Is The Game Up For Baofeng In Europe?

For radio enthusiasts worldwide, the inexpensive Chinese handheld radios produced by the likes of Baofeng and other brands have been a welcome addition to their arsenal. They make an ideal first transceiver for a new licensee, a handy portable for any radio amateur, and an inexpensive basis for UHF or VHF experimentation. Unfortunately with the low cost comes something of a reputation for not having the cleanest spectral output, and it seems that this has caught the attention of regulators in Germany and Poland. In Germany this has resulted in the announcement of a sales prohibition (PDF in German) which seems likely to be repeated across the rest of the EU.

It seems what has happened is that the quality of the Baofeng radios on sale doesn’t match that claimed in their conformity documents, which should honestly come as a surprise to nobody. It is interesting that the paperwork mentions the Baofeng UV-5R specifically, as it seems likely to us that an inevitable game of whack-a-mole will ensue with the same radios appearing under ever more brand names and part numbers. The basic UV-5R already appears under a number of variants, for example the one where this is being written is a near-identical but slightly more powerful BF-F8, so this should again come as no surprise.

If you live in Europe should you panic buy a Baofeng while you still can? Probably not, unless you really need one. Something tells us they will remain readily available from the usual overseas sources for years to come. Meanwhile this isn’t the first time a regulator has raised questions about this type of radio.

Thanks [2ftg] for the tip.

Header image: Варвара Каминская, CC BY-SA 4.0.

113 thoughts on “Is The Game Up For Baofeng In Europe?

    1. Baofeng did release a “cleaner” version of the UV-5R, Dave Cassler, a fully licenced radio ham did an in depth review on his YouTube channel, so Baofeng are capable of making more “conforming” radios at the same price point.

      The problem is that (believe it or not) there are many “clones” of the UV-5R being knocked off by unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers.

  1. As ham operator in Germany you are allowed to build your own equipment or modify commercial equipment as long as you respect the limits. I bought one UV-5R from china, it was confiscated by customs. I had to show my ham license and had some negotiation to take it home.

    1. We here in the United States are in full agreement with you. As a licensed amateur operator we can manufacture our own radios out of electronic parts. No radio has to be certified for licensed amateurs to use, we are certified !

          1. For certified HAMs that’s the norm. Passing the exam implies that the operator knows how to design, build and repair a radio, which includes knowing that a PI or dual T filter one can design and build with just a few bucks then connect between the radio and the antenna can effectively bring the harmonics down to legal level.

      1. @Jules – Check those US laws again. We are allowed to build our own radios for personal use. Yes, we can even sell those radios when we are done using them for ourselves just as one might sell other items they own when they are done using them.

        We can’t however create a business out of building radios specifically for the purpose of selling them without getting them type accepted. To legally run a business selling transmitters in the US they must be type accepted, even on the ham bands.

        I don’t remember exactly how it is determined where to draw the line when one’s hobby starts to run into a grey area between hobby and business but I think we can all agree that Baofeng is a business and not a hobbyist tinkering away in their shack.

        Also, while US hams can use non-type accepted transmitters all they want this is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. A consumer operating a transmitter in some other radio service is not expected to know anything about spurious emissions. Have you ever heard of someone getting fined because their cellphone was out of spec? That responsibility is on the manufacturer and they show they did their part through type acceptance. Hams however are expected to know better. “But I bought it from Baofeng (or anyone else)” is not a defense if one is busted for causing interference.

    2. “some negotiations”… does it worth to bribe the customs officers for UV5R?
      I baught one, the same from Xhina, Shenzhen, back in 2013, but really no issues with customsin Timisoara, Romania.
      And trust me, they search you well for any “issue”.

    3. I think the point is “respecting the limits”. There are probably (at least) two sorts of Ham, those who “use” pre-made kit, and those who make their own. The latter are more likely to own RF measuring kit so they can asses their creations for spectrum violations, and by the same dint are able to check out the emissions from imported kit and operate it with whatever extra filtering as may be necessary.

      Personally I’ve got an RF spectrum analyser that can take 50W continuous, and is well capable up to 2GHz and a little more.

      1. Wow. What’s the model number on that?
        I’m just a new ham starting out with a BF-F8HF in need of a way to clean it up and improve the mic and distance to a club repeater 25 miles away.

  2. “If you live in Europe should you panic buy a Baofeng while you still can?”

    If you don’t want to be an noisy asshole to everyone using the spectrum around you, probably not? These regulations exist for a reason and the spectrum becomes more crowded every day.

        1. Your comment confused me until I read it several times.
          Of course the 2nd and 3rd harmonics are not “below” 145 MHz, but the amplitude of the harmonics is not far below the fundamental.

          Did you build the BandPass filter?
          If so, could you tell us about it?

      1. I don’t know the exact specs, but if it’s something in the Micro Watt range (µW), it would be ridiculous.

        Here’s an older test by some individual,
        but it’s meant for the Plus model.
        https://www.ad5gg.com/2016/09/28/baofeng-uv-5r-harmonics/

        Even 10 mW (Mili Watts) would be laughable low, I think. Local QRM (noise) is likely much higher than that. How far would go such a “strong” signal with the highly efficient default antenna? 5, 10, 15 meters? ;)

        Seriously, though. Harmonics are an issue. But some folks don’t see a the forest for all the trees.
        Such people shouldn’t be given a spectrum analyzer, hi. They are way too.. accurate. 🙄
        For a meaningful test, the complete apparatus should be taken into account (UV-5R and its default antenna, plus the environment it operates in).

