I have pretty lukewarm feelings about the Baofeng UV-5R software since there were nearly as many pros as there were cons. There wasn’t anything that really tipped the scales for me one way or another. The software definitely serves its intended purpose, but not without a few bumps down the road to installation. I am outlining my experience for you in hopes of providing insight and defining clear expectations of what you are getting from the program.
The Baofeng UV-5R software is available by download or a disc that comes with every version of their handheld radio. In all honesty the ability to download from their company website is the only positive thing I encountered when installing the software. I hate to be such a downer right out of the gate, but it is the honest truth. Luckily, I had a better experience when using the actual program that made up for some of the install issues I experienced.
I was really disappointed that I was unable to install the software on my computer with Windows 8 or my backup computer with Windows 7. I had to downgrade my operating system to Windows XP in order to successfully install the program. This was pretty frustrating and disappointing to say the least.
Once I was finally able to install the Baofeng UV-5R software I encountered another issue when it came to installing the correct driver for the program to run under. Apparently the standard driver that your computer’s directory would choose is not the correct one and it will need to be changed during the installation process. The driver needed will vary per computer. Not a deal breaker, but a hindrance nonetheless.
The final hiccup that I experienced when installing the software was the odd occurrence of the language choice setting itself by default to Chinese. If was a bit difficult to navigate to the appropriate area to change the language and it took quite a bit of time to do so. I did eventually get the language changed and was able to start navigating the program. This seems to be an issue that is mostly experienced when downloading from the website.
So now that I finally have the English version of the program installed I can finally dive in and see what it can do. The software does not come with a USB plug so you will need to purchase one if you do not have one already. The USB cord needed is just a standard cord with a 2M end and that provides a minimum of 480Mbps transfer rate. They can usually be found online for around $8 with shipping.
I spent a good deal of time tooling around the software to see what it is capable of. It is a pretty no frills program that is about as straight forward as they come and easy to navigate (once it is in the correct language of course). I was really glad to see that programming is very easy and user friendly when using the installed software to do enter in all your channels. There is a registry that will pop up that will initially have blank fields and really all you have to do is enter the channels you’d like to save. From here you are pretty much all set and only need to save the changes you have made. Once you save and it is safe to disconnect your radio, you will have all of the channels that you programmed ready for use. It is a welcome break from the issues I experienced upon installation.
You are also able to upload a limited amount of information into your Baofeng handheld radio by using the software and the upload button under the program menu or by typing control + W. uploading information proved to be just as easy as programming, which is again a plus and welcome improvement.
Uploading information and programming the radio are really all you need to software for as you will and can do anything else manually. I didn’t really find any flaws in the programming as it was pretty easy to navigate and did what I needed it to do. I imagine that most users feel this way as well after exploring the program.
After the initial installation of my Baofeng UV-5R software I began to do a little research on other software programs that are compatible with different Baofeng handheld radios. I was curious to see if there was a better or easier option to use in cases where the user may not be able to downgrade their operating system as that was a major frustration to me that I really should have researched before downgrading, but I am an instant gratification kind of person. I will know to research a bit more next time before settling on a less than desirable outcome.
I found a really cool program that is available to download called CHIRP. CHIRP is a free, open source program that allows you to program your handheld radio easily. It is available for nearly every type of handheld radio and is used by many HAM radio pros. While researching the CHIRP program I was able to see that many owners of a Baofeng handheld radio used the program and were pretty fond of it. I was also really happy to see that it supports all operating systems for Windows, Mac and Linux based computers. The CHIRP program is a viable option for those that have issues with the software provided by Baofeng.
All in all the software that accompanied my Baofeng handheld radio was useful and served it purpose. The installation issues were frustrating, but I was ultimately able to work around them with some creative thinking and random clicks of my mouse. I will continue to use the software for now since I already downgraded my operating system to accommodate it and have saved many channels on it. Hopefully this brief review will prove to be useful when you are considering the software the accompanies the Baofeng handheld radios. Happy HAM’ing!