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Author Topic: Making a BaoFeng/Baofeng compatible programming cable  (Read 5961 times)

Posts: 19

« on: March 11, 2016, 07:55:42 PM »

I recently bought myself a BaoFeng UV-82 dual band HT from Amazon for $26.69 as a lark. Then I liked the radio so much that I bought a second one! However, I soon grew tired of programming the radio manually with the keyboard, plus there are a number of things you CAN'T program with the keyboard, so I decided I needed a programming cable to program the radios from my computer using the free CHIRP software.

Now I COULD buy a programming cable for as little as $3.33 from Amazon, but that one comes from China which means 1-2 months delivery time, and the cheap Chinese programming cables use an old version of the USB UART programming chip which entails manually loading an outdated driver into Windows to get the cable to work. Or I COULD buy the latest FTDI chipped cable from Amazon for $20.56. Or I COULD buy the equivalent CP2102 UART on Amazon or Ebay, a 3.5mm stereo phono plug and a 2.5mm stereo phono plug, throw in a little hook-up wire and build my own programming cable for less than half the price of the FDTI cable.

So I decided to make my own programming cable. The C2102 UART was $3.98 on Ebay, 9 feet of #24 hookup wire cost $1.38 and the two phono plugs were $3.29 for a total cost of $8.65. I could have bought a cheaper chip but this one was US sourced so I had it in three days instead of two months if it came from China, plus it has LED lights which make it really cool! I used 36" wires which seems just about right.

Here is a photo of the completed cable:

Set up for soldering in my "Helping Hand" tool, a great help!

Not the best soldering job, but I am severely out of practice. I made a big mistake by not buying a chip which included cables with pin connectors, which would have made the assembly a breeze. I could have desoldered the pins from the board and soldered the wires directly to the board, but the solder pads were really, really small and I just wanted to get the job done so I could get programming!

I added heat shrink tubing over the pins to avoid any potential for the pins to short out if they somehow got bent in handling or using the cable.

My setup for soldering the phono plugs. I cut off any unused solder tabs and temporarily bent the tab with the red wire into a better position for soldering.

The finished cable in operation showing the light show. The bottom LED is a red power light and glows constantly when the cable is inserted into a USB port. The upper two are blue RX/TX indicators and flash as data is exchanged. In this photo the red LED is overpowering the two blue LEDs, in practice the blue ones show up much better.

Building the cable was a breeze. Solder one end of a 36"piece of wire to a pin on the UART, solder the other end to a phono plug, repeat two more times, throw in a little heat shrink tubing and some electrical tape and go program! There is a wide variety of the USB UARTs readily available, just do a search for CP2102 on Amazon and Ebay and you will find plenty!

Here is the UART I bought through Ebay with the flashing lights for $3.98 delivered:

Here is another US sourced UART from Ebay without the flashing lights, this one comes with connection cables for the pins which makes the assembly much easier. I was not able to find a US sourced UART with the flashing lights AND the cables:

If you want a heavy duty programming cable, here is a metal cased UART with connection cables from China:

Detailed instructions on how to build a programming cable:

Information on CHIRP programming software:

The CHIRP software home page:

A great wealth of information on these radios, programming, and much more can be found on John Miklor's website:
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