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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | BaoFeng UV-5x3 Help


Reviews Summary for BaoFeng UV-5x3
BaoFeng UV-5x3 Reviews: 7 Average rating: 3.6/5 MSRP: $68
Description: Inexpensive tri-band (144-22-440) Chinese handheld
Product is in production.
More info: http://https://baofengtech.com/uv-5x3
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WU6X Rating: 4/5 Oct 29, 2017 10:17 Send this review to a friend
Hard to Beat!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Okay, I'll say up front that my comments should be measured and judged with the additional consideration ... "FOR THE COST". I've now owned four Baofengs; a UV-3, two UV-5R, and a UV-5x3. The UV-3 is still going strong after 4 years. The others have all had to be replaced, the UV-5x3 just now after 14 months.

Having said this, the UV-5x3 is an excellent bargain, works well, programs easily using CHIRP (but not so bad from the keypad either, once learned), belt clip, stand-up charger, etc., easy-to-use new manual, and ... it actually compares well with the Japanese handhelds on a spectrum analyzer. Having said all this there are inconsistencies. So, if your's doesn't match up, send it back and get another. BTech customer support is very good and now US-based. It comes with a 12 month warranty ... just ask for another one and quit whining. BTech has come a long way since the UV-3R and I expect will continue to improve their products.

Also, I think the price-point competition has possibly caused Japanese HT manufacturers to re-think their margins and price some models at a more reasonable cost as evidenced by the FT-65R.

So, my final comment is I really don't expect to have this radio work forever like my ICOM IC-2AT (20 years). I expect to put it in electronic waste after a couple years, okay? But, I'm also NOT afraid to use it in any and all environments, even fishing in my float tube, as I consider it replaceable ... for the price! WU6X
 
N4IS Rating: 1/5 May 7, 2017 18:48 Send this review to a friend
READ BEFORE BUY  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Originally I really liked this product, it seemed to have perfect functionality and worked very well for the first few weeks. I bought 3 radios, spare batteries antennas, an external mic and a programing cable. It is easy to program , one file for 3 radios and the base radio BETCH 25x4. The mobile radio was the first to stop working after few days, the radio locks on TX, power is good but not returning to RX. Very disappointed for the first time, I returned the radio and on the very same day, the 2nd UV-5x3 drained the battery to zero. A few hours later I replaced the battery and a second disappointment: the radio lost power for no reason. I was able to talk with the radios inside my house but not able to open any repeater. Today, just few days after the second return, I when I was with my 3 grandsons at our family picnic,my idea was to show them the radio while talking with some friends on the local repeater. I was not able to talk with anybody. The RF TX was good and I was hitting all repeater I normally open with low power, the long 3 band antenna is quite long but has a excellent performance. To my surprise and 3rd big disappointment, the internal mic, just quit. NO TX AUDIO, just RF. Not a good impression for my 3 grandsons. Ham radio demonstration, or lets say frustration, I am just returning a BETCH radio for the third time in the last 5 days. I love this nice radio, but you get what you paid for, I have been in Ham radio for 46 years and majored in Electronic Engineering. I never experienced a sequence of failures like that.
There is a great possibility that all failures are related to the poor quality of the PTT/MIC jack. If you don't use the programing cable or the external mic, or just let the radio on display without using it. IT IS JUST NOT RELIABLE.
I really want to return all BETCH products I ordered. P.S. I forgot to mentioned the charger on the first radio also stopped charging the battery and I bought another one. Shame on me!

- N4IS JC
 
N3GBJ Rating: 4/5 Apr 22, 2017 12:09 Send this review to a friend
update to previous review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Forgot to mention one or two things in previous review: This is the first Baofeng radio that I would feel comfortable recommending to a new ham on a tight budget. The other thing is that I recommend Chirp for programming if nothing else because Chirp makes it easy to disable accidental transmitting on "non Ham" frequencies such as NOAA Weather or other commercial radio services if one wishes to monitor those frequencies.
 
