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The Killer Baofeng 2-Way Radio Setup

A good friend of mine recently shared an Amazon link with me to remind me of the great pricing that Amazon offers on Baofeng radios.  Many buy these as either an entry level dual band ham radio or to use a scanner.  They are great for both these applications.  As my first handheld ham radio, I purchased a Yaesu FT-270R form Ham Radio Outlet at about $150 shipped.

The Yaesu is a fantastic radio.  But, as with all these radios, you still need to purchase some other accessories to really make them rock.  For instance, a desktop cradle is almost always better than the cheesy wall-wort adapter that comes with most entry level handhelds.  Additionally, a good hand mic is great as well.  Then, what about solar charging to keep things charging when the grid is down?  Of course, you also want to be able to program from your computer using a programming cable instead of hand-keying in frequencies.  How much will all this cost with a pair of radios?  Well, let’s dig into it!

  1. For the sake of saving a few bucks, let’s go with a pair of Baofeng UV-5R (at $25.95 per handset rather than the UV-5R V2+ at $33.99).  There are no key differences between the two and I personally like the build quality of the UV-5R anyways.  COST OF RADIOS: $51.90 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-UV-5R-Dual-Radio-Black/dp/B007H4VT7A/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1453146880&sr=8-3&keywords=baofeng+uv)
  2. You will want the programming cable, especially if you plan to program the FRS, GMRS, etc, since programming Baofeng handhelds is a tedious and annoying task.  COST OF DRIVER CD WITH USB CABLE: $6.05 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-Programming-Cable-BF-888S-Driver/dp/B008RZJHJU/ref=pd_bxgy_422_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0MXJK50QB5X8DQDRVTHJ)
  3. The mic gives the ability to easily key the radio without having it next your head.  At just $5.27/each, it’s a pretty good deal.  COST OF HAND MICS: $10.52 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-BF-S112-Two-Radio-Speaker/dp/B008RZ0EQ0/ref=pd_bxgy_422_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=12KR3323A82GM8SE95R5)
  4. Rather than just get the traditional desktop charger, I would be good to go with a USB charger.  This way you can charge your radio from either a USB charger or a solar charger that has a USB output.  COST OF USB/DESKTOP CHARGER: 19.70 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Cigarette-Splitter-AdapterFit-Walkie-Talkies/dp/B00KDAAEXU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1453147514&sr=8-4&keywords=BAOFENG+CAR+CHARGER)
  5. Not all USB chargers are created equal.  One of the best is the 40 watt RAVPower.  COST OF USB CHARGER: $16.99 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Charger-RAVPower-Charging-Technology-Motorola/dp/B00OT6YUIY/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1453147775&sr=8-18&keywords=USB+CHARGER)
  6. To address the potential of solar charging, you will want something 14 watts or greater.  A 21 watt Anker charger would be a good choice.  COST OF SOLAR CHARGER: $54.99 (LINK http://www.amazon.com/2-Port-Charger-Anker-PowerPort-iPhone/dp/B012YUJJM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453148990&sr=8-1&keywords=21+watt+solar)
  7. Of course, since you will likely want to be using your Baofengs during the day, you will want to have a means to store energy from your solar panels so you can charge your radios later.  To do this, you need a high capacity charger.  COST OF ANKER PORTABLE CHARGER: $39.99 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Compact-20000mAh-Portable-Anker-PowerCore/dp/B00X5RV14Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1453149231&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=high+capacity+portable+charger&psc=1)

So, what’s the bottom line to have a pair of radios with this killer setup?  $200.14!  Now, before you complain and say, that’s a lot of money for a radio setup, you need to go back to that Yaesu I mentioned earlier.  Two Yaesu FT-270’s would be about $300 with no other accessories.  The setup I give you above is still about $100 less than just a pair of Yeasu’s… and that’s amazing.  Plus, with the above setup, you have many items that can be dual-purpose (like the wall USB chargers, the solar charger, and the portable USB charger).  All in all, this should be a practical setup.

