As I recently purchased a new PC I decided to program the TYT TH-UV3R using that – a departure from my Windows XP comfort zone as the new one is a Windows 8 machine. I had heard that the USB prolific serial drivers either didn’t work, wouldn’t work or required a load of hassle to get working so I was a bit perturbed. In the end it was all unfounded (for me anyway). I plugged in the USB prolific serial cable and waited. As Windows 8 didn’t install anything I checked device manager (under control panel) to see what was going on. Com 3 was showing up with an error so I downloaded the prolific serial drivers (Windows 7 as there are no dedicated Windows 8 drivers) and pointed the update driver command to the relevant file, whereupon installation took place. Within a few seconds the error had gone and communication had been established. Result!
The TYT TH-UV3R is a really compact 128 channel pocket sized radio. But don’t be fooled by its size this little radio packs a punch and is brimming with functionality.
By default the TH-UV3R is a dual band (136-174/400-470 MHz) radio, however by using the official TYT programming software full tri-band operation can be opened up (200-260 MHz) plus a decent extension to the UHF upper limit (470-520 MHz). The EU version doesn’t support 2.5kHz spacing, however the US version does. That said, its not always obvious what you’ll get so double check with the vendor prior to purchase to ensure you get what you need.
The BaoFeng UV-5 is a neatly engineered little radio. And it is little: 55mm (wide) x 150mm (L) x 27mm (D) approx (measured at widest/longest parts and with no antenna). The plastic moulding is good and belies the price tag.
Before we proceed to operating/programming, a quick tour of the unit is in order.
The tri-colour LED backlit dual frequency display sits above a small speaker that provides good clean audio. The mic aperture is positioned to the left of the speaker (viewed from the front) and just below the RX/TX LED and orange VFO/MR button. Same side and from the top is the Call button, PTT (Push To Talk) and MONI (monitor) button. On the right side is the combined SP (speaker) MIC (microphone) socket – accessed via an attached flexible plastic cover.
The Chinese manufactured BaoFeng (pronounced BowFung) UV-5R series FM transceiver has become a bit of a sensation since it was first released back in 2012. Originally conceived as a run of the mill commercial two-way radio, resultant internet exposure has seen it become one of the most talked about radios, primarily due to its feature set and price point.
Looking through the specification of the latest firmware release BFB297, its no wonder why. Wide/Narrow FM, full transmit and receive functionality (semi-duplex, plus multiple CTCSS/DCS tone options including cross) across two bands 136-174.0000 (VHF) and 400-520.9975 (UHF) means its suitable for a wide range of applications including the ever popular 2m and 70cm radio amateur bands. There is even a broadcast WFM radio (65-108MHz) with station scan functionality (press SCAN while in WFM radio mode to jump instantly to local stations).
Incidentally, firmware Ver. BFB297 is a bit of a misnomer as while that is what is displayed on the unit when “3” is pressed and held during start-up, the actual firmware could be higher as BaoFeng seem to have stopped updating the firmware readout – both my models are actually BFB307 (this was gleaned thanks to the latest version of CHIRP, Other Settings menu option).
I suppose at this juncture I should pull out the review disclaimer! Of course, users are required to hold a valid licence to transmit on any, or all, of the above radio spectrum and checks should also be made to ascertain the certification of this model against usage on certain bands/frequencies even if a valid licence is held. Regulations vary from country to country so make sure you are operating legally!
That said, if you plan to use it for receive (RX) only, then no licence is required and it is 100% legal. Talking of which, transmit (TX) can be disabled on any or all memory channels using CHIRP software (more on that in Part 2). I highly recommend downloading CHIRP as it offers a lot more functionality than BaoFeng’s original VIP software does.