        Also, here’s the BNetzA paper.
        https://www.bnetza-amtsblatt.de/download/72

        It mentions the Baofeng UV-5R (“UV-5R 5W HT”, “BAOFENG”) and one importer from Poland only.
        It does neither cover the other models (Plus, UV-8R etc), nor BTECH (ex Baofeng)..

        PS: My dad just jokingly asked if Baofengs weren’t also a thorn in the eyes of certain big radio companies (Y, K, I) because of their very low price. *ahem*.
        Well, CRT radios from France are not much more expensive, it seems. So I’d say no.

      2. I have a uv3, and was warned by the guy I bought it off that the manufacturer essentially relied on the antennas supplied with the radio to do any harmonic suppression. A little digging at the time revealed that there was even a pad on the board near the antenna connector for a (seemingly) deprecated capacitor that would effectively run the 2nd and 3rd order stuff down by 40db or so. I bought a strip of the SMT capacitors that someone in Texas had identified as the correct value, and lo and behold, the radio operated as it should. We have all probably heard stories about PRC “continuous improvement” in the BOM department. Seems like this was the case.

      3. Problem is the UV-5R is a dual-band radio and the third harmonic for 2 meters happens to be the 70cm band.

        So there’s no way to make it clean at the third harmonic without a reduction in functionality… Although these are so damn cheap that buying a unit for 2M-only operation with a filter, and one dedicated to 70cm-only operation would probably work fine for many people.

      4. I have repeatedly hear rumors of problems with these radios but never any real published testing to document that they are not in compliance. I have two of them which I don’t use much and would love to have some documentation of the problems so I could understand the problems and potentially fix them.

        1. My understanding was that it wasn’t necessarily all units of a specific make and model have the same specific problem. Rather it was that individual units quality vary so you never can know until you actually run tests.

          Or maybe that was just because of all the knockoffs.

          Some years ago, when it was still at Hara there was an ARRL booth at the Dayton Hamvention where they had test equipment. It only took a minute and they would test your HT for free and give you a paper showing how it performs and if it passes or fails spurious emissions tests. I think I remember some people even having theirs’ fail came back later the same weekend after having purchased or built filters and checked it again.

          Maybe there is something similar at an event near you? I wouldn’t know.

  3. As a General Licensee, looking around the internet, it’s apparent that many Baofengs fail spurious harmonic tests. They should be banned in the United States–until they all meet spec. Any out of spec transceiver should be recalled.

    Baofengs are part a larger problem: The Baofengs were tailor-made to sell to unlicensed: people, preppers, and military-wannabe’s who will invariably interfere with both ARES and RACES during an emergency. Part of Armature radio’s existence is owed to the service their licensed members provide.

    1. Don’t forget retailers. I see them carried by Walmart workers all the time. I was walking in a Walmart the other day and heard the familiar low-fi “Channel mode” coming from a UV5R in use by an employee.

      1. I told the local Wal-Mart that they were illegal for the purposes they were using them for, but they ignored me. If they are doing this nationally, the possibility exists for a rather large blowup.

        1. They (and other retailers) have been doing the same thing for more than 20 years, with no issues. The FCC has neither the manpower nor the interest in widespread enforcement. It’s not just small vhf radios the FCC doesn’t care about. Go to any major metropolitan area and skim through the FM band with a spectrum analyzer(or an RTL-SDR in a pinch). It takes no effort to identify multiple broadcasters that are far out of compliance with spectrum occupancy, spurs and overmodulation.

          The FCC’s enforcement model is to occasionally catch and fry an egregious violator to hopefully scare the rest into behaving for a while. No conspiracy needed to explain the non-enforcement, either.

          To ACTUALLY potentially do reliable enforcement of the various radio rules, the FCC would have to somehow find and pay a huge number of trained engineers, and would have to have them constantly deployed with monitoring gear. Based on current FCC employment data and reasonable assumptions about workload, the FCC enforcement division would have to grow by 3-4 magnitudes. Because minimum-viable engineers are more expensive than most office workers, the FCC’s budget would have to grow by a similar scale…

          And even that wouldn’t catch most of the small-scale violations… to issue a fine, they have to collect enough data to actually uphold the judgement if it is challenged… and if they’re issuing meaningful fines, it WILL be challenged. Oh, and that will mean paying more clerks and attorneys as well.

          Most voters would rather see that money be used for other things. Maybe they can’t agree on WHAT other things, but they would mostly agree that spending it on FCC enforcement doesn’t produce any benefit that they can perceive.

          1. I would guess that most of their enforcement relies on licensed users to complain that someone is trampling all over their licensed space, if someone complains then they send out the hounds to sniff around. I highly doubt they just have monitoring stations dotted all over the country looking for unexpected transmissions. If there are monitoring stations anywhere, it is probably at locations where unlicensed activity has been reported.

          2. For a reasonable cost, an SDR wideband monitor that uses AI to look for illegal use could be developed and deployed. Something like a hive of these monitoring and data collecting networks that do all the mundane management, evidence gathering, and surveillance.

          3. “The FCC has neither the manpower nor the interest in widespread enforcement.”

            I never understood that.

            The first resort punishment from the FCC seems to be fines. Often these are very large fines! I don’t know where that money goes but it should go to the FCC. That money can then pay for more manpower to increase enforcement resulting in more fines.

            I suppose that maybe eventually that would clean up the airwaves so much they would have to shrink back down again. I can imagine this going in boom-bust cycles not that different from the sunspot cycle. It would create unstable long-term jobs but could be a good gig for tech contractors.