VA7QB Rating: 3/5 Dec 29, 2016 15:12 Send this review to a friend
Great for the price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Very good for the price. A competent triband UHF/VHF radio with 220MHz. In my area I had front-end overload with the Kenwood tribander from an overpowered pager tower. No overload with the UV-5X3.

It may not be an issue for you, but the need to swap antennas for 220 MHz, then back for 2M/70cm use is a bit of a pain.

Programming of memories takes a bit of getting used to. Basically, for duplex (repeater use) both the receive and transmit frequencies need to be entered separately for each channel - making use of the non-intuitive 3 button to enter the transmit frequency. I'm unclear still if the CTSS tone needs to be re-entered even if it is previously set.

This set-up maximizes the key-presses needed, even when the proper duplex set-up is in the upper display.

If you have a Wouxun handheld, you'll recognize the way the menus are set out. But really, BaoFeng/BTech could have put a little more work into manual programming.

Still, the positives are the price - and if swapping antennas doesn't bug you (where do you store the antenna not used?), then this tribander is the ticket, with full output on 2M/220 MHz/70cm.

There's a dedicated button to turn on a mini-flashlight, as well as a dedicated button handy for the commercial FM broadcast band.

The manual is so-so, particularly in explaining the method to enter duplex freqs into memory.

I'd buy it again for the price alone.
 
N6BIZ Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2016 05:19 Send this review to a friend
GREAT  Time owned: more than 12 months
I HAVE ONE ITS GREAT
 
KD8DVR Rating: 5/5 Nov 16, 2016 12:13 Send this review to a friend
BTECH UV-5X3 Big review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My BTECH UV-5X3 Big Review

I have recently received 2 of these new radios. I shall now delve into what is up with these radios. Hopefully, this will be informative and helpful. I refer to this radio as a BTECH, not a Baofeng, as we do not know the actual manufacturer. Also, this radio is unique to BTECH and carried their official brand name. I consider this radio a BTECH and not a Baofeng.

All information presented here is my personal opinion. Each operator has their own preferences of what is good, bad, acceptable and unacceptable. Evaluation of radios will always differ between any one person to another.

FCC Info:
I have been unable to find any FCC certifications whatsoever. This is concerning. Amateur radio operators need, at minimum a Part 15 approval.
This radio, at best, can ONLY be used by licensed Amateur Radio Operators. Use for FRS, GMRS, MURS, Commercial, etc is strictly forbidden.

The Manual:
Well written. It covers most of the operation of the radio. It is well written and can be understood by all English-speaking persons. It does NOT cover the Advanced DTMF operations. I have provided a link further down that goes into that in detail.
What this radio does that makes it stand out from Baofengs:
2 meters, 70cm, and 1.25 meters.
Allows both lines of the display to follow one memory channel.
Decodes DTMF tones sent via a fast ANI burst and displays them onscreen.
Allows to add and remove channels from the scan list from the front panel.
DTMF functions to Inspect, stun, kill, etc.

Appearance, case design and accessory compatibility:
This radio has the classic UV-5R case design. This means accessories designed for the UV-5r will work. I have an add on AA battery case that works fine. Naturally, the speaker microphones for the UV-5R work fine, too. I have always considered this form factor to be "ugly" I'm warming up to it now. It isn't so bad anymore. It looks like a handheld radio. That's what it is. It doesn't need to be in a snazzy package.

Durability:
I've dropped it twice, from a moving bicycle. Once, it got a little ding on the bottom of the case. The second time, nothing appeared to be damaged. Shaking it revealed nothing inside got knocked loose. No change in operation. I guess, it passed :) A couple floor hits, too. It is "John Proof", so far.

