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Thread: HAM versus BAOFENG UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band DTMF CTCSS DCS FM Ham Two Way

  1. #1

    Default HAM versus BAOFENG UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band DTMF CTCSS DCS FM Ham Two Way

    Hi to everyone

    I am new here and new to HAM (also not sure what "Yaesu" means).

    I was searching for a way to communicate if there is a global disaster and we cant use cellular phones, and we might end up in a forest for shelter during the global disaster, then I stumbled across HAM (I am referring to a disaster whereby satellite communication is also off line).

    Now I am totally new to this concept of HAM, but of course very interested to learn and buy this. Then I stumbled across the BAOFENG UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band DTMF CTCSS DCS FM Ham Two Way Radio and I wondered the following:

    1. Can this Baofeng be used to communicate if I have one of this and a family member have another, but we are separated by a distance? Meaning can it be used as both a walky talky over a short distance of 3 miles in a forest, as well as over a long distance if for example we are in two separate forests?

    2. Is this device the same as HAM?

    3. If this device is not the same as HAM, then is it possible to buy a HAM that is similar in size or is the cost too exhorbitant?

    4. Can HAM also be used as a walky talky or is it only for vast distances.

    5. Finally, may I ask what is this Baofeng device actually used for? What are the practical applications for a layperson like myself (but who is willing to learn, and purchase equipment ASAP before a global disaster hits us).

    I want to be able to communicate both over short distances like a few miles (as in a walky talky), but also over much further distances when there are no phones and no satellite? In other words we are totally off grid.

    Sorry to the audience for my ignorance. I appreciate all your advice (bear in mind I know nothing about this or any technical terms, but very keen to learn). Thank you again and sorry if I posted this is the wrong place?

    Thank you again
    Best regards

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Ash Fork, Arizona


    Let's start with the word "ham". "ham" refers to Amateur Radio Operators. It is not a acronym and not capitalized. I am a Amateur Radio Operator, or ham, and have been licensed since 1965.

    Yes, I know. You see "ham" capitalized in advertisements regularly, but they are wrong. When the word "ham" appears in a advertisement for a radio (with or without caps), it means that the radio covers some of the frequencies that are available to "licensed" Amateur Radio Operators.

    For example, the BAOFENG UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz that you mentioned, covers 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. Within that range is the 2 Meter (144-148 MHz) and 70 CM (420-450 MHz) Amateur bands. If you dig into the specs you will find out that, the wide frequency range is only for "receive". On transmit, only the 2 Meter (144-148 MHz) and 70 CM (420-450 MHz) Amateur bands are enabled. And, to use those bands, a license is required. The frequencies outside of those Amateur bands are for other commercial services, e.g. Aircraft. You don't want to be caught transmitting on that band. So, outside of the two bands I mentioned above, transmit is locked out.

    The problem with buying a radio that is labeled as "ham" is that, you won't be able to learn how to use it, unless you get a license. In an emergency you won't be familiar with it's operation and it will be more of a hindrance. You need to know how to use it, before an emergency happens. Getting a ham license is not difficult, but it only licenses you to use the radio, not your whole family.

    For your particular use you should be looking at radios that are for CB (Citizen Band, 27 MHz range), FRS or GMRS service.

    FRS (Family Radio Service) is free to use but is limited in power. I think it's somewhere around 2 watts and includes channelized frequencies around 462 MHz to 467 MHz. In clear conditions you can get around 1-2 miles. However, in a forest, you range will be severely limited.

    GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios have higher power and will get you better range. I think they are limited to 5 Watts and have a possible 10-15 mile range. Many radios include FRS and GMRS frequencies, but when used on FRS frequencies, the power is reduced to the 2 watt limit. But note that, to use GMRS frequencies, you need a "license".

    A GMRS license is issued for a 10–year term. The fee is $70 for most applicants. A GMRS individual license extends to immediate family members and authorizes them to use the licensed system.

    You should be familiar with the CB (Citizen Band) radio service. Many do not like it, due the heavy abuse in the past. But it is good to have the option available. CB radios have always been intended for short range (10-15 miles) communication. You can usually find a CB radio, along with a amplifier, in many long haul Semis. Legal output power is 4 watts, but amplifiers are available to increase that to 100 to 500 watts. Of course, those amplifiers are illegal in the US.

    There are lots of web sites and videos on using FRS and GMRS radios. Get on google and start researching. Once you have a better understanding of the different radio services, you can make better choices when buying a radio.

    During this quarantine, you should have lots of time on your hand. Me, not so much. I'm retired and run a horse boarding business. The horses don't care about the quarantine and want to be fed regularly. I have to go outside and work 7 days a week. But my closest neighbor is 1/2 mile away so there is sufficient "social distance".

    Don't go overboard during this quarantine and buy a bunch of radios, that will only be of marginal use. Remember, radios need power and when the batteries go dead, how will you recharge them? If your planning for disaster, you need to take into account everything.
    Martin, K7MEM
    Ash Fork, AZ - 60 miles from the Grand Canyon on Rt-66. Elevation 5,300 ft.

  3. #3


    Seems we have more guys who feel they can simply buy a radio & use it. They need to realise that hams will not talk to unlicensed operators. The other frequencies on those cheap Chinese handhelds are allocated to other services, as Martin mentioned. Very heavy fines in any country if you transmitted on those frequencies.

    These guys either do the study or get a CB radio. In UK pmr radios are for family use. But are limited to 0.5w. CB radios are 4w so more suitable for greater distance. Any HF radio in "any" country requires a license. And that always means sitting exams after much study.

    There is no route to simply buy a radio & talk to hams. They won't talk to unlicensed operators.

    73 Jim
    Last edited by G7NFP; Tue 21st Apr 2020 at 15:02.

  4. #4
    K7KBN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Bremerton WA USA


    Referring to the OP, "Yaesu" is simply a brand of amateur radio equipment. Like Kenwood, Icom, and many other manufacturers you've probably heard of. Many hams don't have good reactions when "Baofeng" is mentioned, but it's a radio made in China.

    You get an attaboy for spelling it correctly; lots of posters here and on other fora seem to be able to look directly at the name on the radio and type, "My Boafang is broke!"
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

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