        2. You should look into it and get a finder’s fee to delivering it to an attorney and/or ham group.

          Being a noisy asshole isn’t good to the rest of the neighbors in the realm of radio spectrum and as a megacorp Wal-Mart should know better. No mom & pop joint would do this, why should it be tolerated by Wal-Mart? Not to mention, Wal-Mart can afford belt worn computers (Motorola makes them) and have a wifi based radio system using Speex or codec2 (Wal-Mart stores are not very noisy, if bandwidth is an issue for them codec2 would work great) so… yeah.

  4. It’s probably worth noting that the Baofeng company stopped making the UV-5R over a decade ago, and stopped doing business as ‘Baofeng’ not that much later, due to the massive number of knockoffs being sold under the brand. Almost every single UV-5R bought in the last decade has been a knockoff (of varying quality); it’s probably not a surprise that various regulatory agencies were eventually going to call a foul on this.

    The formerly-Baofeng company still makes radios under the name BTech; BTech is much more aggressive about IP enforcement, as you can probably imagine. If you ask them how they feel about UV-5Rs being banned in Europe, you’ll probably be surprised how completely OK they are with this.

    1. So Baofengs are fake Baofengs while real Boafengs are Btechs? How good vs. cheap are the BTechs anyway? If they’re good and reasonably priced they might be worth looking into.

    2. More then likely BTech didn’t even design the radios. They found someone in China making cheap radios they wanted to sell, bought up a bunch to sell, perhaps with some exclusivity agreement for selling them in the US and then got all pissy once people found out they could cut out the middle man and just go to any of the numerous Chinese wholesalers and buy them directly. The “knock off” baofengs are no more a knock off then the original batch that BTech bought to begin with. The same thing happens with “classic” brands we or our parents grew up with RCA, Sunbeam. etc. None of those companies exist anymore other than just another “brand” in some brand holdings company portfolio that they snatched up for pennies on the dollar when the original companies went bankrupt. The brand holdings companies go to the Chinese wholesalers see they have these cheap ass fire hazard space heaters. Put in an order to 100K of them to be shipped to the US with the “Sunbeam” brand slapped on them and they end up on the shelf at your local Walmart.

    3. BTech is the badge that BaofengTech – a US-based company – slaps on the equipment they import from Baofeng – the Chinese company.

      Baofeng is very much alive and kicking, and selling equipment under their own name.

      1. @Echostar said: “BTech is the badge that BaofengTech – a US-based company – slaps on the equipment they import from Baofeng – the Chinese company.”

        Yup, see [1] for the BaofengTech USA site. For a good laugh see the BaofengTech USA “About Us” page [2]. I guess lousy radios with plenty of unwanted spurious products are perfectly acceptable in Heaven!

        1. BaofengTech USA

        https://baofengtech.com/

        2. About Us, BaofengTech USA

        https://baofengtech.com/about-us/

      1. Bandpass filters are band-specific. Most of these radios are manufactured as cheaply as possible, with as much programmability as possible. They sell the same radio for multiple bands, with the only difference being the programming and marketing. The original designs by Baofeng were mostly acceptably clean, if limited to the spectrum they were originally designed for. But, since they were built around programmable mixers and oscillators, they could be arbitrarily programmed to “work” on many unintended frequencies, generally with significant impact on spectral purity and sensitivity. And most of the clones trimmed costs by switching to cheaper programmable oscillators, and by switching away from precision-value parts in the various filtering stages (which only works when the filters are broadened and weakened).

        A friend compared an actual Baofeng from fairly early in their production with a just-bought “Baofeng”. The old Baofeng had a few quirks and rough edges as expected of a product being sold while still under iterated development. The new “Baofeng” was completely different in terms of rf spectrum compliance, sensitivity, etc, and obviously wasn’t made by the same company.

        Baofeng is an abandoned brand. The original makers renamed as BTech, and (having learned their lesson), are much more careful about IP/trademark enforcement. They’ve given up the Baofeng name and classic design as a lost cause, by this point.

          1. Not all of them are incomplete or out of compliance. The problem with trademark infringement is that it means you no longer have a guarantee that the product will live up to the standards of its original maker. Even without infringement, the same thing can happen when a new company buys up an old company’s name or products.

            I had an original Baofeng built before the wave of falsely-labeled clones came out. It was nothing to write home about in terms of performance, but it was a good RF neighbor (spurs and spectrum all compliant). It was very high bang-per-buck, providing sufficent bang for not many bucks.

            Most of the new “baofeng” clones have been muntzed to death, simplifying BOM by substituting or removing precision filter components, and by redesigning to use cheaper or more available synthesizers and amplifiers (but not bothering to adjust drive or filters to perform well with the new BOM). Mostly, they’re not really comparable to the original radios except in appearance. But there are still a few mostly-unchanged clones, and they sometimes do perform okay. And, the original manufacturer still makes plenty of radios that might not be outstanding, but are at least not crap. They appear to have learned a painful lesson, and are now much more aggressive about disputing and following up on trademark and design infringement.

        1. You don’t need a radio from the Big Three for compliance. Several variants of the Baofeng exist that correct the problem with spurious emissions. Other models of Chinese radio also have cleaner output.

        2. I actually just bought one, about $65 in Canada. It’s certainly small. But the Icom 02-AT I got about ten years ago at a garage sale was $60. It’s big and heavy but I’d trust it more.

          Maybe entry level shouldn’t be so cheap. Does it open a barrier, or simply dumb things down? I went forty years without a handie talkie, and other than a few years early on, no 2M FM a tall.

