Quick guide to programming the Baofeng UV-5R from the keypad

Well…. I was today made aware that the Baofeng UV-5R dual band handheld radio dropped to below $30 on Amazon, and people are buying them and being, uhhhh, not exactly enlightened by the wonderful instruction manual they come with.

You got the technical writing you paid for, right?


It is not necessary to buy the programming cable. While it makes life easier… you don’t absolutely need it.

Here’s the quick rundown:

Press Menu, scroll through until you find the options SFT-D, Offset, T-CTCSS, R-CTCSS… make note of the number for each one (you can just press menu then this two digit number to quickly access them afterwards to save a TON of time and button presses). Find the AL-MOD option and set it to SITE, and set RP-STE to OFF. (These latter two only have to be done once; they eliminate a couple of common annoyances with the radio … as in, a couple of “features” that tend to annoy others. Trust Me, I’m An Engineer.)

Common oddities: When you’re in VFO mode (the voice if you have it on will say Frequency Mode), the offset and shift direction are assigned to the individual VFO register – as in, top or bottom of the display – not to the specific band. These radios are not smart enough to remember that the common shift is 0.600 mhz for VHF and +5.000 mhz for UHF. They are also not smart enough to autoselect the proper shift direction on VHF or to not slop right out of the band if set up incorrectly.

If you are programming memory channels, you must have the silly voice turned on or you could get a surprise annoyance if there’s something already saved in that channel.Using the radio simplex: Switch to frequency/VFO mode. Press menu, go to SFT-D, press menu again, use the up/down arrows to set 0, then press exit until you’re back at the frequency display. Go to the menu for T-CTCSS and R-CTCSS and set these if you need a PL tone on transmit or recieve; otherwise make sure they (and the T-DCS and R-DCS) are set to off.Turn off dual watch (TDR) before trying to save things to memory or frustration may occur.Saving a simplex frequency to memory: Once everything’s set up how you want it, go to menu -> MEM-CH (I believe it’s 27, your mileage may vary based on firmware version). Press menu and enter the desired channel number, then press menu again – the voice should say “Receiving Memory”. If it said “Transmitting Memory”, there was already something there — you will need to go to DEL-CH, delete the channel’s contents, then go back to MEM-CH and save again. Exit the menus, go back in and do the same thing, the same channel number will still be set under MEM-CH so you only need to press menu twice and the voice should say “Transmitting Memory”. You’re done.Using the radio for repeaters: Start from VFO mode. Note what I said about the oddities above, it’s probably best to always use the top for VHF and bottom for UHF to avoid having to keep messing with the offset.On whichever side you use for VHF, set OFFSET to 0.600. On the UHF side, set OFFSET to 5.000.

Use the menu for SFT-D to set the proper split for the repeater. On UHF this is always +, on VHF it may be + or -, usually + at and above 147.000 (note that our 147.000 in Princeton has a nonstandard negative offset — in other areas it will almost always be +!)

Set the VFO to the output frequency of the repeater.

If the repeater requires a PL, use T-CTCSS to set it now. Once this is done, key up, it should work! Watch the frequency on the display to make sure it shifted the right direction/amount when you began transmitting.

Saving a repeater to memory: PLEASE NOTE THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER RADIO YOU HAVE EVER USED, unless you’re already used to the Wouxun or other Chinese radios. The offset/shift settings WILL NOT be automatically saved. You have to program the memory channel twice!

From VFO mode, set the VFO to the output frequency of the repeater. The offset/shift settings do not matter and will be ignored by the radio. Go into the menu and set T-CTCSS as required for the PL tone on the repeater input. Here in Miami-Dade, most of ours take 94.8. Once you’re set up there, go to the menu for MEM-CH and enter the desired memory channel number. The voice should say “Receiving Memory”. If it says “Transmitting Memory”, go to DEL-CH, delete the channel’s contents, and save it again.

You are now halfway there… 🙂

Exit the menus, set the VFO to the repeater input. Go back into the menu, MEM-CH, pressing menu twice should make the radio say “Transmitting Memory” as it saves it. Now you’re done.

Quick note on the programming cable: If you buy a programming cable for the UV-5R and are going to use it on a Windows 7 64-bit system or Windows 8, try to ensure that the cable uses an FTDI serial chip or a genuine Prolific PL-2303. There are TONS of cables out there that use a counterfeit PL-2303, or a different chip that works similiarly but emulates the PL-2303. Prolific got tired of this happening and added a check to their driver which will cause the serial interface not to start (code 10 error in Device Manager). This problem will never affect you on a Linux or Mac computer.

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