Antenna:
The radio comes with a UHF/VHF antenna and a 1.25 meter antenna. You need to do a swap, depending on the band you use. These are the "good style" A-V85 Baofeng-type antennas. Those familiar with this type antenna understand it isn't too bad. The 220 antenna is single band and as such, not a compromise. It is at least as effective as some of my longer, dual band 2 meter/1.25 meter antennas. This is good.
The Tri-band antenna, sold by BTECH is far too long for an HT antenna. I'm aware the length is required to make this a good-performing antenna. Reports are favorable, so, what I say regarding this is simply a matter of personal preference. Regardless, You know, I'll end up getting one, eventually :)
I do use dual band 1.25 meter/2 meter antennas with success. The length of those antennas aren't that bothersome.

Operating Range:
Gonna tell you... I hear a lot of "I can hit repeaters 40 miles away" or "I can't hit a repeater 6 miles away" All this range stuff is relative. I've hit UHF repeaters that are many miles away on a Watt. Power output does not matter. What does matter is the location of the repeater/other station, geography of where you are versus the other station. Antenna types of both stations. Are there trees and/or buildings in your communications path?
The UV-5X3 compares to ALL other handheld transceivers I own or have owned. Performance in communications range is what I consider well within acceptable standards, considering my personal operating environment. This means, I like the range. Pass.
Power Output:
Who cares. It is within design specs. 4 watts, 5 watts, 8 watts. Doesn't matter. See my comments under "Operating Range"

The dreaded spectral purity:
Baofengs have a mixed bag of being okay, or extremely dirty in regards to spectral purity. This radio, in my opinion, passes. I used a Yaesu VX-7R, A Baofeng UV-82 and the BTECH UV-5XR.
I used an rtl-sdr dongle with a spectrum analyzer program and took a reading on the 70 cm harmonic of a 220 frequency. For sake of explanation... I looked at 222 Mhz and 444 Mhz (not the actual frequencies) with each radio. Go here for the video: https://youtu.be/LOhXMjEa_w0
The VX7r was best, very closely followed by the BTECH. The Baofeng UV-82X had a harmonic through the roof! # to 4 times higher. Tests by ARRL have determined the UV-82X is emitting an ILLEGAL harmonic.
I consider the BTECH to have a passing score. The reading initially only appeared slightly higher than the Yaesu. Looking at the video and how I talked into the radio, it is possible the BTECH and VX-7r have the same reading. The internal filtering in this radio is superb.
I have taken ALL my UV-82X radios out of service on 220. I consider this an illegal radio on 220.

Sound Quality:
Transmit audio is again, within my personal preferences of quality. My deep. monotone, voice is reproduced properly. Receive audio is, well, like a Baofeng. The speaker isn't much, so it doesn't seem "robust"; but it is clear and of sufficient volume. I consider it "good".

Programming:
Use Chirp. Fly by wire. It is the modern thing to do. Use an FTDI cable or build your own cable like the one posted here: http://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Technical.php You can take a cheap, ganky, fake Prolific cable and retrofit it with a CP2102 for two to three US dollars. I did. It works great.
If you want to use the fake Prolific chip cables, use this Miklor link: http://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php Get the drivers and follow the instructions.

Manual programming is covered in the manual. I'll not go into it here. Yes. Can be complicated in some areas.

Chirp Programming:
Mostly OK. All the basic and some other functions can be easily understood. Other functions make you beat your head against the wall to understand. (didn't work) The DTMF signalling and other stuff will totally throw you. I needed pictures and a Chirp file from BTECH to figure it out and I'm a smart guy.
There absolutely HAS to be an extensive Chirp tutorial written for this radio. This is something very lacking. Yeah, I could do it. I may do it. Dunno.
220 defaults to Narrow band. This is wrong. Unfortunately, the entire Chirp band settings have this flaw. This means, the problem affects ALL radios Chirp will program. I noticed this on my UV-82X and VX-7R radios also.
Battery Life:
Works all day if all you do is listen. Same as a Baofeng. Thrifty on juice. People complain the stock battery "only" 1500 MaH. So. Still is hefty. enough. Batteries are cheap. Buy more, or buy an AA pack. You can use your own NiMh cells in it and build a 2000 Mah pack. I do. Just because I can.