        3. Retivis make some radios in a similar price bracket that are significantly better than any baofeng. They are still cheap don’t have the best front end recieve (similar to baofeng there) but do have much better harmonic suppression

          1. I was thinking specifically of Radioddity in my post above. They have a reworked UV-5R that appears to be much better as far as harmonics. Some of the Retevis radios are rebranded from Quanzhou TYT which are often a step up from Fujian Baofeng.
            https://www.radioddity.com/products/baofeng-gt-5r

            Both Retivis and Radioddity do a lot of rebranding for other Chinese manufacturers. If you’re concerned about spurious emissions, don’t depend on the brand in question. Do some research into the device you’re purchasing and make sure it will work for your needs. Even the Japanese manufacturers sometimes produce a stinker, so it’s always best to be informed.

        4. In that case, you are unable to buy one until you can save up a bit more money.
          It’s sad that not everyone can afford it, but using the bands is a privilege, not a right.
          If you are really motivated, you can build a 2m FM transmitter for 30 bucks pretty easily. That way you can enjoy the privileges given to you by the license, on a low budget.
          VHF diy circuits typically contain no expensive inductors or capacitors, it’s the most budget friendly band there is.

      1. “Yeasu, Icom, and Kenwood have good reputations for making good radios.”

        Sure. And very expensive ones, as well.

        They aren’t exactly something than could be bought and then stored as a backup device for emergency radio. The Baofengs, however, do fit that need. They even include a strong blinken light and an FM radio! That’s exactly what’s needed in an emergency scenario.

        Plus: They allow transmitting on ALL frequencies – they are not locked to the ham bands. Or regional ham bands (for example, Europe has 2m amateur band from 144 to 146MHz only. US has 144 to 148MHz).

        In an emergency, if life is at stage, sending on other frequencies to call for help is tolerated.
        In reverse, unlicensed people are allowed to call for help on the ham bands, too. At least in the civilized countries of the world.

        Aside from that, how ethical is it to financially support these big three companies all the time ?
        Personally, I would rather buy no-name stuff from time to time to weaken their market position a bit. Or just do more homebrew.
        Yaesu/Kenwood/Icom are the radio industry’s equivalents to Microsoft, Apple and Oracle. Imho.

        1. Fifty years ago “cheap” meant a surplus 2way radio, with tubes, really heavy, and big. Transistorized gear meant for hams was coming in, but expensive. It was “easy” to put out of band, if you had the needed crystals. But not likely, and unless you built a synthesizer, a handful of channels, each needing two crystals.

          And nobody said “I have the right to have a radio around in case of emergency”.

          You’ve created a situation based on really cheap radios. You didn’t want an icom, and never gave it thought until really cheap radios came along at which point you decided to buy one “just in case”.

          But then it’s not just about ham radio, you need to call the cops or fire department directly. Might as well just buy a radio for the police band, just in case.

          You have to have a really good emergency to transmit without a license. And you may later need to justify it.

          Ham Radio’s sense of emergency isn’t “just in case I have a problem” but to provide communication for others. Often to organized groups like the Red Cross. Rarely will an emergency come up for you personally, especially when you have a radio. But somehow that’s conflated to needing to transmit on any frequency (suddenly ham radio isn’t good enough) or needing to build a transmitter out of scrap parts.

          People survived fifty years ago without everyone having radios, and nowadays most people have radios always with them, called cellphones. Not perfect, but way better than what ysed to exist.

          Any company making ham equipment is supporting the hobby. It’s a pretty small market, and the companies exist on other markets. Most have roots in ham radio.

          Baofeng seems to be an exception, selling radios in wider markets so people will buy without understanding the rules. That doesn’t seem ethical. They could sell radios restricted to the ham bands, and with better specs for that, but then they’d not be able to spread the cost over way more units.

          1. Fair enough.

            However, there seems to be an misunderstanding here.

            Also, I’m not making things up.
            The socalled “Notfunk” (emergency radio) is one of the ever recurring topis in amateur radio, at least in my place.

            https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notfunk

            That YouTuber here mentiones the Baofengs in that context at about the 10min marker.

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FxmoyQZImXM

            By “FM radio”, I meant a receiver that receives the ultra shortwave broadcast band (88 to 108 MHz) to receive instructions from the authorities.

            In Germany, we usually call it UKW band, but in Englisch speaking countries, people often seem to refer to medium wave as “AM radio” (or AM band; almost dead here) and ultra shortwave as “FM radio” (or FM band). Not sure why. 🤷‍♂️ I find it odd to name a band by its modulation type.
            The 2m amateur VHF band is also commonly called “UKW” here, btw.

            https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKW-Rundfunk

            Our “Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe” (translates to Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief) officially recommendeds that every citizen or housrhold should posses an FM/UKW radio with solar cells or a crank. Or a stack of batteries, at least, I suppose. And torches, flashlights, among other things.

            https://www.kritis.bund.de/DE/Ratgeber/VorsorgefuerdenKat-fall/Pers-Notfallvorsorge/Radio/Radio.html

            Last, but not least, it’s not about having money on the mind. “Surplus existed” here, too, after WW2, now 75 years ago.
            But that’s a thing of the past. Homebrew gratefully, is not. It’s fun and teaches skills.

