Posts Tagged Baofeng
A while back I wrote a post called “Why FCC tested transceivers should matter to Ham Radio operators.” As part of this post, I drew attention to testing performed by the ARRL on used ham radio transceivers. One of the highlights of this article was that the Baofeng HTs performed exceptionally poorly due to a high level of spurious emissions.
However, I recently stumbled onto an article on PD0AC’s Ham Radio blog called “Baofeng UV-5R Spectrum Analysis Revisited,” in which Hans (the author) looked into comments about the UV-5R’s suspected spurious emissions. I quote:
“But wait, we did this(link) already … and the UV-5R wasn’t too bad at all. All of his bothered me enough to pick up a few of my own UV-5R’s and repeat the measurements… The only way I could replicate his [failing] results was by reducing external attenuation to such a low level that the linearity of the spectrum analyzer was compromised”
In his initial testing, Hans and Tom (PA2TSL) used a 30 dB attenuator for the spectrum testing.
So I went back to the original QST article (November 2015, page 74) and re-read it. It’s important to note that the following quote appears under the test results table on page 75:
“Specific makes and models in which the majority of the units tested were noncompliant: Baofeng, UV5R, UV5R+…”
I found the following description of their test equipment and setup:
“Our convention tests measured … using a test fixture consisting of a Bird Model 43 RF Power Meter, a Bird Model 8322 30 dB power attenuator, a Hewlett-Packard HP355C 0 to 12 dB step attenuator, and a Rigol DSA-815TG spectrum analyzer. … First, the power output … was measured using the Bird Model 43 meter. … Next, with the radio push-to-talk (PTT) button pressed and held, the Rigol DSA-815TG spectrum analyzer was used to perform a sweep…”
So, I went to the FCC’s testing setup. They’re the ones who initially gave the UV-5R a pass, so let’s see what they used to do it. Starting on page 37 of the FCC’s published test results, you can read for yourself the detailed setup and testing of the transceiver, including the directly-connected spectrum analyzer test. Note that they specifically show that the signal from the radio passes through an attenuator (if I’m reading the report correctly, the attenuation is 13 dB).
On page 76, of the QST article, Figure 3 shows a borderline result of a tested UV-5R. The attenuation displayed on the display of this figure shows an attenuation of 10 dB, below either of the previous two test setups.
Let me say that I appreciate what the ARRL does, and I don’t believe for a minute that they are unfamiliar with their equipment, but testing at the informal environment of a convention could lead to simple mistakes in the test setup. I would have really liked to see a clear spelling out of what level of attenuation, if any, was between the equipment and the spectrum analyzer. It’s also important to note that the ARRL clearly mentions in their article that this testing was performed on used equipment, not newly-manufactured units specifically submitted for testing. In light of the two previous articles I mentioned above, and the lack of clearly-mentioned attenuation between the radio and spectrum analyzer, I have to say that, in my opinion, the ARRL’s testing is inconclusive.
Your comments are welcome below. Thank you for reading.
If you have purchased a cheap programming cable for your radio from Amazon, eBay, or another dealer, you’ve probably run into an issue where the cable initially won’t work, and someone (perhaps the vendor) told you that you have to use an older driver to get it to work. What you have is a cable that uses a counterfeit chipset. The Prolific chips seem to be the most problematic, while FTDI chipsets work very well. This page on miklor.com offers some background information on this subject.
The Miklor Cables & Drivers page talks about this and offers the older Prolific drivers that work well with cables that feature those counterfeit Prolific chipsets. You will run into one of two problems while dealing with them, however.
Under Windows 8 and previous Windows versions, Windows will offer the newer, non-working driver through Windows update. It is sufficient to go in and block the update, as described here, but you may have to do that each time you plug the cable in to a different USB port.
Under Windows 10, it’s a whole different situation. Windows 10 will install all updates offered through Windows Update, and you have the option to defer upgrades, but not to block individual updates. Windows 10 will continue to install the updated driver, which will continue to cause your counterfeit chipset cable to stop functioning.
So, if you’re using the counterfeit chipset cable under Windows 10, do yourself a favor and get a genuine programming cable. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and frustration.
