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The Baofeng UV-5R USB connection and memory loading

Got my BaoFeng UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band DTMF CTCSS DCS FM Ham Two Way Radio (Amazon Affiliate link). Nifty.

Since the jacks for the auxiliary ports were not in the middle of the well, plugs for the USB port or speaker/mic would not seat properly. I found this out from a search for why Chirp wasn’t talking to the radio. A bit of trimming on one side of the USB plug fixed the problem. Ubuntu had no problem with the Prolific chip used in the Baofeng USB cable and Linux is a preferred platform for Chirp so all went well on the software side.

For Chirp, the first thing I did was to import a couple of their stock listings for simplex frequencies and NOAA channels. I saved that to a comma separated value (CSV) file that I could further edit with Libre Office Calc. Then I found the table of Northern Nevada repeaters on the Carson City Club site, copied it to the spreadsheet, rearranged the columns to fit the template from Chirp, applied fixups, and edited to suit the target.

Fixups included having to calculate a sign and value for the repeater offsets from the table data. The PL could have been programmatically pulled from the comments column but I just manually made that column. To end up with data rather than formulas, I used calc’s copy and ‘paste special’ functions.

It turns out Chirp is not great in helping find typos in its import data so it took a few turns of import attempt then data examination to get things straight. Once I could see the table of repeater data in Chirp, I was ready for radio programming.

After the judicious whittling of the USB jack to get a good connection, I read the radio data as purchased and saved an image. Then I did a ‘save-as’ to make sure my edits would not over-write the OEM condition backup. The Northern Nevada repeater list was imported and the radio settings were checked before I uploaded the resulting file to the radio.

The radio actually seems to work as intended! It does need a rather clean RF environment. Near a computer or other RF source, you will get a lot of noise breaking the squelch which can be pain if scanning or listening to a quiet frequency.

Scan and monitor modes include being able to listen to broadcast FM and automatically switch to a communcations frequency if a signal appears, being able to scan two frequencies with the dual watch function, and being able to scan memory channels or frequency bands. With Chirp, you can set certain channels to be skipped during scan but I don’t see this option in the menu of functions on the radio.

For amateur use, it looks like it is a good idea to turn off receive squelch tones (DCS and CTSS), turn off the squelch tail stuff, and set the channel spacing to 5 KHz. There are a lot of other options to play with and the voice prompt is very good.

The battery is about 14 watt hours and the radio runs at about 3 watts in receive. This means four or five hours of listening on a battery charge. Standby with occasional transmit would likely last all day.

LED’s in color can be fun, too. The wall wart has a bright red LED, the charger LED changes color between charging, charged, or no battery in charger. The radio has a receive green LED, a ‘flashlight’ LED, and a three color backlight for the display that can be configured for your style. It makes for quite a night light.

I can see why these things are so popular with amateurs and preppers.

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