            However, making a handheld radio is not an easy task. My father made on in the 70s. Still has it, still works. It’s a single channel VHF radio for a local repeater (600 KHz shift). It can’t do the ugly CTCSS though. CTCSS made fine radios with good filtering obsolete here. The 1750Hz burst was much nicer, because it wasn’t attenuated by the mic amp in these radios. Using CTCSS sub carriers below 100Hz was such a stupid move we adopted from overseas. 🙄 It’s one if the reasons cheep devices like Baofengs got their ground. Older hams can’t pass on, say, a classic STANDARD radio to beginners anymore. No CTCSS, no practical use.

            You, sir, by all respect, have to learn and understand that beginners to amateur radio aren’t necessarily rich. “We” young people are students, teenagers etc. “We” don’t get our montly pension for free, can’t hang out in restaurants all day.

            “We” can’t spend 500€ (564 USD) on a Yaesu, either. 100€ (113 USD), ok, 150€ (170 USD) maybe, too. But these three companies don’t sell stuff into that range. The market rather sells ham stuff in either extreme (too cheep, too expensive) only – that way, sellers generate maximum profit. I don’t like that, either. So “we” rather go the cheep route and try to fix things. Hope you understand, I didn’t mean to offend you. Of so, I’d like to apologize. Vy73/55

          2. @Joshua

            “You, sir, by all respect, have to learn and understand that beginners to amateur radio aren’t necessarily rich.”

            “We can’t spend 500€ (564 USD) on a Yaesu, either. 100€ (113 USD), ok, 150€ (170 USD) maybe, too.”

            Yup. I was a student when I started too. My first radio… oh wow, what a piece of junk! Today I technically could spend “500€ (564 USD) on a Yaesu” but I don’t want to. Sorry fellow hams but I just can’t remember the last time I had a conversation on the air that was worth that kind of money! And no, I don’t usually spend quite that much on my cellphone either. Last year’s phone is good enough and Android beats Apple anyway! But then it’s always been more about the electronics tinkering for me, not the rag chewing or the emergency stuff.

            “But these three companies don’t sell stuff into that range. The market rather sells ham stuff in either extreme (too cheep, too expensive) only”

            Preach it brother!

            “So “we” rather go the cheep route and try to fix things.”

            Awesome! That’s exactly what ham radio was supposed to be isn’t it?

            I think that people who buy cheap radios, make the effort to test them and then either find they got lucky and have a good one or find they didn’t and build a filter are great!

            But who’s in the majority, the people who make that effort or the ones who treat it like any other piece of consumer electronics? They just pull the radio from the box, use it and get all argumentative any time someone brings up that maybe they shouldn’t. So sorry if I see you carrying your Baofeng and automatically make a negative assumption.

            On the other hand if I see a little box that looks like it might contain a low pass filter in between your Baofeng and it’s antenna you just made a better first impression than the person carrying the Yaseu or Icom!

        2. The Yaesu FT-4XR is only about $80 right now. That’s not bad for a radio from “the big 3”. Used gear would likely be cheaper unless it’s a desirable out of production model. Looking at you, crazy folks paying so much for a Kenwood TH-D74.

          1. Thanks, I didn’t know this one. It seems to be mainly sold in the US also. On Ebay, there’s one selling for 106€ plus 17,93€ shipping. On AliExpress.com, there’s one listed for about 100€, though.

            Anyway, money doesn’t matter so much to me, personally. I’m a tinkerer, not a sales person. Also, being both a ham and an SWL myself, I’m aware of how bad harmonics and interferences are. That’s why I carefully choose my antennas and operate certain radio models, if at all, in low power mode only.

            Heck, this “QSO” in the comment section makes me sound as if was a diehard Baofeng user, hi! 😁 Which I’m not, actually. I still love my old Trio 2200 that my father gave to me. Still have to hack it accept a CTCSS signal, though. 🙂

            Long story short: I merely liked to explain why these low priced radios do attract certain users.
            Especially the poorer souls among us.

            Since these handheld transceivers are affordable and not region-locked (ie, not limited to selected ham frequency ranges or ITU 1 region only), they can be bought and stored for an emergency situation, also.
            Buying a 100€ radio “just in case” as backup/auxiliary device surely is no option for my younger fellow hams, sadly, I’m afraid. As a primary radio, perhaps, though. 👍

            A radio amateur in possession of a secodary handheld device, fully charged, can provide it to a person of the red cross, the ambulance or fire brigade etc. In case of emergency. If it’s an universal device, not just a Yaesu/Icom/.. “toy” designed+locked purely for the use on the ham bands.

            Also, there are different models of the Baofengs. Like the UV-5R Plus, which may or may not cause harmonics. Then there are Wouxun devices, too. And Alinco radios, etc etc.

    1. You can get a used Motorola XPR 6550 uhf 1000 channel analog and DMR radio for about $100 ( programmable with the proper CPS), and that will be several magnitudes better in spectral quality than any UV5R or most import radios.

  5. Often in 2-Meter FM transceivers, they generate a lower frequency FM signal, and then they use a multiplier to create several harmonics or multiples of the signal, to shift its frequency to intended frequency–and then they are supposed to filter out all the spurious harmonics, down to a certain level below intended signal.

    You make a cheaper radio if you don’t do that filtering, and using is pollutes the airwaves for everyone within reach.

    1. les of the signal, to shift its frequency to intended frequency–and then they are supposed to filter out all the spurious harmonics, down to a certain level below intended signal.

    2. These are cheap because one IC is doing most of the work. So I suspect the transmitter isn’t multiplying like in fifty year old radios.

      But since these are broad, they likely lack filtering. A radio that’s for 144-148MHz can get by with fixed tuning, but widen it to cover the police band, and it takes money to have good filtering that follows.