A good source for programming software and cables is RT Systems, as they offer both cables and software for radios they support. If you’re only interested in the cable, and you want to use it with the factory software or the open-source software Chirp, look for cables that mention using genuine FTDI chipsets. They aren’t hard to find, but they will cost a little more. For the Baofeng 2-pin models, this cable from Amazon works well. This cable should work for all Baofeng 2-pin cable compatible radios, such as the UV-5R (and variants), the BF-F8+ (and variants), UV-B5 and UB-B6, and UV-82 (and variants). This should also work for all 2-pin cable compatible radios from other manufacturers, as long as they use the same pin out.
You could also try replacing the chipset with a $3 adapter, as described here. A good eBay seller for that adapter is here. Many other people report success. but I tried it with a counterfeit cable for my Baofeng and couldn’t get it to work.
Questions and comments are welcome below.
I have been engaged in conversation with several other hams in regard to Chinese imported transceivers such as Baofengs and Wouxuns. These radios are very inexpensive (usually less than $50 a piece) and readily available from US suppliers via Amazon and eBay. They frequently do not come with an FCC label on them.
The question is, does it matter?
Some hams are of the belief that FCC certification doesn’t matter because they’re used in Amateur Radio, which operates under Part 97 of the rules and does not require certification.
Other hams are of the belief that the transceiver requires at least Part 15 certification since it will receive outside of the amateur band.
So which is correct? Technically, the latter belief is correct. Part 15 certification is required because the device will receive outside of the amateur band. But more importantly, a large part of the Chinese imports do not even meet the emissions standards of FCC Part 97. We should care about Part 15 certification because FCC testing proves the emission standards of the radio, such as harmonics and splatter, and poor emissions can cause harmful interference in other radio bands.
In the November 2015 issue of QST, the ARRL published results of testing Amateur-owned handheld transceivers at various conventions from 2012-2015. This testing was done on attendees’ used radios which were brought to the conventions. Each transceiver was hooked to a calibrated set of test equipment and was tested for emission standards compliance.
While I can’t provide the actual article due to copyrights, I will sum up the findings here. For all brands listed in the article over the entire test period, I’ve provided the total number of radios and the average percent of compliant radios across all years.
- Baofeng: 186 tested. 29% compliant.
- Connect Systems: 13 tested, 100% compliant.
- Icom: 151 tested, 100% compliant.
- Kenwood: 129 tested, 99.5% compliant.
- Motorola: 11 tested, 100% compliant
- RadioShack: 11 tested, 100% compliant.
- TYT: 6 tested, 50% compliant.
- Wouxun: 79 tested, 82.5% compliant.
- Yaesu: 280 tested, 99.8% compliant.
For greater detail of the radios tested and the emissions findings, including spectral graphs of the emissions of a few tested radios, please see the issue of QST I mentioned above.
Comments are welcome.
Miklor has an excellent tutorial which explains the situation with counterfeit Prolific cables, and how to get the correct driver installed and working.
In short, it’s simply a matter of installing the correct cable driver (the older Prolific driver), plugging in the cable, and then choosing the correct driver in Device Manager. In Linux, the cables seem to work fine with no issues.
There are a couple of additional things to keep in mind:
1) After installing the working driver, make sure you continue to plug the cable into that same USB port. Plugging it in to a different port will cause the Windows driver to reload. If you do, just update it with the working driver again.
2) Windows Update may offer an update to your “outdated” Prolific driver. Just block or hide this update.
3) If you plug the Prolific cable into your radio with the wrong driver installed, the LED will turn red. You ARE transmitting a carrier. Keep that in mind. Make sure your radio is tuned to an in-band, unused frequency before plugging the cable into your radio if you’re not sure of the driver situation, or just check Device Manager, as the wrong driver will show a yellow exclamation mark.
Here’s a photo of the led gone red from the wrong drivers installed:
Have anything else to add to this? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you!
However, the radio exhibits some really strange display issues when you tune above 499Mhz. Take a look at the two videos below for a demonstration.
It’s also worth noting that the UV-B6 antenna that mine came with was only indicated for use up to 480Mhz. Yours may be the same.
If you have anything to share about this, please do so in the comments section below. Thank you!