Note: I have not individually tested all of the above components, but from my reading I can find no reason why each of these would not be compatible, so… do you own research before you pull the trigger on a buy.

A reader posted these comments, I want to make sure they don’t get buried since he has some great suggestions:

Mark says:

A good list, especially the solar stuff. Some suggestions-

2. Get an FTDI cable. It costs a little more (still only about $20), but will save you lots of headaches. They just work, without drivers or hassle.

http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Genuine-Programming-Cable-BaoFeng/dp/B00HUB0ONK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453193035&sr=8-1&keywords=baofeng+programming+cable+ftdi

3a, maybe? Replace the garbage stock antennas with something else. I recommend the Nagoya NA-771. It’s longer than the stock, adds less than $40 for two (still cheap!) to your total, but will improve your reception tremendously.

http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-NA-771-15-6-Inch-SMA-Female-BaoFeng/dp/B00KC4PWQQ/ref=sr_1_4?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1453193226&sr=1-4&keywords=baofeng+antenna

ePrepper comments here: A good point that many don’t understand is that antenna reception is often linked to its length.  Getting a longer antenna like this whip antenna can make a HUGE difference in performance. Very good point.

3b, maybe? Another antenna- a Slim Jim, or roll-up, j-pole antenna. A cheap (<$20), easy to carry and use mobile/base antenna. Way better reception than even the Nagoya.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BAOFENG-ANTENNA-ROLL-UP-SLIM-JIM-J-POLE-SUPER-PERFORMANCE-USA-WATCH-VIDEO-/201503519073?hash=item2eea8bb161:g:TXMAAOxyHE5RrSct

ePrepper comments here: Another great idea is to get a copper j-pole that you can mount outdoors.  Having a good j-pole can help in a home-base kind of situation.  The j-pole can improve the reception/transmission of one of the radios (which can in turn make a huge difference in the handheld radio in the field [though it doesn’t help 2 field radios communicating with each other]).  A couple roll-ups can be great if you plan to be in the field and want to quickly hang an antenna.

Adds about $70 to your total, but will make everything work much better. And still costs less than a pair of Yaesus!

 

ePrepper is going offline this month and will likely be offline before the end of January 2017, unless I can find someone to either take over the site or migrate its content to. Properly maintaining the site has been taking up too much time and cutting into my family. I would like to see the content of ePrepper get absorbed into a larger site. If you run a blog and are interested using content from ePrepper, please email dan [dot] michaels [at] eprepper [dot] net.

2 Responses to The Killer Baofeng 2-Way Radio Setup

  1. A good list, especially the solar stuff. Some suggestions-

    2. Get an FTDI cable. It costs a little more (still only about $20), but will save you lots of headaches. They just work, without drivers or hassle.

    http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Genuine-Programming-Cable-BaoFeng/dp/B00HUB0ONK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453193035&sr=8-1&keywords=baofeng+programming+cable+ftdi

    3a, maybe? Replace the garbage stock antennas with something else. I recommend the Nagoya NA-771. It’s longer than the stock, adds less than $40 for two (still cheap!) to your total, but will improve your reception tremendously.

    http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-NA-771-15-6-Inch-SMA-Female-BaoFeng/dp/B00KC4PWQQ/ref=sr_1_4?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1453193226&sr=1-4&keywords=baofeng+antenna

    3b, maybe? Another antenna- a Slim Jim, or roll-up, j-pole antenna. A cheap (<$20), easy to carry and use mobile/base antenna. Way better reception than even the Nagoya.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/BAOFENG-ANTENNA-ROLL-UP-SLIM-JIM-J-POLE-SUPER-PERFORMANCE-USA-WATCH-VIDEO-/201503519073?hash=item2eea8bb161:g:TXMAAOxyHE5RrSct

    Adds about $70 to your total, but will make everything work much better. And still costs less than a pair of Yaesus!

    mc

    • Very good! You are right, I was kinda focused on that staying portable. The roll-up j-poles are a great choice. But even having one permanently mounted j-pole at home base is another great option.

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