      1. It’s easy to make a cheap radio, and make it perform well in one band. Some of the early legit-Baofengs did this, by including a simple vhf passband filter in the signal path. It was obviously designed so that the amateur-band radios, the VHF-bizband radios, and the UHF radios could be built in common except for the filter. It was a simple filter, but it worked fairly well and kept the radios legitimately compliant.

        The sold-as-both VHF/UHF radios apparently generally simplified the filter or left it out entirely, as the architecture didn’t lend itself to easy filter switching. They were still minimally compliant, because reasonable care was taken to trap and filter known spurs to clean up the synthetic oscillators. If built carefully, they were dual-band convenient, and still marginally compliant at their original power levels.

        Many of the “Baofeng” clones removed the filters, changed the synthesizers to cheaper ones (and didn’t rework the spur filters to match the new spurs), and slapped on dirty power amplifiers (sometimes without any attempt at filtering). These generally put out a very nasty on-air signal, and tend to have terrible receive performance as well. Not a few of them are prone to lockup and/or runaway oscillation, because of random rf crosscoupling due to a total lack of interest in isolation and shielding. At best, these clones were muntzed into oblivion, at worst, parts substitutions fundamentally compromised the original design tradeoffs.

        Legit Baofengs were generally not great, but they were often “good enough”, both in terms of performance and in terms of being a good RF neighbor. But there were so many third-party knockoffs that BTech got badly damaged by the reputational injury.

    3. “You make a cheaper radio if you don’t do that filtering, and using is pollutes the airwaves for everyone within reach.”

      True. I think exactly the same about most of the hacker projects here.

      Using Raspberry Pis and other RF generating devices without proper shielding is a serious matter, too.

      I mean, stuffing all those creative “creations” into flammable plastic chassis? No metal shielding ? Not even aluminium foil on cardboard (C64 had that)? Hello? That’s somewhat irresponsible! 😒

      And I’m not even talking about these dirty switching-PSUs and cheaply made capacitor-less 120v/240v LED light bulbs.

      In my country, prior the mid-90s, computers, TVs, radios etc that were sold or brought into circulation, had to have a valid BZT or FTZ registration number by our federal postal service. It was similar to the FCC, if you will.

      Nowadays, about everyone is polluting the RF spectrum. Be it on purpose, or not. Hackers without knowledge about RFI, too. And the authorities have given up pretty much in desperation fighting those windmills.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_interference

      1. Quite right if you make a commercial product the conducted and radiated emissions must be quite low. But any python scriptkiddie can hook up a Pi or whatnot with GPIO’s on long unshielded wires (with perhaps a FET to beef up the drive) and radiate up to tens or hundreds of MHz quite efficiently.

        Multiply all that hacking by a few hundred thousand and the noise floor of every part of the spectrum starts to rise.

  6. ild your own equipment or modify commercial equipment as long as you respect the limits. I bought one UV-5R from china, it was confiscated by customs. I had to show my ham license and had some negotiation to take it home.

  7. I never bothered to test for spurs before, but prompted by this discussion I just tried measuring the 3rd harmonic (439.575) vs the fundamental (146.525) on three handhelds: All transmitted into a 30 dB attenuator, then to a dual-band rubber duckie. A spectrum analyzer a foot away listened on a similar dual-band rubber duckie.

    A venerable Kenwood TH-75A: -40 dB
    An almost as old Yaesu VX-2: -29 dB
    A Baofeng UV-5RA: -19 dB

    Antenna-antenna coupling at UHF is probably a bit better than VHF, so these numbers are likely higher than Real Life(TM), but I don’t have a UHF-rated dummy load & 60 dB attenuator. Relative numbers should be trustworthy though.

    Clearly the Baofeng isn’t as quite up to snuff as the Kenwood, but I’m a bit disappointed at the Yaesu too. It’s a little bitty thing, so maybe they cut corners there, perhaps on the justification that it usually only puts out a watt: Its absolute spur power is on par with the Kenwood, where the absolute spurious output of the Baofeng is 20 dB higher.

  8. Buy a quality radio and get a quality product. Buy a crap radio and get crap. As a licensed amateur it is your duty to ensure anything you build or buy falls within proper guidlines. That usually means hooking it to a spectrum analyzer and ensuring compliance on harmonics. Don’t have a spectrum analyzer? Don’t build or buy a crappy radio. Third and fifth order harmonics can easily interfere with out of band reception. E.G. emergency services. How would you feel if you found out that an ambulance or police didn’t show up to an emergency due to your crappy radio. Or another example would be emergency services didn’t show up to your house because of somebody else’s crappy radio. The important thing is to do it right plain and simple. There are many videos online of these cheap radios failing miserably on harmonics. Just take the time to look them up. Oh and get rid of your cheap radio!!!

    1. “Don’t have a spectrum analyzer? Don’t build or buy a crappy radio.”

      Ahem. A commercial spectrum analyzer and a panorama adapter (pan adapter) used to be the most expensive equipment. A spectrum analyzer, the very heart of a measuring station/radio test station, did cost more than a new car (rather two, maybe an apartment even).

      A poor soul, even a a very dedicated ham, rarely could afford that. A local amateur radio club, perhaps. A receiver, a scope or a dip meter rather was something a lonely ham had at home for testing.

      That being said, nowadays, affordable SDR receivers can be used to monitor the transmission on multiple frequencies.
      They essentially can serve the purpose of a spectrum analyzer. For example, an old Android 4.x device, an RTL SDR dongle and Touch SDR software cost around $50 roughly. It’s not perfect, but good enough to check for harnonics from 24MHz upwards.

