your talking about, I'm new to all if this and have the b6 but I can't get it to transmit can you guys please help

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Yes, it can not be beat for $30.
    If You get "good working radio" then it is good solution for playing around on VHF/UHF FM bands. The front-end is really not bad and compare to all other Bao's is even amazing! Design is beautiful and programming using the Profilic adapter cable and factory OEM s/w is easy. So the only problem is that as all chineese radios it is the "wonder box" so You have to be prepared for not fully working radio or bugs in s/w etc. in some cases. I got UV-B6 (same as UV-B5 just LED flash light instead of rotary encoder installed on top) fully working and all seems to be as it should. See http://www.miklor.com/UVB5/ for complete information about it.
    I can not recommend any kind of chineese radios in general but if You would like to play with something cheap then the only UV-B5/6 from Bao... is the choice only.

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  20. A lot of people seem to like it. The company must be doing something good with their technology. They can learn from that and keep on making products that will please their fans and that will help them to become even more trusted in their niche.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I thought this blog was keeping me hip to Chinese radios until I first heard of the UV-B5 when listening to the Winsystem 2 weeks ago.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey..
    Thank for your nice article.
    is there any update version of Baofeng UV-B5 Radio available in the market?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hans, got one of these a while back, used, (live and learn), it works, but when I transmit there is a VERY high pitched squeal in the background. The person I am talking to can still hear me, but this high pitch whine is very annoying.. is there anything I can do or did I get a lemon? thx

    ReplyDelete