Cool Stuff:
Upper and lower lines of the display can display information for one channel. One can have the Alpha tag, and the other the frequency or channel number...or name again. Whichever of the three.
Fast DTMF sequences (ANI/Caller ID) can be displayed on the screen. Good for seeing a radio ID that is among your group. Way Cool. It will not decode hand keyed in DTMF tones sent slowly. This is a good security precaution to prevent people from sniping hand keyed in repeater control codes. (unsure if this was by design) Very smart design. Sorry "Gomer Goodbuddy", not a criminal tool here.
Stun, Kill, Inspect. Yes, it works. Yes, it is interesting to use. I was hoping to tell you how, here; but it took pictures and a BTECH provided Chirp file to get me to understand.
I do know, two DTMF sequences are required. First, the command code, followed by a space character, followed by a user ID. A detailed tutorial is here: https://baofengtech.com/pdf/Remote-Commands.pdf

DTMF gain adjustment. Make your tones louder to accommodate what you are trying to control.

Sucky stuff:
Intermod rejection, especially on 220, is not what I'd call good.
Narrow band, while the transmitter is set correctly to transmit narrow, the receiver is still wide. The bandwidth is not reduced. Two close by narrow band signals will, therefore interfere with each other. Bummer. Fortunately, us hams, don't use it much. Still, I may narrow band my Echolink micronode, which is what I bought one of my BTECH radios for, since I've tossed my UV-82 Radios.
Incorrectly reported negative stuff by other reviewers:
It has been said that a certain DTMF keypress sends the wrong character. I have two. Neither do this. All DTMF tones are correctly sent.

BTECH Customer Service:
Shipping via their website was unbelievably fast!! Top rate. Tracking number assigned and ships out priority mail, same day. Nothing beats that.
Any issues I had were handled via email fast! When I got confused, they took their time to send screenshots.. EVEN a Chirp image.
This makes me a loyal customer for life!
My gratitude to BTECH!

Final thoughts:
All in all, a great radio. Most of the issues have been resolved that plague Baofengs. All I'd improve, I covered in the "sucky stuff" section. None of that is really a deal breaker. The lack of an FCC ID makes me a little hinky; but, hopefully this will be resolved.
Personally, I recommend the radio. It is a great way to get three band capability at a budget cost. You add this to their level of customer service and wow.... perfect combination!
BTECH made a winner.
73 John Wilkerson, KD8DVR
kd8dvr@gmail.com
 
KN4AQ Rating: 3/5 Oct 1, 2016 07:44 Send this review to a friend
Good for the price, good starter or backup radio.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my first Chinese handheld, because it had 220, was cheap, and I wanted to see what all the excitement was about (and make an episode of my TV show HamRadioNow). I've owned a few dozen handhelds over the years going back to the early 70's. Mostly ICOM and Kenwood. This radio compares (sort of) to Kenwood's TH-F6 tri-bander.

Bottom line is that it's a good starter radio, or backup radio that you won't mind risking loss or damage (but it's not waterproof, so don't go swimming). Very small and light, and seems rugged enough.

It's sort of a TWOBAAT (Two Bands At A Time). The display will show two frequencies in any band combo, but unlike most of the Japanese TWOBATTs, it won't receive both at the same time. It'll hear the first one to become active. If the other side starts hearing a signal, you won't know until the first side stops.

127 memories is a little limiting for me, but maybe not for you. I store a lot of stuff! They are Alphanumeric, but you can only store the channel names using software (Chirp, which is free and I found easy to use). No banks. You can set individual channels to be skipped in scanning.

Programming a repeater is a little odd. You put the receive freq in the VFO (they call it "Frequency" mode), and set the transmit offset amount and direction using the fairly conventional SET menus. There are no preset values for offset, though - you have to enter 600 kHz for VHF, 1.6 MHz for 220 and 5 MHz for UHF. Also set tone mode and freq if needed.