      Monitoring the own transmission is a ham’s duty, too. That’s why some hams leave their (higher quality/cross pointer instrument) SWR meter installed all the time, even after tuning/installing the antenna.

      CBer, by contrast, do often remove their SWR bridge after setting up the antenna. That’s in parts because their cheap SWR bridge contain simple designs with low quality diodes than could cause harmonics, or so the manuals say.

      The other explanation is that they are afraid of loosing power to the SWR bridge. Or to low-pass filters. *sigh* That being said, modern CB radios do contain a kind of digital SWR meter already, which is good. The smarter radios will even lower the output power if SWR is 1:3 or worse, which is good.

      Last, but not least, I must say that some experienced CBers are very ham-like nowadays and do things the proper way, too. I’ve seen (heard) several of them on the air waves here in Germany recently.

      Some hams also have a secondary receiver running at low volume in the background as a monitor, so they can hear themselves speaking and hear if someone else is accidentally talking over. Very useful for repeater operations at VHF/UHF.

      1. I have a couple RTL-SDRs. They are fun toys. But how do you tell the difference between spurious emissions from your HT and the general noisiness of the RTL-SDR? Those things receive signals that don’t actually exist everywhere!

    2. On the other hand, a crappy cheap radio plus an external bandpass filter (or even a strongly resonant antenna) means that your crappy cheap radio is at least not interfering with anyone. It might or might not still be a useful radio, depending on your purposes, but even cheap crap can be turned into a good rf neighbor.

      And, when you’re on a budget, a good bandpass filter and narrowband antenna are a lot cheaper than a “good” transceiver. Remember, you’ll make more contacts on a crappy radio you actually own than on all the radios you can’t afford to buy.

      1. Yep, the first thing I learned, after getting my license and then my first Baofeng, was “Always replace the antenna” A good antenna can make even a “Cheap” radio sound good. And thats what I did.

    1. I get the feeling that cheap radios with decent circuity could be produced, not at a $30 price point if individuals did it as a group buy, say… but yeah. Baofeng is now BTech and hopefully this will force people to up their game.

      I have schematics to UV5R on my hard drive(s) somewhere, you can probably find it online. If someone could find replacement chip and fortify the circuitry and test it… I think a $60-120 handheld that isn’t noisy would be worth it.

      If a hacker / tinkerer did it in the community as well, a USB interface for programming and control could be somewhat standardized and that would also be a good thing. I’m not an electrical engineer, though… so it will have to be someone else who is not me. :-)

  9. I own several dual and triband Baofeng HTs, as well as the popular Japanese designs. While I don’t doubt they have less than acceptable spectral output, my biggest complaint is from receiver desense. The problem is made worse when using any type of external antenna. Weak signals are completely masked, similar to running with the squelch set to maximum. Repeaters typically come through fine. I have little doubt some frequencies are more problematic than others. I particularly notice it on the 1.25 M band.

    Although I don’t live close to any broadcast or cell phone towers, this area has a large number of FM broadcast stations. I inserted an FM broadcast trap filter useful on SDR receivers and the problem goes away. Ironically, these radios offer FM broadcast reception as a feature, so they don’t bother blocking these frequencies in the receiver front end.

  10. I used a Baofeng radio for two years after I got licensed, and no one ever complained about my “Sloppy” or signal bleeding over to other frequencies. And after all its only a 5 watt radio. As for the BF-F8, its the 3rd generation of the UV-5R and very different. And yes on one frequency it does transmit at 8 watts, for me when I use an Abbree antenna, that frequency is 146.000. Give it a try if you have a Baofeng.

  11. “Yeasu, Icom, and Kenwood have good reputations for making good radios.”

    Thx. They seem to be not as cheap as the Boafeng, but still reasonable. I think I prefer paying properly for not littering the spectrum :-)

    1. Hi, I recommend checking other companies’ products, too. These three feel like a bit like a syndicate to me, hi. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to not make them even more powerful than they already are. There’s Alinco, too, for example. It doesn’t have the best popularity or highest reputation maybe, but the company made interesting radios like the DJ-C5 credit card sized transceiver. And then there’s Wouxun (“ocean”) , another chinese company that rivals Baofeng/BTECH.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amateur_radio_transceivers

      Or maybe, you can find a good transceiver as second-hand ?
      If the rechargeable battery can replaced/fixed, it’s worth a try.
      Just make sure the handheld has CTCSS, at least. If it has an optional 1750Hz tone generator, even better. Some VHF/UHF relays in Europe etc still use that.

      That being said, I really recommend reading other user’s reviews, no matter the model you select. And trust your own inner voice, do your own judgment. Never trust brands/manufacturers blindly. Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood are just brands. The people, the teams “behind the curtain” are nolonger the same ones. They may constantly change as time wents on. Yeasu, -in my opinion-, from the 1970s is nolonger the same Yeasu that we have now, for example. Sure, on paper it is. But it’s the people that make ingenious designs, not a stock holder on the stock exchange. All the papers say nothing about the reality.

      Good luck! 🙂

      Vy73, 55 Joshua

      1. Hold on. Before and after WW2, radio amateurs in Germany had to operate unlicensed, because amateur radio itself was not legalized. And in Britain, some radio operators were involved in the pirate radio stations which did broadcast rock&roll music.
        https://www.offshoreradio.co.uk/album118.htm

        In addition, many radio amateurs around the world earned a bit of money in their teenage years for building/repairing linears, with professional CBers being their main clients. ;)

        Thus, amateur radio and pirate radio have a common history, I’d say. It’s not exactly a bad thing, though. Radio amateurs never/rarely were the bad guys. But they were a bit cheeky, brazen and devious at times. Free speech just sometimes conflicts with regulations, unfortunately.

        My father told many stories from the 60s/70s.
        For example, once some CB dude regularly drove with his car to a hill in the evening to play some disgusting music on channel 9 (the emergency/calling channel). Some of the local CBer and hams worked together to teach him a lesson. During night time, they sneaked up the hill and removed that dude’s car wheels while he was totally focused on his music show. They replaced the wheels by big rocks. In the morning hours that dude noticed that his wheels were gone.

        Now something amusing: There were stories about hams who had to pay telegram fees, because the authorities noticed that one amateur asked another amateur on the radio band to bring a pizza to their next meeting. Or, in another case, asked to deliver a message to a non-amateur. I’m speaking under correction, but I think here in most European countries, Phone-Patch via ham radio is not allowed. Sadly. The US does better here, I think.

  12. Baofengs can be easily bought in Ukraine (it’s a basic radio of Ukrainian Volunteer Batallions fighting Russians in the East). They can be imported to Poland and then you’re in EU. Border Inspection on Polish-Ukrainian border is mostly focused on illegal cigarettes, not non-conformant electronic goodies so they should pass easily.

  13. I used a uv-5r for many years and after fixing the squelch issue, it was fine for my use case. Then after a lanyard issue, I lost it and had to replace. The new handset is unusable. It barely receives anything at range, squelch can’t be re-programmed to work properly.

    I bought a ysedu ft-90d second hand. Night and day.

  14. I’m sorry to say but this is NOT the full picture. There exists a great many radios that are inexpensive/cheap and NOT Baofeng branded but are of higher quality than the Baofengs in terms of both sensitivty/selectivty and spurious emissions without being as expensive as Yaesu/Icom/Kenwood radios….

    Take a look into Wouxun and Quansheng radios, vastly superior to the Baofengs in every way but aren’t suffering from nearly as many issues, And the Wouxun radios are compliiant with regulations denoting harmonic interference. Most of them also use superhetordyne receivers too inside so are more sensitive and less prone to out-of-band interference compared to the RDA-Chipped Baofengs… It’s not a black and white issue and people often forget there is a middle ground between the big three and the cheap baofeng/retevis radios…..

    Someone is missing a business opportunity to import them on mass and sell them on Amazon or Ebay as upgraded baofeng radios, because they are, they don’t use that horrid RDA chip.

  15. Ham1) Why don’t you put a filter on that?

    Ham2) It eats up too much signal.

    Ham1) Why do you think so?

    Ham2) I know so, I measured it with my wattmeter!

    Ham1) Is your wattmeter a tuned circuit that only responds on the frequency you actually meant to be transmitting on or is it measuring the sum of the power at all those frequencies together.

    Ham2) Ummmmmmm

    Ham1) Exactly

  16. First off Baofeng no longer listes the UV-5R on their product page. So why any one would want one is news to me. Yes, I own two Baofeng radios, the UV-5RV2+ the second generation of the UV-5R and the BF-F8HP. Both are pretty good radio’s. And I’ve never had any complaints from any one when using them. The 5FV2+ is only 5 watts so how much interference could it cause? As for the F8, yes it is a 8 watt radio, on one frequency. With my radio and a 18.8 inch long Abbree antenna, that frequency is 146.000. SWR’s are 1.0 and power output is 8 watts, but only 8 watts, so how much interference could that cause. Yes, Baofeng got me into the hobby, and I’ve moved on to TYT radio’s, because I cant afford a Yeasu radio. But thats just my two cents worth.

  17. Here in South Korea, they have a regulation which basically says if you haven’t bought your radio domestically, we must test it to make sure it complies with our rules. Most folks think this is just there to protect local sellers. Based on my experience and others, the tests are quick and convenient. Depending on the situation, you either bring your transmitter to their lab or they send an engineer to your station (I’ve done it both ways). The point of this tale is to say that my BF handheld, and other people’s that I know, has passed the emissions tests without a problem.

  18. What surprised me is the germans listed the polish importer in their announcement. Are Baofeng’s from this source the only ones expelled. It was so easy for them to just leave the name away and ban them all. But that’s not what they did.

  19. Oh, how the Mighty Have fallen! And now they think it’s “Game Over” for Chinese radios. They are mistaken. And attempting to use regulatory mechanisms to halt their sale will be only temporary at best, and is akin to them farting in a pup tent. Don’t look for Baofeng to be leaving the EU market, the UK Market, or the North American Market soon: The Baofeng Model GT-5R addresses and fixes the harmonics problem of their former flagship UV-5R! This plus Baofeng’s numerous other offerings have broken the retail beach head on many shores, and they aren’t the only ones based in China manufacturing radios, there are other players! Baofeng really is a quite durable radio capable of being used in many commercial services as well as the Amateur Radio Sevices. What other radio manufacturers resent is that Baofeng beat them to the punch and broke a really ridiculous retail markup. It’s no different than when American Manufacturers saw the Chickens Come Home to Roost over half a Century ago with the introduction of radios from Japan. To protect the names of the Guilty, we will call this present group of retailers YIK. The upshot? There are very good radios being manufactured in China, indeed. They have also entered the HF market. Where they offer “at least” a “good enough radio”,, and some might say “a better radio with more features like a built in automatic tuner!” for about half the price. And these Chinese radios will only get better. In the end? It’s The Marketplace that decides these things. That’s How It Is. 73 DE W8LV BILL

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