It gets odd when you go to store the setup in a memory (they call it "Channel"). The first time you go through the steps to store it, it only stores the receive frequency (it announces "Receiving Frequency" in it's voice prompt). Then you go back to VFO, press the "reverse" button (the * key), and STORE IT AGAIN, seemingly overwriting the same memory position. The prompt announces "Transmitting Frequency." Then the memory channel is fully programmed with the offset and tone.

The manual is pretty good, in real English. I bought my radio from BTECH, a US distributor, and their logo is on the manual, so they may have written their own. Keyboard programming Chinese radios has a reputation of being difficult, but other then that odd repeater memory quirk, I didn't find anything totally off the wall. There are the usual few dozen SET functions (mostly set and forget, or never use). They make sense after you read the manual. I could guess about half of them. So many options for display color, but none of them White, Green or Amber.

The single knob on top is just for volume (and the on/off switch). All the rest of the channel/menu/set movement is by a pair of up/down buttons, and that gets old quickly. But there's a little LED flashlight, and that's a great idea! It'll even flash like a miniature tower light beacon! And there's an ALARM what'll whoop and chirp out the radio speaker, and ON THE AIR, all while flashing it's mini-flashlight. No GPS to guide first responders to your distress, however. They'll have to DF you.

The radio came with two antennas — one for 144/440, and one for 222 MHz. I guess it's hard to make a tri-band antenna in the 5" Rubber Duck format. Kenwood tried on their TH-F6, and failed (their antenna is terrible on 222). The 'extended' ducks by Diamond and Comet work fine if you can handle a 12" or so antenna, but they cost more than half the radio (about $45). BTech, the US distributor that I got my 5x3 from, has the NAGOYA NA-320A antenna for $18. It didn't do quite as well on UHF as the Diamond, but close enough for 1/3 the price. Also, the BaoFeng SMA connector is the reverse of most Japanese radios (and the Comet/Diamond antennas), so you'd need a double-female adapter.

Speaking of the F6, it's currently about 4x the price of the 5x3 (just under $300). Is it 4x the radio? It can play two bands at once, with a balance switch to adjust relative volume. It has more output power options (but same 5W max), and can charge or run off a DC cord plugged into the side (the BaoFeng comes with a drop-in charger, and needs an optional "battery eliminator" - a battery-shaped module that plugs into the cigarette lighter - to run off external power). But the Kenwood's real claim to fame is the wide-coverage receiver - from the AM broadcast band (with built-in 'bar' antenna) to 1300 MHz, and detectors for AM, FM (narrow, wide, and broadcast-wide for broadcast FM and TV - analog TV, so never mind), and CW/SSB! Yep, you can copy 20 meter Sideband on that gem! Not with the Rubber Duck. Sorry, it won't TX on SSB... The BaoFeng has a more typical range of VHF/UHF spectrum (and it came ready to transmit outside the ham band), and will receive FM broadcast.

I can't really compare performance down to the Nth degree. The BaoFeng works OK. The Kenwood's 220 receiver tended to garbage up in higher RF environments, but I haven't been in those fields with the BaoFeng. RX audio is loud and clear. TX audio fidelity was average, but mic gain was a little weak (and not adjustable).

One caveat: the ARRL lab has been testing handhelds at hamfests, and the Chinese radios in general have had problems with out-of-spec harmonics. BaoFeng's have been some of the worst offenders. They haven't tested the 5x3 that I've seen.

I did a show on the radio on my YouTube channel (titled "Bull in a China Shop". It's got an 'unboxing' and sort of a review, but it's more just playing around, showing some of the programming and stuff. It concludes with a demo and interview with ARRL's Product Review engineer Bob Allison WB1GCM doing the radio check at the 2014 Hamvention®. You'll find it at http://HamRadioNow.tv . I've written reviews (real ones) for QST, but I don't really intend to do review shows on video. I don't enjoy the rigor involved. A few people complained that they'd rather read a review than watch a TV show anyway, so here you are!

73, Gary KN4AQ
 


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